I’ll admit it: Since my last Shark smart vacuum review, I still have some trepidation. The company’s other home appliances may be reasonable dupes for pricier options, but when I received its first-ever smart robot vacuum, I ran it 35 times and it never developed a map. I lived in a 1,000-square-foot house where I could walk from my bed to my daughter’s room in 12 steps.
So my expectations for Shark’s new AI Ultra robot vacuum were very low—especially since I hate most robot mops. I’ve tested many over the years, and few have seemed faster or more effective than simply dragging out my manual Swiffer. Shark has seen the light of day, as well. Shark AI Ultra has been a reliable companion in my cleaning routine, especially since I now live in an older house with different kinds of flooring. It may not scrub as hard as Ecovacs’ enormous and expensive Deebot X1 Omni, but it’s surprisingly effective at half the price.
Location is everything
If you’re familiar with robot vacuums, you know that they tend to be pretty finicky about placement. A robot vacuum can double as a mop. If you want to be able to start the vacuum from your phone, without carrying it into the kitchen, you have to … well, find a place to put it in the kitchen. That way, the robot doesn’t have to travel, dripping, across your carpet.
Most robot vacuums I’ve tried can be safely stowed in discreet locations (I’ve even parked a few under the couch), but oftentimes mopping vacs take up more space. It’s likely that you will have to empty the trash bin. And To make way for the Shark AI Ultra, I had to empty the dog food basket in my kitchen. Accessory issues are another problem. Some vacuums have storage bins built into the docking stations, while others, such as Shark’s, will require you to clear out a shelf from your closet.
When you switch between mopping and vacuuming, you also have to swap out the dustbin, so I needed to find a convenient place where I wouldn’t forget about that too. You get a powerful, yet pleasant-smelling cleaner. (If you don’t like it, you can use plain water.)
Shark dock is quite discreet. It measures 14″ high by 19″, which isn’t too large compared with other docking stations. After I plugged it in and it charged, it mapped my (now larger) house accurately after one 20-minute mapping run—a huge improvement over my first Shark robot vacuum.
Everyone to their own
Each robot vacuum or mop is used differently. Some want to sweep their entire house once the children are asleep, then set up a routine and awake to find a brand new home.
This is how I once cleaned. My husband travels for work, so I’m single-parenting 2 grade schoolers and a dog during the week. I try to maintain a little bit of cleanliness. Shark’s SharkClean app (iOS, AndroidIt is very simple to use. After mapping my house I created separate rooms and created a zone no-go around the fireplace. Vacuums can easily fall into this area.
My kids go to school so I clean up their kitchen and fill it with mop bins. Then, I lock the vacuum into its bottom. It is especially helpful that the app gives a rough estimate of how long it will take to clean. It was amazing how efficient the mopping worked. It’s very hard for a robot vacuum to calibrate mopping correctly. If it releases too little fluid, it’s not effective. If it’s too fluid, your floor will become a soggy, dripping mess.
The Shark’s bin releases just enough cleaning fluid, and most importantly, it Weeps As it scrubs the floor, You can observe the pattern of dirt and crumbs in your floor when UltraMop is selected in the app. It was very easy to slip the microfiber cleaning pad on top of the bin.