Robot at work: The Deebot M88 cleaning up some mess.
The amount of debris picked up by the robot.

Do cleaning robots work? Zarina Othman checks out the Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro robotic vacuum cleaner

HATE cleaning your house? There are a number of robot vacuum cleaners in the market that can lighten your burden.

I used to wonder how such robot cleaners work and whether they live up to the hype.

I have read that robot vacuum cleaners are smart and a saving grace for the lazy modern home-owner. You just sit down and observe. The robot will work its magic.

But first, you need to set up the robot.

There’s a manual that guides you on the installation. If you hate reading manuals, you are in trouble.

Downloading an accompanying app available for Android or iOS devices allows you to set up the robot vacuum on your home WiFi network and register an account to control it.

Once that’s done, as long as the robot has enough charge, you’re ready to go. Click “auto” and the Deebot M81 Pro will work its magic in your home.

In the box is a remote control which gives you an alternative way to control the bot. This option works if you don’t have easy access to a smartphone, ensuring flexibility for all levels of users.

Apart from auto, you can choose other cleaning modes with Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro. The “intensive” mode, as the name suggests, cleans more aggressively. The suction power is stronger and the brush speed is faster too so you get a better clean.

“Spot” mode will allow you to clean a specific spot or area that needs special attention.

This cleaning is done in a spiral pattern, with the bot moving outwards from its original position until the cleaning is complete.

The “edge” mode will push the robot to the edge of the room where it will attempt to clean along borders and skirting boards, avoiding objects along the way.

Living with a cat, like yours truly, means there’s more hair lying on the floor. Allowing Deebot to move around the place for at least 40 minutes will pick up most of the hair — human and feline.

However, I have noticed that Deebot finds it more difficult to clean medium length human hair.

It will pick up the hairs in one place and release it in a different place.

Longer hair tends to tangle with the main sweeper under the body; I had to check the robot several times when I saw it was not picking up dust as efficiently as it is supposed to.

Cleaning the robot after sweeping is easy though. Lifting the top and pulling out the bin is a breeze, so is putting it back, making it child- and senior-friendly.

One of the best features of Deebot M88 is its wet function.

The normal sweeping goes on as usual. It sweeps the area, picking up debris and dust before the microfibre cloth seals the deal by wiping the area clean.

A bucket of water and at least two caps full of floor cleaner is what I usually use to mop the house but Deebot gets the work done with less than 100ml water. I just need to add a teaspoon of floor cleaner into the water before filling up the water tank.

Unlike normal sweeping where I use automatic setting for wet function, I set Deebot in spiral mode, place it in the middle of the room, and watch as it uses circular motions to clean the floor.

This function works well with my carpet-less, minimally furnished home.

Cleaning the microfibre sleeve is also easy. A bit of dishwashing liquid and it is all white again.

Deebot is clever enough to climb up the rugs I place near the stove, under the sink and outside the bathroom.

I’m using heavy, thick rugs but Deebot manages to pick up debris from them. If the rugs are thin and roll easily, there can be a slight problem.

The robot cleaner does get caught in my curtain, but thanks to the safety features, it does not suck on my curtain. It just lets out a scream with a double beep — telling me something is wrong and I quickly come to its rescue.

If you have curtains that sweep the floor, it is safer to lift them up when using the vacuum cleaner.

When using the wet function, make sure the robot keeps moving. If it remains static with no place to go, the water will continue to be dispensed with nothing to wipe it dry.

And fold the carpets so that they do not get wet too.

The Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro is a handy tool to have in the house. It doesn’t require much human intervention and can work its way through tight corners, thanks to its soft bumper and IR sensor.

Add to that the floor mopping features, smartphone app and remote control functions, I would say this is one cleaning device for your lazy days. The DEEBOT M81 Pro retails at RM1,499.



  • Wet mopping feature
  • Smartphone app
  • Great battery life


  • Some cleaning needs monitoring.

    Verdict: 4/5

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