Oct 25, 2011
Purchase Link: Buy Online (Current Price: $149.00)
Pros: Powerful steam jet reliably sanitizes a large area; cleans floors quickly
Cons: Vacuum has difficulty with tight spaces, no attachments
Bottom Line: Great performer for daily hard floor cleaning
I live in a home with a shiny wood floor that seems to attract dust like a magnet. I love hard floors for their appearance and the fact that they do not harbor allergens as carpets can, but you really have to be dedicated about your cleaning to keep them looking nice — not one of my strengths. I had been using a Swiffer vacuum to clean the floor, which was very convenient — it is light and battery-powered — but left a bit to be desired in terms of suction ability. So, I sprung for the more expensive Shark Steam Vacuum hoping it would make my job easier.
Without the steam attachment, the Shark Steam Vacuum operates like any other bagless upright vacuum; it has plenty of suction and is able to maintain suction very close to the edge of the base, particularly on the sides. In front, the vacuum has a bit of a lip for the steam attachment; in this area, it has a bit less suction. This makes it difficult to vacuum in very tight spaces, and I still find myself using the Swiffer occasionally to vacuum areas such as tight corners, and under the bed and furniture. Emptying the canister is a breeze; simply remove it and dump the debris into a garbage can. The Shark Steam Vacuum is much smaller than other upright vacuums I have used, so you can store it just about anywhere.
After vacuuming the dust and crumbs from your floor, attach one of the Velcro-backed cleaning pads to the steam attachment and place the attachment on the floor. The attachment has two magnetic posts that connect automatically to the Shark Steam Vacuum when you place the vacuum on top. For safety, the steam mode only works with the attachment. The vacuum includes four steam cleaning pads with different textures. The pads appear to be cotton with a synthetic backing; I have machine-washed all of them several times, and they are holding up well.
After connecting the steam attachment, fill the water tank with the included cup — distilled water is recommended so deposits won’t form on the heating element — flip the main switch to the steam setting and turn the power on. The main switch functions as a cover, preventing you from turning the vacuum and steamer on simultaneously. Wait 30 seconds and tilt the handle of the Shark Steam Vacuum to make steam come out.
The steamer is the real selling point of the Shark Steam Vacuum; the element heats up very quickly, and steam shoots out the bottom of the vacuum immediately when you tilt the handle. The vacuum continues to emit a jet of steam for about 20 minutes before you need to refill the tank; sufficient to sanitize and polish several hundred square feet of hard flooring. The jet is powerful and doesn’t leave a trail of water on the floor.
Overall, I am glad that I purchased the Shark Steam Vacuum and have few misgivings about it. The steam jet is powerful and reliable, and cleans a wide area allowing you to finish your job quickly. The vacuum would be perfect if it could just clean some slightly tighter areas. In addition, the steamer lacks the ability to sanitize higher surfaces such as counter tops and sinks because it lacks a steam attachment — the vacuum portion also has no attachments. So, if you are looking for a single unit that can vacuum and sanitize every surface in the home, this isn’t it. However, strictly as a floor cleaner, I haven’t found anything in the price range that does the job faster.