The Karcher SC1 Steam Stick is a lightweight steam cleaner that can be used as a steam mop – by adding the extension tubes – or as a handheld cleaner for detailed jobs.
It's affordable and heats up quickly, making it great for smaller jobs. But if you're looking for a workhorse for mopping the whole house there are alternatives that are easier in the hand.
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The lightweight handheld – in Karcher's trademark yellow – has a very practical design. You can add tools directly for close-up cleaning or use one or both extension tubes and the hose for a longer reach or for floor-cleaning.
The design gives superb reach and flexibility. The two tubes are each 45cm long and then the hose is 110cm so you can get anywhere.
It comes with a handy mesh bag to store tools in, but it doesn't come with many tools. Apart from the floor-cleaning head you just get a hand tool, small plastic brush, power nozzle and detail nozzle. Plus two sizes of terry towelling cloths – one for the floor-cleaning head and one for the hand tool.
If you want a brush, scraper or squeegee visit the Karcher website… where you'll find a very wide range of optional accessories.
The Karcher is very quick to get started. It doesn't come with a jug but it's small enough that it fits under a kitchen tap.
A full tank of water is up to steam in 3 minutes. The 'run-in' time is fast too – that's the amount of time it coughs and splutters the first time you press the trigger, as you wait for the steam to come through.
The 1.5kg weight is extremely light for a steam cleaner. But it doesn't exactly feel light because all the weight is in your hand, compared with a stick-style steam cleaner where the weight is lower down.
The cleaning head, conversely, is lightweight so it struggles over bumps. A heavier cleaner would take floorboard edges in its stride but the lightweight Karcher just doesn't have the momentum to cope with them. And on heavy rugs it's sluggish, again because the cleaning head is so light – we found it helped to keep the body of the steam cleaner low, to put some welly into it.
That said, it does a good job of cleaning floors. The lightweight floor-cleaning head is flat, so it's great at getting under furniture. It comes with a flat, rectangular terry towelling cloth that clips is held securely in place by clips on both sides, though you could use any cloth that's the right size in its place.
Steam is powerful, but not variable. So if you don't want to leave the floor soaking you press the trigger in bursts rather than squeezing it constantly. The trigger also has a safety lock under your thumb, which is good for safely changing tools.
When you're done, the Karcher packs up nice and quickly. Turn it off and squeeze the trigger for a minute to release enough steam that it's safe to empty. Then simply tip it out. There's obviously no onboard storage, but it comes with a mesh bag for storing the tools – a practical design as you can throw them in there while they're still wet.
Yes – if you're looking for a versatile steam cleaner as opposed to a steam mop for floors alone. This design feels simpler and more practical than upright steam cleaners with a Dustbuster-style handheld that pops out of the middle. And it cleans very effectively.
If you'd prefer an upright cleaner then look at the Vax Steam Fresh Combi. It's also worth considering cylinder-style cleaners such as the Polti Vaporetto GO, which offers lots of cleaning power at a very reasonable price.
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The Karcher is an impressive, versatile little dervish of a steam cleaner.