“ Brand: Home-Tek /Type: Hand-held cleaner „
AAH, HOW SWEET! A STEAM CLEANER SHAPED LIKE A PENGUIN!
(Subtitled: A Triumph of Design over Usefulness)
I'm relying on my memory here, as this steam cleaner isn't the kind of thing that comes to hand for everyday use. We tend to wait until the shower cubicle resembles an enormous Petri dish before attacking the mould. It's a pity that penicillin's already been invented otherwise we could have cornered the market merely from the scrapings of our 'furry douche'!
The idea of an appliance or other household product that's shaped like an amusing creature is not new. There's the successful Henry vacuum cleaner, not to mention Toilet Duck, so I won't mention it.
I suppose I might have guessed that something that had an demonstration video, even in those heady days before YouTube when we huddled around the little grey JML TV in'Woolies', wasn't going to be all it was cracked up to be.
Yes, it was going to zap bacteria with 'superheated steam' - excuse me, but since when was a mere 10°C above boiling 'superheated'? 'Mildly annoyed' steam might be nearer the mark.
Just like those miracle carpet cleaners that, on screen at least, cut a swathe of beige through a filthy grey shag* it was going to plough its own furrow through work-top detritus, sterilising as it goes (men take note: never point one at your flies unless you don't want any more children). I liked the suggestion that the steam is 'dry' as the demonstrator kills off dust mites in a duvet. Yes, it's not as wet as spraying water on something, but 'dry'?
(*That's a carpet, not a cormorant relative......or anything else for that matter)
P-P-PICK UP A PENGUIN AND P-P-PREPARE TO BE UNDERWHELMED
You can probably see where this going.
After reading the relatively compact instructions, the most important of which is to use the same kind of 'denatured' or even distilled water such as that demanded by some steam irons, I filled it to its maximum using the useful pourer, put the bayonet-fitting cap back on and waited for it build up pressure.
After a short while, the 1550 watt element allows you to start 'pumping steam'.
Pumping is about right. The long black lever on top, resembling the penguin's crest feathers takes quite a bit of thumb pressure, and needs a good press every few seconds which is quite trying. To be fair, the smooth profile of the appliance does lead to a nice firm grip
I don't know if I was expecting too much, but where was the 'steam lance in your hand' that I'd been led to believe I'd be wielding?
Steam emanated from it at an unimpressive rate, so much so that when, say, cleaning wall tiles, they were cold and running with a small amount of water in no time. Dry? Don't make me laugh.
It didn't take me long to realise that this had been a comparative waste of twenty four quid, although it couldn't at the time be said to be a total failure; after all, it probably was killing all kinds of microscopic nasties. As for any visible results..............
TWO YEARS ON. I KNOW, LET'S TRY THAT PENGUIN THINGY AGAIN.
In preparation for the carpet fitters, I thought I'd try getting the last vestiges of dried wall-paper scrapings off the bedroom floorboards. Aha, now where did I put that bloody penguin?
Here it is, in the cupboard under the stairs, along with all the other redundant technology that hasn't gone to Freecycle yet!
So I fill it with the requisite water, switch on and wait....and wait....and wait.
Nothing. Pumping the crest feather only causes the penguin's nose to run. Its days of 'puffin*' were seemingly over.
As you can imagine, I'm now 'rockhopping' mad.
Maybe I should have tried making 'adelie' use of it rather than let the warranty expire before using it again.
Durable? Bah 'humboldt'!
Here's a thought - maybe they only work in the Southern Hemisphere.
(*Yeah yeah, I know. Puffins aren't penguins. I just knew someone would be 'auk-ward')