Product Type: Vax vacuums
Newest Review: ... bit worse for wear now. I don't really notice any discernible fragrance once I've used this machine, despite the Vax detergent claiming t... more
More Slow Than Pro!
Vax Bare Foor Pro S2ST
Member Name: Nar2
Vax Bare Foor Pro S2ST
Date: 18/12/12, updated on 18/12/12 (399 review reads)
Advantages: Stylish, long cord, many attachments & detergents, fast to power up, quiet.
Disadvantages: Heavy, tanks difficult to remove, leaves floors far too wet, painful trigger/handle, pricey.
A couple of months ago I was happily cleaning away after reading how many calories one can expect to lose just doing house work alone. It's a pity that even if you can burn over more than a thousand calories in a day by lifting and using appliances that my hands get the brunt of all the work when it comes to bleaching or using harsher chemicals and apart from having to wear awful rubber gloves, or douse myself in hand creams afterwards. At least when it comes to cleaning floors, help comes calling in the form of my faithful and reliable Hometek Steam Mop, my second after discovering this product under Lakeland's own name model five years ago. Since then I haven't looked back - Hometek is the number one steam mop where I'm concerned - but as the years have gone on, it hasn't been plain sailing of recent when it comes to doing more than just steam cleaning tiles and vinyl hard floors. Lakeland's own model was replaced in 2011 with the Hometek "Elite" - a much physically thinner but still as light steam mop model and I found it effortless to use on hard floors backed by its high power element and the ability to clean floors effectively without leaving surfaces over wet. The Elite isn't without problems though - it isn't as well built as the previous "bulkier bodied" steam mop by Hometek and mine has begun to show signs of slowing down, powering up the steam generator when it feels like it, not when I activate it by pulling down the handle after waiting for the mop to heat up.
One crucial reason to why I keep going back to the brand is simply because I have bought microfibre replacement pads that seem to last longer than the mops themselves and the pads are easy to wash, cheap to buy and durable. Thus as I tried to look online to find the same mop again, the prices that sellers have marked up the Hometek Elite with is now too highly priced for my liking. My original one cost me £46 a year ago and that's a price I'm prepared to pay for a basic model like the Elite - not £89-99 or more. Steam mops are just the healthiest way to go, eradicating the need to use harsh chemicals - although with this Vax steam mop, you have the option to use chemical based detergents - whether that's an advantage remains to be seen!
Since Vax UK have merged with Chinese company Techtronic Industries (TTI) in 1999 who also happen to own Royal & Dirt Devil U.S (acquired in 2003) Hoover U.S (acquired in 2007), the Vax company continue to spin out new machines every couple of months. Some machines dependent on their type are already available in the U.S under TTI's umbrella-companies, whilst other products like the S2 Pro and S2 Master steam mops by Vax have seen heavy promotion and discounted cost prices for UK buyers - crucial at a time when there's a recession on. Initially I was hesitant about the S2 Pro despite heavy advertising and reviews appearing about this product - after the disaster with the "string pull" triangular Efbe-Schott steam mop I bought last year when I lived away from home, I've been at two minds when it comes to steam mops that have a triangular style floor head as well as a pivotal swivel, both of which the S2 features. Luckily, the newer S2 Bare Floor Pro no longer has a toggle-stretch mop head but one like the Hometek that attaches to the base via Velcro pads.
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
* Make & model: Vax S2/S Bare Floor Pro - updated model to original Master & S2.
* Velcro-attach floor head with 2 microfibre machine washable pads.
* Twin Tank Technology - able to use detergent & water for cleaning floors, or water alone.
* 2 x 500ml bottles of detergent also supplied & measuring cup.
* 1600-watt steam generator motor & 3 heat cleaning levels.
* 0.5 litre water tank capacity, 8 metre cable, 3.3kg (claimed).
* Heats up in 1 minute, 1 bar total pressure; max temperature 140°C.
* LED indicators to show when machine is ready, loop handle & trigger release, safety floor base holder.
* 0.3litre solution tank, can only use Vax Steam Detergent liquid, retail prices £4-99 to £9-99.
* Dedicated site: www.vaxsteam.com
* General price £79-99 to £99-99 new: £58 to £78 refurbished.
* My price £69-99 from Scottish Hydro Shop.
* 2-year guarantee from Vax UK.
General Design & Quality
Out of the box, the Vax S2 Bare Floor Pro is quite a good-looking machine that has been made with a lot of durable, thick plastics. Smooth and curvy, the steam mop wouldn't look out of place in a modern home and I'm pleased the handle spine is long enough to accommodate for six footers like me! Decked out in a dark grey and white contrasting framed design, I find the S2 is easy on the eye and it only took a few seconds to bolt the handle to the main body as well as disregarding the plastic bags that keeps the long 8 metre cord in place before manually wrapping around the quick release hooks top and bottom at the rear.
As this has Vax's "twin tank technology," (the name alone blesses Hoover's U.S model) there are two tanks on this steam mop; one designed for cold tap water and the other tank designed solely for Vax's citrus blended steam floor detergent liquid. I was delighted to find two bottles at 500ml sizing in the box but I have only used this option once, as the general performance will shortly reveal.
Two washing machine washable microfibre pads are also included as well as the obligatory framed carpet glider attachment that most if not all steam mops come equipped with these days. Due to the power on board (1600-watts) though, this isn't the mop of choice for steaming carpets free of stains. You'd need twice this amount or at least 2200 watts with proper designed floor heads for that cleaning act alone and the glider provided here is intended to freshen up carpets. A base plate is also included so that the mop can rest on the floor safely after use and cool down.
General Performance & Downsides
Although I can't stand mess at the best of times, I waited around a month to see just how powerful the Vax S2S Bare Floor Pro is and how well it cleans. Firstly, I am delighted to find that like my Hometek steam mops; the Vax microfibre pads stay on due to the thick Velcro picker slabs on the base of the steam mop and how well the finely stitched microfibre pads feel in the hand and to the eye. In use they are very hot, so it makes sense not to touch them and once finished, the pad can be stepped on because it has outer sections of material aside from the floor head where the pad can be stepped on, taking off the floor head in an instant. Nothing unusual here since most steam mops with Velcro heads have a safe section to pull off.
The front and rear tanks removal both have two sets of three ribs down either side where in theory, pulling the tanks upwards should dislodge them easily from the front and rear of the mop. I have yet to be able to get used to this design function though.
Sometimes the tank release and sometimes they don't! So much for its flush built in design. The only way of getting the tanks out seems to be using a blunt edge of a butter knife on the bottom seal and I don't appreciate having to take out an inner tube just to put water or detergents in either - the Hometek's built in release cap and use of a funnel with a measuring cup may well be more old fashioned - but it's a heck of a lot faster and less time inducing - when there's no tank to be removed in the first place.
However, I am delighted that the S2 has a long 8 metre cord as this pretty much sums up the kind of travel I need to do in my kitchen without changing plug sockets as well as our large bathroom made up of delicate hard floor tiles, not helped by vestibules such as the toilet, hand wash basin and cupboards that a steam mop like the Vax S2 could handle. The user manual is well worded though and has plenty of colourful diagrams. It is a pity though that it is so complicated to read due to the machine's over elaborate controls and solutions to what to do if the mop clogs up.
Handling though is a bit of an issue for me. The S2 has a built in pivotal head that should allow the mop head to go around corners and into right angles with ease, not just due to its triangular floor head, thus also able to go left and right with a flick of my hand. Helped along by the thick looped handle, the Vax S2 looks like it could be an easy handler. Sadly though, it is anything but!
Compared to my Hometek mops at 2kg, Vax claim that the S2 has a general "lightweight" feel of around 3.3kg. Oh how I wish it were true! In reality, I find that in use, the mop weighs around 4kg to push and pull backwards not helped by the pivotal head that "crab" walks along the floor. The first test I tried the S2 on was in our large luxury bathroom for example, which are made of smooth marble. After giving the mop a minute to heat up and being told that it is ready by its green and blue LED lights on the main body, I found that the S2 was difficult to push and pull backwards in a straight line. Hard floor resistance seems to be an issue that the pads can't seem to meet easily unless floor surfaces are ultra smooth and eventually as the steam emerges through the pad, pushing starts to get easier.
However, it is at the detriment of my own hand getting a work out with the handle trying to keep the steam mop at one angle when going straight on floors whilst also being painful to keep my finger on the trigger. Most of the time the head wants to keep changing at an angle and dust on the floor seems to get pushed along rather than retained by the proper production of Microfibre sponges.
In the kitchen on our vinyl floor, I find that the Vax S2 Pro does give a good cleaning performance and stubborn dirt like grease and coffee stains can be removed quickly. However, give the mop some crumbs that aren't stubborn and they simply get pushed around rather than sticking to the pad! I hate to say it, but it seems to me Vax have been stingy on the way their Microfibre pads are made. They may look like they have good quality but when it comes to general use and cleaning ability; the pads tend to push dirt around unless it is stubborn, ingrained dirt and messes that have been spilt on a hard floor and left to stain for a couple of days or weeks! At least the Vax is quiet in use, which is some saving grace.
Another issue that I discovered is with my experience of steam mop floor cleaning in general. Whenever I've used my Hometek mops, I can steam clean quite happily wearing socks because the steam that emerges is of a dry and slightly damp nature, only ending up with slightly damp socks in the process and floors that take a few minutes to dry out. Thus, I expected the same kind of result with the Vax since the S2 has a similar total watt power and similar Microfibre pad as the older Hometek products. Oh how wrong that assumption turned out to be! My socks were left soaking wet after use with the Vax S2 and both my floors took over half an hour to dry off. Bare Floor Pro? I don't think so!
The main problem I feel with the Vax S2 Pro is that it leaves hard floors overly wet and can therefore be too slippery. The floors get wetter when the stains don't disappear the first time either! This is more apparent with vinyl and hard floor that seems to take an age to dry after use with the mop and certainly if I didn't have my Hometek to hand to make as a comparison with, I would have assumed the Vax could cut the mustard in times of drying time. However, leaving my socks soaking wet and floors that take longer than expected to dry and slippy isn't professional in my book.
Whilst the solution tank is a good idea, it's a bit of a downside that as a new Vax steam mop owner, the only solution you can use is Vax's own expensive detergent liquid. The liquid works and it smells fresh. But then so does £1 Zoflora mixed with water! At least if I choose to add detergent to a floor that is being steam cleaned, I can add any floor-cleaning agent of my choice with Hometek! Sometimes I use Dettol's own floor cleaner and for the £3 for the Dettol's 500ml sizing, the detergent by Vax from £6 to £10 is a bit too much to believe in, no matter how citrus strong or how powerful the liquid is by promise and cleaning ability alone.
Another issue are the tank themselves - they don't have a fill line on the acrylic body, always requiring to use the measuring cup provided. If Vax went to less bother of adding a marking rather than the constant and permanent promotional advantage blurbs of the machine on the front tank, this mop would be better thought for the owner who wont' have time to measure water correctly!
Although the looped handle is a welcome design element on this mop, the Vax S2 Pro has a nonsensical trigger that I'm not that taken with. At least with the Hometek you switch it on, give it 15 to 30 seconds to heat up and release the handle and away you go! Not here though; a minute to heat up, select the temperature control you want and then have to keep my finger on the trigger on the underside of the handle for the steam to emerge at all times whilst also concentrating on steering the thing along the floor in the hope that it will stay put and not change angle! Oh the head is great at the way it moves with a natural disposition into corners though. Pity I can't control it much and after use when placed on the cooling tray, unless the Vax has a completely level floor to rest on, the machine stoops to the point that it can fall over either on its front or from behind.
Lastly, if the detergent solution isn't an incentive to buy more from Vax, the built in water filter is enough for yet another consumable to purchase, going from its original beige colour to dark brown. A hard water filter is added inside just after the water tank is taken out. Great if you live in hard water areas, but the simpler solution from Hometek is either using their own hard water softener product or flushing out the system with clear water and vinegar and Hometek mops use tap water - not distilled alone, as some other owners have reported and the Vax here, thankfully uses tap water although you can choose to use distilled water, if you feel it is necessary.
The user manual also suggests that any left over solution should be disposed of down the sink. Not here! Use the funnel you'll receive and put it back into the bottle if it hasn't been used!
Additional Optional Costs
Vax also offer a Coral weave pad for "stubborn" dirt if the Microfibre pad isn't as effective. That costs £15-99 compared to £6-99 for a set of two Microfibre pads. Other consumables range from:
Hard water filter replacement pad £9.99 to £19-99.
Vax measuring jug (yes, honestly!) £3-99.
It is a pity that for the price, Vax should really be able to extend the versatility of this steam mop with an extension hose that would give buyers a better incentive to buy this model and the ability of using the four-stage heat control to its better feature for cleaning above the floor line. For £100 of the general retail price, I would have expected better cleaning ability from the so-called cleaning experts Vax present themselves as.
Whilst it is modern, reasonably quiet, powerful, stylish and reasonably well built, I am not a fan of the Vax S2 Bare Floor Pro. Due to its heavy weight to push, difficult to remove tanks and leaving floor surfaces far too wet that then take too much time to dry, it may be a bonus of the articles that you get in the box that will impress buyers enough to give this product a five star rating.
Not being able to control the angle decently without having to maintain the angle I clean at for straight motion cleaning AND keeping my finger on the trigger for steam to release, isn't a convenience or a time-saving gesture either. Add in the costly Vax detergent solutions usage only and with no other versatility offered than just a steam mop for hard floors or freshening up carpets and the whole product looks like it is distinctly lacking in comfort and good value. For the price of around £100 that Vax themselves are currently charging on-site, the Vax S2 Bare Floor Pro looks and sounds professional. But, sorry Vax, at the very least and with all things considered, your S2 Bare Floor Pro is more Slow than Pro! Thanks for reading. İNar2 2012.
Summary: Stylish, but Hometek's mops are simpler, lighter, faster & leave floors drier.
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