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Karcher SE 4001 Review

Verdict

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A clever utility cleaner, the Karcher SE 4001 is part wet and dry vacuum cleaner and part carpet cleaner. A powerful vacuum cleaner in its own right, this is a great tool for dirtier jobs such as DIY, although it can be tricky to pick up clumps of wet dirt. Carpet cleaning is decent, too, although this model does better with lighter stains since it doesn’t have a brush bar for agitating dirt.

Pros

  • Multifunctional
  • Powerful vacuum cleaner
  • Works well on mid- to deep-pile carpet

Cons

  • Fiddly to convert
  • No motorised brush bar

Availability

  • UKRRP: £199.99
  • USAunavailable
  • EuropeRRP: €199.99
  • Canadaunavailable
  • Australiaunavailable

Key Features

  • TypeSold as a vacuum cleaner, the Karcher SE 4001 is a full wet-and-dry model, so ideal for DIY and dirtier jobs, too.

Introduction

One of the problems faced by many is ending up with too many appliances that rarely get used. The Karcher SE 4001 could be good for the majority, then: it’s a carpet cleaner and a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, so you can use it for pretty much all types of floor surface.

Available at a good price, it offers plenty of power and decent pick-up, plus it can clean most daily carpet stains well. However, it lacks a motorised brush for deep agitation and cleaning. Still, for those who need utility over lots of dedicated tools, the Karcher SE 4001 is a great vacuum cleaner.

Design and features

  • A big cylinder vacuum with a large bin
  • Can convert between wet and dry modes
  • Fiddly to convert into carpet cleaner mode (and back)

Rather than sporting a more modern carpet cleaner design, of an upright vacuum cleaner with a motorised brush, the Karcher SE 4001 looks more like a regular wet and dry vacuum cleaner, such as the Karcher WD4

A large cylinder cleaner, the Karcher SE 4001 is a bit of a beast at 441 x 386 x 537mm and weighing 7.9kg. Fortunately, you can attach the set of wheels to the bottom of it, so you’ll mostly be wheeling this unit around. 

There’s a fair amount of assembly required before you can get going with this vacuum, particularly if you want to use it as a carpet cleaner.

First, you have to attach the hose and extension tubes, after which there’s a selection of accessories. For wet and dry use, there’s a floor head with a clip-in carpet brush, plus a crevice tool.

Karcher SE 4001 accessories

For carpet cleaning, there’s a single nozzle in the box, which has a slide-in rubber attachment so that you can use it for hard floors.

Karcher SE 4001 hard floor insert

For dry mode, you simply insert the paper bag (there’s one in the box) into the inside; a set of five costs £11.99. The bags are pretty big (233 x 190 x 10mm), so will last quite a long time – plus, they have the advantage of making the vacuum easy to empty.

Karcher SE 4001 dirt bag

For wet mode, you need to swap out the bag and filter for the foam one to prevent water from getting into the motor. This gives you the full 18-litre internal capacity for dirt. Once full, it’s a little tricky to fully empty the bin: you’ll need to lift up the entire thing to empty it out – a drain or big sink will be needed.

Karcher SE 4001 foam filter

Before you can switch back to dry mode, you’ll need the insides to dry out, and you’ll have to switch filters again.

For carpet cleaning there’s a 4.8-litre tank that clips onto the back, which has to be filled with cleaning solutions. Karcher provides a starter pouch in the box, but you’ll need to buy more for future cleans.

Karcher SE 4001 detergent tank

You also have to attach the cleaning solution hose, and clip this along the vacuum hose, getting it down to the carpet cleaning head. It’s a little fiddly – moving from vacuuming to carpet cleaning isn’t what we’d call quick.

Karcher SE 4001 hose and water connector

Once attached, there’s a spray handle that puts cleaning solution onto the carpet, provided you’ve turned on the water pump, which is separate from the main power button.

Karcher SE 4001 spray control

You then move the cleaning head over the wet carpet to suck up dirt and moisture; there’s no brush bar to agitate the floor and no automatic detergent of the type you get with the Vax Platinum SmartWash Carpet Cleaner.

Karcher SE 4001 spraying

Performance

  • Can vacuum up most dirt
  • Can push around wet spills
  • Regular dirt is easy to clean but deeper stains are more difficult to remove

As both a vacuum cleaner and a carpet cleaner, I put the Karcher SE 4001 through both sets of tests. First, I measured raw performance in AirWatts (AW), which combines airflow with suction power. The higher the number, the better. The SE 4001 returned a result of 281AW, which is one more than the Dyson V15 Detect on Boost mode. That’s a lot of power.

Next, I put the vacuum through my standard set of tests. First, I started with the carpet test, sprinkling an ‘X’ of flour onto the floor. I moved the vacuum cleaner through the centre of the mess in a single pass (forwards and back). That raw power certainly made short work of the mess, sucking up everything between the width of the floor head, even pulling in some dirt from the sides.

Karcher SE 4001 dirty carpet
Karcher SE 4001 clean carpet

Next, I combed cat hair into the carpet, again running through the mess with a single pass of the vacuum. This time, the results weren’t so good. Without a motorised floor head, the cat hair became stuck, with a fair amount left behind. A few more sweeps cleaned it up, but this isn’t a great vacuum for those with pets.

Karcher SE 4001 dirty cat hair
Karcher SE 4001 clean cat hair

Next, I tracked the hard edge test. With flour sprinkled up to the skirting board, placed on carpet tiles, I moved the SE 4001 through in a single pass. This time, results were excellent, with the vacuum leaving behind just a tiny trace, which you’d have to look hard to see; the rest had gone .

Karcher SE 4001 dirty edge
Karcher SE 4001 clean edge

For the hard floor test, I sprinkled a teaspoon of rice onto the floor. The SE 4001’s raw power was sufficient to suck it all up, without a single grain of rice dropping out onto the floor.

Karcher SE 4001 dirty hard floor
Karcher SE 4001 clean hard floor

Since this is a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, I then ran my normal test. Crushing up a wet Weetabix, I spread the mess onto the hard floor. A single pass left a clean strip through the middle.

Karcher SE 4001 Weetabix dirty
Karcher SE 4001 Weetabix clean

A lot of the mess was pushed around by the floor head. To get everything picked up, I had to lift the floor head and put it over the clumped mess. I did manage to pick up all the dirt in the end, although the same job was easier with the Stihl SE 33.

Karcher SE 4001 Weetabix pushed around floor

To test stain removal, I ran my usual carpet tests. First, I spread a tablespoon of ketchup onto test carpet, and allowed it to dry. Using a combination of spray and suction, I managed to get most of the stain out –although you can still see traces remaining.

Karcher SE 4001 dirty ketchup
Karcher SE 4001 clean ketchup

Next, I ground in a tablespoon of mud onto the carpet, again leaving it to dry. This time, the SE 4001 managed to remove everything with ease. 

Karcher SE 4001 dirty mud
Karcher SE 4001 clean mud

I found the carpet cleaner less successful on dirty carpet tiles, however. Without a brush bar to agitate the dirt, the Karcher really struggled to lift out the dirt.

Karcher SE 4001 dirty carpet tile
Karcher SE 4001 clean carpet tile

The Vax Platinum SmartWash Carpet Cleaner is a better carpet cleaner overall and the Stihl SE 33 is a cheaper and easier-to-use wet and dry vacuum cleaner. Yet, both of these tools are aimed at doing one job only. With the Karcher SE 4001, you can do everything a wet and dry vacuum cleaner can, plus it’s a carpet cleaner, too. If you just want a single appliance that can do everything, the SE 4001 is a decent choice, although carpet cleaning is better for lighter stains. If you need to deep-clean carpets, my list of the best carpet cleaners can help, and my guide to the best vacuum cleaners offers alternatives if suction power is all you’re after. 

Best Offers

Should you buy it?

If you want one tool for wet and dry and carpet-cleaning duties, this is the model for you. A great utility product, it covers its jobs well, and it’s likely that you’ll use this machine more than individual products specialised in one job.

Fiddly to convert from carpet cleaning to vacuuming mode (and vice versa), this vacuum also doesn’t deep-clean carpets as well as specialised cleaners. If you want to deep-clean carpets then you may be better off elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

A clever utility cleaner, the Karcher SE 4001 is part wet and dry vacuum cleaner and part carpet cleaner. A powerful vacuum cleaner in its own right, this is a great tool for dirtier jobs such as DIY, although it can be tricky to pick up clumps of wet dirt. Carpet cleaning is decent, too, although this model does better with lighter stains since it doesn’t have a brush bar for agitating dirt.

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FAQs

Is the Karcher SE 4001 bagless?

Yes and no. In vacuum mode you can use it with an optional bag; in carpet cleaning and wet mode, dirt goes straight into the main body.

What’s the point of a wet and dry vacuum cleaner?

You can suck up wet spills with this model, making it great for accidents in the kitchen, plus any damp DIY mess.

How heavy is it?

This is a very heavy item, weighing 7.9kg

Trusted Reviews test data

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AirWatts (high)
Sound (high)

Specifications

UK RRP
USA RRP
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AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Vacuum cleaner type
Provided heads
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Floor cleaner type
Detergent capacity

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