Not a Steam Vac, A Carpet Spot Cleaner

Aug 26, 2009 (Updated Aug 26, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Oxy Gen2 & hose suction is powerful, portable, long hose and cord, convenient, easy-to-store

Cons:Consumes solution fast, no lid on dirt tank, no steam, solution will remove color

The Bottom Line: Bissell really likes for you to see how dirty you are with plenty of clear plastics to see the final murky water result. You feel and know it really works.

Go to the Bissell website and search for 1200A.  This is not a steam cleaner and it doesn't claim it to be.  It is a carpet spot cleaner.  There's not much difference from what I've gathered between the 1200B.  Neither are steam cleaners though, beware, but this was all that was listed on this site so I'm setting up my review here.  This is a wet vac.  There is no heat generated.  This idea of steam can get confusing and intertwined, for me at least, when I first started researching a portable cleaner.  So, just so you know what you're getting into, this is not steam. It is portable and it is a carpet cleaner including pet stains.  But it can do more besides pet accidents, it can clean cars, or furniture upholstery, for example.
I was so excited to receive my new SpotBot, though, steam or not. I have white carpeting and a new puppy, so I was desperate.  It's really easy to use.  I barely needed to read the manual to get the hang of it.  There are really only two features, the manual hose, and the "set it and forget it" button.  With the set it feature, there are two to choose from: 1) set in stain about 5-6 minutes 2) fresh surface stains about 3 minutes long.  There's another button to pause/resume the cycle.  Since they're the same button, you push it twice to toggle the action, but don't get overzealous with this button.  The mechanics start to get confused if you're pressing it over and over again to start, stop, start, stop, etc.  There is a slight delay each time you press for "start" as the brushes have to get started.  Also, I never timed it for accuracy, for example if I was running a 3 minute cycle and paused it after 1 minute, would it continue exactly another 2 minutes?  I never tested this, but hopefully this is the idea.

It comes with a Oxy Gen2 Bissell brand cleaner.  It's a really nice cleaner, no odor to speak of.  It's mostly hydrogen peroxide, so will need to store your bot in a dark place if you have solution left in it still, and you may want to wear gloves when working with the manual hose. This cleaner will handily disinfect all your miniscule cuts on your fingers, or just turn your fingertips white for a few hours, but I'm sure it's not too dangerous a chemical to be worried if you don't wear gloves and don't mind the whitening.  I didn't bother wearing gloves and my fingers were fine afterwards.  The bottle says to test surfaces before use, and boy, do they mean it!  I set down my vac unit after a full days worth of cleaning upholstered kitchen chairs that we bought used from a family with little kids...and I set it down on my new dark brown wool rug, and it lightened it for good in the spot it was laid.  Like diluted bleach.  It was dumb to just set it down.  I should have known better.  The unit wasn't leaking, per say, but it's moist underneath after use especially if you're using the set it and forget.  Also, I hadn't rinsed it after use, so the hoses still have the cleaner inside and it had residual cleaner that was coming out.  However, the hoses and tools are easy to clean.  All you have to do is detach the hoses and pieces, which is really easy and just rinse it through.  I recommend doing this after each use so you don't get any dripping cleaners on your non color safe textiles or clothes. 

You will have to measure the cleaner, and the only measuring tools they provide are marks on the solution tank itself, which, if used heavily and the text rubs off, or if you wanted to, say, add to half a tank, it's impossible to do so accurately.  Also, I went ahead a bought a bunch of this Oxy Gen2 bottles in bulk (found a deal online for $5/ea which is cheap cheap compared to what most sites charge - warning, this cleaner is a bit expensive) and the bottles, I have to say, have a terrible design.  When you flip the SpotBot's solution tank upside down where the opening is, it's not flat.  You have to hold it while you pour the solution and water in, which is really difficult with this bottle!  It's so hard to squeeze it, and so little comes out.  Eventually, I just unscrewed the darn thing and poured it that way  and that worked much better.  I guess the squirter lid is designed for when you want to squirt it on a stain and use a towel to pick it up.  You could squirt the cleaner first, and then use the SpotBot's manual hose to suck it all up. It's like when you're washing windows with a glass cleaner and paper could spray the glass cleaner directly on the glass or on the paper towel.  Doesn't really matter.  However, when you put the cleaner in the Bot, it's diluted.  Straight out of the bottle is concentrated.  Something to consider.  Also, this unit will go through solution FAST, especially with the auto set-in stain feature.

The trigger function on the manual hose is pretty accurate and self explanatory.  There's no delay and you can easily see where it's spraying.  Only problem is that it sprays outwards.  This can prove to be a bit messy when you're trying to spray vertically instead of on the floor.  I was cleaning an upholstered armchair for example.  I had to move the operation outside because the spray was getting everywhere.  Also, the solution won't soak in straight away if the surface is dry.  I would recommend pre-soaking with water so the solution will soak in faster and you won't be wasting the spray.  Also, I recommend letting the cleaner do it's thing if the stain is set in.  The longer I let the solution sit on my armchair, the cleaner it got and I didn't have to go over it again.  I would say about 10 - 20 minutes depending on the stain. 

It has a generous cord length.  I believe it's 16ft.  You have to manually wind it around the spindle that elongates depending on the slack you provide.  This is so the cord won't unravel unnecessarily and gives it a bit of taughtness.  It has a handle right on top which makes it easy to carry around provided you tucked away the hose and cord properly.  The hose is plenty long enough.  I didn't have problems cleaning my large armchair, for example.  A couple of times I just had to manuever the unit closer to me, but it's small enough, so no problems. 

The suction is pretty powerful, but it's not meant for dry vacuuming.  In fact, the manual recommends picking up or dry vacuuming any loose dirt or pet hair first with something else - not this unit.  The suction clearance is too narrow to suck up a furball, for example.  This is just meant to get the residuals.  The hose attachment will suck simultaneously while you're scrubbing with the brush.  When the SpotBot is "on", it's suctioning. Because the suction entrance and the brush are so close together, you have to try and angle it just right so you're just brushing and not sucking up the solution.  You could just turn it off while you brush if you're worried about this and wanted to save your solution while you're waiting for it to soak in.  But you could also scrub and suck at the same time which is nice when this is needed.

The fabric on my arm chair was velvet.  I was worried about how the cleaner and the water would effect this.  They say in general, not to use water on velvet, but this chair was too dirty and the fabric too thin and worn and too old for me to care.  I needed a quick fix before saving the money just having it reupholstered.  Well, it definitely did the trick.  25 years of brown faded when I was done.  I noticed the hose had sucked up loose miniscule... but none the less.  Be aware that brushing and cleaning and depending on the force you press down on, you could loosen fibers.  If this chair were expensive or valuable and I were to do it again, though, I probably would try to get it drycleaned (if that's possible).  The solution did make the fabric a bit like dried gelled hair, if that makes sense.  I think it's the nature of velvet with water, though.  I had to take a fine bristled brush to "soften" it up and even then, it didn't really work since the fibers were so thin and worn. But, it's clean, and presentable again.  That's all I cared about and I was very happy with the results of my SpotBot.

It should be noted that the reservoir tank where all the dirty water gets dumped, has no lid.  There's a little flap attached to the unit so it doesn't spill while in use, but when you go to empty it and remove it from the unit, you must be careful.  So, the first time I'm using it, I picked it up too hastily or was tilted it by accident and spilled some on the top dirty water on the top of the spotbot where the electronics and buttons were.  Oops!  Ya, the electronic board is NOT water proof and the unit went haywire for several hours afterwards.  But luckily, I dried it the best I could and waited for it to dry overnight or so, and it works again just fine.

The set it and forget it feature sometimes will spray too much.  Sometimes, I go over with the hose afterwards and am able to pick up more water, but it's not too bad.  The auto features just use up more solution, which is somewhat annoying, but I haven't had any problems with stains not coming out -- except for this one old coffee stain on my white carpet.  I think this is an issue of it being an old stain and the carpet isn't scotch guarded or stain protected really.  But I tried EVERYTHING and nearly every kind of cleaner and thing worked.  That's the only stain I couldn't get out with this.

As far as solution goes, I would have to do more research to figure out which of my own concoctions or alternative cleaners I could use instead of the pet cleaner or oxy gen2 Bissell provides.  I used the Oxy Gen2 in place of the pet cleaner sample, and that worked just as well.  I've also used a diluted form of Simple Green and no problems.

Noise is a little loud, but not too bad.  The spot area is pretty generous in size.  It has about a 6" diameter.  Your carpet pile with have a swirled mark afterwards from the directions the brushes were working.  This is easily removed with a swipe of the hand or a quick brush/dry vacuum.  You can easily set the spotter down over your stain because it has a see-through chamber/bubble/wall where you can see where the red brushes are too.  If you're still not sure you're covering everything, the wall makes a little indent in your carpeting so you can lift it up and look again.  Once finished, nothing needs rinsing except the tanks.

Overall, I like my purchase.  It wasn't too expensive, it feels very durable (if you don't spill water on the buttons), it feels very safe with thick plastic all around and no fear of electrocution, it's not too loud, it's lightweight, it's very portable which I like for small jobs and for storing and has a very satisfactory feeling of productive accomplishment as you can see the bubbly dirty solution being sucked up through the transparent hose and tanks.  Compared to a clear solution and water, holding up the dirty, coffee-like tank up to the light after a cleaning, you just go..."ewwwww" with a smile on your face.  It's great.

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