OK, I’ll admit to a fascination with robotic floor cleaners. I’ve owned a Roomba since 2006, so when I had the opportunity to review the Mint Automated Floor Cleaner from Evolution Robotics, I eagerly volunteered. The Mint would address a limitation of the Roomba, because it is targeted specifically at hard surface floors, something the Roomba doesn’t do well. About a third of the floors in my house are either wood or vinyl, so I had plenty of area to test out the Mint.
The unit I have is the model 4200, the original Mint. There is now also a Mint with Pro Clean, a Mint Plus and a Mint Plus with Cradle. The features for my model are:
- Sweeps and mops
- Multi-purpose cleaning pad
- Microfiber sweeping cloths
- Microfiber mopping cloth
- NorthStar navigation
- Sweeping run time 3 hours
- Mopping run time 2 hours
- Sweeping area per cycle (max) 800 sq ft
- Mopping area per cycle (max) 200 sq ft
In the package are the Mint unit, the navigation cube, a wall wart for charging the battery, 2 dry sweeping cloths, 1 wet mopping cloth and the instruction manual.
A closer look at the top of the unit reveals three buttons: power, sweeping mode and mopping mode. The 3 indicator LEDs signify connection with the navigation cube.
On the bottom is the jack for the charger. At the top of the photo is the removable cleaning pad. It’s held in magnetically.
The cleaning pad can accept either the reusable cloths supplied with the unit or compatible Swiffer (not WetJet) disposable dry and wet cleaning cloths. I used both, but preferred the convenience of the disposable. To save money I purchased the store brand.
The navigation cube (seen above) allows the Mint to hug the edges of the room. Without it the Mint will still clean, but it covers a smaller area and doesn’t get along the edges. To position the cube for best reception it should be put in the middle of the area to be cleaned, pointing away from the walls with a clear shot to the ceiling.
Before I could use the Mint to clean the dining room, I moved most of the items on the floor. The unit will snake around the chairs, but they have to be spaced so that it will navigate between them. It was just as easy to just move them. The following link has a short video of the Mint dry mopping my dining room. In the above photo and the video you’ll see the navigation cube on the table.
This is what the disposable dust mop looked like after running over the dining room floor. While it didn’t get all the dust bunnies in the corners, it did a reasonable job capturing dirt and cat hairs.
A bigger challenge for the Mint was our kitchen. We’re blessed with twin 3-year-old grandsons and a 5-year-old granddaughter. During their numerous stays with us, they’ll consume vast quantities of food and drink, a good portion which winds up on the kitchen floor. Here I was able to give the Mint a decent workout, using the dry and wet mopping modes. I used both the included reusable cloth wet mop and a disposable one. They both performed the same, and unfortunately neither would remove yogurt and other liquids that the kids spilled. I had to resort to a manual mop and elbow grease to clean several spots. I also ran into an issue with the Mint’s wedge shape. It jammed itself under the dishwasher and couldn’t back out. I had to pull it out.
The hardwood floor of the kitchen area abuts our carpeted family room. As the Mint contacted the carpet, it stopped and turned around. The kitchen area also abuts the sunken dining room. Sensors on the device ensured it wouldn’t fall over the edge.
The Mint is meant only for solid floors, so I also tried it on the vinyl flooring in a bathroom. (Note the navigation cube on the seat.) The Mint has enough power to service several rooms without recharging. Again I needed to use a manual mop to remove footprints left by the ankle biters’ muddy shoes. I also found that the device is too large to get in smaller spaces and I completed the cleaning job with a hand mop.
As much as I’m fascinated with the Mint, a reality check is in order. In the photo above you have a Swiffer on the left costing about $25 and the Mint on the right costing about $200. Using the disposable pads the consumable costs are the same. With the Swiffer I’m able to add muscle to the process to remove heavily soiled areas, something I can’t do with the Mint. With the Swiffer I am able to get into smaller areas by turning it sideways, also something I cannot do with the Mint. To be perfectly frank, in the time it takes the Mint to clean one of my rooms, I can do all the solid floors in my house with the Swiffer.
There is a place for the Mint. For the D.I.N.K.s (dual income, no kids) among us, being able to set up the Mint to clean the floors while we’re out to work has its advantages. This is a great device to use for daily touch ups, however, it’s no substitute for using a vacuum and regular mop. If you keep on top of the cleaning it may prove its worth and for the early adopters, it does have conversation value.