We Tried It: Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum Review
Is the Shark Robot Vacuum smart enough to take over the task of cleaning the floors?
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I’m a self-proclaimed cleaning fanatic. Maybe it has something to do with a writer’s procrastination cleaning routine, but I love cleaning and love living in a clean environment even more. Vacuuming is one of my favorite chores, especially as vacuum technology has come a long way in the last decade.
Give me a good cordless stick vacuum, and I’ll be gone for hours or until the battery dies. But robot vacuums are getting smarter, and I may not need to vacuum anymore physically. Cleaning and home organization expert Caroline Solomon explains, “Robot vacuums are an excellent solution to those who are impaired physically (i.e., have mobility or back issues), and are wonderful for busy households.”
With that convenience in mind, I was thrilled to test the Shark Robot Vacuum. The Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum comes with a self-empty base, Shark’s NeverStuck technology, and Detect Dirt. This feature sees hidden dirt and promises to increase suction to get rid of the mess quickly. But does it do a good enough job for me to relinquish vacuuming duties? And does a Shark vacuum stand up to well-known floor-cleaning brands like Bissel and Dyson? For my Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum review, I tested this model to check on ease of use, cleaning abilities and to see if it really did make a functional map of my home.
What is the Shark Robot Vacuum?
Courtesy Lauren Allain
The Shark Robot Vacuum is exactly as you’d expect. It’s a floor-cleaning system done by a spherical vacuum that cleans without human assistance. The Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum connects to the SharkClean app, so you can control it via your smartphone.
The Detect Pro model has a self-empty base that serves as the robot’s charging dock. After cleaning, the vacuum docks itself and empties debris into the base which can hold up to 60 days worth of dirt and dust. The exact time will depend on how often you vacuum and the level of dirt on your floors.
Robot vacuums have been appealing since they’re a hands-off cleaning solution. But the self-empty bins bring a new level of convenience. So, you can forget about vacuuming or maintaining your robot vacuum for up to two months.
WE TRIED IT
Shark Robot Vacuum
This floor-cleaning system cleans without human assistance.
Shark Robot Vacuum features
The Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum has several standout features. The robot vacuum uses Shark’s NeverStuck technology, which ensures the vacuum won’t get stuck and won’t need to be rescued. The two wheels resemble mini versions of a mountain bike’s tires and help the robot lift itself over thresholds like taller rugs, thick carpets or floor transitions.
The DirtDetect function gives the vacuum extra smarts when it senses larger messes, going over the area multiple times in a figure-eight pattern.
Since robot vacuums are circular, but that dark corner in the pantry or the living room is a corner, the vacuum uses EdgeDetect. When the vacuum senses a corner, it shoots a blast of air, pulling dust and debris out of the stuck corner and into the cleaning path.
FloorDetect automatically senses which floor type the vacuum is cleaning and adjusts the brush to suit each flooring.
The charging base is also the self-empty location the robot uses to discard the debris it picks up. Shark says the dustbin in the charging base can hold up to 60 days’ worth of debris before it needs to be emptied. The charging base uses HEPA filtration to ensure 99.7% of dust and allergens are kept out of the air. The base also includes an Odor Neutralizing Technology cartridge, found on some Shark products, that helps cut down on unwanted odors.
How we tested it
Courtesy Lauren Allain
Unpacking the Shark Robot Vacuum was easy, and it came with a handy quick-start guide with a QR code to download the SharkClean app. As instructed, I attached the side brush to the vacuum and placed it on the self-empty base. After downloading the app, it prompted me to pair the robot vacuum to my phone and home’s Wi-Fi. The app also asked me to name the robot and offered incredible recommendations that included “Clean Latifah,” “Dustiny’s Child,” and what I selected, “Meryl Sweep.”
After that, the app told me it was time to start the Explore Run to map my home. However, the robot vacuum didn’t have enough battery power to take off, so I let it rest until the following day.
Shark has two useful, short and easy-to-follow instructional videos about how to set up the Detect Pro and what to know about its performance and cleaning requirements. As a visual learner, I would have found it amazing to have QR codes linked to those on the quick start guide with the vacuum. I found these videos weeks after I started testing the vacuum buried on Shark’s website.
Before setting out on the Explore Run, Shark says you should clear your entire home floor area of small items like shoes, socks, cords or dog toys. Basically, anything a vacuum shouldn’t suck up. This took a few minutes to accomplish and proves one of cleaning expert Solomon’s points about robot vacuums. “Households that are more minimalist in nature (i.e., have fewer bulky items of furniture) are probably better suited to robot vacuums,” she says.
The Explore Run took about 40 minutes. Afterward, I could view the map in the app, label each room and create no-go zones.
A mapping function is something Sarah McAllister, founder of Bleach, Pray, Love & GoCleanCo, looks for in a robot vacuum. “Ones with home mapping are generally more expensive, but they are worth it. You can map out which rooms you want them to clean and which ones you don’t want them in.”
Unfortunately, you can’t tell the Explore Run to avoid areas, so you’d need to either close doors or block off the area in another way.
While McAllister says a robot vacuum won’t replace regularly vacuuming your home, they can be “perfect in busy households for daily maintenance in between regular vacuuming and deep cleans. Consider it a helper with daily maintenance.”
I set Meryl Sweep off on her first cleaning run in the morning after mapping. Select one of three cleaning modes from the app before the robot sets off: eco, normal or max. I chose normal and set it off to clean the whole house.
While one of the selling points of a robot vacuum is to let it do its thing without your help, I was a keen observer while it set out on its daily clean. I wanted to know if it ran into the dog’s dish, obeyed my no-go map areas and what kind of suction it used on areas that needed more attention.
I was left impressed with Meryl Sweep’s ability to clean without bumping into anything, the suction to clean carpets and the detection of areas that needed more attention. The Shark AI Laser Vision means that even though some of the rooms in my home were dark, the robot vacuum could still clean just as efficiently.
One of my favorite parts of observing the Detect Pro Robot Vacuum was its return to the charging base. Once it aligns itself to the base, it backs into it with a smooth and graceful moonwalk-reminiscent maneuver that made me laugh every time. That enjoyment was short-lived, however, because the next step was for the vacuum to empty into the base’s dustbin. While this is undoubtedly one of the vacuum’s best features, it’s loud. The sound is similar to a plane taking off a few blocks away and might be bothersome to sensitive pets or napping kids.
Maintenance for the Detect Pro
After about 10 days of testing the robot vacuum, I went through the process of emptying the two dustbins and cleaning the filters. The charging base is the primary dustbin, but the vacuum has a separate dustbin. Both were simple, easy and intuitive to empty and the process took just a few minutes. I also removed the charging base’s two filters and ran them under cold water as Shark recommends for cleaning off dust.
The overall maintenance and cleaning for the Detect Pro was simple. Since the charging base’s dustbin holds up to two months of debris, the emptying process won’t need to happen often.
App functions and customizations
The Shark Robot Vacuum works best when paired and controlled with the SharkClean app. From here, you can schedule the vacuum to clean once a day, once a week or a few times per week. You’re able to set custom times for each day you choose. The one downside to the scheduling function is that it’s only capable of cleaning your entire mapped space (minus any no-go areas you’ve marked in the app). While you can send your robot to specific rooms through the app, you can’t schedule it to clean just a few rooms, only the whole house.
Through the app, you can also access cleaning reports. These are a satisfying look at the areas the vacuum covered and how long it took to clean those areas. The app accesses the map and creates or alters no-go zones.
Occasionally, the vacuum has something to say, like when pairing it initially to your home’s Wi-Fi, and it also has a few jingles like when it’s done cleaning and docking. You can control the volume of these through the app as well.
One of my favorite features of using a robot vacuum synched with an app is the ability to schedule it while you’re not home. For example, if the morning’s pancake-making session left flour on the floor and no one had time to clean, you can set out the robot in the middle of running errands and come home to a clean kitchen floor.
If you don’t want to connect the Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum to your home’s Wi-Fi or use the app, you can still use the vacuum by pressing the “Clean” button. But you’ll miss out on mapping and extra features controlled only in the app.
- Self-empty base
- Controllable via the app, even when you’re not at home
- Zero crashes or bumping into anything thanks to the smart mapping
- Three vacuum modes
- Ability to clean specific rooms
- Odor Neutralizer cartridge
- Capable of scheduled cleanings
- Self-emptying process is loud
- Slow charging (up to 6 hours)
Courtesy Lauren Allain
How many years does a Shark vacuum last?
Like all batteries, the one in the Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum won’t last forever. Shark sells a replacement battery for the robot vacuum that costs about $60. The brand also sells other replacement parts for the vacuum like new side brushes, Odor Neutralizer Technology cartridges, dustbins and filters. These replacement parts might increase the overall lifespan of your Shark vacuum should one piece fail or break.
Do Shark vacuums have a lifetime warranty?
The Shark Robot Vacuum comes with a one-year limited warranty. This covers manufacturing and materials defects, but it doesn’t cover normal wear and tear like replacements to the HEPA filter. The warranty only extends to those who use the robot vacuum for its intended household purposes and not in a commercial setting. It also doesn’t cover accidents like if the vacuum cleans over spilled liquids.
Can you return a Shark vacuum after using it?
When bought from the Shark online store, you have 60 days to make a return, beginning on the delivery date. Shark says the refund will be less any restocking fees and the cost of shipping and handling. Shark also says items that appear excessively worn or used won’t qualify for a return.
When bought from Amazon, the Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum will come with Amazon’s 30-day return policy.
What other reviewers have to say
One five-star reviewer says, “I love that it has a convenient app that mapped my house out and I was able to set boundaries for the vacuum. We can set it off whenever we want a quick or thorough clean-up with just my phone and don’t even have to be home. The robot vacuum self-empties after every cleaning and has a fantastic-smelling little filter that’s supposed to last a while. It doesn’t get stuck because it can lift itself/self-level and you can set the no-go zones.”
“I have hardwood floors throughout my home, two dogs and three kids,” says another reviewer. “This Shark vacuum is heaven-sent. It is quiet enough to run while my kids are napping and doesn’t bulldoze into my dog’s food because of its sensors. It mapped my floors on the first use and became more accurate with each use.”
One reviewer wrote a five-star review that says, “Impressive capacity. I have two dogs and kids, plus it’s all carpet in here, so it’s a lot of work. I’m pregnant, and it made my life easier. I love the practicality of choosing the rooms you need to clean each day of the entire house. Also, the avoidance areas are so cool.”
I’m stepping down as the sole household vacuumer and giving the Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum the job. I still love using the cordless vacuum and find myself grabbing it if I need to clean up a small area quickly. However, setting the robot vacuum out a few times a week has been a big time-saver.
Plus, the robot vacuum does a much better job than I do when it comes to cleaning trickier areas like under beds and it’s incredibly thorough during its cleaning runs.
I still think you’ll want another vacuum around like a canister model or one with accessories to clean blinds and mattresses, since the robot can’t clean those. Solomon agrees only using a robot vacuum probably isn’t the best bet for all homes.
“Robot vacuums are slower and run longer than their canister/upright counterparts. These might not be the best solution if you need to vacuum in a jif,” she says.
And she’s right. While I absolutely love the Shark Robot Vacuum, it takes up to an hour to clean my whole single-level space. But overall, using it a few times a week has been magical. Seeing just how much it picks up reminds me that vacuuming every day is probably the best plan.
Where to buy the Shark Robot Vacuum
WE TRIED IT
Shark Robot Vacuum
Three deep-cleaning technologies sense mess level, floor type and edges & corners.
About the experts
- Caroline Solomon: Caroline Solomon is a cleaning and home organization expert based in New York. She’s the founder of Caroline Solomon Home, and her work has been featured in Apartment Therapy, The Kitchn and The Washington Post.
- Sarah McAllister: Sarah McAllister is a cleaning expert and CEO and founder of Bleach, Pray, Love & GoCleanCo. Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart, Southern Living, Real Simple and InStyle.