Before I was given my Home Tek steam mop at Christmas this year, it was in 2006 that our home got new flooring throughout consisting of marble tiling and vinyl floors for our bathroom and kitchen respectively. Being a light cream colour means that you can see everything especially splashes of liquids and food stains whilst our old floppy Addis mop meant that finding a sponge replacement was difficult and in the end after a recommendation my mum bought a JML mop from Woolworths only for it to break twice at the hinge when trying to dry the floor afterwards. Although Woolworths replaced the original mop free of charge, the next JML mop snapped again and enough was enough. Pah to traditional means and Yeah to an electric washer.
** Nar's Quick Skip Product Spec **
* 550 watt dry and wet light upright vacuum washer.
* 1.5 litre tank, 7.5 metre cord, 6.1 kg.
* Nar's price; £64-99 from EBay including postage and packaging.
* Standard retail price; £99-00 to £129-99.
* Comes with 1 bottle of Multi floor cleaner and AAA Carpet shampoo (both 1 litre bottles)
* Shampoo bottle replacements can cost from £9-99 to £12-99 depending on type. It can use 3 in 1 machine formula shampoo which means it can also use Bissell formula which has added Scotchguard agents.
For those who know me well enough, I would have been happy to have dragged our old Vax canister out, but by the time it takes to set everything up with all the hose and pipe parts, for quick clean ups it does seem like a waste of time. So I was on the look out for an upright model which could just clean a hard floor and carpet machine without fuss and frivolous extras. The trouble is there are many models from Vax and Bissell which confused my buying and product knowledge experience. The "Sahara" model by Vax claims to pump and suck up water at 250mph but the model has always been criticised for not delivering its promise and it has largely won a lot of criticism on several review companies. Bissell on the other hand have just launched the already U.S established model the "Flip It," hard floor/carpet stick vac onto the UK market. Whilst the "Flip It" model has an excellent 2 way versatile design it does not have an actual beater brush bar to aid cleaning. The Rapide V0-29/Q model has brushes built in permanently and this was one of the considerations I was looking for because as with carpet and normal vacuums, suction alone can't hope to shift everything in its path.
** Switches, Labels & General Design **
Briefly and generally the Vax Rapide is well marked out although there is a lot of wording and labelling on the machine itself. Three main pedals/switches on the Rapide control the nozzle setting from wet to dry vacuuming, a brush on/off function and the main power button, rubberised just like our old Vax to suggest protection from wet hands. A looped handle with a blue trigger button ensures less hand fatigue as well as controlled steering.
The handle swings down and up easily with only a slight stop before realising that it will not lie flat like an upright dry dirt vacuum cleaner. I'm glad in a way however that Vax have resorted to the older principle of just fitting a handle release and handle which will lower and heighten itself to the requirement of the owner; many upright vacuums these days have a thick motor hinge in the middle which restricts owner's height.
In terms of dry normal vacuuming, there is suction available from its vacuum only function, but the filter is tiny and it's only suitable for quick dry dirt suction on the same floors you are about to wash as opposed to being a main upright vacuum cleaner with a small facility to wash. Vax have labelled this model as a hard floor cleaner as opposed to a universal twin wash and dry vac although it can handle "spot cleaning" on carpets due to its rolling brush which can be switched on and off independently. At least in its primary colour of white the Vax V029 is easy to see where it gets grubby and can be washed down with a damp cloth.
** Getting Rapide ready for use **
When I received this model it was already packaged up in a box and all I had to do was tighten the handle by four cross head screws to fit the handle. The power cord, like many uprights these days (wet or dry type) is already fitted and it fits to the top and bottom of the cleaner at the rear via a main orange quick release hook. Two floor heads are supplied - a rubber squeegee floor head for hard flooring and a floor head for carpets. The floor head not in use at the time of cleaning can be slid and stored in a special hiding area located at the back of the Rapide. This has lessened running around looking for the tool when the need to clean carpets and hard flooring at the same time occurs.
These floor heads however are very easy to install onto the Rapide. It only takes seconds to twist the lock (orange) before the main water channel pipe (a clear hose so you can see blockages) to fit the floor head into place. The hard floor head is a light blue whereas the carpet floor head is clear acrylic but both state what they are for clearly. Both are easy to clean because a tap can be pushed down the main channels and literally the flow of water washes out the dirt. The main water tank is a long blue acrylic bin which is double walled. Inside it sits the main dirt filter and a white plastic see through grid.
One other pedal sits at the bottom of the floor head and this allows the Vax to change from a dry dirt pick up vac to wet and dry mode. It is a simple pedal to activate and a central pedal allows the handle to unlock from its lock position for general use.
** Performance **
* Washing on Hard Floor *
When the Rapide is switched on, it is possible to start washing the floor automatically although the solution in the tank only emerges once the blue trigger on the white handle loop is squeezed. In use the solution is spread over the floor from under the Rapide and the two soft rubberised wheels ensure marking is kept to a minimum. There are only two wheels at the back of the cleaner to aid movement, rubberised so not to damage flooring and in use although the floor is wet the Rapide tends to slide around until the water is sucked up. On hard flooring the soft brush roll comes into its own even if it is only to add agitation. But the Rapide is generally fast over light staining on hard flooring; particularly when once the trigger is not squeezed the Rapide will suck up all the dirty water through its removable floor head and is totally viewable to see in the tank. Here is where extra noise occurs; not from the motor but from the squeegee which starts to howl and squeal over the floor surface. Once it does this, the floor is dry!
In terms of light staining such as recent liquid drink spills, the Rapide is excellent at pick up. However with only 550 watts of power, there is not sufficient pull where stubborn or old stains prevail on the floor despite the moving brush roll. I found I had to go over and over stubborn stains against Vax's claim here of instant dirt removal, although against the heavier canister, there is no stooping or pulling a heavy weight behind you, rather more prolonged time standing with the Vax upright and going over stains very slowly. One very handy aspect over our old Vax canister though is the fact that when all the solution has used (the soft trigger controls the flow so you can keep some back for the next task) the Rapide rises in motor pitch sound to let the owner know that the solution and water has run out.
** Washing on Carpet **
For carpet use the floor head has a thick plastic agitator line similar to our old Vax canister but the difference here is the extra agitation of the permanent brushes. Vax have given the brushes a different colour rather like a rainbow and there's even a small screen in the middle so that the owner can see the state of the brushes in use. In terms of scrubbing action, the Rapide betters our old Vax canister because there are brushes here as opposed to none on the old canister model. I found using the Rapide on both surfaces just as good although stubborn stains were harder to break down and shift. Edge channels also mean that edge brushing and washing is also available but it is a pity that given its rear central release pedal, the V0 29 fails to clean when it is made to lie flat - infact try as much as you can but the pedal gets in the way and the Vax will not lie flat which means washing carpets or floors under tables can be tricky unless the table's height is higher than the handle at the time of use.
** Setting Up For Wash **
Filling the solution into the Rapide however is a lot easier than our old Vax canister. There are no tubes to unlock here, no pump to sort out either and no need to fix anything. The empty bin for example looks like a double walled clear acrylic water tank which at first thanks to the instructions I thought was a single tank due to the wording in the manual. It kept stating "clean/dirty tank," and I originally began to think that the tank was a single unit which held clean and dirty water together and through the "cyclonic" action managed to displace both states of water separately.
However, by releasing the tank at the front (via orange lock just like many bagless cyclonic upright vacuum cleaners) an inner filter is revealed as well as an opened out plastic filter carrier which actually doesn't hold anything other than dirt in use. Here is where you DON'T fill it with water but insert and drop in the carrier and paper filter top back into the tank and align the arrows, whereupon similarly when emptying dirty water you just lift the top off and the tank can be emptied out. So where does the clean solution aided water go?
At the back of the bin there is an orange screw top where once it is undone you can measure the solution in the shampoo cap and pour it into the backing. At first I didn't think there were any holes here and I couldn't imagine pouring water down the same small measuring spot at the back. 40°C is the maximum temperature of hot water which the Rapide can take so in this instance I used hot tap water as opposed to boiling hot water. Poured into a small water jug (which Vax could well enclose to make filling easier) there are markings fore and aft on the tank which show where the maximum amount of clean water and soap mix can reach.
Sure enough by pouring into the screw cap fixing, water appeared to flow down into the secondary wall of the tank; it is a pity that Vax do not show this in their user manual as the owner could well be as puzzled I was initially. Once the water has been filled and the tank installed (just like a bagless bin on uprights the bin is easier to install if the bottom of it meets the holder and swung into place and locked) the Rapide can be used.
And if you put in too much water, the Vax's cyclonic action in the water raises the white plastic grid to the top and switches the Rapide off automatically as opposed to standard motor burn out/thermal protection.
Time it takes to set up old Vax canister? Around 8 to 10 minutes to install and fit everything together including the floor head.
Time it takes to set up Vax Rapide? 5 minutes if you have never done it before, 2 minutes thereafter.
** Manoeuvrability **
Manoeuvring and handling the Rapide is wonderful though. At 6.1 kg the Rapide isn't the lightest wash vacuum I have tried but the general softness of the plastic as well as the LG/Oreck style helping handle means that hand fatigue is reduced and at some points I found pushing and pulling the Rapide back could be done just using a pinch of two fingers on the handle and mimics a light use similar to our Sebo upright. I would never be able to have done this with our old Vax canister!! As soon as the Rapide sucks up the water and leaves the floor dry, the wheels start to regain their grippy texture which maximises steering. Carrying the Rapide is also easier to lift from the handle at the rear of the machine rather than from the handle at the top; the main floor head though is large so it is useless for cleaning carpeted or hard floor stairs. At least the 7 metre power cord is long which means transferring from room to room doesn't pose a problem and like a normal upright vacuum, the Vax can be angled on its rear wheels and wheeled back to the cupboard where it belongs after use.
** Emptying and Motor Noise **
In terms of the dry dirt vacuuming only, dirt collected goes to the inner filter located at the top of the tank. The user manual states that the filter must be dried if it is cleaned and washed but since using it for washing, I discovered that the filter gets wet anyway and dirt can be either tapped into a bin (as the manual suggests) or removed by using a small clean paint brush. The filter is similar to HEPA filters though; fine paper pleats are easy to see and dirt trapped in between is reasonably easy to dislodge.
Emptying is as easy as installing. Unlock the tank, carry to the sink, lift the filter cartridge out (the only part which unlocks is the inner dry dirt collecting filter) and emptying the dirty water into the sink. I always get rid of solution in the tank too although it is possible to leave the soapy solution in the inner walled tank of the same bin for the next time you use it.
Surprisingly, the motor noise isn't as loud as I thought it would be. After experience of my Vax Quicklite upright, the Rapide isn't as noisy although in use with the constant squawking and squealing of the squeegee it can get too much if used for a prolonged time.
** Downsides **
If you are thinking of buying this machine and thinking it would act as a main wash vac in your home it depends on the size of your home and the surface area you want to clean. There are many reasons for this;
* The Rapide has a small tank capacity of only 1.5 litres total volume (0.75 litres dry dust) which limits appeal but in use meant a tank lasted us two rooms before giving out.
* The Rapide gets difficult to push when either floor heads have completely sucked up all water and solution. Rapide can only wash sealed hard flooring as opposed to unsealed.
* There is no additional hose to aid above the floor cleaning or for cleaning upholstery. This is entirely a machine for carpets or hard flooring which have been sealed.
* Small dry dirt chamber (and filter) ensures that only minimal dry dirt suction can be attained from Rapide so its better to vacuum your floors thoroughly before using this machine.
* The agitator brush screen cannot be removed to aid cleaning after tasks have been done and it is additionally moved by a drive belt which can be ordered from Vax if it breaks. Since 2006 the belt has never needed to be replaced however.
* The user manual is a black and white booklet which shows diagrams rather than the real model; Vax would do well here to properly word and show where each part of the info is applicable instead of the owner trying to fathom out particular areas on the machine.
If you have a heavy, bulky canister with a long hose which can wash carpets already but need something more compact and upright I definitely think the Rapide V0 29/Q is worthy of consideration. The Rapide does very little wrong other than the fact that if it had a larger tank and more power/suction, it could replace two machines in one but then I think the weight would be heavier as a result too. As a second back up machine it replaces the need to set up our old Vax unless I intend to wash large rooms where there are expansive areas of carpet. In short it is a breeze to use with a downside of it being noisy.
** Choices of Shampoo **
From the EBay seller I received two one litre bottles of Vax's AAA carpet shampoo and Multi floor cleaner. Both products are very good and leave rooms feeling very fresh and clean smelling with no bleach after scent. The products from Vax are however expensive. My favourite choice of shampoo regardless of whether its for carpet or hard floors is the Pound shop best seller 1001 3 in 1 carpet shampoo. They are very similar in scent to Vax's more expensive AAA shampoo and neither products stain or allow colours to run.
The Rapide V0-29 does what it states on its label however; it is perfect for quick flooring clean ups on either carpet or sealed hard flooring but it will only clean surface staining in one go as opposed to heavy staining and stubborn marks which needs a longer time to be with. Over the larger upright washers on the market, the Vax Rapide V029 is much smaller and more agile than most and that's the secret to why most owners keep them. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008