Tag Archives: cleaning

Kärcher 10 Year Window Vac Anniversary Edition Review



The clue is in the title….it’s been ten years since Kärcher introduced its first Window Vac for streak-free glass cleaning. Competing with sponge and squeegee for the perfect finish, the Window Vac sucks water from the smooth surface of the window, removing drips and drops, and leaving the glass dry. Sounds like a great a idea, but do windows need a vacuum cleaner? Let’s take a closer look.

The box for this anniversary edition is a marginal step up from the normal six sides of cardboard, with a magnetically closed gatefold showing the evolution of the product from the original in 2008 through to 2018. There’s been six editions of the Window Vac but all remain true to the original from ten years ago with steady incremental changes between each one. This year’s model promises extended battery life….

 

While this all looks lovely, disappointingly Kärcher haven’t really got their heads round the presentation of the contents of the box – inside everything is higgledy-piggledy. I appreciate that it’s low environmental impact but a bit more organisation would improve that first impression. This is a gadget that has a list price of GB£100 after all.

Setting this to one inside, inside the box is the Window Vac itself, in the usual black and yellow Kärcher combination. There are two wiper blades, one 280 mm and the other 170 mm. These clip in and out of the Window Vac to suit the size of the window being cleaned. To charge up the Vac, there’s a neat AC power adaptor too with a 120 cm cable. There’s a nifty spray bottle which comes with an attachment to take a microfibre cloth, which is actually really handy. Finally, there’s a set of paper manuals and guides, and a small sachet of cleaning concentrate for use with the spray bottle.

 

The Window Vac is not dissimilar to a handheld vacuum cleaner and it’s surprisingly lightweight – officially it’s 600 g. The two wiper blades clip in and out at the top, there’s a charging port at the bottom, wastewater bottle on the underside and the Vac is designed to sit on its end when not in use. There’s an push on/off button on the handle with an LED which goes solid green when on. The Max line on the water bottle lets you know when it’s time to pour the sucked-up water out by lift out the plug in the top of the bottle. It is possible to remove the top section of the Vac completely, which is handy when you accidentally suck up something a bit larger than usual, such as a leaf.

Looking at the power adaptor, it’s a relatively small unit, sticking out about 6 cm from the wall but with very little height or thickness – it won’t obstruct neighbouring sockets at all. The cable ends in a neat plug which slots into the bottom of the handle. A matching slot and groove stops the connector being put in the wrong way round. Charging from flat is slow, taking several hours – 185 minutes! I found the best approach was to be disciplined and fully charge the Window Vac before putting it away, meaning that vacuum was ready for the next cleaning session.

Before we get to the performance of the Window Vac, I have to give a big thumbs up to the spray bottle and cloth attachment. I don’t know if Kärcher came up with this idea but whoever did, it’s brilliant. Simply, it means that you can spray cleaning solution onto a window (or other surface) and then wipe the liquid over the window with the cloth using just one hand. There’s no squirting-putting-down-picking-up-wiping. It’s excellent and with the spray bottle in one hand and the Window Vac in the other, you’re a window cleaning machine!

So…what’s the Window Vac like in action? I tried it in four scenarios – windows, mirrors, roof windows (Velux) and a shower cubicle. For those who prefer video, here’s my review on YouTube.

For GNC readers, each scenario provided slightly different challenges and associated benefits, and the Kärcher acquitted itself well. For me, the overall big benefit was not the dry, clean and sparkling finish, but that there was no dripping water on the floor or hands getting cold and wet. It’s the package of spray bottle with cloth and Window Vac that is the winning combination. Let’s look in turn at each scenario. By the way, the Window Vac makes very little noise.

Mirrors are easily cleaned with the Window Vac. Typically not really dirty anyway, but quick squirt with glass cleaner and then run over the mirror with the Vac. Gets the liquid off the mirror faster than kitchen towel and less rubbing.

Standard windows. Big benefit over using a squeegee is that the water goes into the Kärcher Vac rather than over your hands and you do get a really good streak-free finish. Obviously it doesn’t clean round the edges of the window frames to get rid of spider webs, so I found the best approach was to go round the window frames with the bucket and sponge first, and then do the window with the Window Vac. In terms of battery life, I cleaned three glass doors and eight windows without any trouble. The specs say 35 minutes, 105 m² or 35 windows.

Roof windows are where the Window Vac really shines. The big problem with Veluxes and similar is that while the window rotates to allow cleaning from the inside, all the muck, dirty and water falls into the room. Normally cleaning is a big hassle with dust sheets but with the Vac, the grubby water gets vacuumed up without hitting the floor. This is a big win for me.

Shower cubicle. Technically the Kärcher worked fine, sucking up the water on the shower cubicle walls and glass door but the value was limited – you’re not worried about water on the floor or streak-free tiles and the Vac needs to be to hand. Squeegee wins in this scenario.

There is one final scenario that didn’t make into the video and only became apparent after recent storms. The Kärcher Window Vac is really good for clearing rainwater off garden trampolines. It sucks up the surface water quickly so that the trampoline can be towelled dry and it’s back to bouncing for the children. Result!

Overall, I’m quite pleased with Kärcher 10 Year Window Vac Anniversary Edition. It makes cleaning windows much easier and is great for roof windows. I have to say that it’s not something I would have thought of buying and it’s not an impulse buy with a list price of £99. However, you can easily find it reduced and it’s currently only £49.99 at several online retailers, including Kärcher, which makes it much more reasonable.

Disclosure: I paid the current sale price for the Window Vac as part of The Insiders UK Kärcher campaign.


Kärcher FC5 Hard Floor Cleaner Review



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.


Fluff, The Silent Killer



Processor and HeatsinkFluff can be a PC killer as I recently discovered, but the solution to the problem is straightforward.

As a true geek, I built my own PC, but it’s no speed demon with a mid-range quad-core processor. However, I’d been suffering from intermittent PC shutdowns that would always happen when I was at the PC and never when the PCs was on but not in use. It was very irritating because you’d be right in the middle of something and then you’d be dumped out. I put it down to buggy software.

Last week I started to rip a few DVDs for tablet viewing and every time the PC would shutdown within about 30 seconds of starting the file conversion. At this point I began to think that the processor might be overheating, forcing a shutdown before it was damaged. Upon opening the case, nothing looked particularly out of the ordinary; there was a bit of fluff but nothing you’d think of as being a problem. It was only when I looked more closely at the heat sink on the CPU that I saw many of the spaces between the thermal vanes were clogged with fluff.

Out with the vacuum cleaner and a good hoovering later, I powered the PC on and started a fresh rip. This time the PC didn’t shutdown and I was able to rip solidly for at least an hour without any shutdowns. Problem solved!

Tip of the Day – if you are experiencing intermittent crashes or shutdowns, open your PC and give your CPU’s heatsink and fan a clean with the vacuum cleaner.

And if any Americans out there are wondering what “fluff” is, I believe that you know it as “lint”.

Heatsink and fan picture courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com.


Touchscreen Kleen Review



Fingerprints are the bane of modern life. You’ve got your beautiful new tablet, you show it to your friends and before you can say, “oleic acid”, there’s a horde of greasy smudges all over the screen. Aaargh!!!

Here at Geek News Central we’ve seen several solutions to this problem, from carbon-based wipes to fashion self-cling pads. Touchscreen Kleen adds to the portfolio: it’s a special-formulated spray combined with a microfibre cloth.

TouchscreenKleen Package

It’s pretty simply to use….turn off the screen, squirt some cleaning solution onto the microfibre cloth and polish the screen with the cloth. Job done.
And it really is that easy. I cleaned tablets, smartphones, LCD monitors and they all came up looking like new, completely smudge free. Very impressed.

The microfibre cloth is washable so if you have to clean a really dirty monitor screen, the grubby cloth can be washed before the next use.

Touchscreen Kleen is available in two sizes, 15 ml and 50 ml, currently on special offer at £3.99 and £5.99 respectively in the online store.

Disclosure – Touchscreen Kleen was provided for review by Screen-Kleen Ltd.


Screen Cleaning with Stickems at The Gadget Show



Keep Calm and Drink Tea StickemIf you have a smartphone, tablet or other fingerprint magnet, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve also got something to clean your screen, whether it’s a microfibre cloth or carbon-based wiper. However, these all suffer from the same problem….you never have it when you want it. Stickems solve this problem by sticking to the back of your phone or tablet, ready for use at anytime.

Coming in a good range of sizes and patterns, Stickems have ultra fine microfibre cloth on one side to clean the screen of dust, fingerprints, ear smudges and make-up, with a self-cling backing on the other side. The Stickem simply peels off for use and sticks back on when done. Prices range from £2.99 to £4.99.

I caught up with Alex from Stickems at The Gadget Show Live and he told me more. I suspect he hasn’t actually wiped 10,000 times and I don’t think there’s really a guarantee….


Keep Your Tablet Clear with the Lenspen SideKick



Lenspen LogoLenspen have a long history of products in the photography market and they’ve brought their expertise of lens cleaning to the mobile gadget space. Their client list reads like a who’s who of the photography market with Nikon, Canon and Sony all producing OEM-branded version of Lenspen’s lens cleaning tools. Todd and Don chat with Peter from Lenspen to get an update on the latest products.

Last year, Lenspen introduced the first SideKick and since then the product line has been expanded with new colours and new packaging. The SideKick is a matchbox-sized sprung-loaded carbon pad that is wiped over the screen and completely removes fingerprints from tablet and smartphone screens. Using a carbon-based technology, the SideKick absorbs oils without any abrasion leaving a perfectly cleaning screen. It then closes up to keep all the carbon inside and one cartridge will do 300-400 cleanings before needing to be replaced. The SideKick is available online and in retail stores from $14.99 for a single SideKick. Other package combinations are available.

Lenspen also has specific cleaning products for LCD monitors and screens, such as the Laptop-Pro, that removes both dust and fingerprints.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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The Lenspen Sidekick



Jeffery Powers and Esbjorn Larsen interviewed Peter Meurrens, VP of Operations for Lenspen, about the Lenspen Sidekick and the Laptop Pro. Do you remember your grandmother using a newspaper to clean a mirror. The reason that worked is because the print on newspapers contains carbon. Carbon absorbs the fingerprint oil .

Lenspen took this concept and created the Lenspen Sidekick. The tip on the Sidekick is made of carbon and when you rub it across the tablet screen it collects the oil from the screen. When you close the unit back up it refills the tip with carbon. There are about 150 cleanings per unit and will last for years when not in use.

He also showed off an improved version of the Lenspen Laptop Pro. This application can clean your entire laptop from the keyboard to the screen. In the center of the application there are two knobs. Slide the one knob forward and the hard brush comes out. You use it to clean the keyboard both on top and underneath the keys, Pull it back and then pull the other knob forward and you have the soft moleskin brush which will remove the dust from the monitor. The cap contains a carbon tip you can use to clean fingerprints from your monitor.

The Sidekick will be available in March at various on-line and local retailers. At this time they are looking at selling the Sidekick plus a supply of cleaning tips for $19.95 The Sidekick only will be available for around $9.95 and blades only for $14.95. The Sidekick uses no chemicals or liquids and because carbon is a natural product and last a long time the Sidekick is very green.  Both Jeffery and Esbjorn really liked this product and thought it was one of the best things they saw at CES 2011.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.
Interview by Esbjorn Larsen of MrNetCast.com.

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