C is for cleaning – a tale of stinkifying, fish and chips and the Karcher SC 2.500 steam cleaner

Cleaning. One of those things that I have a love / hate relationship with.

On the one hand, once I get going it’s often strangely therapeutic and of course the resulting clean(er) house is far more pleasant to live in – and that’s why I love it.

Problem is, it only stays that way for about two seconds.

Then the child-and-cat hurricane that regularly sweeps through the house obliterating everything in it’s path and leaving a fine film of filth in it’s wake makes an entrance, and my sparkling surfaces are quickly returned to their former grubby selves.

Which is why I hate cleaning. It’s simply never ending and takes too much effort for too little reward.

Add on top of that the fact that the aforementioned hurricane rarely leaves me with enough time to properly get into the ‘therapeutic’ part of the process, and that the issues caused by having Ehlers Danlos syndrome which mean that kneeling, scrubbing, and ‘giving it some welly’ are never going to be a part of my repertoire in any case – you’ll see why it’s even more of a hated chore.

But just recently, I’d started to hear news of a wonder machine which could help ease my cleaning woes and bring things more back towards the ‘love’ side of the spectrum – the steam cleaner.

Steam cleaners in general claim to make cleaning a lot more easy, quick and efficient – using just water, no detergents added. This is a big bonus for me as I work in sustainability, and have a natural predilection towards things that don’t require harsh chemicals to have an effect. However, confusingly, there are a lot of options out there…and whilst doing my research I came across lots of reviews good and bad which left me scratching my head in concern, wondering if spending a fairly large chunk of money was going to give me the results I was after.

So – when the offer came up to give the Karcher SC 2.500 a go, I grabbed it with both hands (almost literally, which really quite scared the postman! I was just extremely excited when it arrived…). Having had a Karcher pressure washer in the past I was aware of the durability and efficiency of the brand – and I hoped that the steam cleaner might follow suit and live up to my perhaps unrealistic expectations of a sparkling clean house with practically no effort involved from me.karcher man

As it happens, some of my expectations were met pretty much straight away due to the fact that the Other Half was quite intrigued by the whole thing and was into the box and busy steam cleaning the kitchen floor within a matter of minutes. That definitely meets the ‘practically no effort involved’ criteria I reckon, although perhaps not in the way I was expecting! Turns out the Karcher is actually quite a ‘manly’ gadget, from the male interest it’s generated so far (my brother is busy using it to clean my mum’s house as I speak!) and, although the Other Half to give him his due is extremely helpful generally anyway when it comes to housework, having a gadget which appeals to men in households where perhaps they aren’t quite so cleaning inclined has got to be a good thing, right?2013-03-31 17.15.21

Anyway, having finally managed to wrestle it off him, I marched off to the bathroom to give it a go on the bane of my life – the massive number of piddly little tiles and their extensive grout surroundings. Words cannot describe how much I detest scrubbing away at them, only to be rewarded by a slight difference in discolouration after many many minutes of back breaking labour.

Fingers crossed, I picked up the hose with round brush attachment clipped on, pressed the steam release button, and got to work.

And I was very, very impressed. The only effort required from me was filling the water tank (actually, the SC 2.500 has twin tanks, meaning you can steam continuously should you wish – just keep topping up the smaller refillable tank at the front of the cleaner), pressing down the button, and waving the stick bit around.

You can see the difference:tiles

And it worked for lino, too:lino

And floor tiles:

It got into all the niggly little corner bits on doors with no problems at all:20130331_160513

And our front room floor hasn’t looked (or smelt) so clean for ages! (The cat has recently had a bit of a penchant for weeing on the floor, aided and abetted by her small child compatriots who often add to the whole stinky mess). Now, the only wet patches on the floor are left by the steam cleaner – but although it does tend to leave a little bit of surface water wherever it’s being used, this dries pretty quickly and I found can also be reduced by using the supplied towelling or microfibre cloths along with the attachments for large floor areas or shower doors, for example.2013-03-31 17.07.09

Basically, the effort required (when I was operating the cleaner) was so little, I reckon I could probably sit and read a book with one hand whilst waving the stick around with the other, if I wanted to.

20130331_155855Only problem with that is a) small children interrupting and b) kindles don’t really like steam. And, as you might imagine, given the name, there is a lot of steam hanging about. I did find that I need to open the windows (not a particularly pleasant thought in the current chilly climate) as without doing that I found I could have opened my own day spa (albeit a particularly downmarket one). The noise emitted by the cleaner is also not particularly relaxing. It’s probably on a par with vacuuming – fairly loud, and with the odd intermittent rumbling noise added in as the unit does a bit more water heating every now and then. If you need a bit of white noise to soothe a little one, then the Karcher does it literally, giving out a big white steam cloud alongside it’s harsh purring noises.

2013-03-31 17.57.10Thinking a bit more about children, that was another of my concerns. How safe is it to shoot out jets of (presumably rather hot) steam in the vicinity of small children, and how easy is it for them to use if it happens to be left lying around?

Well, for starters, it’s got a child lock. The Wee Man realised this quite quickly, setting my mind at rest, and giving him a couple of hours of fun screaming ‘stinkify’ and waving the steam hose and gun-with-detail-nozzle-attached around joyfully. (If you’re a Tree Fu Tom fan, you’ll get what that means, but if not, don’t be alarmed – there was no actual stink making involved). I was also not concerned for the safety of the Karcher – it’s very, very sturdy and has taken a good dose of bashing with no ill effects whatsoever.

I did also – perhaps stupidly – test the temperature of the steam coming out, and found that it’s a lot cooler than I was expecting. That said, the hose does get fairly hot when in use, so it’s worth remembering not to get it wrapped around you if you happen to be cleaning in the nude. (not something I tried, in case you’re wondering).

2013-03-31 17.25.10On stubborn stains, I did find it takes a good couple of goes before there’s a marked difference – I noticed that going over once, leaving it a few minutes and then coming back to stubborn spots again really helped give a great finish. I also took the advice in the instructions and whipped out some vinegar to soak the well-scaled spots for five minutes or so before cleaning, which really gave some good results. It also got me craving fish and chips…but luckily, the cold outside was a good enough reason not to follow through with tracking some down (my sister is getting married in 8 weeks and so fish and chips are banned for a while by order of THE WEDDING).

The steam cleaning unit itself is a lot more compact and lightweight than I expected – it’s very portable and easy to move around, and the attachments can be changed quickly making it simple to use. The power lead isn’t very long – and if you live in a house like ours, where whoever planned the location of power sockets clearly had never needed to use electricity in a normal manner, then you might need to whip out an extension cable for some bits. To be honest though, I prefer that as it means less winding in metres and metres of impossibly tangled cable which also adds to the weight and size of the unit for storage.

2013-03-31 17.37.06All in all, I’m very impressed. And whilst my expectations of a sparkling clean house haven’t totally been met (well, come on, is that ever likely to happen? Even with an ARMY of cleaning robots at my disposal?) that’s certainly not the fault of the Karcher, which has more than lived up to my hopes of a minimal effort, maximum environmentally friendly house-sanitising solution.

Yellow is such a happy colour. And I think the Karcher SC2500 is very deserving of it 🙂


Disclosure: I was sent the Karcher SC2500 steam cleaner for the purposes of review (thank you!), however I have not been paid to write about it and neither was I required to write a positive review. All words are my own honest and sometimes slightly strange opinions.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

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