We may not have robot maids just yet, but you can still outsource a surprising number of household chores to machines. There are specialized robot cleaners that can do just about everything, short of putting your dishes in the dishwasher and making your bed. Here are 10 ways technology can help you keep your house tidy, no elbow grease involved:
1. VACUUMING YOUR HOUSE
Robot vacuums have been on the market for more than a decade, and they’ve gotten pretty savvy. Autonomous vacuums can work on carpet or hard floors and can be set to run on a preset schedule, so by the time you return home, your floors are clean and your vacuum is back at its charging station. Sensors and bumpers help the vacuum map the room, avoid obstacles and figure out the dirtiest spots to focus on. These days, a robot can do most of your maintenance cleaning for you, especially if you’re worried about pet hair.
2. MOPPING YOUR TILE
Your robot vacuum might handle carpets well, but it’s not going to scrub those tomato sauce splashes near your stove. For that, you’ll need a floor scrubber. Robot mops can spray down your floors and scrub away grit. Most come with a dry functionality to vacuum up dust before the mopping session begins in earnest, and can be set to stay within certain invisible boundaries so they don’t go tearing through your house willy-nilly.
3. CLEANING THE GUTTERS
No one wants to climb up on the roof and clear out the leaves and debris stuck in the gutters—so why not let a battery-powered robot do it for you? One submarine-like model can clean a 30-foot-long gutter in five minutes. No need to climb up and down the ladder multiple times—just climb up, set the gutter cleaner on the roof, and it will travel back and forth for you.
4. STERILIZING YOUR TOOTHBRUSH
If you’re particularly worried about germs, you don’t need to break out antibacterial washes (which can breed supergerms). Instead, try a UV wand that sanitizes dirty surfaces with light. The same technology is used to disinfect hospitals to prevent infections, but the domestic versions can sterilize mattresses, toothbrushes and more with just a wave of the wand. Some vacuums also come equipped with the technology, so you can get rid of dust and germs at the same time.
5. CLEANING YOUR WINDOWS
Glass-cleaning robots can get at those high windows and shower doors that you strain to reach. Instead of obsessing about streaky glass, just attach a cleaning pad to the robot, spray some solution on the surface of the glass, and let go. It’ll figure out the best pattern to clean in to reach the whole window, washing with microfiber cleaning pads and squeegeeing the surface clean. These kinds of robot helpers even work on mirrors.
6. CLEANING YOUR GRILL
Scrubbing the gunk off your outdoor grill can be automated, too. Rather than attacking that blackened grime all night with a metal brush, try a robot pod equipped with multiple metal brushes. Put it on your grill and watch it go for 10, 20, or 30 minutes. When it’s done, simply remove the brushes and throw them in the dishwasher.
7. CLEARING UP AROUND YOUR TRASH CAN
A smart programmable trash bin is expected to start shipping in February 2017 that will rid your kitchen of any spilled debris on your floors. Featuring a built-in vacuum function, all you have to do is sweep crumbs and dirt toward the front of the can—the container will do the rest, sucking it up into the trash bag within. As if that wasn’t enough, it also features an air filter to keep things smelling rosy. If you’ve got a forgetful family, an associated app will remind folks when it’s time to take the garbage out.
8. CLEANING OUT THE AQUARIUM
Because the focus should be on your fish, not on whether or not you need to scrub out the aquarium. Once the aquarium-cleaning robot is turned on, it runs every 24 hours to keep the walls of the glass tank super clear. It can even charge itself as needed, and works with both saltwater and freshwater tanks.
9. CLEANING SOLUTION MIXER
There’s not much use in buying harsh chemical cleaning solutions when you can mix your own perfectly good cleaning solutions at home. One little gadget will mix salt, vinegar and water into a powerful cleaning solution that can tackle grease, soap scum, and more, without anything that will irritate sensitive skin or harm pets. The $90 capsule electrolyzes the liquid mixture to form sodium hydroxide and hypochlorous acid, which can then be used to scrub down your counters, bathtubs, windows and more. That means you can throw away the 50 different spray bottles of cleaners and bleach you have stuffed in the closet.
10. FOLDING LAUNDRY
Though there’s not a commercially available laundry-folding robot on the market just yet, there will be soon enough. A few different companies are working on automated laundry helpers that can remove wrinkles and fold your clean clothes better, in less time than it would take you, using artificial intelligence to recognize different types of clothing. At least two automated folding systems are due out in 2017.