Customer Reviews: BISSELL SpotBot Pet Hands-Free Compact Deep Cleaner, Blue Illusion, 1200A
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VINE VOICEon August 15, 2007
The other night my dog got into the cat's litter box (I use Fresh Step crystals - those crystals don't sit well in a dogs stomach) and she must have had a real fancy feast. I awoke to her vomiting all over my freshly dry cleaned comforter, and when I got up saw piles of diarrhea and more vomit in two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I'm thinking to myself, "This girl planned this," because just three days ago I had my carpeting professionally cleaned.

I didn't have time to do anything more than wipe up as much of the diarrhea and vomit as I could (and to tend to Joon's stomach, of course), as I was running late for an appointment. While I was out, I remembered seeing a commercial for this product, so on the way home, I picked it up.

When I had finished collecting any of the refuse that had dried while I was out, I approached this with skepticism. After all, it is a little difficult to believe that all you have to do is set the unit down over the stain, press a button, and then walk away.

But that's all you have to do. I was amazed at the simplicity of the design, and how easy it is to disconnect the collection and solution tanks. On the solution tank, Bissell has two sets of markings: one for use with their OxyGen2 product (which I haven't used yet), water, and formula; and another for water and formula alone. Those markings are very clear, and are a welcome design. There are three buttons to press: one for regular surface stains; another for set-in stains, and another to allow for manual use with the hose. When I pressed the surface stain button, I watched for a while as the unit switched between spray, suction, and brush functions. I have to say that watching the product work through the "Hands Free Cleaning Window" was pretty, er, cool. (Yeah, so I'm a dork. <grin>)

I walked away for a moment, and then heard the unit beep, indicating that it was done. I'm hearing impaired, and have a difficult time with high tones. I wasn't expecting to hear this, but I did - as clear as a bell - and I was at the opposite end of the apartment. I approached the unit with skepticism, but when I lifted it off the spot, the stains were gone. I proceeded to set the unit down on all of the spots throughout the apartment, coming back to it every time it beeped. It cleaned every spot.

This was by far the most pleasant, and the least physically exhausting experience I've ever had with a so-called steam or deep cleaner - and that "least physically exhausting" part is a big one for me.

Still skeptical, though, I thought to myself: Just see when it dries; the stains won't really be gone. This morning, however, every single spot had dried, and there wasn't an issue with the carpet feeling stiff due to soapiness.

As an aside, and as a comment to another review: This unit wasn't built or designed to clean an ENTIRE area rug, or, of course, anything larger. That's the purvey of large steam cleaners. It's called "SpotBot" for a reason. And it executes perfectly.

EDIT 8/22/07: The same dog got into something else, and left a mess of vomit and diarrhea all over the apartment. Again. (No, I'm not trying to poison my dogs, and this doesn't happen often.) Some of the diarrhea had occurred in the night, and it was stiff and wouldn't rub out using the hand brush. But using the hands-free option got the job done.

I feel very badly for my dog, of course, but at the same time am thankful to have had this unit. It made a world of difference. Every pet owner should have one.

ALSO, 2 TIPS for those who don't think the hands-free option retrieves enough water during its cycle:

1) After using the hands-free, detach the manual hose and use that suction, or;

2) Empty the solution tank, and run the hands-free option again. No water/formula will eject, so you'll have a couple of minutes of "pure" suction.

EDIT 8/24: For those interested, my dog is now fine. :-)
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on January 3, 2008
A few reviewers were not impressed with this machine and I can only theorize that it is because they either had bad luck and got one that just happened to be defective, or they weren't using it correctly or something along those lines. This machine is worth every penny ... and trust me at over $100 for a portable machine I wasn't sure that would be true when I bought it. But with an aging pet that suddenly started having lots of accidents on my new carpet I would lost my mind without this machine.

Before purchasing this machine I tried cleaning a few spots with a spray bottle of cleaner and doing the wet sponge spray and rub routine they recommended and all I did was make a big sloppy mess that was still stained. I tried this machine and it worked like a charm. It's easy to use, fairly easy to clean up after using it, and it does a fantastic job on those small spots that don't quite warrant a big full size machine or a professional. Best of all it's automatic ... fill it with solution, set it on the stain, hit a button and it does everything itself ... a very nice feature when you get woken up to stains or accidents at 3 AM.

I would concede that it does use a fair amount of cleaning solution, so in that respect it isn't exactly cheap to use if you have a lot of large and frequent stains, but you can't beat it for quality of performance ... I think it does a better job than even my Bissel Upright steam cleaner! If you have pets or children with new carpet this machine is a must. I even recommended it to my brother when he got a new Lab puppy and he called me to thank me and tell me it was a lifesaver at his house as well.

I don't often write reviews raving about products, but this machine deserves all the kudos it gets. And it's got a Consumer Reports Best Buy rating as well.
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on November 24, 2010
This is my second SpotBot; I've been using one of these things for a couple of years now, repeatedly, so let me help you be most effective with it.

First let me explain my home. I have a 3-bedroom ranch inhabited by two adults, one adult cat, two geriatric cats with medical issues (stomach troubles), a Golden Retriever puppy and two small humans, ages 7 and 9.

My carpet is already trashed. The kids have spilled fingernail polish on it, the vacuum has eaten on was low-grade contractor's carpet to begin with, and 11 years later, even the Stanley Steemer people are recommending to put money into replacing it, not cleaning it.

Nevertheless, we don't have the cash for that right now, so I need to clean the thing. I would estimate that the cats tend to barf on the carpet an average of 4 times a week; often more. So my SpotBot just lives on standby, and gets hauled out nearly every day.

If the stain you're working on is fresh, blot up what you can with paper towels first. Next, spray the concentrated cleaner directly onto the stain (did I mention my carpet was already trashed? I wouldn't do that with a nice, new carpet), fill the SpotBot with clean, clear water, place it on top of the stain and let it go.

If it's the spot where the cat barfed behind the couch a month ago and you didn't find it 'till now, pick up what you can with paper towel (if it's bile, nothing; if it's a pile of dried kibble barf, you can peel much of it off), and let the cleaner sit for five minutes.

Once the machine stops running, you will have a lovely, wet little "crop circle" in your carpet. Get three layers of paper towels, fold them over once, and place it over the crop circle. Stand on it for a bit to soak up as much as you can. Ruffle the nap of the carpet around a bit when you're done and it will dry good as new.
No barf.
No crunchy carpet.
Uses way less cleaner.

I generally get about six runs of the machines for every tank of water. If you leave it SITTING AND BEEPING, do be aware that the machine is happily peeing yet more water onto your carpet. It WILL leak! Our previous one didn't do that, but the newer models seem to have an incontinence problem. :-( Be sure you remove it promptly. I let mine sit in the bathtub while I empty the tanks and then while it dries off. Oh, and flush your dirty tank water. Much nicer to your sinks!
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on April 16, 2008
We have 3 indoor cats and unfortunately they all throw up quite a bit. We were about to move to a new apartment with NEW carpet and I thought it would be a good idea to buy this machine so we could keep the carpet nice. As expected, one of my cats threw up on the carpet a day after we moved in. I took out this new machine, read the instructions and got started. Of course I first had to pick up the "excess" with a cloth, then I filled the tank, put the machine right over the spot and pressed the start button. The machine ran for about 3 mins and then beeped to indicate it was done. I pulled the machine away to see the carpet was comletely clean. I got on my knees and put my nose right up to the carpet (not to be gross, but I wanted to see if in fact the machine was able to get the smell out as well as the mess), I took a deep inhale and sure enough I could not smell a thing other than the smell of the carpet solution which has a very plesant odor. I was extremely pleased.

Here's where the "effort" comes in though. Once you pull the machine away from the spot, you will see a big "carpet crop circle". AND, the area is left VERY wet. At this point you have to use the "manual" hose to go back over the circle to get the excess water out of the carpet and to take away the circle. I would have given the rating five stars except for this part. It's not THAT big of a deal to have to do it but the machine would be perfect if this was not the case. THEN, after you're completely finished, you have to rinse out the dirty water container and suck clean water through the hose to clean the hose out before storing. If you do not do this the hose will start to smell. Another thing to note is if you use the machine a lot you will go through quite a bit of solution. Make sure you stock up. You use a quarter of a bottle for one tank and one tank will clean about 4 spots.

All in all, I still highly recommend the machine.
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on July 21, 2009
With two mini dachshunds and a cat getting up there I thought this would be the perfect spot cleaner, eliminating the need to carry a full size Hoover up and down two sets of stairs.

*Very easy to use
*On board storage for hose and hand attachment
*Beep notification in automatic (hands-free) mode to let you know the cycle is complete
*Compact size makes it easy to carry up stairs
*Choice of automatic mode for set in stains (runs 6 minutes) and a shorter mode (3 min) for surface stains

*Automatic cleaning leaves carpets WET...very wet. You will need to use the hand attachment manually to extract the remaining liquid from the carpet.
*Included cleaning solutions will only mask pet odors for a few days. They do not eliminate the odor. You will need to use a good pretreater that will eliminate pet odors.
*Leaks when using hand attachment
*Had problems getting it to work in manual mode. I'd have to press the manual button several times for it to start up.
*Costly due to the amount of cleaning solution needed
*Not effective in removing set in stains

While I really wanted to like this product due to the ease of use and compact size with all the cons I opted to return it. It is not truely a hands free cleaner as the automatic mode leaves "spots" too wet so you need to manually extract the remaining liquid left behind. As far as removing pet stains from my experience a bottle of Resolve Pet Stain and Odor remover is more effective with pet stains than this cleaner.
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on July 30, 2007
Bissell 1200A SpotBot Pet Hands-Free Compact Deep Cleaner, Blue Illusion
I just bought the Pet Spotbot with the combination of Bissell Oxygen2 and Pet Odor Stain Remover. The product arrived on the day my dog got sick while I was at work. I literally came home to 25 piles of poop and diarrhea in the bedroom. It was everywhere and I almost cried. I didn't remember what I had ordered and thankfully, when I opened the box, it was the spotbot! What a lifesaver! By following the easy instructions, I was able to clean up ever spot completely with no remnants of stains!
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on January 21, 2008
Somehow someone tracked in some type of oily/tarry substance onto our carpet over a year ago. We tried spray carpet cleaners & everything else you could think of. Finally, right before the holidays I tried using our full-size Hoover carpet cleaner with slight (to no) success. Then I tried hand scrubbing (again) resulting in the 1-2 inch spots spreading into 5-8 inch spots (and much hilarity among the male members of our family, who called them "oil spills"). Now it was either cut out the pieces of carpet or buy a SpotBot and try it one more time.
SpotBot worked (key miraculous music). I used it on almost every stain on our 13 yr old carpet. The huge oily/tarry slicks are about 98% removed (and very hard to see), leaving a very slight different color to the carpet which was more than we'd ever hoped for. Most of the stains are completely gone & a few that we'd expected to be with us forever are faded to the point of almost invisibility. Since the carpet is a little over 13 years old and we live on a lake and have always had pets a lot of you will realize how amazing this is.
We love the SpotBot - the results were far more than we ever expected and we'd definitely buy it again. Was it a miracle worker and our carpet is pristine? No - but that would truly have been a miracle. Is our carpet far, far cleaner and looks better than we ever expected? Absolutely.
Our favorite part - set the SpotBot down on the stain and go do something else until it beeps! How cool is that?
Note: These stains were TOUGH and some required multiple deep cycle scrubbings to remove. Other, regular stains came out one deep or light cycle, depending on the stain. In some of the reviews that indicated that the SpotBot didn't work for them it may be possible that their stain may have needed more than one cycle. Let's face it - some stains are just pains;)
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on October 24, 2010
It pains me to have to give this product only 2 stars.
I originally bought the Pet Spot Bot in 2003 I believe (may have been 2004) at a Linens and Things. I loved the unit. It was a miracle come true for one who owned 7 cats at the time. The unit cleaned perfect, worked great and I had no complaints. Over the years our extremely hard water here (for those of you who know how to rate hardness, we are about 112 grains! YES for real. With the softener we have we end up with about 15, but that is still exceedingly hard) destroyed the unit. It was caked with buildup and clogging from the calcium and iron. It finally died in the spring and I decided I had to get another. I bought the next on Amazon. When it arrived I noted it had undergone a few changes. Namely it felt a lot cheaper and the unit look cheaper. The plastic was all thinner and more flexible and the containers were a lot thinner and I noted that the new units are made in China, unlike my original unit. I shrugged it off and decided that with the new unit I would ONLY use distilled water. The first use was good, and it cleaned very well. In fact it seemed to clean well each time, except not the unit was leaking from the bottom somewhere. So I exchanged it. The next unit did the same. It would clean well, but leave a good sized puddle behind, and God forbid you leave the cleaning fluid dispenser in the unit as it leaked ALL the liquid out in less than 24 hours. So I contacted Bissell about the problem and they said they never had this issue before. (I have a hard time believing that) They exchanged it for me again and I received the new unit a couple months ago. Initially it worked fine and no leaking, but every time I use it it leaks more and more. This morning I had to use it to clean up a spot where one of our (now 5) cats (who is ill right now) threw up on the carpet. It cleaned it very well, but when I lifted the unit up when it finished there was a 4 inch wet spot where the back of the unit sat. I used a rag and the unit itself to suck the liquid from the carpet. It has also been leaking when it sits in the utility room between uses, so now I take the cleaning fluid tank out of the unit and place it in the utility sink when not in use. I also clean out the waste tank every time I use it.

Generally it still works well, you simply need to clean up the pebbles it leaves behind.
Bissell, if you guys actually read the reviews here, how about fixing the new version of this unit? Why did you have to make it so cheaply now? If/when I find another brand unit that cleans well and does not leak, the Spot Bot will end up in the garbage. Till then, the benefits of it out weight the bad points.

---UPDATE FROM NOVEMBER 30th 2010---
Well, the replacement Bissell had given us is officially going back to them again for replacement! If you use the hose and manual mode, the unit decides it will empty the entire water/cleaner chamber out of the automatic nossle under the unit. The ENTIRE tank just empties into the carpet, leaving a huge soppiung wet area on the carpet! I am very angry with Bissell at this point. Speaking with them I explained how many complaints are on Amazon for a leaking issue and wanted to know why they do this. They avoided the question, so I reasked. They avoided it again, so I reasked. THey avoided it and I said "Please stop refusing to answer my question... A lot of Amazon Reviews claim the same issues. There is obviously a problem. Are you aware of the quantity of reviews and is there a known issue?" Finally she said "We know of no problems with this product. It functions well." What a load. Well, my 3rd unit will be replaced by them now. *sigh* If you are looking at this product to buy, carefully read the reviews and give it a lot of thought.

---UPDATE FROM January 17th 2011---
I received the replacement in late December, but had not had a chance to use it till this weekend. This time they did not send me a new one, but a referbished unit. Okay, I suppose I could live with that, but thought the original purchase was 6 months ago, we have spent the entire time fighting eith broken units. The issye I had was that they sent me a referbished Green Unit, not the Pet. Beyond that, the referbished unit was also broken. The ONLY button on the unit that works is the "manual start" button! So I called them again this morning and this time requested to speak to a manager. When I questioned why I received a referbished unit I was told that it is policy if the unit was bought over 3 months ago. I explained that the original was bout, then 2 months later they had to send a new unit to replace it and then 2.5 months later this unit. I was told it is 3 months from the "original purchase date". I explained I have yet to get more than a few uses out of it and I wanted a NEW unit. They decided to do this for me. I then asked why I recieved the "Green" machine not the Pet and I was told that they are actually the same unit, just a different color and wording on the unit. (What the hell? So bissell charges MORE for the same unit if you get the 'Pet' unit???)
So now I wait for the shipping tags again so I can send in this "green" unit and get a NEW Pet unit (which by admission is the same as the Green except for the name and color). Once I get it I'll add to this review again.

March 22 2011
I have had the NEW replacement unit for 2 months now. THey have done a complete overhaul on the unit and it is different in shape and size now. I like the new look more. It worked great through 12 cleanings. Today our senior cat has a problem and I had to do a lot of cleaning on the carpet. After 7 continuous cleanings this morning, the unit made an odd "pop" sound and no more suction. If you turn it off and then back on you get suction again, but after 20 to 45 seconds it makes a "pop" sound and loses all suction.

That is it. I have had it with the Bissell SpotBot. The original unit from 8 or 9 years ago was great and well build and worked like a champ. The new and cheaper made units are just not worth it. I'll call Bissell again in a few days and get ANOTHER replacement, but I'll sell it on eBay right away. I need to find a DIFFERENT manufacturer who makes a hand held cleaner or unit like the SpotBot now. I have given up.
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on November 23, 2007
Not only does this work wonders in the automatic plop and go mode, but the manual mode is amazing for spots, upholstery, whatever. With two cats and a dog in a small, carpeted house, it has been a god-send.

Even my mother says "Don't forget the SpotBot" when I go up to clean her house. She was amazed at how it handled the cat yurk spots.

This is the best appliance I've ever purchased.

I recommend it without reservation.
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on November 10, 2007
WOW WOW WOW! This thing is amazing! We have three cats and a 17 mo old baby...they are all very messy!LOL...One of our cats frequently throws up. We have been in our current apratment for only 6 months and broke down and bought one because the carpet was looking HORRIBLE! EVERY stain came out in minutes! It was amazing! Even the ones that have been there for 5+ mos! Even my sons 5 mo old grape juice stain! WAY to go Bissell!
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