The Vax Steam Fresh Combi (S86-SF-C) is an upright steam cleaner with a middle that pops out to transform into a handheld cleaner. It has separate water and detergent tanks (for the upright only – the handheld just cleans using steam).
As an upright, it has a well-designed triangular head that's great at getting into corners. And the handheld tools are conveniently stored on the back of the upright cleaner. It's pricey but a good all-rounder.
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The Vax looks modern, clean, almost clinical. It's easy in the hand and just light enough to be manoeuvrable.
Its mop head is triangular and works in three ways. At its smallest, there's a hard plastic head with stiff brushes, ideal for tight corners and scrubbing patches of ingrained dirt. Onto this clips a larger plastic head and a well-made blue cloth, for steam-mopping hard floors. And finally, there's a carpet glider that clips over the top for steam-cleaning carpets and rugs.
On the back of the upright you'll find room to store six tools (it comes with everything from a grout brush to a window squeegee) plus there's room on the back of the handle to store the concentrator nozzle you need to use the tools, but there doesn't seem to be anywhere to store the hose itself.
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Filling the Vax is straightforward. The tank in the middle pops out and is filled from the tap. The detergent tank on the back again detaches and is filled with a mix of detergent and water. Once you switch it on, the cleaner heats up in less than half a minute. Two lights on the front indicate power and steam.
As an upright, it's manoeuvrable and the mop head design impresses. The triangular shape is great for getting into corners and the smallest head's brushes let you scrub away at stains where other steam cleaners would see you on your hands and knees with a handheld tool. Floor cleaning is very effective and yet floors aren't left too wet – they're dry again within a minute.
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The only annoyance as an upright is that the concentrator nozzle, which clips into the back of the handle for storage, falls out all the time. Plus, we couldn't find anywhere to store the hose onboard.
As a handheld, you can attach tools directly to use it with one hand or, more likely, add the hose and clean two-handed. The range of tools is impressive: the small brush was good for removing ingrained stains from a rug, the squeegee cleaned and dried windows quickly, the grout brush was good for removing mildew.
The concentrator nozzle put out a good head of steam that didn't feel scaldingly hot. But the steam from it alone wasn't enough to lift greasy stains, for example taps needed a good wipe after steaming.
Whether as an upright or handheld, you need to push a trigger constantly to get steam. This is a bit of an effort, but leaves you in full control.
Both tanks can be popped out for a refill or to be emptied. The cloth washes well and dries quickly. And the whole cleaner stores well considering it has so many onboard tools.
Maybe. If you're looking for an upright steam cleaner with pop-out handheld then the Vax is impressive. But it’s also rather pricey and has a few issues that are hard to accept considering the price.
That’s why it's worth considering the far more affordable Polti Vaporetto GO cylinder steam cleaner as well. Or, if you don't need handheld tools, consider the Bissell Vac & Steam – an impressive upright steam cleaner that vacuums too.
A well-designed upright steam cleaner with pop-out handheld and plenty of tools stored onboard.