“ Brand: Lakeland / Type: Mop / Category: Cleaning Products & Utensils > Bucket, Broom, Brush etc. „
When the time came to choose flooring for the kitchen, I played against what I'd been taught from an early age (ie. I selected neither a highly patterned surface 'that wouldn't show the dirt', nor anything that came in any shade of dark brown for the same reason)and chose a soft-feel vinyl patterned to look like fake floor tiles, in a mixture of cream and orange squares.
I'd have preferred real tiles obviously, but as there isn't a flat surface in the house, we'd have had to have the kitchen floor re-screeded before tiling it, with something smooth. Hence vinyl was what we ended up with, and it's all right really, but like all kitchen floors everywhere, it's a bit tricky to keep clean - perhaps especially so in our kitchen vinyl' s case, as it has a slightly rough (presumably a non-slip) surface which seems to trap the dirt.
We got a Lakeland Steam Multi-mop Elite to deal with this problem. It's a portable and relatively light-weight electrical gadget that you fill with water, plug into the mains and then it generates steam from a rectangular 'head' at the base. You clip reusable, bespoke Lakeland steam-mop-heads onto the head and then push the mop very slowly about the floor to get the full 'steam cleaning' effect.
The steam-mop comes accompanied by grandiose marketing claims; that it sterilizes tile and vinyl floors without the need for detergents or other cleaning material; that it can be used as a carpet cleaner, and so on.
It does work, sort of, and you probably can tell by the somewhat lukewarm terms in which this recommendation is couched that although I'd probably recommend the gadget in general, I'm not completely sold on the steam mop as yet. It has a few obvious drawbacks, the first of which is that although it doesn't need to be used with floor cleaner, apparently it can only be filled with distilled water produced specifically for the purpose by Lakeland - and as that stuff has to come to us by mail order, it doesn't come cheap. On the steam-mop reviews page at the Lakeland website, you'll see that the steam-mop seems to have a fairly high failure rate, and based on the assumption that it's a fragile item in general, we have avoided filling it straight from the tap. Still, distilled water is presumably distilled water, and I've recently found a source of distilled water for car batteries in one of the local shops that I've been trying instead.
While the mop heats up to temperature quickly and is relatively lightweight and easy to use, you do have to push it about really, really slowly to get the full cleaning effect. As the reservoir is part of the (upright) handle, it doesn't hold too much water at a time- we have to refill it to get it to cover the full kitchen floor. If the water tank was much bigger though it would probably throw the mop off balance.
On the plus side, the steam mop stores upright (and has a hanging hook if you've got anything to hang it off) so doesn't need much in the way of assembly or unpacking before you use it. It's surprisingly compact - not much bigger really than one of those folding-head squeegees, but on the other hand - perhaps because it's been built to be so compact - we find the power flex is pretty short to use even in a smallish kitchen like ours is. You get two of the fabric mop-heads when you buy a new steam-mop; each one is not much bigger than one of those 'super-absorbing' microfiber cloth pads you get for kitchen use. Additional mop-heads can be purchased from Lakeland when they wear out. These cloths are reusable and can be cleaned in the washing machine quite successfully, although part of the way they attach to the mop-head is via Velcro strips, which makes then tend to catch on other things in the wash. Despite the Velcro, I still find them much better to keep clean and dry than any of the traditional string mop-heads / Vileda super-mops / foldable floor squeegees that I've used in the past. The compact mop-heads are I'd say one of the super-mops main advantages over regular ie non-steam mops.
The 'carpet glider' gadget it comes with that enables the mop to be used on soft surfaces is a bit of a joke. This 'glider' isjust a blue open frame - like a plastic picture frame with no back or glass - that you sit the mop on before pushing it very slowly about the carpet.
We paid about £60 for ours, straight from 'Lakeland'. It works quite well, and it's all right.
Normally when it comes to washing hard floors there are limits to what I'll do. If I resort to using our Addis mop sponge then I know that I'll be beavering away to an end where a couple of Ibuprofen and some cushions propped up in a chair at the end of the sesh will make me think twice about use a sponge mop again. Strangely enough how people often return...Sponge mops are good for quick clear ups of spillages but forget it if you have large expanses of flooring to wash down.
** This is a long review but it is beneficial for those who wish to buy Hometek's Steam Mop **
Many swear by an old mop though and we've had quite a few from Vileda mops to the ones seen on TV that promise to be leak free when they are lifted from the floor - but the bloody things never decrease in size when they are supposed to squeeze out water in the accompanying buckets. Then there is the JML wonder mop and Woolworth's copy mops, which have great sponges, but poorly plastic hinges, which are liable to break if pressure is exerted. Then there is old faithful, the old string type mops which are so unhygienic you wouldn't dare clean your plates with them, so why should it be different with a kitchen floor or otherwise? Finally there is a way out of all this mayhem and usually our Vax upright washer vacuum will come under the spotlight or another brand offering. From the start of boiling the water from the kettle, filling the machine and starting the principle of cleaning it takes an average of 15 to 25 minutes all in. But then there's the ear screeching motor noise not to mention the squeal of the squeegee strips, which accompany you as you and it try to dry the floor. And if it doesn't dry the floor, then its time to tie two towels to your feet and walk about the floor in a half crazed break dance move to ensure the whole floor is clean. Oh yes I certainly have the experience of washing floors - and I don't like it one bit.
Which is why, after much debate the Lakeland Deluxe Steam Mop has appeared magically under my Christmas tree...
Hometek make a few steam cleaners including three steam mop models but it is this new improved version which is on sale at Lakeland which come with a few more welcomed consumables. The silver and light blue version you see on the shopping channels at a cost of £39-99 only comes with the carpet glider cleaning attachment and one micro fibre pad. I nearly went for this having seeing how well it performed on the shopping channel. But then I made a Google search for replacement pads and the Lakeland link appeared. Not only do they sell the pads it also turns out they sell the mop with a couple of attachments. At the extra cost of £59-99 from Lakeland you get the same Hometek Steam Mop cleaner but in a dark black and yellow design which features well marked controls such as the foot pedal and three replacement pads as well as the carpet glider attachment and a new patio attachment which consists of tons of little stiff brushes on a rubberised foot. Given that Lakeland additionally sell replacement pads at the cost of £9-99 it made sense to consider Lakeland's version at the end of the day.
So when it took me seconds to fit the handle together, slide and lock it into the Deluxe Steam mop, then press a micro fibre cloth to the floor head of the Deluxe Steam mop via its 5 Velcro stitched tabs, it only took me milliseconds to put the steam cleaner on the floor and simultaneously fill it up with cold water through its small clear tank located half way down its body, then plug it in and let it generate steam. Within something like 5 seconds, my Deluxe Steam mop was ready to go; you could have knocked me down with something like a feather duster at this point...it's so quick to heat up, but then again it is powered by 1550 watts.
Some reviewers have commented that this is a lightweight mop. So it's a pity that I have found this not to be exactly true. For starters, on carrying the Steam cleaner to the desired start off point, it is extremely lightweight and comparable to a standard sponge mop. But in actual use, the weight does increase slightly when it comes the time to clean, because the micro steam fibre head has to cope with the dry steam emerging continuously whilst being pushed up and down the floor. When it starts up for example you won't find a sponge damp or saturated already with wet steam but the cloth is thick so it takes time for the fabric to dampen down a bit. Whilst it doesn't hurt my back, the obvious thickness of the sponge plays it part here and although it lacks a scrubbing brush like our Vax upright, this Steam Mop is a godsend for quick stain pick ups which are required from hard floors. In short this 3kg mop is a treasure! The more I moved along the floor the more steam allows the machine to become lighter because of the dampened micro fibre pad.
Remember the 15 minutes average prep and cleaning time with the Vax? Well on the hard floors I usually Vax, the Hometek steam mop took 2 minutes all in - one minute per room and I managed to last on just one 280ml tank without an extra dose of cold tap water needed. On average the Hometek Deluxe Steam mop has a running time of 15 to 20 mins on one full tank before being filled with water again.
There is of course a measuring jug that comes with the steam mop but it is not graded with anything other than just a wavy line that shows how much water the tank can take. A small twist off cap locks off the tank and keeps water sealed, also acting as the only way water can be filled into the clear acrylic tank. As directed with the jug, I filled the tank and found that it is an extremely small opening - our plastic gravy separator does a better job of filling than the open style of the jug supplied. Once the mop is plugged in and switched on a red LED light comes on to show that it is on. Then after the switching the main pedal downwards, the steam generator light comes on - the user manual states that this is a green LED but on the Lakeland branded product it is a laser Blue LED which comes on intermittently to show that the motor is working to produce steam. At this point you can hear the electric pump as it starts to build up the steam and well...I had already cleaned the floor at this point half way and found stains to be incredibly easy to shift - much more than having to push our Vax upright up and down a few times in a sawing action to make sure the brushes hit the Vinyl, never mind loosen the dirt.
Another surprise is the lack of noise. If the pump didn't have a slight grinding noise then the Hometek Deluxe mop could be described like a hissing snake! This means, and without question, a foreboding warning of scalding hot steam as the user manual heavily points out. But the steam rises to the top of the motor and quickly dissipates; it's only at the head that the heat is at its hottest. If children are using the mop they must be guarded extremely closely. According to the user manual, the maximum output of steam that the Hometek puts out is 62°C whereas the website states 110°C. Either way its very hot steam!
But back to my steaming! The dry steam shifts stains on contact with only a few moves required for the micro fibres to work in tandem on difficult to shift grime. The steam mop can also be left momentarily on stains that refuse to shift, with the resounding evidence once it is moved off the patch it was left on, the stain has loosened enough for it to be taken up. I was really surprised as to the amount of dirt our Hometek takes up, managing also to get into the corners and edges of the floors. It left both our marble floored bathroom and vinyl kitchen floor sparkling, as if they had been just laid and both floors were dry enough to walk on whilst the steam was cleaning the stains; that can't be said of any wet and dry shampoo cleaner I've ever used.
The micro fibre pad managed to pick up coffee stains, wine stains and jam which is one of the worst to pick up with a mop never mind our Vax washer with its scrubbing roller brushes. In the bathroom it loosened shampoo, shower gel, shaving foam and toothpaste stains on the floor, managing also to get into the grout. Another bugbear stain I hate is coffee powder that manages to look like little raindrops on our kitchen floor. The pad on this mop just gets it off after a couple of sweeps. My mum who hates heavy machinery found the mop to be as light as she thought it would be having seen the ads on cable TV and is thoroughly delighted with it.
After the Mop has completely finished its first lot of water, you have to switch the mop off to fill it again with water but unlike my steam kettle where you have to wait for everything to cool down, any water left can be tipped out. So adding water will not hiss or start to spurt out hot scalding steam from the tank; the water that went in was cold and the water that comes out of the tank should you have some left is also...cold. Once switched off, I could grab and take off the micro fibre cloth that showed a lot of black dirt.
For washing the pad I reverted to adding AJAX which surprise surprise, brough the micro fibre pad back to its original white colour, free and bereft of the dirt. I then wrapped it around a towel and put it onto our radiator so that it dries out. I can however see why tumble driers must not be used with this product - the Velcro pads have been stitched to the cloth and any dry heat as hot as a tumble dryer could easily undo this type of bonding.
Another tip I'd like to share is the fact that with the three micro pads which come with the machine anyway, I've gone ahead and assigned one pad for each cleaning task; therefore I have one pad for the bathrooms, one pad for the kitchen and a multi purpose pad for general tasks. It's a pity Hometek don't supply colour coded pads for this very purpose though. The general tasks although not counted in the user manual do come in handy; recently whilst going around the kitchen I found myself lifting up the steam mop and vertically steam cleaning the sides of the fridge freezer and washing machine. With the fact that the handle is around 5ft anyway it makes sense to minimise as much bending as possible and I don't know about you, but the sides of my washing machine and fridge freezer on open corners can get really grubby and is one of the known disadvantages of white appliances!
The user manual however is well written with many warnings as to what the mop may not do. So for example you have the usual of unsealed floors which this mop can cause damage to as well as less obvious warnings such as not putting any agents or detergents into the tank, to floor types which the Hometek can't handle such as wax polished floors, or plastic materials and acrylic, linen and velvet can become tarnished by steam. There are some points of the manual, which are very useful in fact, but it makes utmost common sense to read the manual before using your Steam mop. Then there are confusing parts, errors if you like regarding other info for the machine such as the "easy to remove" handle. Well it's not that easy as the salesman shows on the TV, even though the handle and neck fit together by way of push in pip locks; they are extremely stiff and difficult to compact up if using it for steaming beds - something I never do for fear of dampening the mattress.
The downsides of the Hometek Deluxe Steam mop are harder to find though. When assembling the product together the helpful user manual gives a lot of warnings and helpful to show how to put the mop together. The plastic cord hooks which hold the 4 metre power cord (this is a bit stingy for a small amount of cord) are made of cheap plastic and elsewhere on the machine it is easy to see costs have been cut in terms of build quality.
It is a pity that Hometek point out that the replacement pads should be washed in soapy hot water, because nowhere in the manual does it show the pads can be machine washed. It is not until you go and take the micro sponge off that you see a label that states the pad is machine washable on a 30° programme and no fabric conditioner or detergents must be used.
Thanks to the weight of its rubberised, wet protection cable, which hangs on the top and bottom cord wraps at the back of the mop, the Hometek Deluxe mop struggles to stand up independently with the cord attached. Unhook all of the cord however and the steam mop will not fall over. On the tank, the top seal for the water tank is a twist off cap: Hometek should put a hinge on this so that it doesn't get lost over time.
Another downside is the carpet attachment; there are two hook like wheels at the back of the mop that does aid some gliding action but with the carpet attachment the wheels don't really benefit at all. The carpet glider attachment on its own doesn't lock to the steam pad, only allowing the full weight of the floor head and the pad to sit on the attachment rather than in it. And once the micro fibre pad has got on that attachment, at any time if you lift the mop upwards, the attachment is left on the floor, which can be a bit of pain if moving from room to room.
Performance on carpets however is quite disappointing - it's not as efficient or as quick as hard flooring cleaning. With woollen carpets I found the Hometek struggling to pick up stains on first contact whilst on deep pile textures, the cleaner needed a few more sweeps before stains started to lift. After all, the only other reason to dampen a carpet with steam is to refresh its pile but Hometek do advertise that it works on carpet to rid stains - but a pity that in my experience it doesn't really work in one quick sweep. Go at it a couple of times however and steam will loosen dirt but its not as fast as cleaning general hard flooring. The patio brush however does a better job because there is no pad involved other than the attachment itself, rubber and pliable compared to the rigid PVC carpet attachment. We don't have a Patio for example but we do have sandstone stairs which are really difficult to clean by traditional method.
It may not look particularly classy nor will it add to the décor of your home, but for one of the easiest way of cleaning hard flooring with which using a traditional mop fills you with dread, the Deluxe Steam mop knocks the traditional mop dead. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007
** Update July 2009 **
My mop has died! : ( Intermittently now coming on with the red light, puts out the steam and then completely refuses to work with just the secondary blue light always on! I guess that means it has pranged! I'm quite concerned about its replacement though as it turns out Hometek and sellers online have really put the price up.
Despite the price though for the fact that it's still lightweight my next steam mop will be another Hometek. **
No detergent required / The high temperature from dry steam loosens dust, dirt and grease from tiles, vinyl and sealed wooden floors / Clean up carpets and rugs with the glider attachment or use the special brush for cleaning textured floor tiles and even paved patios.