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Quite a Useful Tool

Jun 21, 2008 (Updated Aug 21, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Versatile and much better than manual scrubbing.

Cons:Somewhat misleading name as there is no ultrasonic technology used.

The Bottom Line: With its versatility and ease of use it is a great addition to any cleaning arsenal. It helps to clean quicker and more thoroughly without tiring out your hands.

I purchased the Sonic Scrubber Pro Detailer edition with a brush accessory pack about a week ago and thus far have had good results with it. The Detailer version of this devise says that it has the most powerful motor but I have no way of establishing if its motor is stronger than on the other types since I don't have access to any of those. In my tests the power of this model has been sufficient.

The scrubber comes with only 1 brush head which is the standard size measuring roughly 2 cm across and 1 cm deep. The bristles are quite stiff making them good for most cleaning projects. The unit with a brush head attached measures 25 cm long or 18 cm without a brush head attached and weighs 201 grams with the batteries installed. It uses 4 AA size batteries which are included with the unit and are claimed to be long life. I've been using the scrubber to tackle many projects and I haven't depleted those batteries as yet. There is also a guide printed inside where the batteries are inserted to show the proper way to put them in. The main body of the unit has a rubberized, textured grip to help keep it securely in the hand and a lanyard is also included but doesn't have to be installed. There is a small cut-out on the bottom to attach it with about enough cord to loop it around your wrist.

The brush heads are also very easy to change and only require a quick turn counter-clockwise to detach. I would recommend getting the accessory brush pack as this makes the scrubber more versatile. This pack of 4 brushes costs about $10 which is what I paid for the unit itself at Wal-Mart in the automotive section of the store.

The standard brush head, the soft bristle head and the cone brush stand about 9 cm high while the 2 larger brush heads stand about 8 cm. The soft bristle brush is also the same width as the standard brush and is useful for cleaning more delicate surfaces like fabric. The packaging also states this brush can be used for dusting but honestly you'd be better off just using a Swiffer duster or something else. The size of this brush would make a lot of work for dusting but it is useful for getting into the smaller places on cars, especially around the seams and stitching of the seats

The cone brush is also the same size as the standard brush head but the bristles are arranged as a cone making it perfect for getting into corners and other tight spots. The bristles on this head are also a bit stiffer than the standard brush head and are also longer in the center so it can tackle a bit more heavy duty cleaning projects. One very useful area of cleaning is the basket that holds the filter on a coffee maker. Most basket style makers don't have a smooth bottomed basket but have an array of 'fins' to keep the filter from sticking to the bottom. Using some soapy water and the cone brush tackles this tiresome chore with much greater ease. I've also found that cleaning the plastic grate on a box type window fan with this brush is much easier and you don't need to apply a lot of pressure.

The next brush is the larger one and measures about 3.5 cm across and its bristles are the same stiffness as the standard head. Obviously this brush can tackle larger projects as you get more cleaning area but it doesn't offer any other advantages over the other brushes. The final brush head in this pack is a variant of the large brush and is called the lug nut cleaner head. It is the same size across as the larger one but the central bristles have been removed to clean around the lug nuts on a car's rims. The bristles on this head are also longer than the other heads which are 1 cm long. The lug nut head's bristles are twice as long at 2 cm, much the same as the cone brush's maximum length at the center.

The basic operation of the scrubber oscillates the bristles clock and counter-clockwise. The claims of this product say that it cleans with 'sonic oscillation technology' but it's unclear as to what that means exactly. I believe they are trying to suggest it uses similar technology found in the Sonic Care toothbrush which uses ultrasonic pulses to improve cleaning efficiency. However, nowhere on this product's packaging does it use the word ultrasound so I find it extremely unlikely that it has this ability. You could say that it is a 'sonic scrubber' because it makes a buzzing sound when turned on but that is about the extent of it.

My opinion is that these claims are a bit of advertising legerdemain but shouldn't indicate that the product doesn't work well. I've found that it works quite well, ultrasonic pulses or not. You may need to apply a bit more pressure for some jobs but for normal cleaning chores a light pressure will generally get the job done. The more soiled an area the longer you'll need to work on it which may also require more pressure. The device handles a heavier hand quite well and doesn't bog down overmuch. The power switch also has two modes. You can depress the button to turn it on and it will turn off when the button is released, or you can slide the button upward and the unit will remain on until the button is slid back to the off position.

Essentially, one can think of this device much like a powered toothbrush except it's used for general household/automotive cleaning jobs. NOTE:This product is not recommended for use cleaning your teeth! However, anything else where you would have used an old toothbrush before is more easily handled by the Sonic Scrubber.

UPDATE: 22 Aug '08
Now that I've been using my scrubber for some time I have a few more notes to offer. The first is about battery life. I found that the 'long life' batteries included aren't all that long lived. However, using a good set of 4 rechargeable batteries is the way to go. A good set will last for a nice long time even with plenty of use. My personal choice has been to use NiCad batteries in the 2,500 mAh (mili-ampere) range. Those are giving me great performance.

Another notable item is how to clean more effectively. Since the bristles are constantly moving they tend to get dry quite quickly. My method is to have some sort of vessel in which I put some soapy water so that I can dip into it to keep the bristles wet and soapy. If you're near a faucet you can also use running water but I avoid that method to conserve on water usage, but you will want to have some water at hand to keep things running smoothly.

I now like to keep a scrubber right at my kitchen sink to help out with dish washing since I don't have a dish washer appliance. I've found the scrubber to be of immense use for cleaning things like plastic lids because of all the grooves and what not that makes these lids seal tightly on their containers. I previously used a tooth brush but the scrubber is a much more effective tool for those types of jobs. One can have more than one Sonic Scrubber unit or simply purchase multiple replacement head packages which come with the 4 different bristle heads. They cost about $10 so I have just the one unit with a couple of the head replacements for different jobs. After all, I wouldn't use the same brush to clean dishes that I'd use in the bathroom to clean various areas. That would be NASTY!

There is also a slight quality issue I've noted after getting a lot of use out of certain brush heads. At around $10 these replacement packages aren't of the highest quality but aren't so expensive as to make it an issue for me. The bristles are starting to show signs of wear by spreading out and looking a bit ragged. They still work well and I haven't noted any bristles actually falling out yet but there is that rather minor quality issue. I recommend just keeping an eye on them and replace them as needed.

I also ran an experiment while cleaning up my car recently. I was cleaning up some spots and stains on my car seats and things went very well. The recommended brush head for this job is the soft bristle brush and I find it is the best choice. You may be tempted to use the large brush head if you have some larger areas to clean but I do not recommend this. I don't have any premium cloth and the fabric is often referred to by some car magazines as 'mouse fur'! Amusing, but it simply means the cloth used on base model of cars like a Corolla (which is one car I own) and other similar vehicles aren't of the highest quality and cannot withstand heavy abuse without showing signs of wear. Using one of the stiffer bristle heads on the fabric will disturb the fabric and make it look very warn and the head doesn't move smoothly across the fabric either.

I tried one of those stiffer heads in an inconspicuous place an noted that it will quite rapidly make the fabric look worn. Also, the stiffer bristles don't move along on the cloth very easily as opposed to the softer bristles which move very smoothly and effectively. Anytime you want to clean any kind of cloth do stick to the softer bristle brush. You get good cleaning performance without the worry of damaging the cloth you're trying to clean. Cleaning large areas or stains which are heavily soiled may take a bit more time but have patience and use good technique to get the best results. If anyone would like to know my cleaning techniques simply leave a comment and I'll be more than happy to give you my steps for the best results.

I still feel just as strongly about my buy recommendation as I did when submitting my initial opinion on the Sonic Scrubber. My only issues were with the original battery life which was solved by using rechargeables and the bristles getting a bit frayed after repeated use. Otherwise this is still an excellent addition to my cleaning arsenal and I hope to get a long life out the unit itself.

Recommend this product? Yes

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