Cleaning can be tiring, especially if you have a large house. Fortunately for us, technology has made these kinds of mundane tasks much easier. For one thing, we no longer have to do everything manually. As it is, there are many robot cleaners out there that can do the job for us. Not only are they able to vacuum with little to no supervision, but many are also capable of wet mopping the floor. If anything, these innovations have only grown more popular in the recent years. Today, they are made by a number of companies including iRobot, iLife, Neato, Samsung, and iClebo. Slowly but surely, these robots are replacing manual cleaning tools such as brooms and mops.
On this page, we’ll be reviewing one of these machines—more specifically, the iRobot Braava 380t Robot Mop. Designed for large spaces, it is easily one of the most popular models made by the renowned technology brand. How effective is it at mopping and cleaning? What kind of smart features does it have? Is it prone to falling down the stairs? Curious to know the answers? We’ll be addressing these questions and more below. Hopefully, by the end of it all, you should have a better idea of whether or not it’s fit for your cleaning needs.
The iRobot Braava 380t Robot Mop
iRobot is one of the biggest players in the consumer robotics market. Established in 1990, the company was founded by three MIT graduates—Rodney Brooks, Helen Greiner, and Colin Angle. Over the past few decades, they have designed and developed numerous robots for the home, including a range of self-directed cleaning devices. Their first automated vacuum, the Roomba, was released in 2002. Since then, they’ve also come out with the Braava, a mopping robot, and Mirra, a swimming-pool cleaning robot. Previously, they also created defense and security robots, some of which were used as bomb-disposal units.
The iRobot Braava 380t allows you to easily maintain gleaming hard floors. Featuring a smart navigation system, it is fully capable of knowing where it has been and where it needs to go. As the robot cleans, it will build an internal map of the area, using a signal from the NorthStar Navigation Cube. Designed to fit under most furniture, it will clean all hard-surface floors including tile, laminate, vinyl, and more, with utmost ease. Using the device is simple; just attach a cloth, press a button, and you’re ready to go. For your convenience, it also comes with two cleaning modes—dry sweep and damp mop, both of which are effective at removing dirt and grime off the ground.
The iRobot Braava 380t Robot Mop includes everything that you’ll need to use the device. To be more specific, you will be getting:
- 1 NorthStar Navigation GPS Unit
- 1 Microfiber Dry Sweeping Cloth
- 1 Microfiber Damp Mopping Cloth
- 1 Pro-Clean Reservoir for Damp Mopping
- 1 Multi-Purpose Cleaning Pad for Dry Sweeping
- 1 Turbo Charge Cradle
The Braava 380t is unique from many cleaners in that it makes use of an indoor GPS unit—the NorthStar Navigation Cube. Ultimately, it is this cube that helps it to determine its location while cleaning. As it cleans, the Braava will use its signal to map walls, drop-offs, and obstacles, as it encounters them on its route.
It also comes with two different microfiber cleaning cloths—a white one that’s meant for dry sweeping, and a blue one that’s meant for damp mopping. When you want to clean, just attach one of the two to the robot. To do so, you’ll first want to remove the cleaning pad from the bottom of the device. From there, attach the cloth by tucking it into the gripping strips on both sides. From there, simply re-attach the cleaning pad; there are magnets that will help snap it back into place. As with all microfiber cloths, they are reusable and can be washed. Given the proper care, they can be used hundreds of times.
As far as the cleaning pads go, they provide you with two—a Pro-Clean Reservoir pad for damp mopping and a Multi-Purpose pad for dry sweeping; you can also use the latter with disposable cleaning cloths. Responsible for holding onto the cloths as described earlier, it attaches to the bottom of the robot via magnet.
Last but not least, the Braava comes with a Turbo Charge Cradle that allows you to recharge the device in approximately two hours. To charge, first plug the adapter into an outlet and the other end into the cradle. Once a blue light appears, you can place the robot on the cradle to charge. Once the battery is full, there will be a flashing blue light.
The iRobot Braava 380t makes use of the iAdapt 2.0 Navigation System, which allows it to keep track of where it has cleaned and where it still needs to go. With it, the robot will also be able to build an internal map of its environment. A sensor on the device also allows it to identify and recall objects, such as furniture and walls (you won’t have to worry about it falling down the stairs).
In a single cleaning cycle, the Braava mops up to 350 square feet or sweeps up to 1,000 square feet. If you wanted to, though, you could expand its coverage; that way, it’d be able to clean large spaces and multiple rooms at once. To do this, though, you would need to purchase additional NorthStar Navigation Cubes (more on this later).
Unlike some of the other iRobot models, however, the Braava 380t cannot be controlled remotely via an app. If that is what you’re after, you might want to consider one of their different cleaner robots.
Potential Issues or Pitfalls with the iRobot Braava 380t Robot Mop
One of the first things to come to mind is that the Braava does not auto-dock for recharging. Instead, you have to place it on the dock manually (remember, it stands upright on the dock). For your convenience, though, it does return to the same spot where you started it; that way, you won’t have to look for it in the room. If you want something that’s capable of auto-charging when the battery runs low, you may want to look into the Roomba, or something similar.
Speaking of which, many people have also expressed that the battery life is rather short. Despite the fact that it should run up to a few hours, depending on the cleaning mode, if often dies within 30 minutes. As you can imagine, this can be frustrating, especially since it doesn’t auto-dock for recharging. To make matters worse, there are a few cases where the battery stops holding a charge after a while. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to happen too often; those who experienced this problem were also sent replacement batteries by iRobot.
In addition to the battery issues, the water tank empties very quickly when you’re damp mopping. Unless you’re cleaning a very small area, you will need to pause the robot at least once for a refill before it can finish the job. In other words, you’ll want to supervise the device if you plan on cleaning the entire downstairs. To give you a better idea, the Braava tends to run out of water after about 45 minutes.
Depending on the layout of your house, you might also find that it has a tendency of getting stuck underneath furniture. To prevent this, you’ll want to “prep” the room by removing some of the things that it might get caught on, such as chairs, before starting up the Braava. Still, there’s a chance that it will not be able to get out of certain areas; for instance, it might not be able to get out from underneath the dresser after diving under. When this happens, the robot will beep to alert you of its location so that you can personally rescue it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Braava does not function as a vacuum; there is no dirt container—it only sweeps and mops (in a way, it’s almost like a robotic Swiffer Sweeper). Because of this, you can’t expect it to pick up all of the dirt and debris from the floor. If you’re looking for a robot that will help you get rid of pet hair or food crumbs, you’ll want to consider something else.
Does it Clean Well?
Remember, the iRobot Braava 380t comes with two different cleaning modes. In dry sweep mode, the Braava moves across the room to pick up dust, dirt, and hair. More specifically, it cleans back and forth in parallel lines; this helps to maintain grit-free floors. For the best results, though, you’ll probably want to get rid of some of the larger particles first by using a vacuum cleaner (remember, the robot does not function as a vacuum). All in all, I would say that does a good job of sweeping. Sure, you might need to “rescue” it every once in a while, but that applies for most robot cleaners.
In damp mop mode, the Braava alternates between right and left as it cleans. Equivalent to wiping the floor with a damp cloth, this setting is capable of getting rid of most of the dirt on the ground. As you can expect from iRobot, it also features triple-pass mopping action, which means that it will make three different passes in the same area; this will help to ensure that your floors are left gleaming. Every once in a while, though, it may leave some streak marks. Luckily, they tend to be temporary.
Overall, the Braava is a great choice if you’re looking for something that will sweep and clean your hard floors (it is not designed for carpets) for you. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that it is only ideal for removing dirt and dust—small spills maybe. After all, it has no suction power whatsoever; it only sweeps and mops what’s on the ground. For what it’s designed to do, though, the Braava does it well. As a general reminder, it can be used for all hard-surface floors including lamiante, hardwood, granite, marble, tile, vinyl, and more.
How To Use The iRobot Braava 380t Robot Mop
Prior to using the Braava, you’ll need to set up the NorthStar Navigation Cube. To do this, simply place it near the center of the area where you’ll be cleaning; if you have multiple cubes, you’ll want to space them out so that they are between 20 and 25 feet from each other. It is important not to place the cube on the floor as the robot may run into it.
Once that’s done, attach a wet or dry cloth to the cleaning pad (you’ll have to remove it from the bottom of the device). Afterwards, re-attach the cleaning pad with the magnets. If you plan on mopping, you will also have to fill the reservoir with water. Not only that, but you’ll want to dampen the microfiber cloth for the best results. When it’s finished, empty the remaining fluid and let the tank dry completely.
To start cleaning, first press on the power button; a blue light should appear. For dry sweeping, press the “Sweep” button; for mopping, press the “Mop” button. When the Braava detects a signal from the cube, a blue light will start to blink. When it’s done clean, the robot will return to its original position and play a short song; it will also do this when the battery runs low. To turn it off, hold the power button for two seconds.
Cost and Pricing Information
The Braava 380t is one of the more expensive iRobot models—as far as mopping goes anyway. Currently, it sells for $299.99 plus tax on their official website. In comparison, the Braava Jet 240, which does not use a Navigation Cube, is priced at $199.99. As you probably already know, you can find the product at a number of retailers including Costco, Best Buy, Walmart, and Bed Bath and Beyond.
In the long run, you’ll probably need to buy a few extra cleaning cloths. For a pack of three, it’ll cost you $19.99. If you wanted to, though, you could use ones by other brands; you’ll be happy to know that the robot works with a variety of cloths and pads. For instance, you can easily use disposable Swiffer pads if you have some lying around at home.
Perhaps the most expensive accessory of all, however, is the NorthStar Navigation Cube. Don’t worry though, the kit does come with one to get you started. As a matter of fact, you’ll only need to buy an extra if you want to expand the Braava’s cleaning range.
The iRobot Braava 380t Robot Mop Review Overall – Is It Worth It?
The iRobot Braava 380t is capable of both dry sweeping and damp mopping. Incredibly smart, it comes with a navigation system that allows it to build an internal map of your home. If you want, you can even expand its cleaning area by purchasing additional Navigation Cubes. Easy to use, it comes with two types of microfiber cloths that are suitable for all hard floor types. To use it, just attach a pad, and press a button. As with most electronics, however, there are a few potential issues that you might want to know about. For one thing, it does not auto-dock when the battery runs low; the water tank also empties very quickly when you’re using it for mopping. From time to time, it will also get stuck underneath some furniture. Overall, though, it’s a solid cleaning robot.
Smart Navigation System keeps track of where it has gone
Cleaning range can be expanded with additional Navigation Cubes
Can be used with a variety of cloths and pads
Robot does not auto-dock when battery is low
Battery life is average at best
Tends to get stuck underneath furniture