Pros: Heats up fast, floors dry in minutes, ideal for wood flooring, looped handle for storing
Cons: Price, no on/off button, wood floors have to be cleaned along grain or it streaks
I didn't go to my Fred Meyer grocery store to purchase a steam mop, but that is one of the things I came home with. The older version of the Shark steam mop was on display in the center aisle of the home furnishings department for $79.00. After looking over the display model I decided I didn't like the way the pad attached to the mop head with Velcro. It looked flimsy and I wasn't sure it would stay attached.
My husband found the newer model of the Shark Steam Pocket Mop, model S3501, with the other mops and vacuums, and it too was on sale for $109.00. After looking over the features of the upgraded Shark Steam Pocket Mop, I felt confident that this was the model I would be most happy with.
The last two hours have been spent cleaning my wood and vinyl floors with the Shark S3501, and overall I am quite pleased, but there are a few "cons" to this review, so read on.
What Sold Me
* Unlike the earlier version, this model has cleaning pads that slip over the mop heads (rectangular and triangular shaped), and fastens on one end with Velcro. The pads fit very tight and secure, and there is a purple loop made from ribbon which you can use to hang up the pads to allow them to dry or to store them away.
* The new model has a longer, 30 foot power cord.
* The cleaning pads can be used on both sides, just flip the mop head and you have the clean opposite side at your disposal.
Out Of The Box
The manufacturer, Euro-Pro Operating, lists the contents on the front of the box as "Premium Features". Included are 1 purple steam duster pad (with long fat "fingers"), 2 white rectangle shaped microfiber pads (11 1/2" by 7"), 2 white triangle shaped microfiber pads, 2 "quick release" mop heads in the same shape as the pads, an extra large water tank, a swivel mop head, and a carpet glider.
The mop has two cord clips along the handle, much like what can be found on a vacuum cleaner, and this helps keep the long cord out of the way when in use.
The sections of the mop were well padded with heavy egg carton like cushioning. Everything was wrapped in plastic to prevent any scratches on the mop.
Putting the mop together is a no brainer, I didn't even need the directions. It comes in three sections, and you simply snap them together.
Filling The Shark
This mop is so easy to fill. The tank is almond shaped, with the cap right on center top. Remove the cap and pour plain tap water into the tank with the included filling flask, (a small plastic pitcher with a spout).
The flask does not have a "fill line" although there is a line that runs across the flask, but the line isn't straight, so I don't think it is a fill line. There is a window on the tank to show you when it's full, and that was the only thing I had to go by. The instructions warn not to overfill the tank. It held two flasks full of water.
One thing I really liked about the design is that there is a small clear, slightly indented plastic piece around the opening, and when I spilled some water onto it, the water beaded up and was easy to tilt back into the tank. Very cool.
A hang tag was around the water cap, saying to use ONLY water, and not to add chemicals, cleaners, or scented oils. It also suggested that if you have hard water you should consider using distilled water. One side of this information tag actually has a water softness chart, stating that if your water hardness level is below 100ppm you can use tap water. If it is between 100-180 ppm you should mix 1/2 distilled water with 1/2 tap water. Last, if your water is over 180 ppm (or extremely hard), you should use 100% distilled water.
The water tank holds about 2 1/3 cups of water, which was plenty to clean a medium sized kitchen and dining room, with about 1/4 of a tank of water left over.
On Wood Flooring
Our dining and kitchen floors are oak, and I am ashamed to say they were not very clean. Caring for six school aged children and having a dog takes a toll on the surface of my wood floors. There were quite a few scratches from our small dogs nails as well.
The unit does not have an on/off button (one of my cons). You plug it in, a blue light illuminates, and you wait for it to heat up. It claims it will be ready to use in as little as 30 seconds, and I was very skeptical that this would hold true, but it did (yes, I actually counted).
Using it for the first time takes a little bit of practice, but it didn't take long to master the technique needed to clean my wood floors. The manual says to pump the handle 10-12 times to create steam, but after you have done this, the action of pushing and pulling causes the handle to move forward and backward on it's own, thus continuing to generate steam for as long as you have water in the tank. You will hear the gurgling and see the steam coming from the mop pads.
My wood floors run parallel to our dining room doors, so the first time I cleaned my floors with this mop, they were full of streaks. My husband thought the streaks may have been caused by my prior use of a floor cleaner and polisher, and that made sense. However, when I cleaned the wood floors a second time, I decided to clean them going with the grain of the wood, and voila, there were no streaks! While the floors had a satin like finish, they were not shiny (which is okay with me, shines are hard to keep up with!) The scratches from my dogs nails had faded significantly.
Having to clean in this manner made a lot more work for me. I had to push my dining room table to one side of the room, wait for the floors to dry, then push the table to the other side of the room to get the other half done. The amount of steam generated is totally up to the user, if there is a stubborn spot use more steam. The floors are wet only temporarily and dry very quickly, however I did have to be careful not to step on a cleaned area until they were completely dry, as it left my footprints in those spots.
It is paramount that you sweep or vacuum your floors first before using the Shark, and while I did this, the white mop was really dirty when I finished cleaning. The amount of dirt and old cleaning residue on the mop pad was amazing. I did have one small spot of dried paint that the mop didn't remove, but after the mop softened it up for me, I was able to easily flick it off with my fingernail.
One last thought about hardwood floors, you do need to be sure that your floors are sealed, getting any water under the floor boards is definitely something you want to avoid.
The plastic steam mop is lightweight, but not as light as the earlier version (which weighed 3 pounds), because the water tank on the Shark S3501 is larger.
The mop handle is adjustable. I use it in the shortest setting since I am only 5' 1", but it extends an additional 6 inches or so, and locks down to secure the handle firmly in the desired position.
On Vinyl Floors
Our laundry room/entry way floor is made of a high quality vinyl that looks like real tile. There is some small pitting in the vinyl, and dirt does get stuck in these spots. The Shark managed to clean my vinyl floor quite nicely, but there were some spots it would not remove, even after repeated attempts with a lot of steam. These spots were tiny and black in color, and I have been dealing with them for months.
I don't know what is causing these black spots, but they look and feel like some sort of tar. One of my daycare dads is in construction, and I am thinking he may be tracking something in on his work boots. Whatever it is, the Shark S3501 did not get it out. If I rubbed the spot with my fingernail, most of it came off, but there was still a dull black smear left behind, and the Shark didn't remove that either.
The smaller triangular shaped mop head and pad (less than a foot wide at the longest side), is perfect for cleaning smaller rooms like a bathroom. The shape of the head is much more conducive to cleaning around the base of a toilet.
Although the Shark is mainly intended for hard surfaced floors, there is a "carpet glider" that comes with the product. At first I thought this was simply a brace for holding the mop heads and pads while it was cooling down, but it is a tool for cleaning carpets.
Using it is very easy, you place the mop head into the frame, then push the plastic glider across your carpet and let the steam do it's thing. Just last week I noticed a pink colored stain on the carpeting in my toy room, and none of my carpet cleaners would get this stain out. Unfortunately, using the Shark with the carpet glider didn't work either. I do think this would be a good choice for getting out spills on carpet that are sticky or that dry to a crusty surface (like milk).
I don't use the purple duster pad, I would rather sweep my floors than push around dirt and dust, and the pad does not pick up dirt, and only some of the dust.
You are clearly told not to wash the microfiber pads (which are really a pocket of sorts), with powdered laundry detergent. Doing so can ruin them. You need to use liquid detergent, and should not use fabric softeners or bleach. The pads should also be washed separately, to avoid picking up lint from other fabrics. They can be dried in a dryer, but only on a low heat setting.
The white pads are very thick, and come out of my dryer very soft and fluffy. They also don't hold a lot of water, and were almost dry when I removed them from the washer, so I just let them air dry for a couple of hours.
This mop is very handy in that I can mop my floors and only have to wait minutes for them to dry. In the past, I have wanted to mop my floors, but had to put it off because the kids were coming home from school soon, we were having company over and I didn't get started soon enough, and a plethora of other excuses. With the Shark, my floors are dry in mere minutes and gives me much more flexibility with my cleaning schedule.
I can clean without any chemicals, which is a great thing! We have extremely hard water, but our water is softened with a salt based water softener, so hard water or distilled water is not a problem for me. If I had to buy distilled water every time I wanted to use this mop, I don't think I would have made the purchase.
I wish this worked without having to clean my wood going with the grain, and I wish it did a better job of removing stubborn spots on my vinyl floors. I would also prefer that the unit had an on/off button.
I was not overly impressed by how well this mop edge cleaned. It never seemed to generate as much steam at the edges of the pad as it did in the center. But overall, I am quite happy with my purchase. My main objective was finding a product that would quickly and effectively clean my wood floors, and this one does a nice job.
The Shark comes with a one year warranty.