Top critical review
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Ok for a quick refresh, no way up to serious cleaning
on 20 June 2013
My previous experience cleaning carpets was by hiring a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner, so I will compare to that...
On a positive note, compared to a Rug Doctor, this cheap, bottom of the range Vax is more portable and light and, because the handle folds down flat, it both can be stored more easily (e.g. under a bed) and can also be used to clean under some furniture (like chairs, chests of drawers etc) without even having to move it out the way at all. Its also quieter, akin perhaps to a loud and whiney vacuum cleaner - the difference being, out of politeness, I would warn my neighbour when I'm using a Rug Doctor, but no need with this.
However, compared to a Rug Doctor (which to be fair would cost a lot more to buy) the cleaning power is just not in the same league. My grubby carpets (I have a cream carpet, kids and the front door opens straight to the street) now look fresher, smell nicer and are certainly a little cleaner, noticeably so, but definitely not 100% clean. Firstly, the suction on the device is just not up to the job, with noticeably a lot more liquid being pushed into the carpet than is sucked back out again. This means both that the dirt is not fully extracted and that the carpets are wetter and take a lot longer to dry. Secondly, whilst there is a substantial brush on the front of the device, this is a static push along affair, it doesn't rotate and is not motorised at all, hence it helps very little, whereas a Rug Doctor would very aggressively agitate the carpet whilst it was cleaning.
Note also there is no upholstery tool, so stair cleaning is pretty much out. It was just about light enough to encourage me to try lifting it physically onto the stair treads (using the whole machine like a giant upholstery tool) - just possible, but not really practical or effective - too awkward, hard to get into the corners, plus you can only really have it one way round as it can't be expected to suck unless you make contact along the whole suction area, if you get what I mean.
The build quality is maybe a little light, a tiny bit plasticky, but not bad for the price and it doesn't feel like it will break. It is also very easy to use, a doddle to fill and empty the tanks. The instruction manual was about the shortest I've ever seen. Maybe not a big deal, but there is also a teeny tiny, slightly pathetic, filter that really needs cleaning every time the small tank is emptied, although it only takes a few extra seconds. The only other negtive to add was that I wanted to rinse and dry out the tanks before putting away to avoid mold and smells, but its quite difficult to get the last couple of teaspoons of water out of one of the tanks due to the way its designed.
I paid £60 for mine and on the grounds of underwhelming cleaning power, feel a little cheated at that price. Nevertheless if you are looking for something that you can quickly whip out and only need to freshen up the carpets a little and don't mind waiting for the carpets to dry this might do the job. Also, it might make sense if you want something to use frequently and don't want your carpet to wear out too quickly - e.g. for a weekly or fortnightly quick clean. Perhaps also suitable for someone who wouldn't be able to handle a heavier machine. For serious cleaning and quick drying though, you will need to look elsewhere - get a professional in, hire a better machine, or look at a much more expensive device - one with a significantly much higher wattage vaccuum and motorised brushes.