Roughly 75% of the time, my house is an absolute mess. And I don’t just mean clutter piled up or toys everywhere. I mean dried Play-Doh scattered across the rug and dog hair tumbleweeding down the stairs and yogurt splatters from the baby who wants to feed herself across the kitchen floor. And I, a mom of three young daughters, working from home full-time in a house that also includes a work-from-home husband, a huge shedding dog, and an enormous shedding cat, can only do so much to keep up with the chaos. Cleaning is one thing, but keeping my floors debris-free is an entirely different beast. Like, I’m going to have a crawling baby again soon. How do I keep her from shoving bits of construction paper and dust and cat hair into her mouth?
I turn to the robots, of course. Specifically, the Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Self-Empty vacuum. (Say that 10 times fast.)
I have never been a big technology lover when it comes to household things. I do love a dishwasher and a washing machine and a Keurig, but anything that requires an app or charging and promises to make my life easier? Well, it almost never does. But I’m considering including the Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot vacuum in our family photos.
- Price: $699.99
- Sizes: one size
- Colors: black
- Who it’s for: anyone who enjoys clean floors
- When to use: daily
- Pro-tip: Set the schedule timer so that it cleans at the same time every day, and it’s a real boost of adrenaline to jump up and clear the floors of obstacles when you hear its musical note.
If you think this sounds expensive and intense, well, I guess you’re right. But here’s the thing: It’s 100% worth it. Let me start by explaining that this Shark vacuum is not like the robot vacuums you’re imagining, where they zig-zag across the floor and get caught in your curtains and topple down the stairs. The Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Self-Empty XL can literally map your home. Using the (very easy) app, you start your robot off by having it “map” your home. It literally spends a chunk of time (I feel like mine took maybe 45 minutes to an hour) creating an actual blueprint of your home’s floor plan so it always knows exactly where to go. It learns where furniture is, doors, and even stairs.
And then after it’s all mapped up? You spend just a few seconds labeling the map. It took me a minute to see the clear distinctions it had made in our house for rooms, but once it did, I could label everything like Kitchen, Living Room, etc.
Stay with me: this means you can then just tell your vacuum (either through the app or your home’s Alexa device) to “Clean Kitchen” and it will go in those exact parameters it mapped out that you then labeled kitchen.
And y’all. She can clean. (I say it’s a she because she’s ultra-powerful, but you will also be prompted to name your robot vacuum when you start the app and, I’m sorry, but Shark came up with some stellar vacuum names. We chose Goblin, and nothing delights me more than seeing a message pop up on my phone like “Goblin has lost the dust cup” or “Goblin is returning to the dock.”)
Specifics on the Shark AI Ultra 1-in-1 Robot vacuum read like a science fiction story, but they call it Matrix Clean Navigation, which means the vacuum cleans in a “precise matrix grid with multiple passes” so nothing gets left behind. And I can tell you — two pets, three small girls, and two adults are in this house nearly 24 hours a day. It literally gets everything.
And once it does, using its little side arm brush and its brush roll underneath, it returns to its HEPA-filtered base and EMPTIES ITSELF. You’ll hear this amazing whirring noise, and that’s Goblin emptying her dust cup into the larger base so that you can just pop it out and empty it. And then she gets right back to charging for her next adventure.
Oh. Also? She mops. Just add the mop cloth and some water to the reservoir and she’ll take care of business.
Maintenance on the Shark Robot vacuum
Honestly, the Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot vacuum is pretty self-sufficient. If you tell it to go to the dock, it goes, and immediately starts charging. (She can be knocked off the charger though, so if you have it in a place where kids might mess with it or a pet might try to go for a boxing round, keep an eye to make sure she’s always charging.) The HEPA-filtered base claims to hold 60 days worth of debris, but, like, my house is full of dirt and hair (of both the pet and human variety), so I just empty it every time the Shark goes. And let me tell you, I run mine daily and there is always a substantial amount of debris in there. Always.
But cleaning the Shark robot vacuum and getting it all ready to go for its next round is a breeze. The first time I ran it, it told me the dust cup was full before it had even finished. (Yikes.) And it was no trouble to empty it. I’ve also already popped the brush roll out numerous times to rid it of hair, and it pops back in seamlessly with zero problems. Every encounter I’ve had with “fixing” something about this vacuum has been super easy.
Pros & cons
- You can schedule out cleanings! Every day at 6 p.m., Goblin starts her song and we all know to jump up and move things out of the way so she doesn’t miss a whole section of the kitchen because there was a train set in the way.
- Self-cleaning. And not like a self-cleaning oven that still requires assistance, like all you have to do is go empty the bin. It’s amazing. (And you’ll also be like, “OMG we are pigs living in filth.”)
- The floor mapping is so cool, and I love telling it to clean my living room, the kitchen, or wherever there seems to be a lot of extra stuff. And if she happens to suck up something in the playroom, getting it out of the dust cup is no problem.
- The app is so easy and nice to use. And I hate product apps.
- Can only map one floor of your home, so if you’re in two stories (or a split-level like me), you’ll have to pick up the Shark vacuum and carry it to the other places you’ll want to vacuum and it’ll just do its matrix grid move there.
- It’s a little loud with a sing-songy melody that goes off as soon as it starts to clean. It’s not a great one to do at like 5 a.m. while everyone was sleeping if that was your hope.
- It’s no substitute for a full-on vacuum (I also recommend a Shark Uplift for that!), but it is darn near perfect for a daily sweep of your floor, or right before company comes over.
- The app does require me to log in every single time I open it and I haven’t figured that part out yet. Small price to pay.
The final verdict
Here’s something I’m embarrassed to share, but will anyway: When my kids drop food in the house, they know they need to check the piece for dog or cat hair before eating it anyway. I know, I know. But we have a dog! And a cat! It happens! But since having the Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot vacuum, my 7-month-old has literally thrown down a yogurt-covered spoon and I can pick it up and give it straight back to her because there is no hair on it. No dust, no dirt, no other random things like crumpled stickers or crumbs — it’s really amazing.
Even when the rest of the house is atrocious, at least my floors are clean.
There are three kids, a dog, a cat, and two work-from-home parents in our house almost 24 solid hours a day. This thing has taken such a load off of our plates. And off our floors. (Zing!)
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