Pros: Fairly easy operation
better than paper towels
Cons: germy, can smell, can be difficult to keep clean
reqires active maintenance
can be awkward to store
My review is for the blue color Bissell original Spot Bot. Similar in design and operation to the SpotBot Pet. I have owned this machine for nearly 3 years and am familiar with the operations and maintenance required to make owning this machine a tolerable experience. I have 2 beagles and we rent proprty, so keeping carpets clean is a proirity for us. Especially after one of our dogs suffered an injury, nearly immobilizing her. She now sometimes encounters difficulty making it outside.
Many people complain about various aspects of this machine. Usually about the lack of suction, and/or water leakage.
I am here to tell you that in my experiences with this machine, it must be maintained and cared for. If not, it can not only lead to a frustrating experience, but easily introduce SIGNIFICANT health hazards into your home quite readily.
Firstly, this machine, when used for its intended purpose, regularly comes in contact with animal urine, feces, and vomit. Lets be realistic about it. As it states in the instruction manual, remove large matter before using SpotBot. Assuming you do that, youre off to a good start.
Secondly, this machine is basically a port-a-potty. Just because cleaning the mess off the carpet is easy, dont just assume you can run a cleaning cycle and just store the machine. Since thats they way they make it look most of the time. ABSOLUTELY NOT. As I have learned through trial and error, this machine must be thoroughly cleaned after every use unless you want a smelly mess on your hands(and in your air.)
I have a couple examples of care and mantenance to take into consideration when you think about your purchase of a spot bot. Number one, you MUST empty the dirty water tank after EVERY USE. Even though it stores two or three cycles worth of black water before shutting off the suction completely. This is a relatively easy process, but can be a very germy one. The tank must be poured out. I do it in the toilet. It usually smells disgusting and sometimes splashes. Not only out of the pour area, but also around the base of the tank which seats in the body of the unit. There is an area on the body itself where nasty water usually pools after several uses. And if your not watching for it, it will let you know with a horrible smell. Repeated air drying and rewetting after uses just concentrates the bacteria there.
Secondly, make sure the DUCKBILL VALVE is in place on your dirty water tank in the bottom end on the underside. This is a very soft black rubber piece which rests inside the tank and allows dirty water to come into the tank only, not out. This piece falls out readily when you clean the tank. Mine fell out, and I noticed the performance of the machine was horrible. Little or no suction at all. Very bad leaking. Bissell sells replacement valves on their website for under $2 each. I got a few just in case. After I replaced that, unit worked well again.
Also, be careful when you set the unit down. If you set it down too hard, you can break the large clear acrylic suction nozzles on the bottom, of which there are two. These rotate when the unit is on and draw water out of your carpet through the small slots. These are also replacable from Bissell and fairly cheap. The attach with 2 small screws on the underside. Very simple. Another reason people complain about poor performance is that these same plastic nozzles that funnel the water through them and into the dirty tank often get CLOGGED WITH HAIR. If you turn the unit over and look at the base of each nozzle, you may see pet hair has clogged them shut. If so, just remove them each with 2 philips screws, and clean them out with a toothpick, pipe cleaner, etc. Then after you reattach them, you will notice dramatic suction increase.
Thirdly, another part of the design of this machine incorporates an upholstery attachment with hose. When you are not using this attachment, the hose is still used to carry black water from the floor to the tank EVERY TIME. Im not crazy about this aspect of the design. Hence this hose can and does become clogged up and nasty and can decrease performance.
A simple solution I do to remedy this is to remove the hose end from the unit where you would attach the upholstery nozzle. Get a small container and put approxiamtely 2-3 cups of scalding hot water in. Add a capful of bleach. Stick the end of the hose in the water and manually turn on the unit for the upholstery attachment setting. This will suck the hot bleach water through that hose and instantly into the dirty water tank. Usually with a bunch of hair. The bleach helps to clean the germs from the hose and the dirty tank. Pour that down the toilet. Reattach the hose in place. This will increase performance.
I have never experienced any leakage from the clean water tank or fitting, but they do sell new seals on the Bissell website for those as well.
Even with regular maintenance, there have been times when, for one reason or another the spot bot just doesnt seem to extract water from the carpet like it should. You can usually judge the performance by the dirty water level in the tank after a cycle. You can get approximately 3 cycles out of a full clean tank of water, and usually the same will fill the dirty tank. Which, incidentally, when full, will shut off suction to avoid spilling. You can hear this when it happens. There will be a distinct change of sound during the suction cycle.
All in all, there are really so many nooks and crannies on this machine exposed to hazardous germs that it becomes practically impossible to keep them perfectly clean all the time. Storage then becomes an issue. Bisell sells an optional storage base, or plate you can rest the unit on when not in use. I think this should be included. The unit will inevitably drip after you carry it away to or from the cleaning sitye. Also, storage itself is kind of awkward. Depending on the frequency of the use of the unit, it may become impractical to coil up the cord and move it to a decicated storage area after each use. I would also suggest a rubbermaid or similar type mat with raised edges to contain spills after use.
Even after the purchase of our spot-bot, we still prefer to have a professional carpet cleaning company come in twice a year to help keep things clean.