* Prices may differ from that shown
In the last couple of weeks I have been trying to find a steam mop to replace our old one. It has been quite a search not only trying to find something cost effective but a replacement that is just as efficient and lightweight as our Lakeland Deluxe Steam mop purchased at Christmas 2007. Better known as the "Deluxe Light n Easy" by Hometek; our old mop left floors sparkling clean and hygienic and was an essential household appliance component we could rely upon for cleaning our bathroom and kitchen floors. However for all that an upright steam mop may seem to be a product that sells in high numbers, the only companies available seem to be Domotec, Ewbank or Hometek. This is a long review.
The Hometek Elite Deluxe steam mop is very similar to the old Light'n'Easy design but I can see why the company have brought out a new one. Although a malfunctioning pedal rendered our old mop useless I was left with the hard decision to consider another company or stick with Hometek in light of the replacement mop pads and microfibre pads I had purchased in the last two years. The good news here is that despite the new design, the old mop heads for the older mop can also be used on the new Elite Deluxe upright steam mop and against putting a pedal on again to activate the steam function, all you need to do here is swing the lightweight handle down to start up the steam generator. To stop the steam emerging you simply put the handle back up. Clearly there have been problems on the old mop that Hometek are trying to rectify and I'm trying to save money here thus using the old mop heads from our old mop rather than buy something completely new.
For the period of waiting for the brand new mop to arrive from the EBay seller I purchased this from (£46 including postage and packaging compared to Comet's price of £58!) I have been using an old Addis spring mop on floors that for my 6ft frame, means a sore back only after a couple of minutes! Whilst cleaning with a traditional sponge mop means less time, there's a lot of unnecessary bending and pushing involved and with the fear in the back of my mind that I'm pushing and painting the surfaces with dirty water and dirt already picked up, sponge mops don't instil a sense of complete hygiene in my opinion. Yes, apart from the fact that the Addis sponge mop is non-electric and that it has a supposedly easy squeeze mechanism trigger on its spine to rinse out the mop, I've never been quite convinced that it is healthy or fully rinsed out. In all applications I've had to manually push the sides closer together on the mop head with my hands to ensure the sponge gets properly squeezed of all dirt. Then there's the bucket of water and the endless moving around if you have to work to large hard flooring. End result? A kind of clean floor with dirty bacteria laden hands, slopping water buckets and a handy towel to grab to do a silly dance around the floor to ensure it is dry to walk on afterwards. That is if you haven't flopped over in sheer exhaustion!
Just like the old steam mop however, the Elite Deluxe steam mop eliminates all that fuss and nonsense! The immediate advantage of the Elite model however is that it weighs a total of 2kg; one kg off the previous mop and storing it is made simpler for the fact that it has a much flatter floor head. What a shame Hometek haven't installed a hook on the handle though for hanging after use even though it has a height of around 125cm.
Granted at the retail price of £60 the Hometek Elite steam mop is a tad expensive and could be more economical at the £45 mark instead despite the fact that you may well get two replacement washable cleaning cloth pads (one of them is claimed to be a microfibre in design, but more about that in a moment) and the same carpet glider attachment we received last time with our Lakeland model.
There are a few differences with the old mop but I'm pleased that it still has 1500 watts of motor power to generate the steam, 110° Fahrenheit that loosens grease and stubborn dirt very well, a 1-year guarantee and five metres of cable. Dixons/Curry's are also selling this very same model at £58-99. A pack of replacement mop cloths are available from Lakeland at a cost of £9-78 and elsewhere the prices range from £9-99 and upwards. However! If you must purchase this product the replacement mop heads aren't very efficient.
Out of the box setting up is very easy to do because everything just click locks together but an early disappointment was made when I inadvertently broke the top cord grip at the top of the handle. Indeed the whole unit does feel rather cheaply made, worse so than our old steam mop and still has fixed cord point holders that prevent you from unlocking the cord quickly as you would find on a standard upright vacuum cleaner.
The biggest surprise however is the floorhead itself; flat and extremely thin, it can get into corners and difficult to reach areas better than the old mop. Such thinking however has affected the underside where previously a complete rectangle grid of Velcro attachers could be felt and seen and normally a strip of soft velcro would ensure the hooked strip on the corresponding cloth head could firmly stick to the steam head without worry of coming off. Hometek have further cheapened the head by only fitting a couple of attach-squares instead. As a result the mop heads stick to the floor head but not very successfully on carpeting if the glider attachment is used and sometimes the mop heads can come off because of a lack of longer Velcro grab strip. The slimmer floor head however is a godsend, able to get under most furniture on hard flooring with better cleaner edges around it without getting trapped or stuck like the old mop floor head.
In use however I've found the same short 5-metre cord to be somewhat longer which may be down to the fact that cord sprouts from the top of the main body this time where the water tank is rather than at the bottom "heel" of the older machine at the rear. Whilst this is welcome where I no longer need to swap plug points to ensure the whole of my kitchen floor gets clean, the generator takes a bit longer to pump out the steam and does it in a much slower procedure than our old steam mop when switched on continuously. This isn't just down to the newer generator but also thanks to the daft white 100% cotton mop heads. The "new" Microfibre cloth head that Hometek include is a bit of rip off; they have taken the standard padded cotton cloth and added a black grid of stiff netted material in the centre that is supposed to act as a scrubbing texture. It doesn't however work terribly well unless you are doing a reasonably clean floor with only a few marks on it. Both replacement mop heads are white 100% cotton but they have never been as quick at getting stains up as the blue Microfibre cloths I've bought from Ebay and for a pack of three they start from £3-99 to around £7-99 and are far better value. Both styles of mops can be machine-washed but it is best to avoid using fabric conditioner to minimise ruining the microfibres of the blue cloths. Both types however can be tumble dried or simply hung over a radiator.
With the standard cloths on a reasonably grimy kitchen floor I've found cleaning can take up to 15 minutes, which by my reckoning is far less than the Addis Sponge mop method. However with the added blue mop heads instead, just five minutes because of its extra scrubby like texture due to the microfibres. Heating up the dry steam doesn't seem to be any shorter; it takes the Elite mop 30 seconds to heat up dry steam as before, a green light at the front shows when it is switched on and whilst it has a smaller grab handle at the top of the water tank, it prevents actual filling up around the body and you have to fill it at a certain angle with the water jug supplied or any vessel - as long as you remember to retain the funnel you get with it. In this day and age this whole filling up procedure is a bit old fashioned and the set handle gets in the way whilst the water window is dark blue and a bit like an 1980's iron trying to wow the customer with cool colours that somewhat fails the clarity test. From a distance the water level is hard to see against the all-clear style offered on the old mop head.
The smaller carry handle just above the water tank is supposedly for cleaning tiles when not in use for a steam floor mop but as Hometek warn (and in their TV adverts on cable etc) the mop can't be elevated upside down as the water can come out of the tank. Whilst the stopper is made of rubber and has some sealage on its screw heads, true to Hometek's word I found it very difficult to remove the main spine of the mop to compact it down into a hand held design to clean tiles in my bathroom using the mop on its side. When not used to the side, the handle points can be difficult to take off if you want to shorten the handle to steam bedding etc. It all sounds so easy in theory but thanks to its metal three-part pipe that all connects by friction fit, it takes a jolly long time to remove the handle to compact it into the more versatile uses this main handle design offers.
For optimum hygiene on flooring however the Hometek Elite gives me immediate peace of mind and over my old Addis mop I certainly don't get a sore back when using it. Like the old mop I can still walk about in my socks doing the floor without fear of being left with a damp floor. Thanks to its nature of dry steam all you'll get are reasonably warmed up feet in the process. The handle however is still the same one piece rubber lined plastic handle you'd find on the older model and in longer steaming processes, the handle can start to get painful, a most surprising aspect that Hometek haven't improved here.
Another disappointment is the noise factor. Whilst it is still possible to hold a conversation when using the Elite mop, I find that the noise of the pumped steam it makes (rather than the motor) is noisier than my old steam mop and for a brand new model with obvious design changes from the old just by comparing the two mops, Hometek should revert to the old components for quieter steam emerging. However because of its lighter design the Elite is easier to push and pull across vinyl and hard floor surfaces although for any steam cleaner you really need to have sealed floors to use this appliance on to avoid warping or water seeping in unsealed floors such as unsealed laminate. Generally because the dirt stays on the mop head, removing hard stains on hard flooring is just as easy and efficient without having to struggle much. If there's one particular stain that the mop won't shift on contact you have to stand there with the handle down on the stain for a few more seconds until the stain starts to break down. Now here is an issue I don't like; because of the activation of the swing down handle, my previous mop could still be activated and left on its own with the handle in the upwards position as the steam below loosened more on its concentrated position. That way you could move off to do something else whilst the Hometek got to work before returning.
As with the old model, the same carpet glider attachment is included and this snap fits onto the bottom of the floorhead, or so Hometek would have you believe. In reality it sits on the glider floor head and the frame can come off if you are travelling over the aforementioned carpet frames or other flooring hurdles by the slightest bump. Stains however never seem to come out with this glider attachment added and the only benefit I've found is that it freshens up carpets rather than be able to lend a hand in stain removal. Removing the glider is simple to do for carpet steaming, but because of the lack of grippers on the floorhead it becomes impossible for the Elite to float on carpets without the mop head slipping off. I even tried to remove candle wax from a rug with the Elite and despite the dry heat promises, it removed most of the candle only leaving behind a stain which it failed to get out.
So in all purposes and intents Hometek have tried a bit too much in some areas but in other areas still fails to make the grade. Whilst the Elite steam mop is lighter to glide over hard floors and still maintains a good cleaning time in terms of the dirt it picks up, the build quality and overall design despite its thinner floorhead is a bit of a disappointment. Just like the fate of Hometek's "Light and Easy, " vacuum cleaner, the Elite Steam mop needs a lot more thought, particularly when other brands are starting to come on the market that offer better quality and much more practical features. For the price of its replacement pads the blue ones are much better and in some respects restrictive to the buyer on the grounds that they are not easy to find on the high street over the slower-steam release & clean nature of the white cotton mop pads. It may well be called "Elite," but in my mind a bit of a misnomer despite the improvements. If you must have one, go for the older silver and blue model. Thanks for reading ©Nar2 2009
(note that this model isn't even available to view on it!)
Uses continuous high temperature to clean and sanitise tiles, vinyl and wood laminate floors / Short name: Home-tek HT829