* Prices may differ from that shown
Always having been a lover of the quintessential orange VAX wet and dry carpet cleaner... my choices when buying carpet cleaning appliances had always been simple. VAX VAX VAX. However, when my VAX machine finally gave up the ghost, I decided to shop around and was excited by the marketing strapline that Bissell where banding about at the time... which was "No other manufacturer of home deep cleaning machines is more experienced in the deep cleaning category. BISSELL deep cleaning machines are recognised as the high quality standard of the floorcare marketplace with ease of use, performance and durability engineered into each unit, every step of the way". After a preliminary search on the internet and a ponder over my loyalty and faith to VAX (I should add at this point that my experience with VAX solutions, machines and customer service had always been great, and I really had not reason to change other than my simple curiosity with regard to the marketing message that was being hurled at me every time I queried Bissell). Anyway.... I jumped in my car dropped the kids off mums and started my quest for a replacement carpet cleaner. Are you feeling the excitement that I was relishing in at the time?.... Buying a new carpet cleaner was big news for me! - It might seem a bit weird, but with 3 children ranging between 10 years and 3 weeks old, a dog, a rabbit and 5 cats.....a slight touch of post natal depression AND living in the muddy countryside.....On that day my carpet cleaner was to me as snow and ice is to polar bears. Really. So now at Comet.... It had begun. My first task was to dodge the door based salesman and navigate myself to the upright cleaner area of the store. I didn't want to talk to anyone... Id done my research I just wanted to walk away with a cleaner and hopefully get the stain off of my stairs that had the clear potential to be poo.
I found the Bissell Proheat ® Pro Tech upright cleaner standing there on a podium in all its glory all shiny and bronze metallic... like it had been kissed by a million angels that breathed gold dust..... It was at this point the salesman obviously saw his opportunity to close in on me. Im not sure if it was my gaping mouth or the fact that my left boob was leaking milk onto my t-shirt owing to the fact that Rosa (my new born) had missed a feed.... Either way the conversation began. There appeared to be no qualification questions needed.... By the look of me (see above) 'Tom' (the salesperson) could see that I had a need for clean carpets. So he just went into this long explanation of how my life would be better if I got this particular heaven sent cornucopia of desire that featured the following:
Scotch Gard (double protect) Applicator (never used it once because the time taken to clean the carpets with the heaviest machine in world left me weak and virtually unable to walk)
Bronze Metallic Colour (perhaps the best feature of the machine - looks like its been kissed by angels... really it does)
Dirtlifter Power 5 Row Brush (that's great but you have to move the machine so slowly for it to actually use these 5 rows of brushes - this feature haunted me every time I used it).
Heater (Now I'm not convinved it does have a heater.... I always had to put warm water in it).
Smart Mix (A feature that allows the machine to dispense a certain amount of detergent based on how far round you turn a dial. Its not that smart)
Turbo Brush Tool TM (I use this for cleaning every time I have used it. Its better than that 5 row brush schmunklepunkel that Tom raved on about)
Bare Floor Cleaning (I have marble flooring in my kitchen. The bar that you attach for bare floor cleaning - just kept flying off. I used a mop and bucket. This machine is for carpets).
Pre Stain tool (The pre stain tool is pretty much the turbo brush tool that you use to spray the carpet with detergent prior to everso slowly pushing and pulling the Bissell unit over your floor).
Crevice Tool (Ive never used this but the temptation was there to use it on my husbands belly button on one occasion that he came hope drunk after a stag do)
Upholstery Brush (this is actually really good. On the stairs. It got rid of 'that stain', - and once wet I could ascertain that it was indeed poop).
Tough Stain Brush
TankinTank TM (this little revelation is quite clever. The clean water tank is inside the dirty water tank. With the former being like a thick semi rigid bag. A float inside the dirty water tank rises up and let the unit know when it is out of water).
10 metre (30ft) Cord Length (I take back what I said about the colour... the length of cord is great because there is never any real need for an extension cord when using the unit).
After some discussion of the benefits of using this machine over my recently deceased VAX, I decided to try out the Bissell. I then enquired about the price. £275. After considering how much it would cost me to get my carpets cleaned professionally, I decided to go for it. On the basis that my carpets would be drier after cleaning than they were after using my VAX, that they would actually be cleaner, that it would be simpler than using the VAX, and that the machine was easier to store.
So there I am waiting for Tom to go and get my machine so that I can hand over my £275. He appears with a box that was approximately the same size as a telephone kiosk. He placed it next to me and asked if I needed cleaning solutions. As there were some in the box I decided not to on that occasion. I paid, he took it to my car. I took the roof off of my little sports convertible and I drove home slowly. Not realising that the slow nature of the drive home was indicative of the speed at which my carpets were to be cleaned in the future.
With the kids still at mums, I decided to have a little go at the stain on the stairs. That was easy. But the bright patch on the stairs needed blending in. Reading the instruction manual, I noted that it said to work in small areas, and work forward and back in line with the speed LED guide on the front of the unit. Then when the back and fore action was completed redo the area across at a right angle. It was then that it hit me. Working slowly doing each bit of carpet at least twice (more like 6 or 7 times actually), the heavy maching had now sodden my carpet, made uneaven patches all over it and it now needed doing again. And another thing. Id should have bought another bottle of detergent as it goes through it like water through a sieve. Off I tottered to Comet to buy a bottle of detergent. I didn't really look at the price on the shelf. It was a bottle of carpet shampoo. How much could it be! - I decided to buy 2. At the checkout I thought the woman said that will be £49.90. I asked her to repeat herself. She did. She said that will be £49.90. Like a fool I gave her my card and then proceeded to my car whilst trying to work out how I was going to structure the lie to my husband about the cost of the machine and its consumables. At a set of traffic lights I decided to just bury the machine in the garden along with the detergent that I had purchased. As I pulled up at my house I realised that I would have to lift the patio before I could do this so rested on explaining the purchase as a slight bit of madness due to baby blues/post natal depression/feeling isolated living in the country.... Whatever......
The conclusion to this review is that irrespective of your needs, this is a big machine, full of promise but sadly lacking in execution. It is a heavy, machine that requires very steady and very very slow use to be effective (despite being marketed as though it can be used in the same manner as a vacuum cleaner). You will need in excess of £300 pounds to discover that you must have exceedingly good stamina and strength to clean a carpet (without actually being able to dry it in the same way that a VAX does). You will also need to accept that the smart mix function relies solely on your experience as a carpet cleaner and that this issue will involve you having massive bright patches on the carpets throughout your home. Unless you are prepared to accept these issues don't buy this machine. It is a waste of money and the money would be better spent on hiring a Rug Doctor (or something like it) a couple of times a year to assist with spring cleaning or mishaps as they happen. Did I mention that the machine also leaks..... Oh the leaks are splendid. They give a certain zippiness to plain carpets.... But a bonus is that hiring a leading professional cleaner quickly removes these.
My advice would be to stick with VAX. They have been making machines for the British market for as long as I can remember and really even simply on a cost-v-benefit basis your VAX purchase will serve you well for years.
We moved into our new house about a year ago with our 5 year old girl and 2 year old boy. We inherited from the previous owner some beautiful beige carpets which cover the entirety of the downstairs. Add to that the regular troops of teenagers trudging in and out and the junior age boys who I've been doing a plasticene project with and you can tell already that this is a recipe for disaster.
But to top it all, in the first few weeks, at the first dinner party we had someone (my wife) managed to spill an entire glass of red wine on the dining room carpet and nothing (carpet cleaner, wine away, salt) had managed to get rid of it.
So after a year of gradually watching the beige carpets turn to a shade of grey we took serious action. And believe me, the Bissell is a serious machine!
A Bissell with Bristles
The Bissell is a large upright carpet washing vacuum-cleaner-style machine. On first looking at it you may mistake it for a standard vacuum cleaner until you notice the large removable attachment on the front. This is like a normal vacuum cleaner hose attachment except larger and with enormous bristles. You may then notice the bristles on the main part of the machine which are also large and red. And then on moving the machine you may notice how heavy it is. This may alert you to the fact that this is no ordinary vacuum cleaner.
It has many more buttons and parts than a normal vacuum cleaner (and yet strangely is still pretty simple). It works as follows:
Firstly, there is a shampoo holder on the front right of the machine. This has to be filled with shampoo! The shampoo is available from Argos but we ordered from Bissell themselves and it came very quickly. It cost us about £15 to shampoo the whole of our downstairs, but they needed quite a lot.
Then there is a large removable bucket under the shaft of the cleaner. This needs to be filled with tap hot water. It is also where the dirty water is collected.
There are two other buttons on the front: one is for choosing the level of clean required; 'heavy traffic', normal and rinse. The second is for choosing between using the hose cleaner or the normal method.
Also there is a speed gauge at the front which lights up to assist good cleaning.
Other than that there is an on/off button at the back and a water release button on the handle.
Dissell be how it's done!
Usage is very easy. Fill up water and soap, plug in turn on. Then slowly, with the water release button depressed begin to move across your carpet. As it moves across you can see the water being sucked up at the front. We used heavy traffic and rinse mostly, which does use up a lot of shampoo. As you go it does leave little furballs behind which need to be picked up.
On really bad stains (like the red wine) we used the hand held devices for extra bristling action. But on the whole the main machine was enough.
The carpets do get wet when shampooing (obviously), and so furniture needs to be removed or moved to one half of the room before doing the other. It does take about 24 hours to dry which means its not like running the hoover round for half an hour.
The longer you spend going over it without letting out water the more is sucked up and therefore the drier it is and the quicker everything is back to normal.
There are occasions when you realise you've had it on the wrong setting and it hasn't been cleaning after all. But that's the users fault not the machine.
Kissable Disselled Carpets
So does it work?
Well the wine stain is still slightly visible but it is now quite an acceptable bit of carpet. And it certainly did a very good job of getting it out. I was amazed as I thought that nothing would shift it. You probably wouldn't notice it if you walked into our dining room.
We even had a comment from a friend, 'Is this a new carpet?' It changed the carpet from having a grey hue back to quite a lively light brown, and just seemed to bring out its natural colour again. All other marks are gone (although some have been replaced). On the whole I'm really pleased with what it's done, even if it was quite hard work and laborious to do.
It seemed to work less well on tiled floors. Our kitchen tiles (also beige!) needed getting down on hands and knees with the scrubber to get back to there best and, to be honest, that was a bit much.
It does leave the smell of wet dog while it dries and this soon goes. Interestingly Bissell sell an Orange scented shampoo perhaps for that very reason.
The issue for me is whether it's worth owning? I have friends who use it once every three months. This seems a bit much for me, I'd be more inclined to use it once a year. It's an excellent machine but perhaps it's best being borrowed rather than purchased.
A little over 2 years ago I had no money to spend on gadgets and rather grubby looking carpets. I was feeling very hard done by and wanted to do something about the carpets. Buying new ones was out of the question, but we had had a very wet winter and also shortly before that aquired an extra dog, so where one dog bringing muddy paws inside every time she went round the garden I could cope with two was one too many. Apart from the look of the carpets our house was begining to smell a little like a kennels. Now I know I could wash the dog's feet, brush them til they gleamed daily, and used carpet freshening powder each time I vacuumed but even that didn't solve the problem of the grubbiness that I already had.
I did what I usually do when feeling down, I browsed the internet, looked on the Lxdirect site, and then talked a lot about why I really needed one of these. After a couple of days I decided that I couldn't live without one and ordered it on my account. I know I could have got a similar model cheaper, or waited for the sales in the shops, but once I decide I need something I have to buy it there and then.
Delivery was quite quick, I have had a look and now they are selling them for £194.54 and offer a three week delivery.
And the Box arrived.
First thing one morning on my day off, I opened it, I always have trouble opening large boxes so a sharp knife was involved with this task. I got it out and proceeded to put it together. There is a large piece of paper inside the box with picture instructions of how to do this. I followed them pretty much to the letter until it came to two large screws to hold the hose and toolholder onto the body of the machine. I didn't have a screwdriver so used a round ended knife for this job, it didn't work very well and sometime later these screws fell out and I haven't a clue where they are now but it hasn't fallen to bits yet!
I had a look at the instructions, which told me to locate the water holder. This has a sort of soft inner bladder and a hard outer shaped plastic box. Both of these are opaque so you can see how much water you put inside and when emptying you can see how much and how dirty the water is.
Then you fill the shampoo container and put it in place, fill the inner bladder with tap hot water and fix the lid on. This is a bit fiddly at first because the handle is what holds the lid on, so upright and you can lift it but flat and the lid falls off easily.
Put that in place, plug it in and turn it on. There is a button at the back to switch the machine on.
A light on the front tells you it is heating the water to the correct temperature, I think you should leave it running for a few minutes before starting your shampooing, but as out tap water is pretty hot I never bother waiting, I am an impatient soul.
On the back of the handle there is a lever which you press to start the water and shampoo mix spraying onto the carpet. You just have to hold the lever on and push it across the carpet, backwards and forwards while it sprays the carpet with hot sudsy water and the underneath brush brushes the carpet dislodging the dirt. Once you have washed a patch you can let go of the lever and use it just like an ordinary upright vaccuum cleaner and it sucks up the dirty water leaving the carpet damp but not soaking wet.
Once the inner bladder of clean warm water is empty and the outer container is full of warm dirty water it stops working and you need to empty the dirty water out and start afresh with clean water. The way you know it is full is because on top of the base of the machine there is a screw top which is clear and inside this there is a red float that twirls round and round. When this float stops twirling it means that it is no longer spraying out water and shampoo and needs emptying.
So, I cleaned my carpets, looked in wonder at the colours that they were, they really had got very dull and grubby looking. I took the machine round to my mums one morning and shampooed all of the carpets in her small bungalow and then my son's partner asked if she could borrow it to clean hers. I was happy for her to do so but had run out of the Bissell shampoo. She had some of another make left over in her cupboard and used this instead.
Now, the paperwork says to only use Bissell or it would invalidate the guarrentee. They also state that any other make could cause damage but we thought they would all be similar and it would work just as well. We actually thought that as a bottle of the Bissell shampoo is over a fiver then it was a sales thing and they wanted out money instead of us getting a cheaper make.
How wrong were we. The next time I used the Bissell it didn't work at all well and I couldn't understand why, very quickly the spinning float didn't spin and the shampooer didn't shampoo. I took it apart and found that the clean water from the inner bladder had leaked into the outer container indicating to the float that it was full. I emptied this and saw a sort of melted hole in the inner bladder. Now, I am not one hundred per cent sure that the other make of shampoo did this but I guessed that was probably what happened.
I was very upset, I hadn't had it long and it was quite a bit of money, and now it was broke. I looked on the Bissell site and found a place where you can order spare parts so for not too much money I ordered a new water container. That came free of post in a couple of days so top marks for Bissell's after sales service. I didn't call out their maintenance engineer purely because I knew we had violated the guarrentee by using the other shampoo and didn't want a huge bill.
The details, I have copied below from the website and am happy to say they are truthful ones with little sales pitch involved, what they say is what they do.
Deep cleans ground-in dirt and grooms carpets. Ideal for pet hairs.
1400 watts. Compact, easy-to-use and to empty tank-in-tank. Heated solution deep cleaner for carpets, stains and upholstery. Ready tools switch instantly converts to tools and carpet pre-treat. Carpet shampoo. 35ft power cord. 8ft long reach hose. Weight 10.8kg. 2-year guarantee. (This is not a vacuum). Dark-blue. BISSELL helpline: 0870 225 0109.
It is quite large and I don't have huge amounts of storage space, but it fits behind my vaccuum cleaner. It is quite heavy at over 10Kg. and I wouldn't want to carry it far although have loaded it into my car to take to mums when I did hers, it is heavier than the average upright vaccuum.
It is a bit temperamental, sometimes it will clean and brush and suck until the inner bladder is empty and the outer container is full of dirty water and sometimes it will give up before the inner one is half empty necessitating emptying it before it should be needed. Most of the time though it is fine.
It is quite noisy but no noisier than most upright cleaners.
These are many. It really does clean deep down, this morning I did the carpets in our bungalow, this job only took just over an hour, so quite quick too. First I vaccuumed and the carpets looked clean with no loose bits of dirt and no visible dog hairs or fluff. Once I have cleaned the carpets with the Bissell I have two large handfulls of fluff that this machine had picked up and once the carpets are completely dry I will vaccuum again and know from past experience what I get in my vaccuum cleaner will be very fine dust which is the last bit of dirt left. My house smells nice and slightly lemony fresh, and I am happy for my grandchildren to get down on their hands and knees and play knowing that the carpets are as clean and hygienic as I can make them.
Best of all is the doggy smell I got this morning when I sat on the floor is gone for now and I can do this job every so often to keep it away.
That is about all I can think of, my carpets are dry and it is time to run the vaccuum over it and go out.
Thanks for reading