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When it comes to cleaning wet floors I've tried the alternatives; noisy large Vax washer uprights that take ages to set up and then have to wash out, to traditional mops that promise much and reveal little dirt. Up until now I've always relied upon Hometek's Elite and Deluxe steam mops even though they aren't the best made, I find they do their job for hygienic cleaning. However I've not been able to find the Elite product for sometime now and I needed to purchase a steam mop as the traditional mop I was used to using kept disintegrating every couple of months. Then I happened to see this product, the Team Delta Head Steam Mop SHST78Y at my local BN store in Edinburgh and at a cost of £29-99 which is half the price than Hometek's Elite steam mop at £59-99 I initially thought that the whole product on feature and German name alone could cut it. As a company Efbe-Schott turns out to be German in name, but their product ranges of kitchen and vacuum appliances are little known in the UK due perhaps to the fact that most are badge engineered from Morphy Richards and other budget brand companies.
** Assembly **
Out of the flat pack box (which has a handy plastic carry handle) I was pleased to find two replacement machine washable microfibre cloths, a carpet glider attachment and the long, narrow body of the Team mop. With three slotted in pipes via pip-locks and a looped handle, all the parts slip in easily and quickly for full assembly procedures. A black and white user manual is included and over the Hometek Steam mop, the Team steam mop is quite different from initial first time use. For a start it doesn't feel particularly well made, being flimsy in some areas despite the bright yellow colouring and has an L shaped head or "Delta," head as the company put it in black. It weighs around 1.5 kg and should be easy to handle given its looped handle at the top.
** General Design **
For a start the largest viewable difference over Hometek's Steam mop is that this steam mop has a narrow and thin profile and a large 580ml capacity, which in theory means less filling up in use whilst also being easier to judge because its clear and grey tinted than Hometek's Elite. There is also a filler cup supplied and filling is easy if not slightly compromised by the angle of the tank filler to the side of the tank. At least for the moment the water tank cap seems to be leak free whilst the motor has a rating of 840 watts, which is a lot lower than Hometek and around 65 to 80° Fahrenheit of heat is generated which is substantially lower than Hometek's higher powered unit. Another distinct surprise is that this steam mop has a steam dispersal control dial and when the mop is filled with water, the steam mop has to be switched off with the dial set at "off." The user manual warns points this out very clearly. Failure to do this and leaving the steam mop in the "open" position means water will fall out of the bottom of the steam mop, because the steam generator doesn't have enough time to heat up the water and turn it into dry steam. It also means that in use when switched on, I have to twist the control dial so that steam comes out. Two LED lights retained in a single "dot" show up in green and red. This is what happens when you pay half the price of Hometek's steam mop; where other steam mops may spread out steam the moment it is switched on, the Team steam mop has to be done manually - and to be honest it's a feature I'm not all that happy with. Upon the handle and main bottom part of the pipe near the tank, there is a cord wrap where the top hook can be twisted upwards and downwards to allow easy use of the 5 metre cord. I do wish Hometek would consider something similar even though the Team mop reeks of cheap plastic quality, with obvious seams on the water tank and the bottom clip being in a fixed position. There is a handy cord hook at the top of the handle where I found the cord in its excess state to be better compacted by being stuck in at the top. Obviously in bigger kitchens etc the cord can be allowed to trail.
** Performance & Downsides **
The first time I used the Team Steam mop I was instantly disappointed and it all comes down to the cloths that this steam mop has to use. Because of the design of the Delta head, the microfibre cloths are likewise designed to fit, but unlike Hometek where velcro patches are installed, the Team Steam mop uses a silly drawstring method to cheaply tighten the cloth around the Delta head. Now in theory it should mean that once the mop is strung on tightly no problems should occur. The user manual also states that the steam mop should be pulled in reverse rather than forwards and it's no wonder why this strange suggestion is given. After waiting less than a minute for the steam to generate I like the fact that the Team steam mop is extremely quiet and quick to boil. It surges with steam beautifully but that's where the good points end. When placed on my flat kitchen floor, the steam started to disperse easily out of the microfibre cloth but when the steam mop was made to push forwards, the tight microfibre cloth at the front came off and doubled over itself with the back of the cloth still attached. This meant I had to switch the mop off; let it cool down, check to see if the floor was okay since the "bare" perforations of the main floor head had hit the floor, lift the mop up onto my work tops, undo the hot PVC plastic holder to loosen the string, prise the microfibre cover off and start again.
** More Downsides **
Upon using the suggested method from the user manual, the Team Steam mop faired a bit better but it takes longer to use than Hometek's Elite steam mop. Their suggested method is that you start cleaning at one end of the floor pulling the steam upright towards you. Starting at one end of the kitchen floor and pulling the mop towards me ensured the cloth stayed on but a further problem incurs because of the flip nature of the actual Delta head. Because the handle can be swung down and the floor head naturally pivots downwards onto the floor, the Delta head will also flip upwards when the steam mop is pulled towards you! Despite the handle being able to fall to the floor, the Delta head doesn't remain flat to the floor. What a waste of time this product is turning out to be and time literally is being wasted as I find it takes twice the time to pull this mop slowly to ensure the cloth doesn't come off and then to ensure the Delta head doesn't flip up. All the while the Team steam mop leaves floors wet initially although the floor does dry up quickly; the Hometek Elite mop is different in this respect as dry steam doesn't allow the mop heads to be come soggy and saturated in water. Problems are also incurred because, with the Team Steam mop although the steam keeps coming out of the floor head, when left alone temporarily you have to remember to keep turning the mop off. With Hometek's Elite, at least you can take advantage of the fact that once the upright handle is put back up, the motor stops the steam from surging. Then there's the actual shape of the Delta head. Designed to fit into right angles and corners, the fixed looped handle is no help at all to steer the two-way Delta head into corners and of course all the time I had to be gentle and slow to ensure the cloth wouldn't come off and have since fitted tight elastic bands to try and fix the mop head to the floor, only for the rubber to snag on Vinyl! Granted the Delta head will fit into a corner but its shape is next to useless compounded by its flipping upward design and those dodgy ill-fitting cloths.
** Other Problems **
After all the effort I put into steaming my kitchen floor I was delighted to find that the white cloth head was extremely dirty. I had had initial doubts about the quality of my previous mop, which only uses water to clean, in the form of the environmentally friendly traditional E-Cloth mop. A further warning in the user manual, which does reveal itself to be true, is that dry dust on the floor has to be vacuumed up before using the Team Steam mop. Otherwise, and as I found out, briefly to dust I may well have missed when dry vacuuming, this steam mop pushes dry dirt around whereas Hometek's Elite microfibre cloths usually allow dry dirt to stick to the cloth. As with Hometek's cloths, the replacement cloths on the Team Steam mop can be machine-washed but avoid using fabric conditioner in your wash at the time, as these will destroy the pickers on the fabric. Replacement cloths are also only available to buy via mail order at a cost of £7-99 each.