Two appliances in one
The Bissell Vac & Steam is a gadget designed to vacuum and/or steam hard floors (including sealed wood floors). Could this hybrid cleaner end up saving time and space, or wasting it? We were curious, and put it through a range of steam and vacuum testing regimes.
The Vac & Steam's selling point is that you can use both cleaning functions at the same time. The vacuum collects debris, and the trigger-operated steam mop that sits behind it follows through with a steam clean. We found it easy to use the dual function on a hard floor, but to really see how well each function performed, we assessed the vacuum and steam mop separately.
To put the model through its paces, we spread 100 grams of sand onto a hard floor. The vacuum picked up an impressive 97.3% of debris. However, the cleaning process was cumbersome: vacuuming was very slow as the cleaning head tended to pull some of the sand backwards.
We only tested the Vac & Steam on the hard floors it's designed for, but the instructions say you can also use the vacuum function on low pile carpet if you remove the mop pad tray.
Next up, we tested the steam mop on PVC tiles with various stains. Overall, the Vac & Steam does an OK job. In particular, it's excellent at cleaning soy sauce, and does a good job removing red wine and tomato sauce. Its score was brought down by borderline coffee-removal performance as well as poor handling of mustard and shoe polish stains. One bonus is that it leaves your floor only slightly damp with very little water left behind.
Ease of use
To use the Vac & Steam, fill the water container, switch on the unit and let it heat up. The controls in particular are very easy to use. For steam cleaning, simply choose low or high output, and hold down the hand trigger to produce steam. The vacuum setting can be used either on its own or with the steam function.
Filling the Vac & Steam with water is fairly easy using the supplied beaker, and it can be filled up on the go so it doesn't need to be cooled down between refills. Removing and emptying the dirt tank was also a breeze.
Manoeuvring the mop head wasn't too difficult but still required a bit of effort, as did removing the water tank lid.
The idea of a combined steam mop and vacuum sounds like it'll make life easier, but the rather costly Vac & Steam isn't revolutionary and won't suit every household. The slow vacuum process means that even if you use the steam function simultaneously, you probably won't be saving a huge amount of time. What's more, it's optimised for hard floors, so anyone with carpet in their home is better off with a top-performing, standalone vacuum cleaner. And although the steam mop easily cleaned up some spills, there were some tougher stains that just got the better of it.
On the plus side, it could be an option for space-conscious people in smaller dwellings – so long as they only have hard floors to deal with.