“ Brand: Bissel / Design: Upright / Cleaning Areas: Carpets / Amperage: 12 Amp. / Cord reach: 20 ft. / Weight: 16 lb. „
For some time now I've been looking for a replacement carpet washer to finally have a reason to get rid of the 30-year-old Vax canister washer I've endured. The 10kg weight when filled with water, the constant back ache when pushing and pulling a suction only floor head across the floor, the 45 minute setting up time and an hour to take all the tubes and floor heads off finally got to me! After discussing experiences at length with other Dooyoo members who have reviewed the lightweight and compact-storing Bissell "Quick Wash," carpet upright priced at under £100 ("1970" and "1970E" models) my mind was swayed towards the green pea Quick Wash model until I discovered that it only has a static brush bar fitted - information which sadly not all reviewers have managed to point out. This info inevitably brought bad memories of my old Vax canister flooding back - because a static bar means it is fixed and it doesn't move and it's a bit like trying to suck up dry embedded dust like pet hair with a normal vacuum cleaner that only has a suction only floor head and time spent sweeping all the time starts to damage the carpet pile as well as probably test out your patience!
I wanted a bargain buy, but thanks to the 2011 recession, prices for carpet washers have really gone up, to the tune of £300 where once before, high spec priced Bissell models could be purchased for £179. So in August at our local Scottish Hydro show room shop my dreams were finally answered and a dark blue Bissell carpet upright washer came home with me - the PowerLifter 1622 priced at a healthy £79-99 reduced from £129-99 and comes with a 2 year guarantee. This is not the same model known as the PowerWash 2 which looks the same, but this model only has 2 rows of bristles compared to the newer model's 4 levels of power brushes.
Back in the 1950's Bissell in the UK were more known for their manual carpet shampooer machines (my granny had one), mechanical dust sweepers and a spray can with a sponge on it for cleaning quick carpet stains - rather than actual vacuums or carpet washers - but at least they have dabbled with clearing stains, even if it derives from sponge rollers and spray can scrubbing treatments. As much as QVC or Bissell themselves would have you believe though, it was only in the 1990's that Bissell brought their carpet upright washers to the UK market before Vax followed suit with Dirt Devil U.S models rebadged as their own. Don't go thinking that just because Bissell are American, all of their machines are made in the good ol' U.S Just like Vax/Dirt Devil, the humble origins of the carpet washer with a Bissell name on are made in China whether you like it or not! Surprisingly though, this doesn't mean an instant downside in build quality. The PowerLifter is very well made, quite robust feeling in its thick plastics even if there's a constant sheen on them that makes them look as if they have been polished to a high standard before they left the factory floor. The handle is fixed and bolted to the back of the machine via one long crosshead screw which has to be screwed in and a 7 metre power cord is supplied that fits onto the side of the machine with a rotational cord hook that lets you unhook everything if you're in a hurry. What a pity Bissell have been stingy in not supplying 2 rotational hooks though, as the one at the top rotates whilst the one at the bottom is fixed even though there's the obligatory cord hook also available at the side of it so that it doesn't get in the way when the Bissell is actioned. The power button is located half way down the back of the machine, which in my mind is a bit strange in its location even though it is rubber cap wet-protected, but can be fiddly to switch on properly.
One of the advantages of going with a more modern washer these days is that it is a great deal easier to set up and the Bissell is no exception. Once the handle is bolted (you'll need a crosshead screw driver) and the cord taken out of the plastic bag, it comes in, you're ready to get started and you'll adore the fact that for the price you'll appreciate that you get 2 bottles of cleaning solution to get you started, even if they are Bissell's basic blue bottled "Fibre Cleansing" solution in 500ml bottles each. To get to the tank, you have to depress the pedal at the back of the Bissell to lower the handle all the way over and then simply pull out the reservoir water tank that acts like a 2 way bin and dispersal solution tank. The secret to all this compactness is down to the fact that the 3-litre tank has a permanently fitted bladder plastic bag that contains the cleaning solution whilst the dirty water collects on the outside, viewable through the frosted plastic exterior. The bag can be moved around by removing the plastic catches that holds it in place, but you won't be able to remove it completely if any fibres get caught at the sides, come the time to empty the dirty water.
Filing the tank is therefore easy peasy and it all comes down to the fact that Bissell have already incorporated a fill tube in the top lid of the water tank which also includes a handy fill mark to let you know how much solution to put in. It can be tricky however getting the lid to meet the insert hole for the clean water and solution mix, but I love the fact that the tank, which is no bigger than a rectangular large plastic ice cream tub fits into a standard sink and can be filled straight from the tap. Hot water to the touch is the order of the day - you can't use boiling water from a kettle as this can damage the plastic cleaning solution tank bag. Then lock the lid on, carry via the swing up, lock down carry handle and gently drop it into the main part of the machine - the lid and top of the tank has a rubber seal that ensures water never escapes, swing the main handle over and you're ready to go!
The performance from the Bissell is fantastic on thick wool carpeting, thin short pile carpeting and even thick pile shag which can be the worst to wash, with edge cleaning sides on the floor head that are really handy if like me, you have wall-to-wall carpeting. The Bissell doesn't slice through the carpets, but the power and wash function of the design means carpets get a real working over without strain to me thanks to the Dyson like massive rear wheels, even though I did not take the suggestion of Bissell's hints of perfect washing by doing a S style snake style movement so that the carpets get a complete surface clean.
Initially, I was really surprised to find how quiet this model is too compared to my friend's all whistling, but sadly not dancing, Vax model and found the whole procedure of Bissell carpet washing stress free and to a new level of control and ease of use. "Enjoyable" isn't a phrase I'd use when it came to carpet washing with the old Vax, but the Bissell really means business with a professional level of power that belies the size of this machine. With only 650 watts of motor power, the key strength to the Bissell is that it not only weighs 7kg (7.5kg when the tank is full/fitted) but the constantly rolling brush bar and the large wheels on the back of the machine take the strain out of pushing and pulling. It is a pity however that I found the Bissell to leave streaks, one star that has to be knocked off its performance due to the design of its acrylic suction channel located at the front of the machine.
The other advantage is that whilst the roller brush can't be switched off, it also adds momentum to the cleaning process and at times on thinner carpet surfaces; there is a slight feeling of the Bissell moving forwards by its own accord! The handle also feels comfortable, not too slippery and all the while complete control can be exerted from this vacuum washer without any back pain! A insert trigger by the handle only needs to be squeezed to let the cleaning solution flow, and left untouched for the Bissell to suck up the dirty water.
The better news of all is that you won't have to look at the user manual - especially if you have used a Vax canister or carpet washer before and even if you have to, Bissell reward you with a very large booklet packed with helpful warnings and tips, all laid out in reasonably medium sized font that is easy to understand.
Of course, life would be easier if the Bissell could do more than just carpets, and here's the reasons to why it can be a downside because the PowerLifter can only do carpets and not stairs, even if you try and lift it! The larger floor print of the floor head is too big to fit on a stair, sadly. The model is based on the Proheat models that heat up the water for you, so whilst this model can't do this function either, the biggest downsides are that it can't do hard floor cleaning. That is why, if you were pushed for cash or a budget you'd be better spending less money for the green pea 1970 model - but if you have a bit of both, Bissell would love you to spend loads of money on specified models that have a detachable front for hard flooring and fixed on for carpets! The Bissell has a detachable front but only to clean out and I found it completely clogged with carpet top fibres, expected from carpets that were only installed in 2008.
On the underside, the Bissell finally reveals the truth about it's design. The roller brush moves on a spring hinge that gives the gliding factor but in use, the fibres only get sucked up the front of the removable acrylic suction channel and not through a secondary channel like a normal upright vacuum. This means that if you have new carpets, you may find that the brush roll gets clogged severely of fibres and the fan vent on the underside that cools the vacuum's motor blows the fibres around when the Bissell is being used. This then travels to the back of the wheels, which can get quite hairy. Unless, like me you have a wet'n'dry cordless dust buster to get the fly away "tumbleweed" carpet fibres, because no matter how many times you go over it with the Bissell, the PowerLifter fails to suck them up!
Another issue that the Bissell has, is the lack of the hose and small upholstery brush attachment that could do wonders, even if Bissell went to the bother of just adding the hose and you could upgrade your machine later in life - rather than having to dispose of it at another time should you wish to get something with a bit more versatility. At least when the recovery tank starts to run low on water, or if the recovery tank has filled up, the Bissell PowerLifter lets you know it. The machine stops sucking and the motor noise rises abruptly. Whilst it is good that this model has a 3 litre tank, I'd have preferred a 6 litre tank for the amount of carpets I had to do in one session and found that after five uses with equal amounts of shampoo each time, I was left with half a bottle of the 500ml solution supplied.
** Nar's Tips & Additional Costs **
Now where maintenance is concerned, the tank speaks for itself - well, not literally - but the whole principle of emptying is just as easy when filling it up. The only tip I'd like to offer here though is to use a plastic wine cork to push into the clean water/soapy solution tank. This is simply because if you don't cork it, any cleaning solution left over is wasted as you attempt to pour the dirty water out of the 2-in-1 tank. Bissell of course won't tell you this in an attempt to spend more money on the cleaning solutions - and they can be quite expensive ranging from £12 to £60 for the OxiClean solutions which are the best ones Bissell sell, but can be difficult to get.
Another tip is to use a quarter measure of my favourite carpet shampoo of all time, 1001 "3-in-1" shampoo. Don't fill it up completely in the measure container in the Bissell's lid as even if 1001 claims to be low foaming, the shampoo has a thicker concentrate level than Bissell's own shampoo and as a result you may find that you'll over foam and over soap your carpet. That little snippet of info comes from my experience, but also for the fact that Bissell state in their user manual that although 3-in-1 shampoos can be used, they prefer if you use the more expensive Bissell products - as if they would suggest alternatives!
If you must stick to Bissell's solutions, then the basic blue solution bottles are the best. I tried the burgundy red bottle pet formula, but aside from an extra fresh scent, I didn't find that they did an improved job despite Bissell's claims and the standard shampoo has a nice, understated clean smell - more apparent if you have more expanses of carpet to wash. The larger 1-litre bottles also left me out of pocket of £16.95 (from Bissell's own online site) compared to £12-99 for the basic 1 litre blue shampoo bottles, I eventually found at a high street store compared to the £14-99 Bissell online charge. Bissell may well offer a "3 for 2" offer on the shampoo solutions, but so far I've found EBAY and John Lewis to be cheaper on pricing and ranges. Bissell make so many solutions, it can be hard to choose, from their basic "Fibre Cleansing" shampoo to the "Pet Stain & Odour," "Professional," "Lavender with Scotchguard," and so many more. Try the basic formula and the 1001 tips and you may find that is all you need. Certainly from the appearance of our cream wool carpets, I've largely impressed with the power and cleaning action of the Bissell. The UK website however leaves a little to the imagination though, especially if like me, you've misplaced your user instructions. Neither Bissell.com or the UK arm have an easy to find section for user manuals and you'll eventually be taken to an alternative UK based website that has the cheek to charge. In this day and age, Bissell should be able to offer exactly what their rival brands do and have a page dedicated to upload-able user manuals.
A cordless dust buster (wet preferable) is handy to use in tandem to getting rid of the surplus top soil carpet rag that comes off naturally when the Bissell is used - the permanently rolling beater brush bar refuses to suck up the carpet fluff and the fan vents blow out the sides. The fan is supposed to dry carpets as you go, but not much comes out of the fan other than to cool the motor.
Then the inevitable question that most buyers will need to know - how long does it take for carpets to dry off? Because no matter what Bissell tell you, it can take on average up to 7 hours for a reasonably high quality carpet to dry out. You can open your windows, but I found by putting on the central heating or heaters, that my carpets dried out over a 12 hour period, whereas short pile carpets took half the time to dry out. You can walk on them after they have been washed, as they won't stain unless you have dirty shoes! This is where the bargain bale of towels you've been keeping will come in handy or old bed sheets to let the carpet fibres breathe and reinstate their shape during the drying process. When all of my carpets dried out, they looked and felt fluffy again - rejuvenated and of course, perfectly clean.
Lastly, when all is done and the Bissell PowerLifter is ready to be stored away, at least the main carry handle for the machine is set just above the water tank at the bottom of the plastic body construction. The floor head measures 14" and the size of this machine is 49cm by 28cm and 114.7cm height, which means it is even easier to store away and take up less space than our compact Miele S6 vacuum cleaner - bulkier because the hose doesn't compact up!
At the end of the day, the Bissell PowerLifter 1622 is a good model that can wash carpets and material floor coverings. Ideal for emergencies because of its quick-to-function set up, low noise, not too heavy and for the fact that it is made simply with few controls wrapped around a well made body means for the most, it can go the distance as well as perform admirably. This machine would get 5 stars if it only had an accessible hose on it, or if it was just a little more versatile like having a built in water heater and proper suction for fly away carpet fibres rather than clogging at the front. But, if all you need is a machine that can wash carpets and nothing else, you won't go far wrong with the Bissell PowerLifter 1622. It just needs a little more maintenance than Bissell would have you believe. Thanks for reading! (c)Nar2 2011
You Tube demo (based on the 4 row Powerwash2):
Short name: Bissell 1622