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Multi-function devices always seem such a good idea – but is it a case of ‘jack-of-all-trades…’? It’s big and it’s orange, it must be a Vax 3-in-1.
What is this 3-in-1 business then? Simply put, this machine will handle wet or dry vacuuming and also serves as a carpet cleaner. Since most of us shampoo our carpets infrequently (let’s be honest), having a dedicated cleaner is really dead money. This is why rental of carpet cleaners is still a thriving business (on the other hand, when was the last time anyone rented a vacuum by the day?). Combining the function with a vacuum cleaner means that we can have the shampooing features available when needed without filling up the spare room with unused machinery!
What’s it like? ~~~~~~~~~~~~
The 6131 follows the traditional pattern for Vax machines – big and orange. VIOLENTLY orange, you won’t be losing sight of this beast any time soon. This is what Vax term a canister cleaner which means it is shaped like a dustbin on wheels (rather than the more common upright or cylinder designs). It houses the common attachments on board (crevice cleaner, upholstery brush etc) which always makes it more convenient and therefore more likely that the tools will get used.
This is not a light machine. The empty weight is over 8kg so unless you are into bodybuilding you probably won’t want to carry it too far. Luckily it rolls very easily on its wheels. The mains cable is a generous 7.5m (about 25 feet for we more mature readers) so you should be able to reach most of your home without too much problem.
Overall the build quality is excellent. The extension tubes are of stainless steel which always seems reassuring (not sure why though…).
But does it suck? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Used as a standard ‘dry’ vacuum the 6131 has a powerful suction, as one would expect from the 1300W motor. In common with all canister style cleaners that I have used it is on the noisy side. I’m not sure why they have to be so much more noisy than upright or cylinder cleaners, maybe it’s just to show how macho and aggressive they are. This machine uses bags when dry vacuuming. A single paper bag is supplied (a bit mean – for this price they might throw in a few), replacements can be obtained from stockists or direct from Vax (£5.99 gets you 7 at the moment). You can also buy a cloth bag if you want to cut down on waste and can live with the inevitable mess that is caused when emptying the bag (I can’t – chop down some more trees to make my life easier).
It works as well as our earlier cylinder machines on carpet but possibly a little less well than our upright (beats as it sweeps as it cleans- just can’t forget those ads…).
In ‘wet’ mode it sucks so quickly that the container is full almost before you begin. Don’t worry, it cuts out automatically when full! I must confess that I have only used this function to actually clean the machine itself. It is nice to know, however, that when the washing machine next decides to empty itself on the floor I won’t be manning the mop all day. As Vax point out, you can also use this to unblock sinks – if I ever try this I let you know how well that works!
Shampoo, Shampoo!! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Finally we reach the bit that we have been waiting for, shampooing. Since there are cheaper wet/dry vacuums the key is how well this machine performs as a carpet cleaner. Firstly’ I should explain how it works. When shampooing there is a water reservoir that fits into the top of the drum (replacing the normal dry filter). This is filled with warm water and cleaning solution. An extra pipe clips to the outside of the vacuum hose and extension tubes and connects to the special transparent cleaner head. The clean water is sprayed from the head and sucked back up into the main part of the cleaner body. Sounds easy enough, so let’s try it…
The makers recommend that you work on a 2m x 2m square at any one time. First, you work over the area with the water spray switched on and then with it off (to dry the surface). This works well and the transparent head allows you the satisfaction of seeing lots of dirty water being sucked up. It also gives you an idea of when to stop sucking – when no more water is being picked up! A container of water is about enough to tackle an average sized room – unless you have a more palatial home than me!
I am not a great fan of shampooing carpets. It always seems like a lot of work when the carpets are perfectly clean anyway. Or that is what I thought until we have run the Vax around the house. The bucketsful of mud that we created were a little disturbing – particularly as most of the carpets are relatively new. Maybe my wife was right after all…
So in conclusion… ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It works well, if noisily. The construction is good and it saves having a carpet cleaner living full time in the spare room. The only downside is the fiddling around with pipes and clips to change the function to shampooing. On the other hand, it’s not something you do every day. On the whole, recommended by this household.