Pros: Really cleans without damaging hardwood floors!!! Easy to use!
Cons: Pricey; would prefer larger solution container.
Some of you have read my whinings before about the laminated hard-wood floor that extends through my kitchen, dining room, and living room. Actually, having them in the kitchen is my only complaint. Truly, were it just my husband and I, this would be no problem, and I would more than likely consider the floor beautiful. However, we have 6 children consistently jubilating across this floor, 4 of them of the male variety.
Need I mention what four boys ages 9 through 14 can do to a kitchen floor, or how quickly? Did you just shudder?
Thus, I searched long and hard for the perfect cleaner for this floor; primarily in the kitchen. I had no idea what a difficult search this would be. Most hardwood floor experts advised me to simply dust-mop, and looked at me quizzically while they assured me my floors were simply the easiest type of floor in the world to care for.
These people seemed to have no idea how quickly grape jelly can harden and become immune to a dust-mop.
My search continued until I was forced to crystallize my exact requirements for my perfect floor cleaner. It would have to be easy to use, not damage my floors, and remove the bizarre substances that daily graced the surface of the floor. Simple, really , I thought. HA!
Ill describe some of the tools I tried in later reviews, many of which work marginally well for light cleaning. For the moment, let me just say I tried many before finding the FloorMate Plus.
The FloorMate Plus is not perfect; but it is without a doubt the best Ive found. I also found much controversy about it in the world of the laminated hardwood floor experts and purists, and Ill provide my synopsis of the differing views for you.
Lets start with What the FloorMate Plus is Supposed to Do, and What It Is.
The FloorMate Plus is the new, theoretically improved model of the FloorMate. It has six floating Soft-Touch brushes to scrub the floor, and a floor drying squeegee nozzle to pick up wet cleaning solution and spills.
They cite 2 motors; one to drive the brushes and one for vacuum suction.
The reason I refrained from purchase of the original FloorMate was that it didnt specify laminate hardwood floors, at least on the box I saw. When this model came out, with 'laminate hardwood floors' printed boldly on the box, I snapped it up immediately.
The description reads that it vacuums, washes and dries hard floor surfaces such as ceramic, stone, laminates, vinyl, marble and sealed hardwoods.
This sounded like my dream machine! I could pull out one thing and vacuum, then mop, and suck up the dirty water! Yay!
What the FloorMate Plus Does
Yes, it does these things, and actually, very well! My number one complaint is that it doesnt have enough suction in dry vacuuming mode, although it has plenty for liquid retrieval. I also realize that for most people, say, those that dont have 4 boys trooping around, it would probably have plenty of suction.
A secondary complaint is that the base is fairly high, so it will not reach the area under the lower kitchen cabinets and drawers. For some reason, that is where crumbs accumulate, second only to the area under the kitchen table.
This is probably an outlandish thought, but I would like it even better if it had a hose-type attachment like my regular vacuum, that would enable me to reach under things, like the couch, and in small areas. I really am lazy, arent I??!!
A tertiary complaint is that I would prefer the solution tank held more cleaning fluid. My kitchen is large, as you would imagine when a family of eight eats in there. (Who goes to the dining room, except on holidays??).
It takes a refill for me to cover the whole kitchen, and having already mentioned the laziness factor, I would prefer to be able to do it with one fill-up.
My last true complaint is that the switch to turn it on is halfway down the body of the machine. On the other hand, theres not really another good place to put the switch, and the rest of the switches are convenient.
My Favorite Things About the FloorMate Plus
* It can be stored full of cleaning solution. Theres no waste, and I can keep it ready to go.
* The recovery tank, where the dirt, and dirty water go, is plenty large.
* I can go from dry vacuuming, to mopping, without changing filters, emptying the recovery tank, or anything else. Its done with a simple flip of a switch.
* Its bagless. I love that.
* Its fairly economical to run. The cleaning solutions are concentrates, and last a long time.
* I like the concept of sucking up the dirty water, versus just spreading it around as with a traditional mop and bucket. Thats what I like about the Dirt Devil MopVac, but the battery didnt last long enough. (Ooops! Ill review the MopVac another time!).
* It has a 35 foot cord, which takes me as far as Im interested in going. Theres a handy little hook under the handle to keep me from tripping over the cord, as well.
* Its lightweight, and very easy to maneuver. Dispensing the solution is a breeze.
* The suction power combined with the squeegee dry the floor almost instantly.
* The wheels are very, very soft, and so far, I can see absolutely no damage to the floor from the brushes or the wheels. Bear in mind though, there has been damage to the floor, from cowboy boots, scooters, and boys in general, so Im only hoping I could tell if there was any new damage.
Things That Are O.K. About the FloorMate Plus
Cleaning the recovery tank is O.K., nothing more. It takes me about 10 minutes to empty it, and clean the interior and the filter, which is about 9 minutes and 30 seconds longer than Id like for it to take.
About one in three times that I use it, I have to clean the front brushes, or clear out the intake area above them. The FloorMate is well-designed for making this easy to do, but I think a better design would be to have the opening a bit larger so it didnt have to be done as often, or at all. The brushes pop off and reattach very easily, and its not at all difficult to reach the areas I wish to access.
I think the price is O.K.; not a steal, but fair enough. It comes with 2 bottles of Lysol and 2 bottles of Old English floor cleaning concentrate, an extra filter and an extra brush roll. Though Ive used it quite a lot, Im still using the first filter and brush roll.
The noise level is O.K. It doesnt give me a headache, but I wont be listening to my favorite CDs while mopping, either. I wouldnt trade it for a mop and a bucket and the ability to listen to music, though. I rather just get finished faster!
Whew! Is there ever controversy! The topics range from whether the FloorMate Plus is safe for hardwood floors, to whether its worth the price versus a sponge mop.
First, Ill mention the safety of the FloorMate on laminate hardwood floors, which is the only type of flooring where I found controversy. That is, however, the only type of flooring I was researching.
From flooring manufacturers to online discussion groups with contractors and certified floorcovering installers, many insisted that the FloorMate could harm the floor. More than one suggested that a customer contact Hoover for a written warranty that they would replace the floor if the FloorMate damaged it; insinuating that Hoover would not be so inclined. I dont know. I can only guess that Hoover wouldnt obligate themselves to replace an entire floor, and the warranty that comes with the machine clearly specifies damages limited to the machine itself only, as do almost all appliances I own.
Many stated vehemently that owners should never allow water to touch their floors; ever at all. Even the tiniest bit of dampness should be avoided; forever and ever, amen. Yet, how does one sweep up catsup and spilled milk???
When customers in the discussions would ask what was the best way to clean hardwood floors, often they got back to the old dust mop answer. No one brought up the grape jelly issue, and I wasnt about to! LOL
Some of these people didnt take as adamant an approach. More than once I read the key thing was to remove debris from the floor quickly and often, because ground-in dirt caused the most damage.
I made the decision to go with it anyway, and have found no damage after several months of heavy use. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention this aspect to you in case youd like to do more research.
The second controversy surrounded the FloorMate vs. the sponge mop. Personally, I have little controversy about anything that keeps me away from a sponge mop. In the interest of a fair and thorough review however, I felt I should bring this up.
Of all the review, reports, etc , I read, I think one statement from Consumer Reports summed up the opposing view, (that is, opposed to mine! LOL), the best.
Consumer Reports says, if you want a cheaper alternative try the Swiffer Wetjet. For $25, testers found it easy to use for light cleaning and takes up the same space as a broom.
Ahem. Well, I have the Swiffer, and love it. Ill review it on down the road too, probably. I think this was an apples and oranges comparison, though. The Swiffer to me is sort of an efficient, wet dust mop. I like it for in-between cleanings.
The Swiffer is not a vacuum, though. I found it odd that some of the hardwood floor purists liked it, without mentioning that, if youre not careful, you can grind in the very debris that will scratch the floor with the Swiffer, rather than sucking it up with the FloorMate.
Oh, well, my conscience is clear as Ive tried to present all sides!
I adore the FloorMate, and am very impressed with its performance!
Ive had great experiences with Hoovers other products, so Im sure that gave me a bit more confidence in the FloorMate, no matter what the warranty said, or did not say. Clearly, it is advertised as safe for laminate hardwoods.
I can say that thus far, I see no damage, and thoroughly enjoy the convenience. I do not miss, nor yearn for a sponge mop or bucket!
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