Kärcher’s bright yellow products will be well-known to many and the brand’s almost synonymous with pressure washers: on any given Sunday, cars up and down the nation will be getting a clean aided by a Kärcher. Over the past few years, the company has been trying to increase its market with a range of household cleaning products and last year, the Window Vac seemed to be everywhere.
This year, it’s the turn of the floors and here we have the Kärcher FC5 hard floor cleaner. Hard floors are very much en vogue at the moment but keeping them clean involves dry vacuuming followed by wet mopping or steam cleaning. The FC5 is designed to get round this problem by combining elements of an upright vacuum cleaner with a wet floor cleaner. Let’s take closer look….and for those wondering, even geeks need to keep their houses clean.
The Kärcher FC5 arrives in substantial cardboard box, but it’s not as long as it could be as “some assembly is required”. Simply, the upper part of the handle needs to be slotted into the body of the cleaner. It’s straightforward and only needs a good shove to click it into place. Once together, the FC5 looks the business with a smooth aluminium handle extending out of a the obligatory yellow body. The unit is hefty enough at around 5 kg but it’s not unwieldy. The design won a Red Dot Award in 2017.
Taking a tour round the hard floor cleaner reveals most of FC5’s features. Starting at the top, there’s a rubberised handle with a power switch just within thumb’s reach. Slightly lower down is the power cable – 7m – which is coiled round two hooks. The lower hook rotates to quick release the cable which is handy when getting started. On the front of the cleaner body is the tall thin clean water reservoir and round the back is a stubbier dirty water container. At the bottom, are two fluffy rollers which spin when the cleaner is in action, giving the floor a good scrubbing.
The way the FC5 works is to suck water and detergent from the front reservoir, pour it onto the rollers, scrub the floor with the spinning damp rollers and then vacuum the now grubby water and debris up into back container. Sounds perfect and in practice, works well too.
Turning on the FC5 for the first time can be a little surprising as the rollers can get a bit of a grip on the floor and pull the cleaner away from you. It’s a bit little a powered lawn mower but not nearly as strong. Once mastered, the FC5 can be easily manoeuvred around the place and there’s a bit of tilt-n-swivel action. Tilting the handle to the left or right will turn the roller head in the same direction so you can kind of curve past things and into corners. The FC5 is noisy like a vacuum too – there’s no gentle gurgle of steam here.
Removing both water containers is easy enough – push down on the top and give the container a yank out. Filling the clean water reservoir is easy but it’s hard to see and use the “max” marker, especially as you’re filling the container nearly horizontal and you have to tilt it vertically to check on the water level. I found that one fill was enough to clean a hallway (solid wood), a kitchen (tile), a bathroom (tile) and a playroom (laminate) with a little left over. For reference, my house is about 100 sq. m on the ground floor.
After cleaning, the floor surface is left slightly damp but it dries within minutes. It’s much drier than it would be using a mop but it’s probably on a par with a steam cleaner.
The dirty water container comes in two pieces – there’s an inner structure which is designed to catch solid material like fluff, hair and squashed peas, and this comes out so that this stuff can be put in the bin. The grubby water can then be poured down the sink without worrying about blockages. Although it’s a little disgusting, you can see all the dirt that the FC5 has picked up. I don’t think of having a dirty house – there’s no pets, only two children who are fairly good at taking their shoes off at the front door – but I was still surprised at how dirty the water was.
The FC5 comes with a black plastic stand (or “cleaning station” according to Kärcher) which can be used both when the cleaner is resting under the stairs or in the utility room, and when cleaning is underway. If the stand isn’t used, the FC5 falls over – it won’t stand on its own. The base is also used to pre-wet the rollers for a quick cleaning start.
Talking about the rollers, or SmartRollers as styled by Kärcher, they easily unscrew for cleaning and drying. It’s very simple and as long as the blue roller matches the blue axle (and the green roller, the green axle), it’s impossible to go wrong.
In use over the past few weeks, I liked the Kärcher FC5. The pull from the rollers was an initial surprise but I was comfortable moving the cleaner around after a few minutes. It copes well with the different floor surfaces and after whizzing round the hard floors, I could see the dirt in the sucked up water. The FC5 handles fluff, hair, sand (Moon Sand), grit and other relatively small pieces of debris (Play Doh). It’s not a vacuum cleaner though, so larger items like stones, packaging and sweet wrappers are going to stay on the floor.
I have mixed feelings about the base that the FC5 needs to stay upright. I can kind of understand the need for pre-wetting the rollers but having to keep the base handy just to stand it up is a little annoying. If you can clean your whole house in one go, you’ll be fine; those of us who have to stop and move furniture will always be wanting the stand close to hand, only to find it’s on the other side of the room.
Priced at GB£239, the Kärcher FC5 isn’t cheap. In comparison, popular steam mops cost around a quarter of that, and you’re still going to need a proper vacuum cleaner. However the real benefit of the FC5 is the overall time saving of not having to vacuum before cleaning – you only need to go over the surface once with the FC5 and it’s job done. Definitely worth considering in homes with several hard floored rooms.
The Kärcher FC5 is available direct from Kärcher and other good retailers.
Unboxing and in action videos below.
This post was done as part of The Insiders UK Kärcher campaign.