Meet the granddaddy of robovacs
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Vacuuming robots don’t raise eyebrows like they used to. They’re an everyday sight in budget hotels, trundling up and down the corridors without a beep of complaint, and Chinese firms are rattling out countless models under a variety of unlikely-sounding brand names. But while Roomba’s market dominance has almost caused it to become a Hoover-like generic term, it’s Ecovacs that has produced the granddaddy. The Deebot X1 Omni’s size and shape is pretty much the same as its competitors, but it mops as well as vacuums, and (thankfully) it’s clever enough not to try to mop your carpet. Well done, Deebot.
When not on patrol it sleeps quietly in its charging station, a hefty unit that’s comparable in size to a kitchen bin. That’s where Deebot’s dust compartment gets automatically emptied and its mops cleaned and dried. When let loose, it maps the area it’s placed into and cleans as it goes, with its route tracked on the accompanying app. Those maps can be edited and labelled by hand to build a complete, Deebot-friendly picture of your home.
When it needs to be emptied or cleaned, it announces that it’s popping back to the charging station (although evidently it can’t negotiate steps) and after a minute of admin it sets off again. It navigates chairs (and humans) nicely, and when I cruelly moved the charging station it soon made sense of its new reality (albeit after a heartbreaking few seconds of confusion). On the downside, its built-in voice control facility (Yiko) proved to be slightly erratic, but when paired up with Google Assistant things improved markedly.
Its design is sleek (Jacob Jensen), its suction power formidable (5,000Pa) and you can use the app to dial up the level of mopping intensity if stubborn stains prove hard to shift. But how well does it actually clean? I defer here to my partner, who said after two days: “I absolutely love this gadget. And I never say that.” (I can confirm that she never says that.) Ecovacs Deebot X1 OMNI, £1,499, ecovacs.com
Streak fighting man
Goodbye newspaper ’n’ vinegar, au revoir chamois. When it comes to cleaning panes of glass, window vacs are where it’s at – partly thanks to the advice of high-profile Instagram influencer Mrs Hinch, and also Aldi, which put a much-praised vac in its middle aisle earlier this year. Kärcher, however, stands apart from trends, producing very decent (and generally yellow) cleaning products year in, year out. Its top-spec window vac comes in two parts: a squirty bottle with mop to apply soapy water, and the vac itself to whisk away the suds. The evangelists are absolutely right: I’ve never used such a thing before, and the experience felt almost Damascene. Not a streak left. Kärcher WV6 Premium Window Vac, £120, kaercher.com
Leave your crease
Let us not speak of the drudgery of ironing before getting dressed, lest we upset ourselves. Suffice it to say that this unit is designed to steam creases while you pop to the bathroom. In sanitise mode, it can eliminate odours and kill bacteria with kids’ toys and pillows placed on an interior shelf. De-creasing and sanitising comes with a gentle chugging sound, but that’s an acceptable level of morning noise. It’s fairly sizeable (160cm at full height) but folds down to 92cm for storage. Shirts emerged looking crisp, while jeans and baby toys rendered squalid by milky sick were restored to something approaching their former glory. Tefal Care for You YT3040 Automatic Garment Care System, £699, shop.tefal.co.uk
Air purifiers are usually about function over form, and have the visual appeal of a petrol generator. The Tasman, however, is a sleek cylinder with a glowing ring of light telling you how good (or poor) the air quality is. Its attack on particles is two-pronged: a HEPA filter to trap microbes and toxins, and gel (installable in cartridges) which is expelled in a gentle, tea tree-smelling vapour to reduce the incidence of other airborne miscreants. The air in my own home was already deemed “good” by the unit, but tests by (among others) Bell Laboratories and the University of Sydney vouch for its efficacy. It also deters mosquitoes, as you’d hope from a unit built in Australia. VBreathe Tasman, £599, selfridges.co.uk
It may look like typical shopping channel fare, but this motorised scrubber has won gongs including a European Product Design Award. It makes an overwrought promise to “eliminate the nightmare of scrubbing”, and even claims to make scrubbing “fun” (impossible, as we know) but there’s no question that it shifts old, burned-on dirt from baking trays with minimal effort while keeping your hands away from detergent. A copper scourer steps up the scrubbing intensity, and a longer sponge gets to the bottom of water bottles, which can become irritatingly smelly in the space of a day. It would be overkill to use the Skadu every day, but it’s very handy to have under the sink. Skadu Multi-Surface Pro, £125, hyperlychee.com