Tech review: Karcher FC 5 Cordless promising but falls short

The Karcher FC 5 Cordless handstick vacuum cleaner vacuums then mops through two rotating micro-fibre rollers that are continually fed with water from a 400ml water tank at the front of the cleaner.
The Karcher FC 5 Cordless handstick vacuum cleaner vacuums then mops through two rotating micro-fibre rollers that are continually fed with water from a 400ml water tank at the front of the cleaner.PHOTO: KARCHER

Vacuum first, then mop. This age-old house-cleaning ritual can be a thing of the past with the Karcher FC 5 Cordless handstick vacuum cleaner, which does both chores in one go.

It does so with two rotating micro-fibre rollers that are continually fed with water from a 400ml water tank at the front of the cleaner. The rollers pick up wet and dry dirt at the same time as you move the cleaner. The soiled water goes into a 200ml waste tank at the rear of the cleaner.

To make things even easier, the rollers have an automatic forward movement.

However, it took a lot of effort just to take the FC 5 Cordless, which weighs a fairly heavy 4.4kg, out of the box.

Installation is a cinch - insert the handle into the main unit, fit the two rollers into the cleaning head, top up the front tank with water or detergent (or both) and you are set.

Once you switch it on, you can feel the rotating rollers propelling it forward. Thus, you are merely guiding the machine around the house.

However, moving the cleaner in the backwards direction becomes hard to execute as a result. This is when you really feel its 4.4kg weight in your arm and shoulders.

  • For

    - Clean and mop simultaneously

    - Dedicated waste water tank

    - No visible water streaks

    - Some polishing effects

  • Against

    - Fails to pick up most hair

    - Handle cannot be tilted much

    - Heavy

    - Short battery life

  • Tech specs

    Price: $798

    Weight: 4.4kg

  • Rating

    Features: 4/5

    Design: 3/5

    Performance: 2.5/5

    Battery life: 2/5

    Value for money: 3/5

    Overall: 3/5

Its battery life of around 20 minutes is quite short compared to the 40 to 60 minutes of its peers.

The short battery life is mitigated, of course, by the shorter cleaning time needed with this cleaner. It took me just 15 minutes to vacuum and mop my 90 square metres Housing Board flat. That's 50 per cent less time than with most handheld stick vacuum cleaners I've used.

However, the short duration was also because there were many corners and edges that this cleaner cannot get to due to its bulky cleaning head.

To make things worse, the handle cannot be tilted down to reach places like under the bed or sofa. The rotating rollers also made the cleaner move quite violently during use. It tore up a tiny bit of the laminated wood flooring in one bedroom.

On the bright side, the areas it was able to reach were cleaned well and there was a polished look especially with ceramic tiles. There were no visible water streaks from the mopping.

I found it had trouble picking up loose hairs though. In the end, I have to vacuum my flat again using my own vacuum cleaner to pick up those loose hairs.

I have used a few similar vacuum cleaners in the past and have yet to find one that can replicate the results from my routine of vacuuming and mopping separately. The Karcher FC 5 Cordless proves again that such a cleaner remains elusive.