Newest Review: ... to be a must have item. The steamer comes with lots of attachments small brushes, nozzles and heads, which really gives a variety of cleani... more
Steaming Up The Kitchen After A Session On The Tiles
Ewbank SC1000 Dynamo Cleaner
Member Name: Hishyeness
Ewbank SC1000 Dynamo Cleaner
Advantages: Versatile, excellent value and build quality.
Disadvantages: Hard handle can cause blisters. Some minor design niggles.
DISHING THE DIRT
When we moved into our first house six years ago, we had quality new carpets installed throughout the property. They've seen a fair bit of wear and tear over the years, but despite three major building projects, various family parties and the kind of food and drink spills that come with the territory when you have young children, they are still in relatively good shape. However, as we are planning to move up the property ladder later this year, we needed to find an economical way of spot-cleaning high traffic and problem areas in a bid to avoid the expense of replacing the whole lot.
We ruled out having them "properly" cleaned and steamed after a number of quotes from local "professionals" came close to half the cost of buying brand new carpets. We also looked into hiring equipment from the likes of HSS or Homebase and doing the work ourselves. Although this was much cheaper than getting cleaners in, a bit more digging revealed that we could buy a decent steam cleaner and a separate carpet cleaner for a similar cost. Given that we have an infant who will soon be crawling and weaning, having our own cleaning and sterilising equipment also made a great deal of sense.
After doing some on-line research, we settled on the Ewbank SC1000 Steam Dynamo, which seemed to offer a good balance between performance, portability and price. Argos were offering the best price deal at remarkable £47.99 (we had seen it offered for as much as £69.99), and, better yet, given we have managed a hefty haul of Nectar points over the years, we managed to get the unit completely free of charge.
I had never heard of Ewbank before, but apparently, they are a long established UK-based company who have been around since 1880 and are primarily known for manufacturing carpet sweepers - that old-fashioned halfway house between a dustpan and brush and a Hoover. You would imagine that the days of that venerable old device would be numbered with advent of the handheld vacuum cleaner, but if their product range on Amazon is anything to go by, Ewbank (www.ewbank.co.uk) are still doing a thriving business in thethings. That said, the business has since diversified to include a number of other cleaning appliances such as vacuum cleaners, powered sweepers, and of course steam cleaners.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
The Ewbank SC1000 Steam Dynamo ("the Dynamo") is a compact, lightweight and versatile steam cleaner that is suitable for use on a wide variety of surfaces, including carpet, decking, lino, laminate, glass and upholstery. It cleans and sterilises using high pressure steam only, without chemicals or detergents. As such, whilst it is effective at loosening hardened stains and raising the pile of your carpets - it is not an all-in-one solution - you will still need to use a carpet cleaner before the steamer.
The unit comes with a number of accessories (tubes, nozzles and adapters) some of which can be handily stored in a compartment at the front end of the unit (more detail on these below). You also get a 750ml plastic measuring jug, a small funnel, some terrycloth towelling which fits over the floor cleaning head, a detailed instruction booklet and a selection of spare rubber washers. The two extension tubes, the squeegee head and the floor-cleaning head are too large to be stowed within the unit, so these have to be stored separately. I would suggest keeping the robust cardboard box the unit is packed in to keep everything together.
From a technical perspective, the Dynamo's unique selling point is the balance between the pressure generated, the speed at which optimum pressure is reached, and the longevity of use from a single fill of its 1.5 litre reservoir. The time from switching it on, to the unit being ready for use is around 15 minutes (advertised as 12, but it varies), delivering around 3.5bar of steam for about 45 minutes of use per fill. It weighs around 7kg when full of water, which in old money equates to around 15 lbs.
The Dynamo is finished in a dark matt red, with the hoses and accessories in hardened matt black plastic. The unit has two fixed wheels at the back of the unit and a swivel wheel underneath, toward the front, which makes it quite easy to move around. There is a large moulded handle on top to help you carry it. In a thoughtful design touch, there is also a small receptacle at the back of the unit which allows you to slot the cleaning head, extension tube and trigger for temporary storage in an upright position.
The cable for the plug is a reasonable 2.5m, which is suitable for most uses, but it's not exactly generous and I need to use an extension cord more often than not. The other minor niggle is that the cord is not retractable and there is nowhere on the unit to wrap it or store it, making it a little awkward to put away.
SET UP & USE
The reservoir takes up to 1.5 litres of water, but if you don't intend on using it for a long cleaning session, you don't have to fill it all the way. Using the funnel (essential given the small aperture for the tank) we tend to use only 500ml of water, which heats up much faster (about 5 minutes) and will last around 15 minutes. If you live in a hard water area, use softened or filtered water for best results - it stops the reservoir and parts from accumulating lime scale.
You then select the accessories you intend to use and attach them to the trigger handle using a simple slide in and locking mechanism. For example, if cleaning floors, you slide the two extension tubes on to the handle, followed by the swivel adaptor, which in turn attaches to the floor brush/mop.
Once the water is in, you plug it in and turn it on using the black rubberised switch on top of the unit. There are two large indicator lights alongside the switch, both of which light up when you first turn it on. The red one indicates the Dynamo is powered, and the orange one indicates that pressure is building. Once the unit has reached the correct temperature and pressure, the orange light goes off and it's ready to use.
The handle is made of hard plastic and is ridged along the top for extra grip. However, it does take its toll on the hands - particularly on the inside of the thumb - and prolonged periods of cleaning can cause sufficient rubbing to raise a blister. The handle would have been better if it was rubberised to reduce friction. That aside, it fits nicely in the palm of the hand and has a safety catch with two functions. The catch can be used to stop the handle from being depressed, or to lock it into the "steam" position so you don't have to constantly grip it.
The steam pressure is not constant. Occasionally, the orange light will come back on again, requiring you to stop steaming for about forty seconds or so until the pressure builds again. When the water runs out (the steam will stop - there is no other indicator) you have to switch the machine off and wait for the pressure to subside before refilling the tank. You check for steam by depressing the handle trigger, and if none comes out you can unscrew the reservoir cap. The accessories cannot be "hot-swapped" either. You have to turn the machine off and wait for the pressure to subside before you can safely exchange nozzles and attachments.
Once you are done with the Dynamo, you need to empty any remaining water out of the tank to avoid scale build-up inside. Allow the unit to cool for about 20 minutes, and then empty the reservoir by tipping the unit upside down so the water comes out. It's not the most elegant solution, as the unit, with hose and electrical cord can be a little bulky.
ACCESSORIES & INSTRUCTIONS
The accessory pack consists of the following: (a) a floor head cleaner with brushes which has spring-loaded clips at the top to help secure a terrycloth "bonnet" in place if you want to use it as a mop; (b) a window, glass and tile cleaner with squeegee blade; (c) a swivel adaptor for the floor tool, which allows the head flexibility of movement; (e) an angled nozzle for hard to reach corners; (f) two different sized round nylon brushes; and (f) straight and jet nozzle adaptors for the nylon brushes and angled jet nozzle.
The eight page instruction and care booklet is in English language only and is a no-frills affair covering the basic functions of the unit, care, cleaning and maintenance. Although it is adequate, I thought Ewbank could have done a better job in presenting the information more clearly, and made better use of the limited illustrations provided. The product is covered by a 12 month manufacturers guarantee, so be sure to keep your receipt. There is also a national rate customer service telephone number for spares, service and further information.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
If you are primarily looking for an all-in carpet cleaning solution, this will not fit the bill. It is quite effective at spot cleaning stains by loosening dried particles from the carpet, especially those left by sticky substances that have accumulated dirt. However, it doesn't seem to do as effective a job on its own with aged stains, especially with things like coffee and pen and felt tip markings - without first pre-treating with a carpet cleaner or detergent. The terry cloth provided is not especially durable. After one time around our through lounge and hallway, it practically disintegrated, but I was under the impression that it was meant to be disposable anyway, The cloth is not custom fitted to the floor attachment, so any similar type of rag is a more than adequate replacement.
The Dynamo really comes into its own as a multi-function device. It is highly effective on our laminate kitchen mock-Travertine floor (water resistant Aqua-loc from B&Q) as it cleans and sterilises without the need for unhealthy chemical solutions, a welcome bonus given that Baby H is likely to be crawling about the place in the next few months. In addition, the squeegee attachment works a treat in removing dirt and lime scale build-up on the bathroom and kitchen tiles. I most recently used it to successfully shift some hardened deposits that had built up over the winter on our French windows, again without having to resort to chemical solutions. On a safety note, hot steam on cold glass can cause it to shatter, so the instructions recommend you warm the glass with the steam head from a distance before applying it directly to the pane.
The two extension "wands" have a nice rigidity to them when attached to the trigger, and combined with the flexibility of the main hose, are quite comfortable to work with (barring the friction issue with the handle). However, I have solved that problem by wearing a heavy duty gardening glove, which significantly reduces the irritation caused by the ridges on the handle. The accessories and parts fit together snugly and securely, but are also quite easy and quick to disassemble.
In my many hours of usage, they have yet to show any signs of leakage, but as already mentioned, Ewbank have provided a full set of replacement rubber seals in case there is a problem. Although the main components are made of hardened plastic, the Dynamo has a nice solid feel to it and has been thoughtfully put together to provide a robust and durable appliance. The fact that it's easy on the eye is simply an added bonus.
IS IT WORTH IT?
The Dynamo is by no means perfect. I would have liked a longer cable, possibly retractable, a more comfortable handle, as well as the ability to switch out accessories without having to cool down the unit. The lack of warning about the water level is also a downside, particularly as the safety instructions take great pains to warn you against operating it without water in the tank. That said, if it runs out while you are cleaning, you will know, and you shouldn't leave it unattended while switched on anyway.
One other slightly irritating aspect is the short delay required when the steam pressure subsides (i.e. when the orange light comes back on) and you have to wait for it to build again. This can be a little frustrating when you are in the flow of cleaning, but is a relatively small inconvenience to put up with given the cleaning power the Dynamo delivers. As such, on balance, considering its current £50 price point, this is an excellent, value for money multi-faceted steam cleaner that can perform a number of very useful functions around the home.
© Hishyeness 2010 - Also on Ciao
Summary: A versatile, chemical free steaming and sterilising solution for the home.
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