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Vax SteamFresh Power Plus S84-W7-P Review

A little fiddly to use for some jobs, the ability to add detergent makes the Vax SteamFresh Power Plus S84-W7-P a real powerhouse for some jobs.

Verdict

The Vax SteamFresh Power Plus S84-W7-P lacks in some regards, particularly with no hose making it hard to do detail cleaning. However, its detergent tank means that this steam cleaner can clean with chemicals as well, making it exceptionally useful on hobs and the like. With its innovative floor head, this is also a great floor cleaner and even does well on carpets.

Pros

  • Plenty of steam production
  • Detergent improves cleaning power
  • Great steam boost function
  • Head moves around easily
  • Useful floorhead brush
  • Funky, good length cable

Cons

  • Feels heavy in the hand
  • Hose is optional extra
  • Unwieldy for detail cleaning
  • So-so build quality in places

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £99.99
  • 1600W steam heater
  • Dual steam and detergent
  • Two-step steam power
  • Easy steer mop head
  • Steam boost function
  • Scrubbing brush head
  • Handheld steam tools
  • Carpet glider
  • Wall clip
  • 2-year guarantee

Mixing detergent with high-power steam for double the cleaning power, makes the Vax SteamFresh Power Plus S84-W7-P a versatile stick mop and handheld steam cleaner. The innovative two-part scrubbing floor head, steam boost function and push-button controls are neat touches.

The Vax does not disappoint in cleaning power with masses of steam and good grime-cutting detergent boost. It’s weighty in the hand as a mop though and, without a hose, the detail tools are tricky to use on the handheld body.

Vax SteamFresh Power Plus S84-W7-P Design and Features – Lots of cleanings heads but there’s no hose

The last SteamFresh model from Vax didn’t impress us too much despite offering an interesting mash-up of steam and detergent cleaning. So, can the snappily titled SteamFresh Power Plus S84-W7-P cut through the grime with more aplomb?

It certainly has the specs for the job. It packs in a 1600 watt steam heater, large floorhead with pivoting neck and a couple of detail cleaning tools that clip onto the hand-held body with a short connector tube. The 200ml water reservoir isn’t going to last very long with that sort of steam power on tap although it is joined by a 100-or-so ml detergent fluid tank. A small filter cartridge should stop the heater from scaling up too quickly and is replaceable.

Using Vax’s supplied cleaning fluid, the SteamFresh mixes steam with the detergent to claim double the cleaning gumption of steam alone. The pack comes supplied with a 250ml bottle of ‘Citrus Burst’ fragrance detergent. We used about half a tank of fluid per tank of water, so the 250ml bottle supplied should give you several cleaning sessions. The detergent is also available in Spring Fresh and Apple Burst fragrances should you fancy something a little different on the nose.

The cleaner body is a pistol-grip design with a trigger for steam production. A rear-mounted button scrolls through four settings covering high and low steam power, with or without detergent. The little steam icon LED above is orange for heating and green for steam ready. As that takes well under 15 seconds from switch on, you won’t see the orange LED very much at all.

The cleaner body alone goes a fairly hefty 1.9kg with full tanks. The weight-forward design and bulky body make it feel a lot heavier in the hand. The detail tool connector tube has a 360-degree rotating head and is about 25cm long. That further adds to the rather unwieldy feel when using either the soft brush/scraper or jet nozzle. ‘Hose and handle’ style detail steam tools are much easier to use but alas no hose is supplied here.

Attach the long extension tube and triangular floorhead and the whole SteamFresh ensemble weighs just over 3kg with full tanks. The neat ball-and-socket connection to the floorhead gives it plenty of movement and steerability. Having all the workings and tanks up top does make the SteamFresh feel a lot weightier than its 3kg suggests though. The near 8m long cable in vivid blue is a highlight both in its decent length and funky colour.

The head itself is quite ingenious. From the ground up, you have a carpet glider frame clipped over a microfiber mop for carpets and rugs. Pop off the carpet glider and you have the microfibre mop alone for hard floors. Pull off the mop-carrier and you are left with a stiff-bristle brush for scrubbing seriously stuck-on grime.

A foot operated switch on top of the head gives an extra steam boost that jets out of vents at the nose of the floorhead. The idea is that you can directly steam marks and stains on the floor with the boost function before scrubbing and mopping.

The S84-W7-P package is complete with two microfibre pads, wall clips with fixing tape and screws, and a little drawstring bag to keep the detail tools in.

Vax SteamFresh Power Plus S84-W7-P Performance – Adding detergent boosts cleaning power

Filling the removable tanks is easy enough and the rubber plugs fit snugly, made easier when they are wet. Despite a robust overall feel to the SteamFresh Power Plus, the clip that holds the tank on is a weak link. It’s a little tricky to secure and looks flimsy.

Powered up this Vax produces steam in very quick time. The sprung trigger is nicely controlled and means you avoid the tendency to keep steam flowing constantly, potentially over-wetting the surface. It also means the tank of water is going to last a whole lot longer than models that steam near continuously.

There is no shortage of steam production on either setting and not a massive amount of difference between the two. Oddly, two channels at the front of the mop head jet steam forward rather than down into the mop pad. That does mean you lose a lot of your steam pressure to the atmosphere rather than into the mop pad itself.

Hit the Boost switch with your foot and the next trigger press produces a prodigious amount of steam and a dedicated jet punching from the mop’s nose vents. This points downwards towards the floor and successfully delivers tough steam cleaning for tricky patches and stains. We tackled some spilt home-made jam before it set too hard.

The brush does require a fair bit of downward pressure to get a decent scrubbing force but the combination of the steam boost and scrubbing head worked very well for the jam. You then simply pop the mop carrier back on and mop up the resulting moisture and dirt.

We also attempted to clean dirty grouting in floor tiles with the scrubbing head, albeit with limited success. It didn’t really have the precision or direct scrubbing power of a detail steam scrubbing tool and the floor got very wet. The grouting was cleaner, but not to the level you could achieve using direct steam and a stiff brush.

Grout test Dirty tiles (left) vs Clean tiles (right) – move slider to compare

The ball-and-socket neck on the floorhead makes steering very easy although there is no getting away from the weight in your hand. The hook and loop pads that secure the microfibre pad to the head did not look very secure but we never had an issue with the pad peeling off in use.

On open tiled floors and laminate, the Vax excels. As a steam mop, it slides around easily and there is plenty of steam on tap. The mix of steam and detergent was noticeable in dirtier areas. It shifted stains well and left a smear-free finish in fewer passes than a steam alone. While adding detergent fluid will add to your running costs, for really mucky homes (pets, kids, mud etc) it certainly cut through grime quicker than steam alone.

Using the lower steam and detergent function we also braved using the SteamFresh on a sealed parquet floor. The trick with steam cleaners and parquet is to keep moving and not let the machine stand idle, steaming into the wood. The Vax’s easy-gliding nature meant that was very easy and it once again mopped up a good layer of dust and dirt that our vacuum cleaner had missed.

We have never been great fans of steam mops on carpets as they rarely clean anything like as well as proper carpet cleaners. The SteamFresh gives it a good attempt though. Once again, the combination of steam and detergent came up trumps, lifting a little extra dirt from the pile. It’s not as easy to move over carpet, the glider only helping a little, but it’s not as bad as some in this respect.

Attaching the detail tools to their short connector and onto the cleaner body makes the whole ensemble feel ungainly. You need good wrist strength to use the machine like this. You can attach the detail tools to the long extension tube but they are virtually impossible to use accurately like that. Vax offers a hose as an optional accessory, but it really should have been supplied as standard.

That unwieldy nature means the jet tool is tricky to direct, or get into awkward areas like around the back of the sink taps. The brush and scraper tooled proved much more effective, particularly on ceramic hobs. Steam is plentiful, the detergent helps shift the grease and the plastic scraper/soft brush combination is great for the smooth glass surface.

Hob test Dirty hob (left) vs Clean hob (right) – move slider to compare

It is not the most robust of tools however and a little bit of grout scrubbing duty saw the brush in bad shape. It’s a replaceable spare part available directly from Vax but is really only suitable for more gentle cleaning tasks.

Should I buy the Vax SteamFresh Power Plus S84-W7-P?

The SteamFresh Power Plus remains a bit of an enigma. The detergent and steam concept is a good one and undoubtedly cleans better than steam alone. That was never more obvious than when cleaning the hob with Vax’s excellent soft brush and scraper tool. Yet the lack of hose makes any detail cleaning a real hefty chore and the top-heavy nature means it feels weighty in the hand when mopping too. That is a real shame as the floorhead design, complete with lift-out scrubbing head, is inspired and works very well on a variety of surfaces and stains.

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