iRobot launched the Braava jet 240 a few years back; a product that we loved when we reviewed it but was of limited scope. iRobot has released other Braava models since then, but none have featured the advanced Imprint Mapping technology that iRobot uses in its Roomba line. That is, until the Braava jet m6.
Here's the concept.
Just like the high-end Roomba line, the iRobot Braava jet m6 is equipped with a single camera up top and a bevy of sensors in front and underneath to sense where it's at in your house. While it's cleaning, the Braava jet m6 makes a map of your home and then saves it for future use. Just like a Roomba, you'll be able to have it clean specific rooms at any time, including while away from home, and it even works hand-in-hand with the latest Roomba vacuums too.
The idea is to provide a mopping experience that functions like a premium Roomba would, and it mostly succeeds in this functionality.
It's actually a mop, not just a wet pad
The Braava jet m6 looks quite a bit different from its predecessors in every way. Unlike the Braava jet 240, the m6 is designed to be used regularly and often. Owing to this fact is a large, removable water tank that sits under the spiffy-looking new lid. iRobot is upping the game by providing an actual sanitary cleaning solution that can be put in the tank, which is then later applied to your floors during the cleaning process.
That means the Braava jet m6 is actually a mop that sanitizes your floors, not just a wet pad that helps pick up fine dirt particles.
This is a huge differentiation from other robot vacuums on the market that feature mopping functionality, as none of those vacuums can have cleaning solution put into their water tanks. In fact, all other manufacturers of robot vacuums with mop attachments specifically say not to add anything to the tank other than water. That gives iRobot a huge advantage out of the gate.
iRobot offers both wet and dry cleaning on the Braava jet m6. The mop ships with a handful of each type of pad and the included pads are disposable. I found that each pad could be used more than once, depending on the cleaning job, but some homes will find that these are typically one-use pads. While additional disposable pads can be purchased, the reusable pads are far more economical in the long run and we highly recommend you invest in them immediately.
Long battery life and rigorous cleaning abilities
From within the app, users can select the amount of water/cleaning solution they want sprayed on the floor, as well as a selection of three different cleaning behaviors: Extended coverage (light mopping), Standard, or Deep clean. This can help regulate the amount of solution that goes on the floor as well as how much time the mop spends scrubbing the floor.
Extended coverage is rated to clean up to 2000 square ft on a single tank, while deep clean is designed to specifically clean a few dirty areas of the home.
Like a Roomba, the Braava Jet m6 can detect particularly dirty spots on the floor and go back over those spots several times to ensure they're fully cleaned. In standard mode, the mop will repeat the cleaning process on a detected dirty spot up to 3 times. Deep clean mode will bring this up to 5 times, while extended mode will only clean spots a single time to ensure the longest battery life.
All this is done in an automated fashion without user intervention, just as a robot vacuum. Ideally, you won't need to interact with the robot unless it's to refill the water tank or change out the wet or dry mopping pad. The Braava jet m6 has a rechargeable battery and a charging dock that it uses as a "home base" to begin and end every cleaning cycle, ensuring most of the daily use is an automated task.
iRobot just recently updated the Braava jet m6 to include a "smart charge" feature, which will only charge the battery long enough to finish cleaning your home. This is calculated by the average time it takes to clean your home and is done to reduce the total cleaning time of the mop, if it happens to need a recharge to finish cleaning the house.
Works best in simpler spaces
Cleaning behavior is similar, but also opposite, of the Roomba series. Instead of filling a bin with debris that's vacuumed up, the mop empties its tank onto the floor as it goes and ends when the tank is empty or all accessible areas are cleaned.
It's this last part that's particularly important when considering whether or not you should purchase the Braava jet m6. We're going to use my house as an example of one where a Braava jet m6 might be a more difficult purchase.
For the past 3 months I've had the Braava jet m6 set up in my dining room next to all my other robot vacuums. I had to move it around a few times to find an optimal spot for the dock as it needs a bit more room than the average robot vacuum does for the docking process. To make matters more difficult, my house is a crazy amalgam of hardwood, tile, area rugs, and carpeted rooms. At least in the case of a robot mop, that is.
While my home's flooring setup is fairly logical and doesn't feel out of the ordinary to a human, it's a difficult proposition to ask a robot mop to clean without running into problems.
The first challenge was in the configuration of my main hardwood floors. I have a large area rug in the living room that completely covers the hardwood between the dining room and hall. This makes it impossible for the mop to traverse the entirety of all the hard floors in the house without rolling up the area rug. This isn't a problem for those weekly mopping sessions, as I could just roll up the area rug and let the mop do its thing, but I ran into other unforeseen issues that brought cleaning to a screeching halt.
My hallway has a weird mix of baseboards; some original baseboards are flat and match the ones in the bedroom. Others were replaced at some point in the home's 50-years history with what's known as quarter-round style. While the Braava jet m6 is operating, it sees these quarter-round baseboards as something entirely different from what they actually are; an area rug.
This is because the Braava jet m6 is designed to tell carpeted and hard floors apart by the traditional transition strips that are placed between flooring types in most homes. That quarter-round curve is extremely similar to the edge of an area rug, but the detection of this shape seems to fight with what the camera on the mop sees as well, creating a confusing space for the mop.
The result was an inconsistent clean in the hallway. In fact, the robot automatically sectioned off the back half of the hallway because it experienced too many navigational issues and decided it wouldn't be able to finish up.
I've also got two transition strip issues in my house that didn't play nice with the Braava jet m6. The first is found in the area between the main hallway and bedrooms, where no transition strip of any kind separates the hardwood from the carpet. Since the Braava jet m6 relies in transition strips or edges to best detect the types of surface it's on, I had to make sure my doors were closed before running the mop.
Since there's no way for the mop to bypass carpets to get to other hardwood or tile areas in the home, you may end up like me with a bathroom that's inaccessible to the mop during regular use. My master bathroom, for instance, can only be accessed by going through the carpeted master bedroom first. For this room I had to pick up the mop and place it in the room, close the door and let it do its thing.
The other bathroom has a unique metal transition strip between the tile and wood. While we can cover the oddities of this design later, the fact of the matter is that the Braava jet m6 was easily able to get down into the bathroom but not able to get back up to return to its docking station.
Again, this was an issue when running the mop in a whole-home cleaning but can be fairly easily alleviated by manually placing it in this room, shutting the door, and running a cleaning cycle.
Long-term software and feature updates
While it wasn't available when we first started reviewing the Braava jet m6, iRobot has since released the "Keep-Out Zones" feature for the mop. This feature allows you to draw sections on the map where the mop should not cross which, in my use, helped alleviate the issues I described here.
This feature is also available on the Roomba i7 and Roomba s9, as of this writing, and makes a huge difference when the vacuum or mop regularly runs into trouble spots in the home.
As stated before, iRobot has also included a new Smart Charge feature that will give the mop a quick charge to finish cleaning extra-large homes. This reduces the overall cleaning time of the mop.
When the Braava jet m6 initially launched, it featured interoperability with a select few Roomba models. As of the most recent software updates, the Braava jet m6 now works alongside all Roomba 900-series vacuums, as well as the Roomba i7 and Roomba s9 via what iRobot calls Imprint Link.
What exactly does that mean? Simply put, the Braava jet m6 can be told to mop your home immediately after your Roomba finishes vacuuming it.
That's a brilliant strategy since the mop will operate best with vacuumed floors, as mops are obviously not intended to pick up debris. Selecting clean in the iRobot Home app from any Roomba or Braava will initiate the Imprint Link feature, and you'll be able to choose individual rooms for each robot to clean, or just have both robots clean the whole home.
Currently, each robot has to have its own map to utilize this feature, which adds a bit of additional setup on the front-end to get this working. iRobot is developing a way for robots to share maps, which should lessen the setup time for future owners.
We've also spoken with iRobot at length regarding future software updates and capabilities of the hardware inside each robot, and they've assured us that they've built a fair bit of overhead room into the hardware to allow for additional features to be added in the future.
As we've outlined, the question of whether you should own a Braava jet isn't necessarily an if, rather, it's which model you should choose. The smaller Braava jet 240 that we reviewed several years back is still a great solution for small apartments, as it's a less expensive product and is more of a drop-and-go nature.
iRobot's newer Braava jet m6 is designed for larger homes that want a bit more automation in their lives, but it's not going to work perfectly in every single home. Folks with plenty of hardwood or tile floors with no separation between surfaces in rooms will likely love the feeling of a regularly mopped floor without all the extra work.
Folks with homes like mine, which have several carpeted rooms and area rugs, might find the mop a bit more cumbersome than they'd like to deal with.
The Braava jet m6 is an exciting new entry into the world of cleaning robots and offers functionality that simply didn't exist before it, but its quirks make it a more difficult outright recommendation than we initially hoped. Future software updates will likely fix many of the odd issues I experienced but it ultimately cannot overcome any hardware limitations that might exist, such as the inability to identify carpets without having a large transition strip to stop the mop in its tracks.
If you're set on getting a dedicated, powerful robot mop though, this is the one to choose.