Updated: November 2017
Hoover Steam Vac With Clean Surge - Review and Buying Guide:Testing the Hoover F5914 900 SteamVac:
If you own hardwood floors, you worry about scratches and scrapes. If you have carpeted floors, you worry about stains. No matter the flooring material, there is always cleanup and maintenance involved to keep it looking nice. When it comes to carpets, Hoover has long been a leading name in the industry, especially in the UK where the word "hoover" is synonymous with vacuuming (like the word Kleenex here) -- "Are you going to hoover the family room?"
Normal upright vacuums are great for removing dirt and dust from even thick carpets, but stains are a different matter. To clean stains, you normally need some some of specialty carpet cleaning vacuum, which often include heat and/or steam and specialty carpet cleaning detergents. Hoover, of course, offers a number of specialty carpet cleaning vacuums just for this market niche. Popular models include the SteamVac All Terrain, Steam Vac Dual V, SteamVac Spin Scrub, and the top of the line Hoover Platinum Collection Carpet Cleaner (you can browse the entire collection of Hoover carpet cleaning vacuums here). We'll be looking specifically at the SteamVac F5914 in this review. Out of almost 900 consumer reviews at Amazon, this vacuum rates 4.5 stars out of 5.
Features of the Hoover Steam VacOne thing struck me when I opened and began assembling this vacuum out of the box. It is made pretty much all out of plastic. It seems pretty sturdy, but I guess I will see over time how it holds up. Your first step when you get it is to put it together, as it comes in a number of pieces. You have to attach the handle to the base unit, then the hose holder and tool holder, all of which require a few bolts or screws. It took less than 10 minutes to assemble. Once assembled, there is a hand-grip just above the upper tank that makes it easy to carry around. When you roll it around by the normal handle, it seems like the top half is loose as it bends back a little from the bottom portion (between the upper and lower water tanks), but this is normal -- it is locked in place and will not move more than that first inch or 2 of wiggle room.
The picture at the top of the page shows a newly assembled Steam Vac out of the box. It's standard vacuum height and weight. The picture to the right shows the SteamVac with the top (clean water) tank removed. You remove it by just lifting the plastic handle above it. There is no electric heater on this model, so you take this tank over to your sink, add your carpet cleaner detergent, and fill it with the hottest water that comes out of your tap (it holds 1 gallon) -- then quickly get to work. Ideally, it should be hot enough for 10-15 minutes of cleaning time before you unload your dirty water and reload fresh water. Near the top of the handle you can see the 2 green brushes that sit on the hand tool (it is stored there until you need it).
The dirty water container sits just below the clean one. To remove and empty the lower dirty tank, you recline the handle all the way back, then look for the 2 little wing clips on the sides of the lower tank at the bottom -- you have to flip those back to release the tank. When putting the lower tank back in place, you must again clip those back for a solid fit. The lid to the tank pops off with a release flap on the back. The lower tank also has a built in filter for removing any larger particle matter that comes up during the cleaning process, and a shut-off float that will reduce suction power when the recovery tank is full. All of the hoses and seals that connect between the 2 tanks are hidden back in the upright handle, so as you remove these tanks you kind of wonder how the water flows between them, where the vacuum seal is, how it all works -- but it does work! One complaint about the recovery tank is that the lid has its own little reservoir area, and it's very hard to shake the water out of there when you are done using it. The photo to the left shows the back of the Hoover SteamVac. As you can see, the cord, hoses, and tools all wrap around or have storage space on the back. The cord is 24 feet long, giving you plenty of length to handle even larger rooms without plugging and unplugging. Like most vacuums, there is a foot pedal on the left that turns the vacuum on and off, and a food pedal on the right that releases the handle and allows it to lean back. I was used to having on/off switches on the handle, so a number of times I went to recline the handle by pushing the left pedal, only to result in turning off the vacuum -- it might take a little getting used to. But left foot power, right foot recline.
OK, so let's get down to cleaning carpets. Powered by a 12AMP motor, the Steam Vac uses SpinScrub brushes and hot solution cleaning to really work the carpet over and pick up stains and dirt. The brushes can be removed for cleaning. The picture to the right shows what the brushes look like on the bottom of the Hoover vac. Before you clean a carpet, you are supposed to vacuum it first with a normal vacuum. If you are doing entire rooms, obviously you need to move furniture out of the way. There are 2 different buttons on the handle -- the interior "trigger" button which releases the cleaning solution as long as it is depressed, and the "clean surge" button that releases extra solution for more heavily stained areas. Keep in mind there is no steam or extra heat or anything in the surge, just extra cleaning detergent. Hoover suggests you make one pass forward with the trigger down (to release cleaning spray, while the brushes are spinning), then pull back with the trigger still down. That's a "wet pass". Repeat over the same area with a "dry pass" -- ie, move the vacuum up and back WITHOUT the trigger to suction up moisture from the carpet (with brushes still spinning). Then move over so there is a slight overlap with the next section and continue.
The front of the vacuum is see-through plastic, so you can see how much water is being sucked out of the carpet and how clean or dirty it is (this helps you know when the carpet is still really wet and need more back and forth suction, or when you've gotten most of the water and soap up). I tend to do an extra dry pass (or 2) to get as much moisture up out of the carpet as possible -- that way everything dries quicker and you avoid problems with mildew. Alternatively, you can go back over the whole area with dry passes when complete and focus on any areas that still show lots of liquid being sucked up.
Keep in mind this is a carpet cleaner and not a regular vacuum cleaner. Don't use it for vacuuming your whole house -- that's not what it is made for. It uses no belts, which means no need to fix or replace in the future, a common repair problem for many vacuums. Also, no bags to change or replace, just dump the tanks. So overall this is a pretty easy machine to use and maintain.
So How Well Does the Hoover F5914 900 SteamVac Actually Clean?We got this vacuum to test it out on a few carpet stains we had around the house. Upstairs, we had two sections of a bedroom carpet that were stained with the leftover colored "dust" that comes from using and erasing a whiteboard -- basically the left over ink from a child's fun and games. A regular vacuum did nothing on these stains. We also had a few small spots (the size of a pencil tip eraser) on the master carpet, as if sap or something from the bottom of a shoe had left a few spots that had become dirty over time. Downstairs, the ugliest task was a 2 year old combo wine/soda stain (2 separate incidents!) which is normally 90% covered by a throw rug. We had probably picked up 95% of the spill with paper towels and carpet cleaner when it happened, but a permanent brown area always remained. So how did the SteamVac do? Let's start upstairs. On the whiteboard marker stains? 100%. We did a few wet passes and then dried it, the whole thing came up, so sign of it. So far so good. Then we tried the tiny sap stains or whatever they were. Maybe 70% success rate here. They were less noticeable, but couldn't get rid of them completely. I'm not sure if something bonded to the carpet fibers that couldn't be removed -- maybe a pre-spray treatment would have helped. Still, they looked better than prior. The last big test was the wine/soda stain. I cleaned half the carpet on that side of the room, and the result was about 50% -- that was one old, well-set stain.
My take on this: The Hoover SteamVac is great for the regular cleaning of your carpet in rooms and hallways -- basically, a heavy actual "cleaning" compared to sucking up some dirt with a regular vacuum. It's other main use -- quickly picking up emergency spills on the carpet (pet accidents, drinks, etc.) -- I've subsequently used this on a juice spill (see cleaning up spills below) and it worked like a charm. If you have this in the closet or basement, you are ready when those accidents happen, and stains don't even get a chance to set. I think just like some stains on clothing or fabric require professional cleaning, same things goes with carpet stains. So while the SteamVac can handle a lot, it is not going to remove every stain you may have on your carpets. It's more for keeping carpets clean and handling emergency clean-ups. Again, from almost 900 Amazon consumer reviewers, this vacuum was rated 4.5 stars out of 5. (If you want to see some other top-rated carpet cleaners besides the Hoover, check out Amazon's best-selling list).
Cleaning up Spills with the Hoover Steam VacThis vacuum is probably most useful for immediately cleaning up liquid spills on carpet. To do this, you can use either the power hand tool (which has 2 spinning brushes) or the stair/upholstery tool which has just spray and suction. Both these tools use the hose attachment from the back of the vacuum. Basically, you need to remove the upper tank, then flip down the front of the lower recovery tank and connect one end of the hose there, while another piece connects to the clean water outlet right next to it. Now the vacuum powers the hand piece instead of the main vacuum and brushes. There is a trigger on the hand unit that controls whether you are doing wet or dry passes. To pick up a spill, Hoover suggest doing dry passes first to pick up as much of the spilled liquid as possible, then doing wet and dry passes to actually clean the area as much as needed.
Buying the Hoover Carpet Cleaner F5914 SteamVac Online
We checked recently for the best price on the Hoover F5914 Steamvac and found prices ranging from $158 to $205. The winner? Amazon.com. People are always amazed each month when we refer them to Amazon for the best price, but we are seeing it more and more that they carry almost everything, and they really do offer the best prices on most of the products we check. Since almost everybody already shops with them and trusts them, we just say, keep it simple, buy from Amazon when you can. Again, the various SteamVac models are listed at Amazon here (the F5914 is the one we are reviewing here).
Hoover SteamVac Parts and InstructionsLike many people, you may buy the Hoover Steam Vac and lose the instructions. Fortunately, Hoover posts PDF versions of their instruction manuals online, so they are easy to access anytime. The Hoover F5915 SteamVac with Clean Surge Instructions are here. Hoover also makes it easy to search for and buy parts and accessories for the Steamvac. You'll find gaskets, filters, hoses, axles, handles, seals, and just about every other part imaginable here.
Hoover SteamVac Detergents and Soaps for Carpet CleaningHoover makes a number of different formulations when it comes to carpet cleaning detergents. Of course, they recommend only Hoover products for their vacuums. They make the Premium Pet Formula Carpet/Upholstery Detergent (about $20), the SteamVac Oxy Carpet Detergent (about $12), and the Hoover Spot-and-Stain Cleaner (about $10). All these carpet cleaning products are listed here -- you can check their lowest prices.
Other Vacuum Reviews:See our buying guides for all vacuum types below:
- Canister Vacuums
- Handheld Vacuums
- iRobot Roomba Vacuum
- Stick/Broom Vacuums
- Upright Vacuums
- Wet/Dry Vacs