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A worthwhile addition to our household, but I would not buy this particular model again
Polti Vaporetto 690 Lecoaspira
Member Name: ceanothus
Polti Vaporetto 690 Lecoaspira
Advantages: Cleans and sanitises, quality machine with good reliability
Disadvantages: Lack of steam features for the price of the machine
What is it? Well, it's a sooper dooper steam cleaner plus vacuum in one. Pricy at just over £300. It uses ordinary tap water, heats it to steam temperature under pressure and spits it out through a selection of nozzles and cleaning heads (supplied as standard). It can also power a steam iron, but as I feel the same way about ironing as regular housework, I didn't buy the optional iron attachment. The controls allow you to select either steam cleaning or vacuum cleaning or both at the same time.
The vacuum uses a 'water filter'. Yes, that's correct, you add water to the collection chamber before vacuuming, and all the dust and debris is dumped into the water filled bin. Absolutely great for asthma sufferers, as no dust particles escape into the air and there are no dusty clogged filters to deal with. Because it's a wet filter, the vacuum can be used for wet or dry cleaning and will pick up minor spills. It's pretty disgusting to empty though!
Technical spec: works at 4 bar steam pressure. The boiler holds 1.7l but you only fill to 1.3l to allow some expansion room. The vacuum is 1200w power with Polti's 'Eco-Active' filtration system. The build quality is great. The plastics don't feel flimsy, everything fits together very postively and it feels like a quality, solid piece of kit.
What's good: Love the steam cleaner element of this machine. If you've never cleaned with steam, try it. Steam is a very powerful degreaser and sanitiser, there's no need to add cleaning chemicals or detergents, and stains literally melt away. The detail lance is like a magic eraser, you can see grime and debris dissolving to nothing before your eyes. The floor sized heads are not quite so powerful, they don't concentrate the steam into a jet so won't shift stubborn stains without some scrubbing or rubbing, but they still do an excellent daily mopping job on floors.
What's not so good: Not really the machine's fault, but I find the vacuum is pretty useless in this context. I bought this machine thinking that the vacuum bit would help in the process of steam cleaning. It doesn't. Well, it can, but the process is so tedious that in practice you don't bother. It's actually far more effective to have a huge supply of clean cloths, blast with steam and wipe away the dirt with a clean cloth. In theory, you would blast with steam and simultaneously vacuum the dirty water away, but in real life you buy a whole load of cheap cotton cloths, use plenty of them and throw them in the washing machine.
In short, I've found that if I want to steam clean, I steam clean. If I want to vacuum, I vacuum. The machine does a good job of both tasks. However I already have a good wet and dry vacuum cleaner, and with hindsight I would not have paid the premium to get the vacuum function on this machine. If you don't already have a wet & dry vacuum, or are looking to replace your vacuum cleaner, it's not a bad bet.
What's in the box: Along with the cleaner, I got a floor sized cleaning head, a medium cleaning head and a detail lance. The large and medium heads have a nifty feature that allows you to slide in a selection of rubber squeegee blades, smooth plastic blades and bristle inserts. It's not fiddly to change them, and by using them you can adapt the cleaning head for steaming everything from hard floors to vacuuming furniture.
The lance is superb. It acts like a normal detail vacuum nozzle, but has an additional outlet for steam. The steam outlet can have a small brush screwed on, so that you can get steam delivered direct to the small brush and scrub directly with the lance. This works like a charm on grout between tiles, cooker racks, around taps etc. I have not seen our tiled floor so clean since the day it was laid. You get 3 small brushes in the box as standard, replacements are available to order but they are pretty long lasting. There is also a microfibre cover for the medium head, a filler nozzle and a bottle brush thingy for cleaning out the vacuum bin. There's also a very amusing DVD showing you how to clean every bit of your gorgeous palazzo while looking like you just stepped out of Vogue magazine (snigger!)
Controls: Variable steam control. Never use it, blast everything and get it done quickly is my watchword. Permanently set to maximum.
Steam boiler on - push button to heat up the steam. Light goes out when it's ready to work.
Vacuum on: push button to turn on the vacuum cleaner, can be used in conjunction with the steamer or alone.
Most useful for:
Floor mopping. Throw a clean cloth down on the floor and steam directly through it. With the squeegee blades on the large cleaning head, you can grab and push the cloth around. When cloth is dirty, throw down another one and continue. I will get through around 6 cloths on a large kitchen floor, if in doubt that you are cleaning just look at the muck on the cloths and realise all that was on your floor. Uck! Does a wonderful job, the floor is dry within 5 minutes and really, really clean.
Windows, glass, mirrors etc. I blast with steam and use a cloth to polish to dry. Not only do they come up clean without smears or streaks, they also seem to stay clean for longer.
Tiles. Fantastic. Blast with steam for a surface clean, every so often give the grout a really good scrub with the detail lance and brush. And marvel.
Kitchen cupboards, doors, woodwork, worktops. Watch out for painted or waxed surfaces, not all will take kindly to it. Never scrub painted surfaces with the bristly thing while steaming, it will take the paint straight off as it is being softened and heated.
Sinks, waste pipes, taps. Great for cleaning yukky bits of the overflow, blasting around the base of taps, blasting steam down the waste pipes etc. Don't go too heavy initially on porcelain or glass, steam it lightly first to warm it up and then let loose with full on power.
Also great for alloy wheels on the car, general freshen up of painted walls, curtains and soft furnishings. Don't imagine it will deep clean your fabric sofa or carpets though, it is just not a patch on a good shampooer. It will do a decent job of giving these things a surface clean, steam them and wipe with a clean cloth and you will see surface grime coming away.
Things to look out for: Remember to empty out the water filter after every use. Forget and turn it on 2 days later and it smells worse than the drains. Disgusting. I didn't tell you this, but it smells really nice if you put a squirt of your favourite but not too expensive perfume in the vacuum water when you fill it up. Polti will sell you a fragrance to add to the water, but I use Samsara in mine, lol!! Never ever use fragrance in the boiler water.
Steam is very powerful, and can't be used directly on light switches, electrical controls or LCD panels. You should get a folded cloth, steam directly onto the cloth and then use it to wipe them. Works well.
Real bugbears: Even at this price, the machine doesn't have a separate water chamber. Big, big mistake. When the water in the steamer runs out, you have to wait until the boiler has cooled down before you can take the cap off to refill, a bit like a car radiator cap. It takes at least 5 minutes. Best strategy - put the kettle on. Have a 5 minute tea break, cap will then be ready and use the just boiled kettle to fill the boiler up. It gets you back up and running more quickly than waiting for the machine to heat the water. I still think it's a poor feature on a machine of this price.
Also, while I'm being critical, there's no water measure in the boiler. so you can't tell if you have loads left, or if it's about to run out of steam just near the end of the job. Should have been a simple thing to incorporate in the design, but is lacking.
Overall, I wouldn't give this machine up. However, I would buy a great steamer, with continuous refill facility and sacrifice the vacuum cleaner if I had my choice again. Still a great machine, but I should have spent less and got more steam features for the money. Hope this helps someone.
Summary: A good steam cleaner, but really consider if you need the vacuum element
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