The Mop of the Future
Since the days when Rosie the Robot cleaned up after the Jetsons, Americans have dreamed of a better way to clean. And while we have yet to invent a full-fledged robot maid, cleaning technology has advanced by leaps and bounds.
So if you’re still using a mop and broom to clean around the house, we recommend putting them in the closet and checking out some of the fancy new ways to keep your space clean. From vacuuming robots to self-cleaning litter boxes, the future of cleaning is here.
When it comes to futuristic cleaning technology, the Roomba is the 800-pound robot in the living room. (Okay, it’s more like eight pounds.)
Introduced nearly a decade ago by consumer robotics company iRobot, these tiny robots hover around your house vacuuming your floors, using infrared technology to sense and avoid obstacles.
When it’s done it will return to a docking station to charge, and all the maintenance you need to do is empty its dustbin and occasionally clean the thing. Depending on which generation and model you get, you can pay anywhere from $200 to $600.
The Roomba is not only convenient for those who can’t be bothered to vacuum, it’s also a source of endless entertainment, used as everything from a kitten transportation system to a robotic DJ.
The Roomba has spawned many imitators, and if there’s one that stands out, it’s the Mint cleaner from Evolution Robotics.
The Mint, another self-navigating cleaner robot, is best if your living space is dominated by hard floors rather than carpets and rugs. The device is more like a robotic Swiffer than a vacuum, and it uses dry and wet microfiber cloths. It can be had for just $199.
One of the few advantages that cats have over dogs is that they don’t need to be taken for walks. There’s just one catch: If you don’t clean their litter box on a regular basis, your house will wind up smelling very, very bad.
Enter the Littermaid. The self-cleaning litter box senses when your cat enters the box, then automatically scoops the waste into a sealed containment unit when it leaves. (In a video posted on the website, a spokesperson is quick to assure cat owners that safety systems ensure that your cat will not be scooped along with its poop.) The system can work for up to a week, which is good if you want to travel for a few days and don’t want to hire a full-time cat-sitter. Models range in price from $130 to $200.
Purpose for Pets Portable Extractor
You know how on police procedurals, the crime scene investigators always put on their special glasses and bust out a blacklight so they can see the hidden DNA evidence?
Well if you have a pet who has been committing crimes of its own on your carpet, you can use this handy tool from Dirt Devil to do the same thing. This portable unit is specially designed for cleaning up pet accidents, and it comes with upholstery cleaner and special pet stain and odor remover. But the real prize here is the built-in blacklight, which illuminates those hidden stains that are making your house smell. The whole thing will cost you $109.99.
Think ultraviolet rays are only good for killing vampires and giving you skin cancer? Think again. Various gadgets use UV rays to sanitize everything from razors to towels, and one company, Violight, makes a range of tools for sterilizing your toothbrush (priced $30-$50). The same company also makes a UV cell phone sanitizer (for $39.99) so you’re not holding a germ-riddled iPhone two inches from your mouth. After all, dipping it in Purell hand sanitizer would probably void the warranty.
The shower is where we go to clean ourselves. So why do we let it get so disgusting?
A buildup of soap scum and mildew can make your morning shower a downright unpleasant experience, and you might not have time to go in and clean things on a regular basis. Enter the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner, which hangs from your showerhead and sprays cleaning solution all over your shower at the touch of the button. The product doesn’t exactly get glowing reviews from Amazon users, who complain of short battery life, expensive refills and poor quality. But at $25 per unit, this might be worth a try if your shower has become a breeding ground for mildew.
You could hire a pool boy to vacuum leaves from the bottom of your pool. Or you could trust a robot to do the job instead.
Various companies manufacture robots that crawl along the floor of your pool and suck up debris, including Aqua Products, which makes both manual and automatic models. And if you’re sick of nuking your pool with chlorine to keep it clean in the summer, you could buy the futuristic-sounding Floatron, a solar-powered floating saucer that purifies the water and can reduce your chlorine usage by around 80%. It costs $300.
This one comes from the “ounce of prevention” school of thought. Think how many times you’ve had messy hands after kneading dough or chopping up chicken, then gone to the sink to wash your hands. But then you get your messy, possibly-salmonella-covered hands on the faucet, which you then have to clean off, after which you should probably wash your hands again.
It’s a vicious, messy cycle, and one that you can avoid with a one-touch faucet like the ones made by Delta. Touch anywhere on the faucet with any part of your body (say, your still-clean elbow) to turn the water on and off without ever getting the faucet itself messy. Combine that with an automatic soap dispenser like the ones you see in many public bathrooms, and you have a sink that drastically cuts down on the spread of germs.
The Smash Can
Just because you can’t afford a proper trash compactor doesn’t mean you have to shove your hand or foot into the nasty trash can to pack things more efficiently. The Smash Can from Reduce looks like an ordinary step trash can that you’d put in your kitchen, except that the lid has a built-in accordion-like device that allows you to crush the trash down without ever touching the garbage (or even opening the lid) itself. It costs $129, but you’ll save money on trash bags and save your hands (or shoes) from getting covered in garbage.