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When my darling husband (and sometime housework helper) broke the second Flash mop in a row I knew I needed to look for another solution for keeping the laminate floor and tiling in my house clean. I'd read a few positive reviews of steam mops but wasn't sure whether this chemical-free method of cleaning would be for me and, given the amount I'd already spent on mops and cleaning solution only to find they were landfill, I wasn't prepared to make a huge investment.
A small amount of research and I found the Beldray Steam Mop on offer from Robert Dyas for what seemed like a reasonable £29.99; though the site's advertised amount of £99.99 rrp seems to be unlikely as far as I can see, the mop being available elsewhere for around the £40-50 mark. Prior to purchase I couldn't unfortunately find any reviews for the mop which would have been helpful. Having bought and used it for a while now I'm pleased to report that it's a good buy, even though it has a few small things that could be improved about it, the bottom line is that it cleans well, easily and hygienically.
What you get:
The Beldray steam mop comes in a surprisingly small box ready for assembly, with two microfibre mop cloths, an attachment for cleaning carpets (more of which later on), a generous 5 metre power cord for heating up the 400ml water tank and a measuring cup and funnel for filling up said water reserve. It also has the world's worst instructions which made assembling the handle (in two parts) onto the unit far harder than it actually had to be and which failed to explain how to activate the steam. This made set up a bewildering and frustrating experience, though once we had worked everything out things got a lot more positive. The whole mop is a rather retro seventies orange and white - you can see more pictures on the robert dyas website, link at the end of this review. It's not particularly attractive but then it is only a mop so I wasn't expecting it to win any style awards!
Using the mop:
The mop is, by measurements, about 115cm long once assembled. To use the mop you attach one of the microfibre cloths to the head (easily done as they attach via velcro) and plug it in. It is 1500W so only takes about 30 seconds, as billed by the manufacturer, to heat up, and then you are good to go. The mop is activated by pushing down on the head, there's no button to press on the handle or anything, though a small light within the tank does show you that the unit is on. This is a positive as as you are dealing with hot steam a little care does need to be taken. I like the fact that you can't make the mop steam without actively pushing down on it, though working this out was a little traumatic when I first used it.
Now that I know what I'm doing, I find the mop fantastic to use. It's light and glides easily around the floor and seems to have no problem producing enough steam to lift dirt effectively from the floor. I have found that my tiled kitchen floor is cleaner by far than it was before with my old system. The mop head, 25cm by 16cm approx, again by my measurements, could do with being a bit bigger for quicker cleaning, but on the plus side it does pick up dirt well and lock it into the pad. The pads are easily cleaned in the washing machine or can be hand washed. They seem to be long lasting in my experience, though you can buy replacement ones. In use the mop is a little noisy - in effect you are pushing around a boiling kettle I suppose, but the water goes a long way and I find that my floors dry very quickly, a definite plus when you are as pressed for cleaning time as I am. A nice touch is that there is a hook on the handle for the cord which keeps it safely out of steam range. Though this appliance does involve hot steam it seems safe to use in my experience.
Though I am really pleased with how well this cleans and disinfects my floors there are a few things, in addition to the abysmal instructions, that I think could have been better with this mop. Firstly I would have liked the handle to come in one piece. Though it is metal and has broken yet - and I've even let the mop-breaker use it, somehow it doesn't feel that solid. The plastic end part of the handle too continues this feel, it's not got a grip on it at all and it just feels cheaply made. I can sort of forgive this as the mop does heat well and quickly and, as I've already explained, performs its primary purpose really well. I can not forgive though the very poor "carpet attachment" essentially a round piece of black plastic to put round the mop head so that you can (allegedly) steam clean carpets. I've found, in practice, that this attachment is virtually impossible to attach and prone to falling off. When I have used the mop on my carpets I've not found that it cleaned, though I assume it may have annihilated the dust mites it's seemed a pretty pointless use of my time in all honesty. I think therefore that this mop is best used for wooden, tiled and vinyl floors.
On balance I would recommend this mop as it does clean better than any other mop I have used. I am a total convert to steam mops, even though when I used it first it seemed weird not to be leaving my floor smelling of detergent, but I really can see the difference on my floors and also the mop has practically paid for itself in cleaning product and Flash replacement mop heads not bought already. I am a bit between awarding the mop 3 or 4 stars however as I do think it is rather poorly built and could be made more sturdy and durable at a minimum cost. That said it hasn't broken - yet - and has had a lot of use so maybe the mop is better made than it appears to be, though to say that it has any function at cleaning carpet is pure optimism in my opinion.
At the price I paid though it's a good buy, though I wouldn't want to pay any more for it in all honesty. Overall then, recommended, just be aware that your first use of it may be a bit frustrating but hopefully like me you will grow to, if not love it, be glad that you own it.