Kärcher FC5 Floor Cleaner Review
What is the Kärcher FC5?
The Kärcher FC5 is a hard floor cleaner aimed at households with wooden, laminate or tiled flooring. It is designed to give the floor a thorough clean using as little water and leaving the floor as dry as possible. It features two spinning floor brushes that not only clean dirt but also pick up small debris such as dust or hairs meaning that the Kärcher FC5 can be used to partially replace a brush/vacuum cleaner.
It's a remarkably solid appliance and the trademark yellow/black colouring makes it stand out - it looks like the floor cleaner of the future. It feels good to hold but is pretty heavy so people with wrist/joint problems might struggle.
How does it work?
The FC5 has two water tanks - one for your clean water and detergent (a tiny bottle of concentrated detergent is supplied) and one for your dirty water and waste. The clean solution soaks into the spinning heads which act something like paint rollers might - they spin in opposite directions wetting the floor and then pulling the dirty water and waste back up to the waste tank. This leaves a streak-free and reasonably dry floor.
In our testing, the FC5 was great at shining up reasonably clean floors - the finish was fantastic and it did lift physical waste as advertised. It can't cope with larger objects that a vacuum cleaner would have no trouble with, but for a relatively debris free floor it does a decent job. The full width rollers mean you can get up flush against cabinets and table legs to make cleaning into corners easier.
It also was effective on laminate and wooden flooring both giving a decent finish while leaving the floor as dry as possible to prevent damage. We also tested on two different tiled floors and that's where we found our biggest reservation. On a gloss tiled floor it worked well - again the surface was left dry within minutes and it lifted most of the dirt we tested on. However we found textured matt tiles to be the FC5's nemesis and we found the FC5 was less able to cope with lifting dirt in this situation - so dried on mud was a real problem requiring multiple passes over the same spot to get an acceptable finish - to the point that on more than one occasion it was less hassle to just fill a bucket with water and detergent and just set to it with a bargain-basement mop.
The need to cover the same area multiple times was exasperated by the weight of the appliance. Even for someone with no physical disabilities, the FC5 was cumbersome to use and became uncomfortable surprisingly quickly.
And, therein lies the problem. The FC5 is over £200 to buy - and it is unable to beat the simple combination of a budget vacuum and a £6 mop and bucket from your local supermarket.
Having recently retiled the entire ground floor ot TDF HQ with textured matt tiles, finding a quick and simple cleaning solution meant that the FC5 was top of the list of products to try out - it looked as though it would tick all of our boxes - but unfortunately it hasn't lived up to the promise.
Would we recommend it?
For houses with laminate, wooden or with gloss tiled flooring the FC5 was an effective cleaning tool that would certainly save the user time when compared to having to separately vacuum, then clean and dry using conventional means. The finish was closer to that of using a steam mop to a standard mop and bucket.
For other flooring types - especially the tiles that made up the floor of our main test area - we would struggle to recommend it as an effective solution.
Unfortunately, there are other issues - for one it's too heavy for the elderly who may be looking for an all in one solution and it isn't suitable for anyone with a physical disability due to the weight and upright nature of the appliance. It is also too noisy (far noisier than a conventional vacuum) for anyone who lives in a flat.
It might suit single people or couples, but even then at over £200 it is roundly beaten in value-for-money terms by much cheaper conventional cleaning equipment and that's probably our biggest complaint.