SwitchBot S10 Review: a truly hands-free robot vacuum and mop

As I type, a small white robot has just rolled past me, heading from my bathroom, where it just finished mopping and vacuuming the floor, to my laundry room. Once there, it docked to its water station, gurgled a lot as it emptied its dirty water tank and filled itself up with fresh water, then headed back to its charging station, where it settled down for a blow-dry (of its mop) and recharge.

That robot is the new SwitchBot S10. A robot vacuum and mop with a couple of unique features, the S10 was announced last year and, following a Kickstarter launch, is now available to buy for $1,119.99 (€1,099.99 / £999.99). 

The S10 is the first combo vacuum / mop I’ve tested that can hook directly into your plumbing, so you don’t need a bulky, multifunctional charging dock to take care of the robot.

Instead of one giant dock, the SwitchBot has two small ones: a water refill station and a charging / auto-empty dock. These don’t have to be placed in the same room, the water station doesn’t even need a power outlet (it has a battery), and they are both more compact than other docks with the same function. 

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With its dual docks, the S10 can empty its dirty water, fill itself up with clean water, empty its dustbin, dry its mop, and charge itself. And because it’s hooked directly into my plumbing, I never had to deal with emptying or refilling big water tanks. In fact, the only manual labor the S10 requires is replacing its dust bag — something SwitchBot claims you’ll only have to do every two months. 

The S10 is the only robot vacuum I’ve tested that cleans its own mop as it cleans the floor. Its roller mop uses a squeegee system, pushing the dirty water into a small tank while spraying the mop with clean water as it mops.

This meant less possibility of cross-contamination on the floors, and it finished the job faster than a robot that has to go back to its base to wash its mop would. I also didn’t have to deal with the grimy, smelly “sink” that most other multifunctional docks have to clean the mops in — and which has to be cleaned manually. 

The SwitchBot’s water refill station. While the station fits under my sink, the robot is too wide to get under there.

The separate charging dock empties the robot’s bin and dries its mop.

I’ve been testing the S10 for about a week, and this system, which at first seemed a little circuitous, works really well. The downside is that all this work drains its relatively small 4,000mAh battery pretty quickly, and it couldn’t get through a full clean of my upstairs and downstairs (about 1,000 square feet) without a three-hour top-up. 

Overall, I like the approach of the two docking stations, especially the self-filling water station, which was surprisingly easy to install. I put that in my laundry room, where it is largely out of sight, and installed the compact auto-empty dock in my bathroom, where it fits neatly under my heated towel rack. 

SwitchBot isn’t the only company offering the option of plumbing its docks. Narwhal, Roborock, and Dreame all have plumbable options using their multifunction docks. However, these require power, whereas SwitchBot’s water station is a smaller, battery-powered device — which makes installation easier. (The battery is recharged by the robot.) 

SwitchBot’s water station can hook into a number of water sources and drain lines — under a sink, by a toilet (draining into the bowl), or connecting to a dishwasher or washing machine supply line. The company’s Evaporative Humidifier (coming soon) can be refilled by the robot vacuum, and a dehumidifier that could empty itself into the S10 is being developed. This kind of smart home symbiosis is intriguing. 

SwitchBot makes a wide range of smart home devices, from lights and locks to curtain motors and robot fingers. The S10 can work with all of these using the SwitchBot app to do things like dock the robot when the front door unlocks or start cleaning when the lights turn off. SwitchBot also supports Matter through its Hub 2, opening the door to more smart home integrations.

I was impressed at how easy the S10’s station was to install, considering I am not a plumber (nor is my husband, who gave me a hand with this one since he’s better with a wrench than I am).

On a scale of one to 10, one being installing a smart light bulb and 10 being plumbing a smart faucet, this is a seven. It’s totally doable if you have easy access to the pipes and can handle a wrench. We installed it under an open utility sink (so no cupboard to deal with), but the water outlets were tucked behind the sink, so it was tight getting in there. 

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Installing the water station looked more daunting than it was, as SwitchBot supplies lots of parts for different scenarios.

That was the toughest part. SwitchBot’s YouTube installation videos were very clear (don’t bother with the paper directions), and the attachments SwitchBot provided to hook the pipes into the plumbing were easy to use and well made. However, the dirty water pipe attachment wasn’t free-spinning, resulting in some contortions to get it attached. The whole thing took 30 minutes.

If you can’t use the plumbing option, the S10 is not the right robot for you

I wasn’t thrilled with how much piping there was, and I couldn’t find a good way to hide it all under my open sink. SwitchBot provides cable-tidy fittings, but I would prefer to switch them out for shorter pipes or to be able to cut them to fit. Because the S10 is so wide, it wouldn’t fit under my sink, so I had to put the dock next to the sink, which isn’t ideal.

If you don’t have the option of hooking up to water, SwitchBot has a water tank add-on coming later this year for $80. I tried this, and while it worked fine, you still have to deal with all the piping, so it’s not an elegant solution. If you can’t use the plumbing option, the S10 is not the right robot for you.

As a robovac, the S10’s specs are good, if not the best of the best. It has 6,500Pa suction, a 4,000mAH battery, and AI-powered obstacle avoidance (which uses an onboard camera). While Roborock’s, Dreame’s, and Ecovacs’ flagships have higher suction power and longer battery life, they cost significantly more.

The S10’s obstacle avoidance wasn’t as good as Roborock’s, and while it dodged fake pet poop, it got close — brushing up against it as it navigated away. It did well at avoiding cables, socks, and larger items like shoes.

The bot’s single rubber roller brush performed well in my tests, getting up all the oatmeal and rice on hard floor and doing an excellent job on cat hair on low-pile carpet. Generally, I prefer dual roller brushes, but the S10 is a heavy robot, and its weight seemed to help it dig down into carpet fibers.

Mopping is the main reason to buy this bot, and it’s very effective

Mopping is the main reason to buy this bot, and it’s very effective. Its rolling movement agitates the dirt, and with its 10n downward pressure, the mop easily tackled dried milk and spilled OJ. The water station has the option to add a cleaning solution, which seemed to help with tougher grime. But the mop doesn’t oscillate as the pads on the Dreame X30 or Roborock Q Revo do, and some dirty paw prints were still slightly visible.

On the flip side, oscillating mopping pads can get hung up on things like rug tassels, cables, and room transitions, whereas the SwitchBot’s mop is tucked neatly under it, and it never got stuck. The mop raises when it goes over carpet (but only by 7mm), or you can program it to avoid carpet altogether or draw keep-out zones around high-pile rugs.

The mop is easy to remove — it slides out the side, so I didn’t have to flip the big beast on its back. It stayed clean throughout my testing and dried quickly. The mop is replaceable, and a two-pack costs $30.

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The S10 uses a camera for obstacle avoidance. You can’t access the camera remotely and all data is processed locally, according to SwitchBot.

The SwitchBot app has the key features you’d expect from a high-end bot, including lidar mapping, virtual no-go zones, and room-specific cleaning. But it is missing a few things. There are two cleaning modes with multiple levels: vacuum and mop and vacuum only, but there is no mop-only option or smart cleaning modes. There’s voice control with all the main platforms, but it’s limited. It supports up to three maps, but you can’t add furniture to them. Additionally, on floors where there is no water station, it only vacuums — it won’t mop — and you can’t buy a second water station. 

Overall, I was impressed with the S10. Its dual dock system is an innovative fix to the design problem of these big multifunction docks, and the possibility of connecting with a humidifier and dehumidifier takes us one step closer to a future where robots can do more in our homes than just clean the floors. But for today, the water hookup and self-cleaning mop make this the most hands-free cleaning robot I’ve tested. 

The biggest downside is the short battery life, and I’m disappointed SwitchBot didn’t go for more milliamp hours, especially given the potential for using the water station for more tasks down the line. The self-refilling humidifier and self-draining dehumidifier are great ideas — if they get released. Maybe this ingenious robotics company could come up with an attachment for the robot that can refill your dog’s water bowl or water your plants. But all of that will require more power.

Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge