14 innovative cleaning products for 2013
Everything we saw from Ecovacs had us thinking of a Jetson-like future — from robots that can tackle heavy stains to smart systems that monitor the whole home. The Winbot ($299-$399) will be their first U.S. release. This cute little window-cleaning unit sticks to glass with two suction rings that can withstand up to 40 pounds of force. It cleans as it goes, then squeegees with the front pad while the 'bot's back pad dries and polishes. The unit measures the window then traverses it in a uniform zigzag pattern to make sure it cleans the whole glass. (You can direct it to go over extra-grimy spots again with the included remote.) Once the job is complete, Winbot returns to its start and plays a tune to let you know it's done. The robot must be plugged in while cleaning, but Ecovacs offers an array of extension cords that should let it clean most sized home windows.
Video: Cleaning electronics
There's no way around it — cleaning the oven is a pain. Whether you're running a self-clean cycle for several hours, or scouring the inside by hand, it's a lengthy cleaning process. Or at least it was. Cadie's thick Oven-Cleaning Wipes ($4.99 for 10 or $9.99 for 20, amazon.com) are loaded with an orange-oil solvent that promises to cut through grease in a couple swipes. (Not to mention, it lets you avoid the splatter and fumes from traditional formulas.) The pre-moistened towelettes come in a resealable package for added convenience. We think they could be handy for spot cleaning when spills happen so your oven stays cleaner longer.
The Quickie Spill Collector ($9.99) may look like your standard dustpan, but this cleaner boasts a few handy extra features. The top is actually a squeegee, for wiping up wet messes, and the pan has a steep ridge that will keep them from spilling out while you're cleaning. The lid snaps in place when you're done and the squeegee creates a seal, so you shouldn't have to worry about messes spilling out while you're carrying them to the trashcan.
Video: Cleaning closets
Grout grime fighter
The clever Grout Gator ($29.95 for starter kit and $11.95 for additional 4-pack of brushes, amazon.com) promises to help you clean tile grout in a snap. The head looks like that on a standard broom, but the stiff brushes snap on in a perpendicular direction and can be adjusted left or right to fit the width of your tile. The kit comes with four brushes, but you can add more to tackle as many rows of grout as the Gator will cover in a single sweep. The extension pole helps you put some oomph behind your scrubbing with minimal effort or the pole can be removed to use it as a hand tool. Other attachments include a squeegee sponge for $11.95.
Put away the toothbrush! The Rubbermaid Reveal Power Scrubber ($14.99 for brush and $5.99 for additional heads, amazon.com) will help you put some power behind your scouring. This little tool looks just like an ultrasonic toothbrush and works with three different style heads: The Large Multi-Purpose for sinks and stoves, Reveal Multi-Purpose for fixtures and tight-spaces, and the Reveal Grout for grout and corners.
No need to worry about drips or streaking when you're cleaning your windows with the Cordless 3-in-1 Window Cleaner ($89), says maker Fuller Brush Co. This cleaning tool, now available via infomercial in Europe and arriving stateside at the end of June, is a wet-dry vacuum with a squeegee attachment. Just squirt your window with the included cleaner, wipe it down, and the vac will suck up the liquid as you go. The device also comes with a microfiber sweeper attachment for floors and a brush attachment for car seats and upholstery.
You won't have to worry about walking away from the Oxo Double-Sided Roller Mop ($24.99, amazon.com) — one of our favorite features of this handy cleaner is that it can stand up on its own. The mop features a microfiber pad on one side for dry cleaning and a sponge on the other for wet. Push down on the wringing mechanism to get rid of excess liquid, and leave it in the down position to create a stable base for the mop to stand on.
Convenient steam station
Panasonic's 2-in-1 Garment Steamer ($179) promises to help you get the really tough creases out. This unit works like a standard steamer, but the attachment features Panasonic's patented elliptical soleplate, so it also functions like a pint-sized steam iron to get out deeper wrinkles. The extension pole can adjust to upwards of five feet tall, but contracts for compact storage. The Garment Steamer will be available for purchase in July.
The Shark Sonic Duo ($189 for hard-floor only, $249 for hard floor and carpet capabilities) promises to clean both carpets and hardwood floors with aplomb. The device vibrates 1,000 times per minute (on high) to scrub out deep-down stains and trapped dirt and polish floors. It also boasts a front-facing spray and air-glide technology to make it easier to run over carpeting. The Sonic Duo comes with Shark's cleaner concentrate and washable microfiber pads that last for up to 20 cycles. Shark promises that the carpet cleaner is as soft as baby shampoo, making it safe to use on area rugs too.
Sick of scraping burnt messes off the grill? This little 'bot will do all the heavy lifting for you! Just flip the Grillbot ($69 for base model, $99 for rechargeable), select either the 5- or 7-minute cycle, and close the grill lid. The robot boasts brass and stainless steel brushes on the underside that rotate in a mathematical sequence to set it skittering all across your grill, and make sure that every nook and cranny of the grates gets cleaned. The brushes are good for 50 cycles and a 3-pack of replacements will cost $12.95. Grillbot will be available for purchase in May.