When I moved to my current home, I moved from a house with quite a lot of stairs to a house with a ridiculous amount of them.
I live in a town house and there are 6 flights of stairs, so as you can imagine, cleaning them is a job in itself.
When we moved here I only had my trusty Dyson DC04 cleaner, which is a wonderful vacuum, but also a ridiculously heavy one. As a result I thought it might be a good idea to get a lightweight vacuum specifically for cleaning the stairs, and after some searching I ended up buying the Panasonic MC-E6003 specifically for cleaning the stairs.
~~Why I Chose It~~
This may seem ridiculous but our main reason for choosing this vacuum cleaner was the fact it was lightweight - but even better, it includes a shoulder strap, meaning you can carry this on your shoulder as you clean.
I suffer from arthritic pain in my right elbow, and being right handed, this can lead to problems when I am vacuuming, especially moving a heavy vacuum cleaner around - and there's no denying the Dyson I have is a heavyweight.
I did consider a lighter Dyson model but felt this was pointless as my DC04 was working perfectly well and apart from the weight of it I had experienced no problems with it. I also far prefer upright vacuums to cylinder ones and I felt if I were to buy a lightweight cylinder one it would be purely for jobs where my elbow might suffer if I were to use the Dyson.
I do far prefer the bagless method of vacuuming, so despite my decision not to buy another Dyson, I still wanted a cleaner which was bagless, so this was another factor in my decision to buy the Panasonic.
~~What You Get~~
The Panasonic MC-E6003 is a small cylinder cleaner and it comes with a long suction hose, two piece metal tubing and floor nozzle, which all attach easily to the main body of the vacuum cleaner via a suction inlet.
This doesn't come with much in the way of tools - you only get what is described by Panasonic as a "multipurpose accessory" which is a dual purpose crevice/brush tool. There is a small plastic "support" to hold the accessory in on the main tubing on the vacuum cleaner.
The main body of the vacuum cleaner is quite small, with a 3.2 litre dust tank, and has a set of wheels to make movement relatively easy. Lastly, you get a shoulder strap, which Panaosonic call a "belt" which can be attached relatively easily if you want to keep this on your shoulder, or across your body as you work.
~~What I Think~~
Well, I paid £50 for this vacuum cleaner a couple of years ago, and for the money, it's adequate. However it doesn't hold up to comparison with my Dyson, which I paid £250 for five years ago.
I have to stress from the start that I wouldn't recommend this for a reasonably large home - I use it purely for cleaning the stairs and it would be fine for a small flat but if you are in a family home I would say this will not be the product for you.
The reason I say that is because it doesn't take long for the dust compartment to fill up - so if you have a large home to clean you may find you have to empty it as you go along, which is irritating.
**Using the Cleaner**
There is a power button to get things started, and this is located on the handle on the dust compartment side of the main body of the vacuum.
Beware however...sometimes this cuts out and this is usually due to what is the machine's biggest design flaw (and there are a couple) - which is the ridiculously short power cable.
If the cable "stretches" too far the machine cuts out and you might find you can't get it to switch back on again immediately. I appreciate this is a safety feature but it's a very annoying one and for just another few metres of cable this wouldn't happen half as often.
You also have know real way of knowing that the cable has extended as far as it will go as you move about - if you are lucky you will notice it is taut and will extend no further. If you are not, it will just cut out. Why can't manufacturers put something on the flex as it reaches the end to allow the user to see they are at the limit - perhaps colour coding the last couple of metres would help.
There is a switch to flick to wind the flex back up inside the vacuum but I find this to be temperamental, and no matter how hard I try it never winds the flex back fully - there is always a strand of flex of about a metre or so left outside.
This machine isn't too noisy - certainly in comparison to my Dyson it's not as loud, but like all vacuum cleaners, you can't really use them whilst on the phone to your bank manager. The motor packs a fair punch at 1600 watts.
The hose is the saving grace on the design front of this machine however - it is lengthy and can be extended using the metal tubes. If it weren't for this functional and versatile hose, this vacuum would have been of very limited use to me for cleaning my stairs.
As it is, I can plug the vacuum in at the bottom of my stairs and the flex usually extends up about half way - using careful positioning of the cleaner's cable - and it's the hose that will enable me to clean the entire set of stairs - although I have to say it's a case of "only just"...the flex will stretch to the top of the second flight of stairs leading to me having to balance the cleaner on one of the stairs while I vaccum the third flight of stairs hoping and praying it's not going to fall. I am usually saved by the fact the flex is at it's limit and as a result stops the vacuum falling.
The suction on this is rather good, even although it lacks the brush power that my Dyson has.
You can select what kind of floor you are vacuuming on the Panasonic, but frankly I have never really noticed a difference if I have the setting for carpeted floors on and then I go into clean hard floors. I would say that the cleaner works perhaps slightly better on hard floors using the hard floor setting than it does on carpeted floors using the setting for them.
Using the multifunction accessory is pretty straightforward too - you can attach it easily by removing the main nozzle and pushing it into place. You can then choose if you want to use it as a crevice tool or move the dust brush into place by flicking it up from the side onto the crevice part of the tool. My only real gripe with this tool is the holder on the metal tubes isn't very good so I frequently find myself chasing after it if it falls out of the holder.
I am pretty certain that my Dyson picks up more dirt and dust than this Panasonic however. This isn't me having been taken in by Dyson's claims but really from looking in the tank and seeing how much (or little) dust is inside. However for cleaning the stairs, this little beast is just so much easier to use that I can forgive it less suction than on the Dyson.
Being able to put the vacuum cleaner on my shoulder as I move about is also another terrific advantage when cleaning the stairs. Knowing it isn't dragging about behind me, or even worse, about to tumble to the bottom of the stairs, is very reassuring.
Finally the cleaner moves about on its wheels relatively smoothly but it is quite easy to knock over. This won't stop the cleaner from working but it can be irritating.
**Emptying the Cleaner**
I already mentioned a design flaw on this machine, and another one becomes apparent when you come to empty the vacuum.
The "belt" or shoulder strap, has to be removed at one end to enable you to empty the machine. This is only a minor inconvenience, but it's a niggle nonetheless.
The strap is attached using a clip which has to be pushed to remove or replace and it's quite stiff to move, which might put off some people who are less dextruous than me.
There is a button you push to release the tank from the rest of the vacuum cleaner and this is also a little bit on the stiff side, however to be fair with practice you tend to "get the knack", making opening it easier.
The HEPA filter inside the cleaner is round and captures a lot of dust. As a result when you empty the tank, you should also really clean the filter.
Now emptying the dust out of the tank is a pretty straightforward and non-messy affair. Sadly cleaning the HEPA filter is anything but.
Panasonic suggest in their instruction manual that you can clean the filter by "tapping" it lightly against a surface (ie the inside of your bin) but this, I felt, only got rid of a small amount of the dust inside. Far more effective was their other suggestion of running it under a tap - although you obviously want to be careful about how much gunk you want flowing from your sink.
You will end up with a very messy sink and probably filthy hands cleaning this however and it's hard to do because of the shape of the filter, which is cylindrical and has a concertinaed Goretex inside capturing the dust.
If you opt to clean the filter under the tap you should wipe off excess moisture as this will ensure the filter dries off quickly allowing you to put your cleaner back together again.
For the price I paid, I am reasonably happy with this cleaner however I do have to stress I don't use this to clean an entire house. If I did, I fear I would have to empty the tank several times during one cleaning session in my house due to the small tank.
I do find it good for cleaning my stairs however - there is no denying it is far easier to use than my Dyson for this job, and I would go so far as to say it's better than my Dyson on my hard floors in the kitchen and bathroom, picking up dirt and dust far more efficiently.
The fact it is so lightweight and can be carried on your person as you clean makes it flexible and very easy to use - in fact if it weren't for the issues which make it tricky to remove or replace the shoulder strap and the initial difficulties I experienced opening the cleaner up to clean the tank I would recommend this cleaner for the disabled or elderly in particular.
As a second vacuum cleaner in my admittedly rather large home, this has been a good buy, and I am happy to use it specifically on the stairs - and also it saves me lugging the Dyson downstairs sometimes as I am safe in the knowledge I have back-up in the form of the Panasonic down near my entrance hall - an area we all know seems to attract dirt like a magnet.
Because the cleaner is so small and lightweight, this would be good for someone in a smaller home as their main cleaner because it doesn't take up too much space. The nozzle and hose are particularly easy to remove and split into sections if storage space is tight, making it additionally useful to those in smaller homes.
So while this could never replace the Dyson in my affections, it's a handy back up for me in the daily battle to keep my house clean.
I have lots of animals and go through hoovers like you wouldn't believe. I was investing in the best hoovers I could afford but, as I'm very heavy handed, I'd find a way to break them or wear them out far too quickly. I got this Panasonic hoover because it seemed to have a good suction power for the money and way convieniently light for me to carry round as I go. Also, as I don't have masses of room the size of the little thing appealled too. I really am pleased I bought it, for a larger home it well may not be a very good buy, but for me it's great, it's coped really well with all the animals and I haven't broken it yet. The attatchments and general build are of lower quality than a lot of hoovers you can get at a decent price, but it certainly hasn't cracked or snapped on me yet and it's still suctioning well, it's rather the general presentation makes it look lower quality, but it does the job and it does it well.
Just adding some useful facts about the hoover -
It is a pretty noisey little thing, but not excessive. There is a two setting variable suction, but I've only really used the highest setting. Really easy to empty but there's only one filter so it needs to be cleaned and dried before you can use the hoover again. The body holds loads of stuff before it needs emptying too.
Cheap and nasty. Especially the unflexible tubing which came apart from the u pipe on mine on first use. A shame because it is neat nice and light and I liked the idea of the shoulder strap.
The efficiency of the airflow through any vacuum cleaner is fundamental to its performance / The MCE6003 is fitted with a NEW Cleanstream® HEPA Filter that traps dust and dirt on the outside of the filter, while allowing air to pass through, improving the cleaning efficiency / The slippery surface is easy to clean with a quick tap or rinse under running water / Cleanstream® filters resist permanent clogging, allowing suction to stay longer producing consistent performance over the lifetimeof the vacuum cleaner / Due to the very light weight of the cleaner / just .2kg, the MCE6003 comes with a shoulder strap / Short name: Panasonic MCE6003