Tristar SB Steam Buggy - Yellow - Canister Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
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Tristar SB Steam Buggy - Yellow - Canister Vacuum Cleaner

16 ratings (15 Epinions reviews)
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“I’m a Steam Buggy, Baby”

Nov 17, 2002
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:
  • Ease of Cleaning:
  • Style:

Pros:Less scrubbing; no chemicals; inexpensive to operate; removes odors from clothes.

Cons:Can’t use it directly on your face for facials. Indirectly, while cleaning, is fine, though.

The Bottom Line: This product will not make all grime magically disappear into thin air. It will effectively loosen it, so you can easily wipe it away. Very easy to use.

“…I’m gonna’ steam away your blues,
Ye-ah, I’m a Steam Buggy, Baby,
Give you lots less scrubbin’ to do!

*ahem* So, it’s your singing reviewer, again!

Warning: Do NOT use the Steam Jet Nozzle on this product to pretend you have a microphone while singing around the house; while steam is blasting from it!

Now that I’ve clarified the major downside of this product, as you read this review, please bear in mind one thing. I ooze cynicism about new products, and thus have low expectations for their performance.

I consider “As Seen On TV” purchases to be equivalent to dropping money at a casino: the odds of their performing as advertised are about the same as my winning the jackpot.

I figure those purchases, like gambling, are O.K.; as long as I consider the expenditure “entertainment expense”, and don’t plan on hitting the jackpot!

That does not mean I’ll give a product a good review if it provides the least little bit of benefit.

It does mean I read the claims of the product precisely, as though the words were written by lawyers who are advertisers. (I think they usually are)!

I try to avoid “interpolating” what I think it means; what I hope it means; and what I wish it would do; and try to consider only exactly what it says.

Many products still fail that test; blatantly making false claims.

I did not find this product to be one of them.

Additional Product Specs/Details
(i.e. What exactly is this thing, anyway?)

The Steam Buggy is a portable steam cleaning machine that comes with the following attachments, (taken directly from my Operating Instructions booklet):

Squeegee: For windows, mirrors, glass and sliding glass doors.

Steam Jet Nozzle: Multi purpose use.

Scrub Brush: Attach to the Steam Jet Nozzle to clean the stovetop, oven, faucet’s, tub, tiles and more.

Upholstery/Floor Brush: Steams upholstery, curtains, carpets, and floors.

Two 2 Ft. Extension Wands: For the hard to reach areas such as ceiling fans, cornices and heating and air conditioning vents.

Carrying Strap: To carry the unit as you clean.

Terry Cover: Use when cleaning hard wood floors.

Measuring Cup: Use to put water in the reservoir.

Clothing Steamer: Steams wrinkles from your clothes and drapes.

The Steam Buggy is 120V AC 60 Hz or 1350W. It weighs 4 pounds with water, has a steel water reservoir, and a 7 foot long cord.

The Steam Buggy holds 2 cups of water. The accompanying measuring cup is a 2 cup capacity container. Filling it once with the measuring cup therefore achieves the 2 cup capacity that is stated.

The PSI (pressure/square inch) of the steam is between 11-14.

Quick PSI Tutorial
(-or- Why the Steam Buggy can’t have an instant on/off switch).

I always thought “PSI” stood for Public Service Information. Alas, it means Pounds Per Square Inch! (Some manufacturers will state it as “Pressure per Square Inch).

Armed with that information, I knew little more than I had before! Unlike me, most people already know that’s just how much force you have blasting out of the tool.

When I began airbrushing, I had to acquire a working knowledge of PSI, whether I actually understood the mathematics behind it or not.

To give you an idea what the Steam Buggy’s PSI between 11-14 means, it might be helpful if you ever saw someone airbrush a T-Shirt. They are probably using a PSI between 11 and 21 or so.

The opening of an airbrush is tiny compare to a steam cleaner, however. So, you have an equivalent amount of force coming out a larger opening.

The bottom line on all that to me is, you’ve get plenty of force to clean with the Steam Buggy.

Next, I’d like to consider why the Steam Buggy could not have a button for instant On/Off steam capability without being too overpriced for a portable household cleaning tool.

The air compressor I use for air brushing is a sophisticated piece of equipment costing over $400. Oh, and it’s big. I can turn air on and off at will, airbrush the entire house if I want, and it doesn’t blow up.

Further, the air compressor is only managing air, not heat and water. The Steam Buggy produces heat and steam that can excess 200° F. Thus, steamers that provide the instant on/off capability are significantly more expensive.

That is why, even though an instant on/off feature would be nice, I take nothing away from this machine for not including that feature.

You can turn it off, but if you wait too long, it will cool, and you’ll have to wait for it to heat up to use it again. Otherwise, the pressure would build, causing it to explode, which might not be fun

That is also why, when you turn the Steam Buggy on, you must point the nozzle toward an area where you don’t mind having hot water squirt a bit. Again, pressure would build too much, otherwise. That is why I don’t cite the squirting nozzle when you turn it on as a complaint for the product.

Manufacturer Claims:

(Also taken from operating instructions booklet).

Cleans Almost Anything!

Indoors or Outdoors!

Melts Away Dirt, Grease, Grime, Soap Scum, Mold, Mildew, Calcium and Lime Deposits!

Eliminates Odors!



In addition to the above, had further claims that I found to be representative of the television ads and other web sites marketing the product. They are as follows:

….And the best part of all...Steam Buggy can do ALL of this without costly cleaners or harmful chemicals. Just wipe and it’s all clean!

How’s this...just fill the Steam Buggy with warm tap water and turn on the power of steam! Easy enough? And the best part is that it will save you from those hours of endless scrubbing and scraping, washing and spraying. No more harmful fumes or rubber gloves. This revolutionary cleaning solution that lets you clean every room in your house with just ordinary water. It doesn't get easier than that!

Steam Buggy comes complete with a floor attachment that allows you to clean your carpets as well as the professionals. With this handy attachment, Steam Buggy allows steam to penetrate deep into your carpet, to loosen and dissolve dirt and stains. The pressurized steam also eliminates harmful allergens and bacteria below the surface. You can also clean your window treatments easily with the extra long hose and extension cord.

Well, that sounds downright dandy, doesn’t it??!

It is.

Product Promises vs. Reality

Of all of those claims, there are only two that I take issue with.

One is “Melts Away Dirt”.

Merriam-Webster’s defines “away” as:

1 : from this or that place *go away*
2 : out of the way
3 : in another direction *turn away*
4 : out of existence *fade away*
5 : from one's possession *give away*

However it is defined, to me, “away” means: somewhere other than here.

I think it would have been more accurate, and probably just as sellable, had they just said “Melts Dirt”. I find it does this effectively.

The second claim that I question is that the floor attachment “allows you to clean your carpet as well as the professionals”.

Granted, it cleans my carpet as well as some professionals! True, they didn’t say it will clean my carpet as well as the best professionals.

The Steam Buggy does, as stated, “Penetrate deep into the carpet to loosen and dissolve dirt and stains.”

If you have a carpet cleaning tool that sucks up water, like an upright carpet shampooer, or a hand-held wet/dry vacuum, this is very, very effective. It works on moderate stains if you wipe the area with a cloth after steaming.

The key point here, is in my experience, an additional step was required to achieve great results. I was not able to put steam on my carpet and watch all stains disappear instantaneously.

As for all other claims on this product, I found them to be accurate, when carefully taken exactly “as stated”.

For example, the ads clearly state “Just wipe and it’s all clean”. I found this to be true. You do need to wipe; but you don’t have to scrub. I like that.

The instructions also clearly caution against leaving the steam in one spot for a long period of time to avoid damage.

Where I Use This Product and the Secret to a Happy Family

No; use of this product won’t give you a happy family.

Having your own private bathroom is the secret to a happy family!

Books have been written with more profound thoughts on family happiness. Don’t believe it! They are only the icing on the cake once you have your own bathroom.

What has this to do with my topic? Well….bathrooms are the single area of cleaning where the Steam Buggy turned the project from “formidable” into “do-able”.

This is important because I have 4 bathrooms. There are 8 people in my family. Someone without children might assume that would equate to 2 people per bathroom.

Parents know better. My husband and I each have our own bathroom. That leaves two.

Our two oldest children are teen-age girls. Enough said.

That leaves one bathroom for the youngest 4 boys, ages 8,10, 12, and 14; to share.

I’m confident that there is no place of that size on earth more frightening. Even the words “boy’s bathroom” are spoken in a whisper in our household.

At what age do young boys wait until they are through with the “stand up” part of their business, to spin around and yell something at their brothers?

Are all boys practicing chemists, with solutions of toothpaste, shampoo, and liquid soap dried to the inside of the sink after their experiment is abandoned?

Enter MOM; armed with the Steam Buggy, and a special suit supplied by NASA.

The Steam Buggy unequivocally works, here.

Outdoor Windows

The steam goes through the gunky screens, so you can clean the ones you can reach without removing them. Be sure to allow the glass to cool before you follow-up with a spray from the water-hose.

Exterior of Sliding Glass Doors

It really makes getting the true dirt that’s caked around the crevices easier to remove.

Odors are easily removed, and many wrinkles. I like to use it to touch up business suits, but be careful that you don’t get those too wet. The lining can shrink if it really gets saturated. I’ve had no problem with that, however.

For things that are lightly wrinkled, this works great. It prevents a lot of the “touch up” ironing. If you left a pair of linen pants crunched in the dryer for a week though, it would be easier to iron.

Grout and Tile floors

Marvelous- if you are going to use something else to get the dirt up off the floor. I don’t use it for this area all the time, when a quick mop-over would do. Just for more serious cleaning.

Kitchen; Stove, Sink, Faucets, Garbage Disposal...,

(Hear the Herbal Essence Shampoo television commercial)

“Yes!!! Yes!!! Yes!!!”

Where I Do Not Use This Product

Interior Windows and Mirrors: I think Windex and a paper towel are faster.

Hard Wood floors: Only because I have other appliances I prefer.

Ease of use

I find it easy to refill with water, without a funnel.

You do have to wait 5 minutes to change nozzles to allow them to cool. That didn’t surprise me because, as a crafter, I’m used to changing nozzles on glue guns, wood-burners, etc.., Some have to be hot, some cool, but wherever heat is concerned, there’s usually a guideline of some kind for changing attachments.

What I Haven’t Tried Yet

Wallpaper Removal; although I’ve read it does this very well.


90 day manufacturer’s warranty.

Favorite Stupid Safety Precaution

Do not steam clothing while it is on your body.

Who Should Buy This Product?

I would recommend this product for anyone who plans to use it for deep cleaning, and gunky bathrooms. I think with realistic expectations for the purpose of the product, most people will be pleased.

I purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond locally (in Arkansas) for $139.00

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): $139.00

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