Hate poop? Then $500 may not be too much to pay for this toilet-cleaning robot

Giddel Toilet-Cleaning Robot
Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

I probably shouldn’t be admitting this, but cleaning a toilet doesn’t totally gross me out.

Ok, if I were scrubbing a filthy, smelly, overly disgusting toilet in, say, a prison or a football stadium, I might sing a different tune. As it is, I’ve only scrubbed the pee-splattered ones in my home. But I’ve always felt that toilets get a bit of a bad rap as the grossest place in the home — when they’re actually not.

From a germ perspective, we should be more fearful of neglected areas like door handles, computer keyboards, and phones. And if you have a good toilet brush, you don’t even have to touch the places where poop touches. So, what’s the big deal?

The minute I pulled the Giddel out of the box, I found myself impressed with the workmanship.

This was exactly what I was thinking when I first heard about Giddel, the $500 toilet-cleaning robot from Altan Robotics. Come on, I thought. Do we really hate cleaning toilets so much that we’ll buy a $500 robot to do it for us? Is this something that society really needs?

But the more I learned about it and talked about it on Digital Trends Live, the more my thoughts about the robot morphed from skepticism to curiosity to fascination. Finally, unable to stop myself, I requested one for review. I had to try this sucker — er, scrubber — out.

I figured I’d let it twirl around in my dirty toilet just to see if the cute little thing would have me ditching toilet brushes forever or cursing our tech-solution-without-a-problem society.

Here’s a rundown — or should I say scrub down — of my experience with “Bowley” the toilet-cleaning robot. (Note: Credit for the name “Bowley” goes to my 5-year-old son).

This is not a toy

The minute I pulled the Giddel out of the box, I found myself impressed with the workmanship. It’s a well-crafted, sturdy machine. The device comes with a large charging station, a bottle for adding water to the robot, mounting brackets, and extra brushes. Its “eyeballs” serve as simple play and pause buttons, and there’s an on/off button on the top of the robot’s “head”.

There’s no app, which I think is a good thing. It’s far enough out there to have a toilet-cleaning robot doing your bidding for you, but to do it via an app while you’re at, say, a dinner party or some other outing just seems like overkill. (“Oh, excuse me, I need to tell my robot to clean my toilet.”)

There’s something to be said for technology that is truly autonomous.

“I wanna play with it!” my son yelled as he clamored for it. I pulled it away from him, saying what all parents say to 5 year olds who try to grab expensive things: “This is not a toy.”

The robot must be charged before use. While it charged on the base station, I removed the toilet seat, installed the brackets underneath per the instructions that were provided, then reinstalled the toilet seat. The installation process only took a few minutes.

Once charged, I put some toilet cleaner in the bowl, clipped the robot via the handle to the brackets, turned the device on, and then hit the play button. The robot whizzed to life, mapping out my toilet like a robot vacuum might do to my floor the first time it’s used. Then it went to work systematically scrubbing the inner rim, outer rim, and deep inside the bowl. The device rotated around in an efficient manner, doing a decent job of hitting every inch.

Me, my husband, and son stared at the twirling device.

“It’s kind of fascinating,” my husband said.

I agreed. I turned off Bowley and brought it to our second bathroom, where I repeated the process. Removing the robot from the first toilet was as easy as pushing a lever to detach it.

While the device does a great job of cleaning the inside of the bowl, it barely touches the rim and cannot scrub the toilet seat at all.

While it worked its magic in the second bathroom, I looked happily at it whirling around my toilet bowl without me lifting a finger to help it. There’s something to be said for technology that is truly autonomous. Then I looked at my nasty, forlorn-looking old toilet brush, sitting inactive behind my toilet. There really was no comparison between the two.

Was it time to say good riddance to the brush? Well, not so fast.

Drawbacks

While there are plenty of reasons to celebrate this little robot (ease of installation, hands-free cleaning, the robot coolness factor), there are some definite issues with the device.

For one, it comes with a large charging/base station that you have to figure out where to store. If you have a small bathroom, this could be problematic. We plopped ours on our bathroom countertop, but this is a less-than-ideal location for a toilet cleaner.

Giddel Toilet-Cleaning Robot
Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

Also, when the robot finishes cleaning, a chime sounds. But if you don’t tend to it right away and turn it off, the device stays on instead of shutting itself down, dangling over your toilet and running the battery down. We wish it had an automatic off feature that kicks in once it’s done cleaning.

And while the device does a great job of cleaning the inside of the bowl, it barely touches the rim and cannot scrub the toilet seat at all, so after all that investment, you’ll still have to do some work on your toilet yourself. During testing, we twice found residue left over on our rim after the robot was done cleaning.

But perhaps the biggest flaw of this device is the price tag. Paying $100 for a device people aren’t sure they’ll need is a hard sell, but $500 is outlandish, and to be honest, if I wasn’t given the opportunity to test it for free, I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at it. When you can get a toilet brush for $15, why pony up $500 for a robot?

Verdict

While my son is pretty enamored of Bowley and I think it’s a nifty little device, until they significantly drop the price, I doubt that the Giddel will catch on as a must-have household item. Shoot, even if they did drop the price, I don’t know that people would buy. It’s a very novel, specialized product. And like I said before, is cleaning the toilet such a big deal that you need a robot to do it? Unless it costs the same as a toilet brush, the answer is no.

Deals

Walmart slashes prices on iRobot Roomba and Shark Ion robot vacuums

Walmart slashed prices of top robot vacuums from iRobot, Shark, Eufy, and Ecovacs just in time for spring cleaning season.  With a robot vacuum on the job you can retire that old upright and let a robot vacuum take over floor-cleaning…
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Deals

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Deals

Amazon slashes $77 off the iRobot Roomba 690 multisurface robot vacuum

This special offer comes just in time for you to get a head start on spring cleaning. The Roomba 690 robot vacuum sucks up dust, dirt and pet hair — all while you're away at the office.
Deals

Walmart drops prices on Google Home Hub and Lenovo smart displays

Walmart slashed the prices of Google Home smart displays for two highly regarded Lenovo models and the original Google Home Hub. We can't think of a better way to improve your smart home setup and these deals can help you save up to $100.
Deals

Amazon lowers Echo Dot cost and slashes price of the Dot and Smart Plug bundle

Amazon just unleashed extraordinary price cuts on third-generation Echo Dot smart speakers. The Alexa device is back in stock following the blowout sales last holiday season. The Echo Dot is the best-selling Alexa smart speaker worldwide.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Smart Home

Your Instant Pot can do it all. Research says it has another important function

Researchers at Dakota State University tested a variety of pressure cookers for sterilization and found that Instant Pot provides enough pressure and heat to kill off food-spoiling bacteria.
Smart Home

Need some help? Here's our handy step-by-step guide on how to Airbnb your home

Getting ready to make your home a great rental? Here's how to Airbnb your home with the right amenities, insurance, supplies, and everthing else that you need. Use this guide to get started without making beginner mistakes!
Deals

Dyson sale shatters prices on vacuums just in time for spring cleaning

Steep price cuts on Dyson vacuum cleaners for the spring cleaning season help you save money on the tools you need to do the job. We've found the best discounts on Dyson vacuums from Amazon and Walmart and put them all in one place.
Deals

Amazon slashes prices on Echo devices that play Alexa’s sweetest-sounding music

Amazon slashed prices on Alexa-controlled Echo devices with the best music sound quality. All Alexa smart speakers stream music, but some sound better than others. Save on Echo Plus and the Echo Sub bundled with Echo and Echo Plus speakers.
Product Review

Simple and small, the Google Home Hub is your low-key smart screen

What’s small, simple, cute, and lacks a camera? The Google Home Hub is the latest smart display to hit the market. Powered by Google Assistant, there’s a lot to like about this device.
Smart Home

Arlo listens to feedback, improves video quality for its premier security camera

Arlo relaunched its flagship Arlo Ultra 4K HDR security camera system with worldwide availability. Arlo fixed issues from a limited early release and now the marquee brand is available in multiple configurations with A.I-driven monitoring.