Written on: 12/04/2011 by purplebutterfly (2 reviews written)
I've been looking to buy a steam cleaner for some time - having been seduced by all the teleshopping adverts on late at night! The Vax S5 certainly seems to offer everything that anybody could want with a large capacity tank that steams for up to 30 minutes and all necessary tools included with the machine.
My first thoughts about the S5 were surprise that it was quite so large and more surprise that it was quite so heavy. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone who struggles with an average-weight vacuum cleaner as it is rather cumbersome to pull around. However, it does have a wonderfully long cord so it can be plugged in far away from the area of use without having to mess around searching for extension cables etc.
With the exception of the floor cleaner and filling jug, the other accessories all fit inside the body of the machine, which is really handy when you are using it. The tools switch around fairly easily although they are a little fiddly. For anybody with dexterity problems, you might find that you need a bit of help. I suffer with rheumatoid arthritis in my hands and I did have a bit of a struggle getting some of the tools to lock into position. I also found that the knob to fill the tank was a little fiddly also as you have to push down and turn it at the same time - a bit like a child-lock on a medicine bottle but with far more threads to screw!
The steamer works quite well at loosening dirt and grime - especially on grouting and build-up around taps. Be aware though that it does not just blast the grime away - you still need to give everything a good rub and wipe down to clean up afterwards.
Using the brush attachments is really the only way to go about cleaning soap scum etc from baths and sinks. Simply spraying with the steam concentrator nozzle doesn't seem to have any effect at all.
I'm also still trying to get the hang of the mirror/window cleaning attachment as I find that I am left with streaks no matter what I do.
In all, I must confess I found the handle and steam tubes quite unwieldy. Maybe it is because I am left handed but I found that I was having to twist my arm in unusual positions in order to get the attachments to scrub the areas I wanted. There is only one "lock" position for the attachments so you can't simply place them where feels most comfortable for yourself.
All in all I am fairly pleased with the Vax S5 although it certainly hasn't performed to the standard I was expecting. The steam pressure doesn't seem strong enough - even on the highest setting. I also found it rather strange that there is no water level indicator on the machine. Not only does this increase the likelihood of overfilling by mistake but it also means you have no idea how much steam you have left during use!
Given the amount of time it takes to set up, plug in, heat the steam etc, this is not really an item to be used for a quick daily once-over of the bathroom or kitchen. It loosens dirt and grime and cuts down scrubbing time - but you do still have to put some effort in to scrubbing with the steam and then you need to wipe everything down afterwards. It is also eardrum-shatteringly LOUD on the highest steam setting. I had complaints from both my husband and the cats - even though it was MY ears that were ringing after use!
I will probably use this once a month for a deep clean and also for its antibacterial properties. I have used it on the cat litter tray and the rat cage because I try to avoid using any chemical products around my animals.
It does feel as though the design has let down what could have been a far better product. Everything is just slightly too flimsy and fiddly and "plasticky" and isn't quite if the standard you would expect from a Vax product.