Having never used a steam mop before, it was with no small amount of trepidation that I opened the box containing the Handheld Steam Buster. Would this little machine revolutionise cleaning and make the perpetually scruffy home of three rampant cats, two working adults and one grubby toddler into a bastion of cleanliness?
Probably not, after all it still requires a certain amount of time and elbow grease to make the house clean. However it does make sterilising a breeze and cut down on the use (and therefore cost) of chemicals and disposable wipes or germ harbouring cloths and sponges.
An instruction manual contained in the box provides all the necessary information to get started, with enough warnings to terrify the life out of those of nervous disposition. It reminds you repeatedly about the importance of wearing sturdy shoes before you undertake any steam work, apparently the slippers you wear to protect the carpets are absolutely unacceptable. Though steel toe caps might be overkill.
One thing it lacks is information about technique, or directions to anywhere online where you can watch helpfully prepared videos about exactly how you’re meant to go about using your steamy new friend to make your house sparkle. A bit of trial and error teaches a lot, but perhaps there’s a missed opportunity there for Black and Decker to both educate and try to sell add-ons.
Anyway, after a flip though the instructions I unpack the Steam Buster and all the extras that come with it. By the time I’ve finished pulling all the protective wraps off and dropping them back into the box, it looks as full as before I started.
The Steam Buster itself feels well made. It’s weighty enough in hand to be substantial, but not heavy enough when filled with water to be unwieldy. The power cable is long enough to easily stretch across the widest room, into the room next door and possibly the room beyond that. When not in use, the cable wraps neatly around the cleaner and is held in place with a thoughtful clip near the plug end.
The power button I continue to have a few problems with. Rubberised, it’s presumably that way to make sure the inside of the unit remains water tight. I find it sometimes takes me a couple of tries to get the right pressure and angle to turn the device on or off. A brief delay between button and light means sometimes I end up pressing again unnecessarily and turning the device on and off in quick succession.
Filling the Steam Buster with water is easy thanks to the handy pouring cup with max fill line provided. I’ve not had to refill it yet when cleaning a room, which either means the capacity is more than adequate or I’m not doing enough cleaning. Just make sure to stand it vertically when filling it up, as trying to do it horizontal causes a minor flood towards the end.
I was incredibly impressed at how quickly the Steam Buster was ready to use. Once successfully turned on, the tank glows bright red to inform you that it’s currently heating. When it turns blue, then it’s ready to go. I was all prepared to stand around, check my phone, pick at my nails and generally hover in the vicinity for several minutes while this took place, but the colour had changed before I’d even decided which mindless activity to pursue.
The Steam Buster comes with a wide variety of attachments to use in the battle against dirt, and even a useful little bag to keep them in. A hose attachment means that getting into awkward corners is no problem. Everything is relatively easy to connect and disconnect, though you need to figure out on each occasion whether you’re clicking them on and off with the buttons or twisting to click into place. Not too difficult to fathom.
There are three different brush attachments, which are colour coded for different specified areas. Not that I can remember which colour was for which, so it might have been useful to have the location specifically stated on the brush head. Although I’m not sure whether it makes any difference having separate brushes once I throw them all back into the bag together at the end!
I’ve yet to have much success with the brushes, I tended to find they just smeared the mess around a bit. I suppose they might be more useful on dirt that needs a good scrub to get it to come free, but unfortunately (or fortunately?) there wasn’t any to be found in the areas I was cleaning. I had better success just using the pressure jet and then chasing it around with a microfiber cloth.
The squeegee attachment made short work of my shower cubicle and left the tiles squeaky clean. It didn’t fare quite so well against the stainless steel splash back in the kitchen, but as that was my first endeavour it could have been my technique that failed. Having only recently moved into a newly built house, the grouting didn’t need any specific attention. However there is a specially designed brush for when it does.
A heavier duty brush and scraper also forms part of the collection. I haven’t used it yet, but once the weather improves I have every intention of using it to declare war against the BBQ grill. That thing has been annoying me for years as it doesn’t fit in the sink to be given a proper scrub or into the dishwasher to be blasted there. But with the help of the Steam Buster, hygiene may yet be restored.
One notable attachment the Steam Buster doesn’t have is a microfiber pad for cleaning the floor or giving surfaces a once over. Even though it isn’t really a floor mop, an attachment would have been useful to use it with the hose for hard to reach areas under bits of furniture where a floor mop might not fit. The same attachment might have been useful for giving the kitchen work surfaces a bacteria destroying steam clean after they’ve been wiped down.
There also doesn’t seem to be a specific attachment for tackling fabric, which is a shame as my sofa could certainly do with some attention. Although it’s probably possible to use one of the brushes or the steam jet, which I might someday attempt.
I’ve had a brief look around online and at time of writing it doesn’t seem like it’s possible to acquire the mop attachment as is used in the Deluxe 2 in 1 Mop to adapt the Steam Buster to handle floors as well. A bit of a shame, as that would be something I’d be tempted to acquire.
Also missing is a convenient wall mounted stand/holder with a hook underneath for hanging the bag of attachments. That would have been quite handy to have to store the cleaner either in the utility room or inside a cupboard, out of the reach of sticky little fingers. But then I suppose it can just sit neatly on a shelf!
Overall, the Black and Decker Handheld Steam Buster is an impressive piece of kit. Retailing at around £99, it feels like it is worth that amount of money. It’s solid and does the job well, the only mark down I’m giving it is because of the lack of microfiber pad, which I feel would have been very useful in several of the areas I was cleaning.
N.B. I was picked by MNHQ to review this product, which I received for free. This review is in my own words and reflects my true opinion.