For the last 5 years, we owned the $120 Dirt Devil model figuring "it sprays, it scrubs, it sucks the water out" - how complicated can this be. We permanently loaned it out and chose that moment to upgrade. Based on the ratings from another consumer review site (yes, that one) we chose the SteamVac.
The footprint is slightly larger than your typical vacuum cleaner, but average for steam cleaners - so it won't take up an extraordinary amount of space in the hall closet. The motor is a typical 12amp, which is among the stronger motors, but not uncommon in this business. The heat from the motor is used to augment the already hot water from the reservoir. You have an option to wash or rinse, and there is an option for brushes off or on. Hoover sells three types of cleaning fluid for this. At Lowes, the Ultra runs $13 for 48 ounces, Pet-specific fluid runs $10, and the typical "Deep Cleaning" also runs about $10. The SteamVac comes with a sample bottle of the "Ultra" which will clean about 500sqft. Lastly, is a decently long hose for hand-held attachments. Hoover includes both a typical linear brush head, and the more robust spinning brush head. Two heads are better than one, huh? (ba-dum bum.)
Assembly is a bit more difficult that simpler models. I tend not to follow instructions, and in this case, I definitely had to read them. The hose attachment is not permanently affixed to the machine, which threw me at first - since all my Hoover Windtunnel vacuums have had the pre-attached hose. But the nice feature is that the hose-caddy comes off and can be hung on a typical plastic hanger in the closet. Innovative!
The dual reservoir is very nice, allowing you to put cleaning fluid into one reservoir and hot water into a separate. For those who have found themselves at the end of a room with a half-tank of pre-mixed cleaning fluid and water already mixed, and no more carpet to clean, this is a nice option, since cleaning fluid runs about $3 for a 20x20 room.
The spinning brushes rotate in alternating directions, all five of them. They do a very nice job of "fluffing" the carpet, and conjunction with a strong vacuum, it leaves even particularly matted carpet looking almost new.
For those who already have Hoover's sister product, "Floormate" - this may be overkill. This will clean bare floors quite well, and arguably does a better job than the Floormate. (We already had a Floormate.) Although it should be noted that you need different cleaning fluid for bare floors vs. carpet.
Hoover mentions that rinsing after using their cleaning fluid is advantageous, but not necessary. We typically have started rinsing, and it does appear to be helpful. No soap residue on the carpet to attract dirt.
The weight and resistance is substantial, and can be a bit of a workout. But I count this as an advantage. I honestly felt like it was really scrubbing the carpet and sucking every last drop of water out. In comparison, the carpet dried to the touch in about 90 mins, compared to about 5 hours for the old Dirt Devil. In my book, the sooner it dries, the sooner it stops attracting dust out of the air.
The spin brush is very nice - particularly on stairs and upholstery. I haven't used this in my car, but I'm looking forward to it.
All in all, I felt like I got my money's worth and am pleased with the decision to upgrade. For the extra $100, it's definitely worth it. I'm convinced it actually removed dirt, rather than just reorganizing the dirt the way our previous cleaner did.
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