I admit: The last time I reviewed the Shark Smart Vacuum, I was a little intimidated. The company’s other home appliances might be reasonable options at the higher prices, but when I received its first smart robot vacuum, I ran it 35 times and it never mapped. I live in a 1,000 square foot house where I can walk 12 steps from my bed to my daughter’s room.
As such, my expectations for Shark’s new AI Ultra robot vacuum are pretty low — especially since I hate most robot mops. I’ve tested it many times over the years and nothing works faster or more efficiently than simply dragging out my manual Swiffer. But time has passed, both for me and for the sharks. Now that I live in a large house with different types of floors, the Shark AI Ultra has become one of my most reliable cleaning companions. It might not scrub as vigorously as Ecovacs’ bulky and expensive Deebot X1 Omni, but it’s surprisingly effective for half the price.
If you’re familiar with robot vacuums, you know they tend to be pretty picky about placement. That goes double for a robot vacuum that doubles as a mop. If you want to start your vacuum from your phone instead of taking it into the kitchen, you have to… well, find a place to put it in the kitchen. This way, the robot doesn’t have to move around, dripping water on your carpet.
Most of the robot vacuums I’ve tried can be safely stored out of the way (I’ve even parked a few under couches), but mopping vacuums usually take up more space.you may need to move the trash and The dog food bin in the kitchen, like mine, makes room for the Shark AI Ultra. Accessories are also an issue. Some vacuums, like the iRobot Roomba j7+, have storage compartments inside the dock, but others, like the Shark, require you to empty out shelves in your closet.
When you switch between mopping and vacuuming, you also have to swap out the trash can, so I need to find a spot that’s convenient and I won’t forget about it. It comes with an effective and odorless cleaning solution. (If you don’t like it, you can use plain water.)
Shark Pier itself is fairly low-key. I measured it at 14 inches high and 19 inches deep, which isn’t too big compared to other self-emptying docks. After I plugged it in and charged it, it accurately mapped my (now larger) house after a 20-minute mapping run—a huge improvement over my first Shark robot vacuum.
Everyone uses robotic vacuums and mops differently. Some people want to clean up their entire house after the kids go to bed, establish a routine, and wake up to a shiny new house, like a troop of elves walking through the night.
I used to clean like this. But now that my husband is away for work and I’m single parenting two schoolchildren, a dog and a grumpy hamster in one week, I try to keep it as clean as possible. Shark’s SharkClean app (iOS, Android) is simple and easy to use. Once I mapped out my house, I designated separate rooms and added a no-go area around the fireplace, where the vacuum tends to fall.
When my kids go to school, I grab the kitchen, fill the mop bucket, and lock it to the bottom of the robot vacuum. I especially appreciate that the app provides an estimated time (which is pretty accurate) of how long the cleaning will take. I was also amazed at how well the mopping works. Robot vacuums can be difficult to calibrate to mop properly. If it releases too little fluid, it won’t be as effective. Too much and it can leave your floors wet and soggy.
Shark’s bin releases enough cleaning fluid and most importantly, it swing Because it mops and scrubs the floors. If you select UltraMop for spot cleaning in the app, you can see the wavy pattern on the floor as you mop it. Microfiber cleaning pads slide easily in and out of trash cans with lots of dirt on them.