I'm currently faced with the daunting prospect of having to spuce up my recently deceased father's house ready for sale, so an unexpected email from the Mumsnet Bloggers Network offering me the opportunity to apply to test the new Kärcher SC 2.500 C Steam Cleaner couldn't have arrived at a better time.
I felt very lucky to find out I'd been accepted, especially as by then I'd also seen their new TV advert – where a glamorous model effortlessly mops the floor with her Kärcher SC 2.500 C Steam Cleaner while smiling beatifically at her metrosexual partner who's sitting manfully minding their 'Boden-esque' baby twins in an opulent, spacious open-plan designer kitchen.
Once she'd finished the floor, one quick puff with the hand tool was all it took to blast away the thick layer of filth and grime from her hob and tiles before she and 'Mr Perfect' were able to gaze adoringly at their offspring (as they crawled eagerly towards a rogue biscuit which had somehow fallen to the floor), safe in the knowledge that there were no dirty dog hairs, muddy footprints or any hint of a germ to put their little cherubs at even the slightest risk of a tummy ache.
Now that's all very well, but what would happen in a REAL house?
Maybe it was me, but I just didn't find the instruction manual very helpful. Diagrams showing the purpose of each of the attachments would have helped me enormously, and I ended up having to go on to YouTube to watch a few videos to get an idea of what to do.
When I looked closely at the box afterwards I saw that it showed a few photos, but not enough to make it clear exactly what each of the different tools could possibly be used for (apart from the obvious).
This loose insert didn't exactly improve matters either!
The white floor pad left a big pile of bits all over the carpet when I took it out of its packet, but the unit was simple to assemble. I found it a bit tricky to separate some of the attachments as the yellow buttons didn't always push the clip down far enough to release it, but other than that I felt confident (having watched the videos) to fire it up.
Because I struggle reading instruction manuals (which mostly have the really important information tucked away in-amongst page after page of unnecessary drivel), I'd missed the bit that explained what the lights on the two buttons on top of the unit meant and so wasn't sure when it was actually 'ready for action', but once I worked it out I was away.
Using the cleaner
I started on my dad's double-glazed bedroom window. Cleaning was never his forte, and it would seem as if the window hadn't been cleaned since my mother's death over twelve years ago. He had a venetian blind up, the bed's headboard had been in front of it, and as he never opened the window this was what I was faced with:
After having watched the TV advert I'd expected to point the nozzle at it, the dirt to miraculously melt-away and for the window to look like new within a few seconds. That wasn't the case, but – to be fair – it didn't do a bad job. The problem was with the white sealant which (as you can see from the video) remained decidedly black.
The next room I tackled was the bathroom. Those tiles had been up there for almost thirty years, and the black mould had stubbornly refused to budge (no matter how often I'd taken a range of cleaning products and green scourers to them!), so I didn't expect much) but even after only a fairly short burst there was a definite improvement:
As you can see from this photo, there is a difference, but – like with the window – it would be unrealistic to expect a 100% improvement on something in that condition.
Feeling fairly disappointed by this point, I moved downstairs to the kitchen. The stainless steel drainer is extremely limescale-encrusted (due to a leaky washer which means that water constantly collects along it) and the calcification stubbornly refused to budge – despite several minutes' steaming.
The floor too, showed no real sign of improvement – even after using both the mop pad and the pointy nozzle, but that's because the tiles are around fifty years old and had probably never even been sealed (my parents had carpet tiles covering them for many years).
By this point I was feeling rather deflated, but that was when the fun started.
A steamy love affair blossomed
I gave the cooker knobs a quick squirt and – behold – WHAT a difference!
Look at the gunge in there. Nothing I'd done before had ever managed to get rid of it properly, so after I'd blasted the cooker knobs I eagerly started on the washing machine. Once I'd steamed around the buttons it literally looked like new, and by then I was completely hooked!
The dishwasher was next in the line of fire (grime-free now!), and I then tried one of the small glass panels in the kitchen door. One quick puff on each side of the pane and a buff-up with a bit of kitchen roll had it sparkling like new.
I haven't included photos of the (halogen) hob as it wasn't really dirty, but it definitely looked a lot shinier after a quick steam, nor of the cooker hood (as they didn't really show the difference clearly enough), but let me assure you that the grease literally 'melted away'. (I just used the bare nozzle then wiped it with a cloth as I didn't want to get years of baked-on grease all over the pristine white attachment cover.)
Prior commitments (and having to wait for my brother to be available to do the videoing for me) meant that I only had that one chance to use the machine before having to write this post, but it's sat here at the side of me now and I cannot WAIT to continue using it.
I'm going to go back and do the rest of the tiles in the bathroom and the rest of the glass door panels and windows in the house (all of which are in a much better condition than the one featured above so should come up a treat), before nipping outside to use it on my car once the weather warms up a bit.
Car interiors are notoriously tricky to get clean as they're full of little seams and crevices: the PERFECT challenge for a steam cleaner and one that I feel 100% confident it'll handle brilliantly.
Even after only having used the product once for this test I quickly discovered that for 'close' jobs it's probably better to use the shortest tube you can (so that the steam is more concentrated), and that a short, sharp burst is sometimes better than a longer/continuous stream of steam.
Any of you with older/responsible children could probably even get your house cleaned for you, because it's so exciting and addictive to use that it actually makes cleaning feel like fun – and is a lot more 'hands-on' than any video game!
Anyone wishing to clean a normal house couldn't do better than invest in a Kärcher SC 2.500 C Steam Cleaner, and although I'd have never considered buying one I'm now completely 'sold' on it and will incorporate it into my regular cleaning regime from this point onwards. (There's an iron attachment that I was going to purchase today but have just discovered that it's only available with the SC 2.600 C model. What a shame.)
To summarise then: it's light, easy to use (despite the confusing manual!) and it really does work. For busy mums wanting a clean, hygienic home with the minimum of effort I can't think of a better product than the Kärcher SC 2.500 C Steam Cleaner and I wholeheartedly recommend it.