Bissel SpotBot Robotic Carpet Spot Cleaner
Pros: Compact, convenient, and easy to use. Cleans tough pet stains out of carpets.
Cons: Noisy. Can only clean a small area: a circle about 5 inches across.
We have four cats and some of them are shameless about where they deposit their business. We also have light grey carpets and a toddler running around, so… let’s just say that cleaning up cat mess is a constant and urgent business around here. I saw this product somewhere and thought “what a great idea.” It basically works as advertised.
The SpotBot is a small, self-contained carpet shampooing device. It is specifically designed for removing spots, such as are left behind when a cat “laughs at the carpet” after gnawing on some grass outside. This is NOT a carpet steamer for cleaning whole rooms. It is purpose-made for taking the elbow grease out of small stains and spots. If you use it for that, you’ll like it. But don’t try to shampoo your whole living room with it. And if your stain is larger than 5 inches, you may have to use multiple cycles.
How it Works
As you can see from the photo above, there are 2 liquid chambers, one on each side. The one on the right contains cleaning solution: mostly warm water with a little bit of added cleanser. Filling that tank is step 1.
Step 2 is placing the SpotBot on your carpet, with the large robotic brush over your stain. Plug it in, press a button, and walk away.
The SpotBot will inject cleaning solution into the carpet, scrub it in circles, and then vacuum up the mess. The dirty fluid is blown into the other tank – the one on the left. This is easy to empty and rinse out. Both tanks are actually very easy to deal with and require no tools or jujitsu to take out and put back in.
The SpotBot will work for about 6 or 7 minutes. It cycles between fluid application, scrubbing, and suction cycles. You will hear the sounds change as it goes through these cycles. A loud beep will announce it is done.
Performance and Limitations
The stain I was working on was a tough one. One of my parents’ cats had regurgitated an entire meal onto the carpet. The food he’d been eating was some store-bought crud with a bright red color which was imparted to our very light carpets. My dad cleaned it as best he could with rags, but a stain remained. That stain had about 2 weeks to set in. Then I set the SpotBot on it. I used the “Set-In Stain” cycle. I’m not sure how this differs from the “Surface Stain” cycle.
When the machine stopped, I picked it up and noticed I’d only cleaned part of the stain. The stain was huge, and the SpotBot had only gotten part of it. I’d need to move SpotBot a few inches and repeat the cycle. I was glad to see that the first cleaning had not emptied the cleanser tank, though. I still had fluid left for a repeat. Ultimately I got 4 full cleanings out of one tank of cleanser.
Here’s what it looked like when I was done:
SpotBot can’t clean the entire circle inside the shield. There is about half an inch around the outside that doesn’t get wet at all. And about half an inch inside that which I don’t think gets fully cleaned. I would say in the end that SpotBot fully and effectively cleans a circle that’s 5 to 5.5 inches in diameter. Plan accordingly for this.
Here’s a closeup of the circle left behind by the brush shield, and you can see within it the moist area that got cleaned. Some might say a 6″ circle gets cleaned, but I’d call it more conservatively at 5″.
One thing I noticed as it worked is that the SpotBot rocks in place a little as the brushes are turning. It seems obvious that as the brushes press down, they may lift up the SpotBot a little. And with the brushes turning like a wheel, the device could travel. But it wasn’t a problem for me. The circular shield around the brush chamber sinks deep into the carpet to provide an anchor, and SpotBot is smart enough to alternate brushing direction as it goes through its several cycles. But keep an eye on it. Carpets are all different. If yours has a pronounced grain, who knows. SpotBot could wander.
There is a manual wand you can use for hand-cleaning. This is useful for upholstery or stairs where SpotBot might not be able to venture. I haven’t used this feature yet but it’s nice to have as part of the package. The wand is small and definitely only for spot work. You would not have a good time trying to clean a whole sofa with it, and I don’t suggest buying this product if that’s what you want to do.
But Does it Work???
Yes. I was completely satisfied with the cleanliness of the carpet afterward. The dirty water tank bore the tint of that awful red cat food barfstain, plain for anyone to see that the job had gotten done – albeit with a few repetitions. And mind you, it was a tough stain. So yes, I would definitely say it worked.
Sparing me the bent-over chore of scrubbing up gnar-gnar with a rag is the real killer feature, and SpotBot delivers: I didn’t do any manual work to supplement it. Just rinsed out the tanks, wound the cord, and put it away.
Tips for Success
First pick up any “chunks” with a rag. Do not – repeat: do not plop your SpotBot down on a steaming turd and leave it to handle the whole job. I don’t even want to imagine the mess you’ll make. No – this is a stain remover. You get rid of the turd. SpotBot makes sure it doesn’t leave a mark on your carpet.
Fill with warm water. There is no heating element inside the SpotBot so when you fill the cleanser tank, use water from the warm tap. I would not recommend hot water. Filling SpotBot from the kettle will almost certainly damage its plastic parts.
The carpet will need time to dry. I’d say at least a few hours. Most of the water gets vacuumed up but not 100% – the area you clean will be a little damp when you’re done.
Sample carpet cleaner fluid is included! I got two bottles: each with enough fluid for 5 or 6 refills. One is a general cleaner, and one has OxyClean in it. I think both have hydrogen peroxide. The instructions say to ONLY USE BISSEL BRAND CLEANSERS but I always consider that kind of admonition skeptically. Of course they want to sell me more expensive cleanser. But I think I will have no qualms trying our usual “Nature’s Miracle” fluid on the next stain.
Finally, here is some truly hypnotic video I shot of the SpotBot doing its thing. It is loud when it’s working. Not deafening, but sort of like any vacuum cleaner: cats will flee.
And well they should. Because there’s a new sheriff in town.