Here's the Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix review in a short sentence: this upright floor cleaner is a stunningly good way to get your hard floors – from sealed wood to tiles – clean and germ-free.
There’s no getting away from it, hard floors need a good cleaning now and again, not just to make them look speckless but also to kill bacteria and even some viruses. Now, you could reach for a mob and a bucket of water, perhaps with some kind of chemical solution mixed in. Nothing wrong with that. A humble mop generally works well at cleaning a hard floor even if it does leave a voluminous streak of water in its wake.
However, mopping does require a lot of back and forth elbow grease plus visits back to the basket to squeeze out the dirty water which then mixes with the clean water, which you then smear back all over the floor. By the time you’ve finished, chances are the last section of flooring would resemble a microscopic slide from Porton Down. Yes, chemicals would most probably kill the majority of bacteria and viruses, but what if you have a toddler or a pet who is likely to lick the floor from time to time?
What you need is steam, baby, steam. We’re talking extremely hot wet, clinically clean stuff – ie boiled water – that annihilates ingrained dirt and makes bacteria and viruses run for their dodgy little lives. I’ve used two main methods of mopping in the past – a mop and bucket which is effective but messy, dirty, cumbersome, old fashioned and a pain in the butt, and a robot mop which is futuristic and effort free but costly and ultimately not 100% reliable.
Truth is I didn’t expect to get on with the Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Premium because I’d used one of those pull-along steam cleaners in the past and I’m not a fan of things I have to pull around the home. The SC3 took just five minutes to convert me fully to steam. It's the best steam cleaner I've used, and if you have the patience to continue, I’ll be more than happy to tell you why.
The Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Premium: price and availability
The Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Premium is widely available in the UK from Amazon (opens in new tab) , the Kärcher (opens in new tab) store and Tool Station (opens in new tab). We've reviewed the Premium model of the SC3 Upright EasyFix here. That has an RRP of £210, but you could opt for the non-Premium model (opens in new tab), which is £200. As you can tell from the mere £10 price gap, there are not a lot of differences between the two models. In fact as far as we can see, the differences are that the Premium one is white and comes with two soft microfibre floor cloths plus an abrasive one for tiling and tougher stains. The standard SC3 Upright, meanwhile, is yellow and only comes with one soft cloth.
Living in the USA? Your best bet is the pull-along equivalent – the Kärcher SC 3 EasyFix Steam Cleaner – which you can snap up at Walmart (opens in new tab) and Amazon (opens in new tab) for around $200.
What’s so good about steam?
Steam is as environment friendly as it gets since no chemicals are involved – just tap water. According to Kärcher, the SC3 is capable of removing ’99.999% of enveloped viruses and killing 99.99% of common household bacteria.’ Not only that but steam is extremely effective at removing almost every stain known to man, even those that have been on the floor for months. Moreover, since the steam is constantly applied to the floor surface – at least for as long as you have your finger on the trigger – there is less chance of dirty water being distributed all over the floor.
What type of flooring is best for steam?
It’s true to say that steam isn’t suitable for older wooden floors, especially flooring with gaps between the slats, and certainly if it isn't sealed. This is because the unprotected area of wood beneath the surface may become damp and the wood could swell, causing damage and an expensive bill. Moreover, steam is likely to remove the protective sheen on some wooden flooring.
Thankfully the Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Premium has a special wooden floor mode which only dispenses a small amount of steam. However I would still advise caution if you’re concerned about damaging the floor and perhaps scoot over it without spending too much time in one area.
Where steam really excels is on linoleum, stone, tiling and PVC. On these types of surfaces you can reach for the full monty mode which will give the surface an exceptionally deep clean that will also be clinically free from practically all microbes, including most viruses.
Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Premium review: Design and features
This writer hasn’t reviewed a duff Kärcher product to date. Whether it’s lawnmowers like the sterling LMO 18-33, a window cleaner like the surprisingly handy WV 6 Premium or a pressure washer like the fantastic K4 Full Control, its products are innovative, well designed, robustly built and not excessively expensive. Much like this praiseworthy upright steam cleaner.
The SC3 weighs 3.1kgs so it does feel quite heavy in the hand and when carrying up a flight of stairs. It also feels pretty stiff when pushing and pulling but this is to be expected given the size of the 13-inch (33cm) wet pad that’s attached to its base. Speaking of which, I love the way you can remove the dirty reusable floor pad by placing a foot on the pad’s clearly labelled tab and lifting the machine to release it from the velcro-style fitting. You can fit a pad in much the same way, only in reverse. Incidentally, the SC3 comes with three pads (one with a course finish for deeper cleaning), plus a plastic carpet glider for refreshing short pile carpets.
According to Kärcher, a single load of its 0.5-litre water tank is good for about 60 square metres of flooring. I used it on a large kitchen floor and three bathrooms and it had plenty of water to spare.
In order to prevent buildup of calcium, the SC3 also ships with a descaling filter which can be programmed to suit the water in your area by pressing the reset button. It took about 30 seconds to reach optimum temperature at which point the fore-mounted LED light turned from red to green, announcing its readiness to give the floor a good seeing to.
The Kärcher SC3 EasyFix Premium is suitable for a variety of sealed hard floors such as linoleum, PVC, stone, tile, parquet, laminate and cork, as well as short pile carpets. It features three predefined floor settings – tiles/stone, carpet and wood. The tile/stone setting provides full steam ahead for stone, linoleum and other robust surfaces. In this setting the unit puffs like a locomotive and you can feel the heat near your feet. The carpet setting reduces the steam somewhat so that it gently refreshes tired, smelly carpet, and the wood setting provides an almost indiscernible puff of occasional steam to prevent over saturating the wood and ruining it. I used this setting on some hard wood flooring and had no issues, though I was cautious enough to not spend too much time in one area.
The SC3 comes with seven metres of cable which is easily wrapped around the provided couplings. Another cool thing is that the top coupling has a groove in it to hold the cable up high so it doesn’t slip off and get in the way when you’re giving it some.
Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Premium review: Performance
I tested the SC3 on a small section of solid wood flooring but even on its lowest steam setting I was mindful of causing any damage, so I just did a few once-over sweeps. Although I couldn’t visibly see the results, the pad I’d just put on looked pretty dirty so I know it did something. However I did notice the floor had lost a bit of its sheen so it may need another gentle polish.
Where the SC3 really excelled was when I tested it on the bathroom’s linoleum floor. This was a floor that I hadn’t really got round to mopping since moving in a few months ago. Its colour tone was a sort of faint yellow to go with the hideous magnolia walls. But after a good session with the SC3, the floor completely changed colour to a more whiteish tone. Frankly I was gobsmacked and at first thought the steam had somehow affected the surface. It hadn’t – the floor was clearly in a right old state before the Kärcher went to work. I even remember seeing a few felt-tip pen type stains on the floor too, but they’ve since disappeared.
I honestly don’t believe a standard mop would have done as well. Yes, the SC3 feels stiff to push and pull – more so on lino – but it’s still less hassle than a mop and bucket. And far less messy, too, because it only leaves a really thin film of water behind which dries quickly.
I should add that I’ve read a review by someone who used a different Kärcher model on his shiny tiles and he said it left smears all over the place. I can’t vouch for that because I don’t have any tiled flooring. But I can vouch that it worked exceptionally well on both stone flooring and linoleum.
Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Premium review: Verdict
If you have around £160 knocking about and are looking for a much better alternative to a mop and bucket, I wholeheartedly recommend the Kärcher SC3 Upright EasyFix Premium for ease of use, efficiency and, above, effectiveness. It’s small enough to store in a cupboard, a doddle to set up and it genuinely makes a positive impression on most floor types.