Despite reservations about the quality and power of its motor and battery, we're impressed with the Turbo Scrub.
Price: $80 including postage
Have you ever spent an afternoon cleaning your bathroom and thought life would be so much easier if only you had a motorised scrubbing brush with a metre-long handle? Neither had we. But as soon as we saw an infomercial for the Turbo Scrub 360, our colleagues at Consumer NZ had to give it a whirl.
Marketed as a catch-all solution for your cleaning woes, this "cordless rechargeable power scrubber" resembles a large toilet brush with a spinning, battery-powered cleaning head. The ad's narrator claims the "powerful rotating action" can tackle "practically any mess on any surface", as happy homeowners are shown turbo-scrubbing grimy tiles, ovens, outdoor furniture, and even mag wheels.
Available direct from their website, Brand Developers backs it with a 30-day money back guarantee, along with a "full 12-month product warranty" – the least you could expect under the Australian Consumer Law.
For $60 you get 3 brushes: a wide general-purpose head, a narrow heavy-duty brush, and a corner-cleaning attachment. It comes with an extension wand, which almost doubles the unit's length (from 630mm to 1120mm).
We were disappointed to find the Turbo Scrub 360 is powered by a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery. Compared to the lithium-ion tech now powering most cordless gadgets in the home, NiMH batteries are bigger, heavier and slower to recharge.
Its motor also isn't much to write home about. While it rotates at a brisk 300rpm, the cheap brushed (universal) DC motor didn't provide enough torque to keep the head from slowing considerably when we pressed the brush against a hard surface. Since this release, there has been a deluxe upgrade that increases the rpm to 430.
The first part of our assessment looked at the Turbo Scrub's raw cleaning power. To simulate several years of bathroom neglect, we created an artificial soap scum comprising synthetic human body oil, carbon black, calcium chloride and dissolved soap. The resulting paste is then baked onto a dozen small white tiles. Once the tiles dried and the scum hardened, we went flat-tack at the tiles with a sponge and Ajax Professional Power Cleaner. On average, it took a little over a minute to clean a tile.
We then swapped the sponge for the Turbo Scrub. We were impressed as the powered brush produced a spotless tile in half the time. The handle needed to be pressed firmly and moved in small circles over the tile, but it was a much more relaxed process than cleaning with the sponge. Overall, a result that shows the brush significantly improves your cleaning power.
But how does the Turbo Scrub fare in the real world? We found it effective in a moderately neglected acrylic shower cubicle, with the corner attachment especially handy for cutting-in at the lower edges. But the length of the Turbo Scrub – 630mm without the extension wand attached – made it unwieldy in the confined space, and it felt a bit clumsy when cleaning nooks and crannies such as the shower step. Its waterproof head is helpful as you can rinse while you scrub without fear of frying the motor.
The Turbo Scrub came into its own when cleaning a tiled wall, as it's much easier than teetering on your tiptoes with a manual brush where the tiles meet the ceiling. The thick-bristled heavy-duty brush was also good at cleaning stubborn soap scum stains in the bath.
The kitchen yielded similar cleaning results: good scrubbing power, but it was awkward to manoeuvre in tight spots. That said, we found its length handy when cleaning the rangehood's flue.
We measured battery life at an impressive 82 minutes, exceeding the manufacturer's claim of 40 to 60 minutes (though heavy-duty scrubbing will shorten the battery life).
While we found the 3 brushes effective, they'll need to be replaced periodically as they wear out (Brand Developers confirmed replacement brushes are available to order, but haven't yet supplied a price).
How does it scrub up?
It makes cleaning quicker and easier, and is an especially good option if you have difficulty bending down to tackle the lower reaches of your shower or you strain to clean the high corners of your bathroom.
It's also a good bet if you generally find cleaning difficult, as the power head removes much of the effort from scrubbing. But if you rarely find yourself yearning for more scrubbing power or a longer brush, then you can probably live without it.
A deluxe version with a faster motor (430rpm vs 300rpm for the model we tested), 2 speed settings and a claimed 25% longer battery life is available for $90.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.