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818 of 840 people found this helpful
Not entirely impressed despite the rave reviews.
on February 26, 2010
Okay, first my disclaimer. I'm not paid or influenced by anyone to write this. Second, I'm a 5'11", 220lb. single 45 year old guy and yes, I love to clean house! Third, I'm no expert as this is my foray into steam mops. Fourth, you'll see that this review of the Eureka Enviro Steamer is done in comparison with another steam mop I have. Anyway, I'm definitely sold on the idea of cleaning my floors without chemicals, dipping into a sink or bucket and wringing mop heads, etc.
I did a LOT of research on the different steam mops out there and decided to try a couple that interested me the most. First, I bought the Euro-Pro Shark Pocket Steam Mop (the new one, model S3501, that costs around $100) and have been rather impressed with it. I still have it.
I decided to try the Eureka Enviro Steamer because 1) of the rave reviews and high ratings it's gotten, 2) the higher steam temperature, 3) the constant flow of steam as opposed to manually triggered steam and 4) the price.
For $65.99 I got the steamer, two big, thick reusable cleaning pads, a styrofoam composite resting tray, a little fill cup and a little funnel. Okay, simple enough. Good price. The Shark, even though a bit more expensive, came with TWO differently shaped/sized steam heads, two pads for each head and special "dusting" pad for the larger head plus a "carpet cleaning tray" for steaming the carpet (useless, really).
Here are my observations:
1) Right off the bat, I noticed the handle on the Eureka to be nothing more than a straight pole with a hard plastic grip that really didn't make for good ergonomic handling, particularly considering the wrist angle while holding it. Part of the problem is that, when fully extended, it isn't all that long, so you can't really hold it like a regular mop unless you're short. The Shark's grip is circular, making it more comfortable to hold, even with one hand, while pushing and pulling. One nice thing about the Eureka is its handle stays locked in place when not in use. The Shark's handle, due to the true pivoting steam head, will fall down to the floor if not leaned up against something.
2) The cord on the Shark is definitely longer than the Eureka's. Not a big issue to me as I have a modest sized kitchen/dining area and one bathroom with linoleum to clean. However, I know cord length is an issue with other folks. The cord wrap hooks are fine on each mop and their cords stow away without any issues.
3a) The Eureka's cleaning pads are cotton, rather thick and have a bit of a waffle design to them. Certainly good for absorbing stuff. The Shark's cleaning pads are of a mixed microfiber material and there's nothing special about their design. I think the choice of materials is a personal one. Some say the microfiber cleans better while some say the cotton lasts longer. I've found that replacement pads for the Shark are much cheaper. They do last a while if you wash them without bleach and let them dry on their own.
3b) The Eureka's cleaning pads stay in place by a couple of grip clips, one on each side of the steamer. They seem to hold the pad securely mostly at its ends. However, I noticed how the leading (front) and trailing (back) edges of the cleaning pad seemed to sag and curl a bit away from the steam head. As a result, the cleaning pad tends to shift back and forth. I also found putting on the Eureka's cleaning pad EVENLY (so each grip clip had plenty of pad to bite) and taking it off, involving those grip clips, took a bit of time and effort. This is compounded by the fact that the Eureka's steam head is big and heavy so I had to put it up on the counter or kneel to the floor for the job of putting on/taking off the pad. I snapped my fingers in the grip clips (they have teeth!) a couple of times. Conversely, the Shark's steam heads are very light plus they're very easy to take off and put on. So are its cleaning pads. They slip on and fit neatly like a glove (but not too snugly, so there's some room for shrinkage). There's no sagging, they close up with Velcro at the openings and they stay on the steam head without shifting around much.
4) An interesting feature of the Shark which makes it better than the Eureka is the fact that you can simply FLIP the steam head over while using the mop to use the other side of the cleaning pad on-the-fly. To use the other side of the Eureka's cleaning pad, you have to unplug the unit, wait for it to cool down a bit, set it on its resting tray, pull the ends of the thick, WET and dirty cleaning pad out of the grip clips, pick up the steam head, pull out the wet and dirty cleaning pad, flip the thing over, pick up the steam head again and put the cleaning pad under it, set down the steam head-centering it so you have plenty of pad on each end for the grip clips to grab- and re-insert the ends of the pad into the grip clips and then turn the unit back on. Whew. At first, when I saw the photos of the cleaning pad attached to the mop, I thought "that looks easy, even if there are a few steps." Wrong. I really found it to be a bulky, time consuming chore.
5) In order to fill the Eureka's water reservoir, I HAD to use the little funnel and cup because the filler opening was so small. I do agree that it's a good thing the water reservoir and steam unit are at the base of the cleaner for maximum steam heat, which is somewhat of an advantage over the Shark. The Shark, however, is easier to fill. With or without the steam head attached, you can just put its tank filler hole, which is larger, right under a faucet and fill the reservoir that way. Or just get a measuring cup and pour water directly into the filler hole without the need for a funnel. Apparently, the Shark's water reservoir is bigger. The Eureka has a dummy light that comes on when the reservoir is out of water. On the Shark, you can SEE how much water is in it. Either way works for me, although the "empty" light does get attention easily.
6) The one thing I do like about the Eureka is that it has an on/off switch. There is none on the Shark therefore you have to plug in/remove the power cord at the AC socket for that function. For some people that may be an inconvenience, so the on/off switch is an advantage. Anyway, I noticed that it takes quite a while for steam to build up in the Eureka. With the Shark, it's rather quick...like 30 seconds to a minute. However, it's also noisier but that's not an issue for me. It's actually kind of nice to know the Shark is actually giving me an audible signal that it's working and heating up. Once it's done heating the water/steamer, it quiets down a bit.
7) The Eureka constantly steams, which is kind of nice. That means one doesn't need to pump the handle or press a trigger to get steam. Some people may really like this. The Shark steams whenever the handle goes downward/inward as you push the mop forward, causing a single pump action the handle to trigger the steam. Not a bad concept, really, but generally effective only if you're going forward with the mop. You can also build up steam on-demand by pumping the handle a few times for tougher spots. The Eureka's constant steam makes it good for going backward while mopping. HOWEVER...one BIG drawback I noticed is, since the steam is constantly coming out, I can't just park it somewhere for any period of time. I have to put it on its resting tray so that over-steaming or water build-up happens there and not on the floor. This doesn't happen with the Shark because it only steams when you push it along. So you can set it anywhere and walk away for a moment. For this reason, the Shark doesn't require a resting tray.
8) I read that some people were dissatisfied with the fact that the Eureka's steam head was too big to fit under counters and toe kick spaces. I found this to be true. As for edging and corners, it sucks. The Shark beats it hands-down in this department. Additionally, I found it easier to manipulate under chairs, table, etc. due to the steam head's low profile, light weight and pivot flexibility. Yes, the Eureka has some pivot flexibility, but with the Shark-I kid you not-you can literally flick your wrist with ease to the left or the right and the steam head will literally make a nice sharp turn in that direction. How cool is that?
9) Weight-wise, the Eureka is certainly heavier to push around. I did struggle with it a few times while pushing and pulling it back and forth. The Shark is lighter and easier to manipulate.
My first use of the Eureka was not impressive. It took a long time to start steaming. Then I saw that when picked up the mop from its resting pad/tray, there was a lot of water standing in the resting tray. I proceeded to mop away. I noticed immediately that the mop was leaving a LOT of standing water on the floor. I mean, it looked a bit like my dishwasher had peed rinse water all over the place. Puzzled, I brought the steam head close to me and tipped it to one side to check the cleaning pad itself. Right then, a bunch of water poured out of the steam head and onto the floor. I confirmed the filler hole cap was on properly. Thinking perhaps that I hadn't let the mop get hot enough, I returned it to its resting tray and let it sit there for a while longer as I got a towel to sop up all the standing water. Then I tried the mop again. Same result...a lot of standing water on the floor. I also noticed that the steam wasn't really all that hot, either. In fact, I found the steam on my Shark to be hotter.
I then remembered reading several comments in user reviews regarding similar issues during other people's first-time use of the Eureka. Apparently, it performs this way for the first 1-3 times before it actually starts working as advertised. A bit of a "break-in" period, of sorts. Okay, I suppose I can buy into that. But, really? Is that a bug or a feature? I mean, my Shark worked fine right out of the box and has worked the same way consistently since. So, I gave the Eureka another shot. And a third. And a fourth. Same results. Lots of standing water on my floor, steam not very hot and the cleaning pad got soppy and loose. Of course, with all that water, the floor took forever to dry.
Okay, so I'm thinking it's the PADS that are causing the issue. So, taking a suggestion from one reviewer, I used an older kitchen towel instead. This time I got warmer steam BUT the towel, because it was only secured to the steam head by its ends, just flopped around at the middle. I tried different towels. Same result. And I mean I really made sure I put them on as snugly as possible. Again, fastening the cleaning pads and towels evenly at each end (so there's plenty for the grip clips to grab) was not easy. I washed the one cleaning pad I used and set it out to dry. Some folks had written that the cleaning pads work better after they've been washed at least once, so I figured this could be the solution. When I started to put it onto the mop, I noticed right away that it had shrunk considerably (I cold wash everything and I hang a lot of stuff to prevent shrinking) and was a little more difficult to evenly mount onto the steam head. Again, same result: lots of standing water on the floor. Maybe not as much as the first uses before it was washed. But still too much water on the floor. Really. It was like I'd used a regular mop. When I use my Shark, I can see the floor is shiny because it's wet but when I run my fingers along the floor they're NOT wading through a lot of standing water AND the floor dries quickly. I mean within just a few minutes.
I also tried it out as a hand-held unit for the counter tops and shower walls to see if it will give me that as a cleaning feature. Yes, the overall unit without the handle is smaller than the Shark without its handle, but the steam head is so big, heavy and ungainly that it felt like I was hoisting a curling stone and moving it along the counter tops and up along the shower walls. I didn't bother doing the steam part because I didn't want all that water all over my counter tops. I did the same experiment with my Shark and found that, while it was bigger (mostly in terms of length, thereby a two-handed hold), it was lighter and easier to manipulate along the flat surfaces horizontally and vertically. Plus-again-I could just flip the mop over on the spot and use the other side of the cleaning pad (while I still had to stop with the Eureka, pull off the pad, flip it over and fasten it back on, etc. as described above). And the Shark's smaller triangle-shaped steam head I can snap on is great for the corners.
I REALLY wanted the Eureka to work out because of all the great reviews I'd read regarding it here at Amazon and other web sites where reviews were done. So, I set it out to completely dry, washed the other pad FIRST before using it, let it dry on its own, followed all the instructions and the recommendations of other reviewers and so forth to get the best results. Nope. While it DID seem to perform better in terms of steam heat, it STILL had the sopping pad sagging along the front and back of the steam head and STILL left too much water all over my floor, which in turn took too long to dry. But even if THAT problem was solved, I just didn't like the fact that I couldn't efficiently and easily use the other side of the cleaning pad.
So, I sent the Eureka back and got a refund. It has a few features I like, but overall it's not well executed. I came away from that product thinking "HOW in the world did it get all these great rave reviews??" Even if I'd gotten a dud, I found that, operationally, several features were too cumbersome for my liking, which I'd mentioned earlier.
I'm happy with my Shark S3501 Pocket Steam Mop (they call it "Pocket" because the cleaning pads are, really, like pockets you put the steam heads into). I recommend you give it a try. Do NOT get the cheaper, smaller, earlier model of the Shark steam mop. Friends I know who have used it say it's not so good and that's accurately reflected in its reviews here at Amazon.com. Apparently, Euro-Pro listened to users and made some significant improvements in their product as evidenced in this new model. However, I am also aware of the issues people have had with the DURABILITY of Shark products (both my mother and sister have had Shark cleaning devices and they broke rather quickly), so I'm going to keep an eye on this new model and see how it goes. But I can tell you right now, I honestly find it easier, more flexible and simpler to use than the Eureka Enviro Steamer, even if its steam doesn't get nearly as hot. But it gets hot enough to clean my floor nicely and I think it does a good job.
If you've gotten this far in my review, I want to thank you for taking the time to read it. I hope it helps you.