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Karcher steam cleaner functional but clumsy

Before I tackled this 3kg giant, I had romanticised steam cleaners as the solution to unhygienic floors.

After all, steam cleaners have been advertised as being able to kill more than 99 per cent of all common household bacteria on hard surfaces - ideal for homes with children or pets.

If germ-killing is the biggest objective, you must be willing to put up with a wet floor, as I have discovered after testing the Karcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Steam Cleaner.

I tackled my kitchen and living room marble floor using the cleaner's maximum steam flow setting.

The floor was too wet for my liking while cleaning, though I was satisfied with the result - the white microfibre cloth attached to the EasyFix floor nozzle turned black.

Adjusting the steam flow to the lowest setting minimises water condensation, though it is still not dry enough for cleaning parquet floors.

Thus, I would not recommend cleaning wooden floors with the Karcher steam cleaner - or any steam cleaner, for that matter.

The device is best for the toughest job of removing grime and dirt in the kitchen and bathroom, on stone or tiles.

Even though this 3kg giant of a steam cleaner is clumsy to push around the house, I appreciated several well-thought-out features.

One of the device's biggest selling points is that users can say goodbye to chemical residues and toxic cleaning solvents. The microfibre cloth is also machine-washable and reusable.

  • FOR

    • Ease of assembly and use 

    • Gets the job done 

    • Reusable parts, sustainable 

  • AGAINST 

    • Leaves the floor too wet 

    • Power cord gets in the way 

    • Steam not powerful enough 

  • TECH SPECS 

    PRICE: $398 

    AREA COVERED PER TANK: 60m² 

    HEATING OUTPUT: 1,600W 

    CABLE LENGTH: 5m 

    HEAT-UP TIME: 30 sec 

    TANK CAPACITY: 500ml 

    WEIGHT: 3.1kg (without accessories) 

    DIMENSIONS: 314 x 207 x 1185mm (L × W × H) 

  • RATING 

    FEATURES: 4/5 

    DESIGN: 4/5 

    PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5 

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5 

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

Its ease of assembly and use is another selling point. The steam mop has very few parts. It heats up in under 30 seconds; the LED light on the device turns from red to green, giving a clear indication when it is ready to use.

Its refillable and removable fresh water tank includes a descaling cartridge, which protects the device from limescale problems to ensure a long service life. The mop also comes with a carpet glider for cleaning carpets.

There are a few features I hope subsequent versions of the product will incorporate.

First, it needs to go cordless. Dragging around a 5m power cable is unwieldy, to say the least.

Second, I would prefer to have stronger vapour blasters for a deeper clean. The steam mop's heating output of 1,600 watts is among the highest available for home devices, but it is still not enough for me.

If I am going to shell out a few hundred bucks and put up with a wet floor, it had better be worth my while.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2019, with the headline 'Karcher steam cleaner functional but clumsy'. Print Edition | Subscribe