Reviewed by Louise Totton
I am almost embarrassed to admit it, but I have a bit of a ‘thing’ about vacuuming. I have a bit of a collection of vacuum cleaners, and my other half was absolutely flabbergasted when we added them all up, and realised that we have six of them, plus hard floor cleaners and steam mops. Whooops! I had always been of the opinion that they are all entirely justified as each is a bit different and is good for different cleaning jobs.
We have a couple of cylinder vacuums, two different corded stick vacuums, a light-weight corded handheld vacuum for crumbs and small spills and a car vacuum that charges from the 12v car charger, yet I do still struggle with some aspects of cleaning the carpets.
The house is a three-storey weavers’ cottage, which means when I do a full clean on the house and vacuum all of the rooms and both staircases, humping my ‘main’, corded, stick vacuum cleaner (a Shark Duo Clean) around can get a little heavy and tiresome, particularly on the stairs. I also worry about the kids tripping on the cable as the plug sockets are in slightly awkward places which means there are often wires trailing on the landing at the top of the stairs. Whilst the power of the Shark is brilliant and gets my carpets super clean, it is a heavy machine and I end up with sore arms when I need to lift it to vacuum the ceilings and curtains. Having said that, because I have got used to the cleaning power of my Shark, when I do use the lighter machine, I am less than happy with how clean it gets my carpets.
Fearing that we would need a bigger house, not because of his ever-expanding book collection, but because of the space that my vacuums are taking up, my partner was a bit less enthusiastic than I was about the prospect of us being sent a VAX Blade 2 Max to try out. I think I (just about) managed to justify it as it a cordless device with lights, so persuaded him that it was actually a gadget rather than a household appliance – result!
The VAX Blade 2 Max is a cordless, stick type vacuum and is currently for sale at £249. This is significantly cheaper than its nearest rivals, and at the moment, VAX send a free gift when the Blade 2 Max is purchased directly from VAX – the Cordless Pro Kit, which is a set of extra tools to make your machine even more versatile.
The Blade arrived via DHL and was securely and safely packed. The main box contained the boxed cleaner and the separately boxed toolkit. I was really keen to get going with trying it all out, so straight away set about unpacking the cleaner.
Contained in the cleaner’s box is the handheld unit, charger, dirt container, reach wand, powered head, crevice tool, dusting brush and wall mount with fittings, along with the printed instructions. The first thing I did was put the handheld unit on to charge – the instructions say that the initial charge is for three hours. The first (and only!) involvement that my partner had was to grab his screwdriver and attach the wall mount to the wall with the supplied fittings. The Blade 2 isn’t self-supporting, so you will need to mount it somewhere with space for it to stand up, unless you are happy to disassemble it and charge it on a countertop.
I have to say that the unit itself looks somewhat sleek and space-age. It is a modern looking grey and silver design and the control panel is very simple and minimalist. There are just three push buttons to operate the machine and four lights to indicate the battery charge level. Whilst charging, the battery indicator light shows the current level of charge and switches off to indicate the battery is full.
So, once we had waited the three hours for the device to charge, we were ready to go. The Blade 2 instantly converts between a hand-held vacuum and a standard sized floor vacuum. We tried it on a carpeted floor first with the powered head. The carpet in the bedroom is a reasonably thick and is a chocolate-brown colour. By pure chance, the week the vac arrived at the house was the same week that my partner decided to treat himself to some lovely new white fluffy sports socks. The issue here is that for the first little while, they seem to shed an awful lot of white fluff that sticks to the carpet and looks awful against the dark brown. Whilst my main vacuum cleaner has mostly coped fine with this and has cleaned the fluff that it can reach very well, it isn’t the nimblest machine and misses the parts of the carpet that are very close to the furniture. And the nimbler, light-weight machine just doesn’t have the power to extract the white fluff from the deep pile of the carpet.
I was really impressed with how the Blade 2 MAX coped with this task! Because the powered head on the Blade 2 is smaller than on any of the other main vacuums in the house, it seems to get far closer to the edges than the other ones do and it is easier to see where you’re going with it. The Blade 2 has two power levels (standard and powerboost), and in addition to this, you can turn the brushbar on and off, effectively giving you four combinations to choose from. These modes are all accessed via simple push buttons on the handle of the machine. The brushbar should be switched on when you are vacuuming carpets and is not suitable for use on laminate or wood floors, but it provides a lot of extra cleaning power when you are working on carpets. When the brushbar is switched on, the machine’s headlights also switch on which is great for lighting the way and making sure you have seen and cleaned every speck of dust.
For the most part, on carpets, I found that the lower of the two power levels was sufficient, as long as the brushbar was switched on. For getting the very stuck-on sock fluff from the carpets, as well as thoroughly cleaning the ribbed carpet that we have in the hall, the powerboost setting provided lots of extra cleaning power. The thing that most surprised me was that as long as the powerboost setting was enabled, the cordless VAX cleaned just as well as my main £300 corded machine but made the job much easier as it is so light, and being cord-free made the job significantly easier.
Now, one of the reasons that I opted for a corded machine last year when I splashed out on my Shark was I was concerned about battery life and whether one charge would be enough to clean my whole home. Our home is a pretty standard-sized house, so I needed to be able to clean a lounge, dining kitchen, playroom, two bedrooms, a study and two staircases within a single charge. Given as re-charging the unit takes around three hours, I knew that having to spread the clean across two charges wouldn’t work for me, and I would revert back to using the corded machine. I am pleased to report that I can actually get the whole lot done quite easily with the VAX! The powerboost mode pretty much halves the battery life from forty minutes down to around twenty, so I tried to enable it only when I actually needed it, and found that I didn’t need to enable it very often at all. In fact, on a single charge, I was able to vacuum all of the floors in the house as well as then doing the skirting boards and the sofa with the supplied attachments.
Emptying the machine is just as easy as setting it up, and the dust canister holds a decent amount of dust. I probably got around three rooms worth of cleaning out of it before I needed to empty it, and because it is made of clear Perspex, it is very simple to see when it does need emptying. The canister clicks out of the main frame of the device, and then it is a simple push of a button to pop the canister open to empty the dust into the bin. The process is then reversed, and the machine is ready to go again.
One of the limitations of all of the other cleaners in the house is the lack of tools. Having the right tools to do the job makes a massive difference to not only how easy the job is, but also how quickly it can be completed. Included in the box as standard is a crevice tool and a dusting brush. These click in and out of the machine easily, both with the reach wand on (for cleaning high up and tricky corners), and without, for cleaning things that are more within easy reach. For the most part, along with the powered head, these tools are more than sufficient for cleaning most things in the home. The dusting brush is brilliant for the skirting boards, cornicing and horizontal blinds. The crevice tool is ideal for the corners of armchairs, around the base of the skirting boards and the tricky bits of the staircase. But as I previously mentioned, VAX are currently including a free gift – the Cordless Pro Kit if the machine is purchased through VAX. This is a cracking little set and will massively increase the versatility of the machine. Included in this set is:
- Dust brush – for skirting boards, blinds, wood furniture and the tv screen
- Textile tool – we found this particularly good for the stairs and the settee
- Tough dirt tool – this attaches to the textile tool and the bristles allow you to remove really ground-in dirt
- Flexi crevice tool – an extendible, rubberised version of the standard one, allowing you to reach into even the most awkward corners
- Stretch hose – any of the above can be connected to this, so any tool can be used in the car, narrow staircases or the inside of kitchen cupboards
As well as keeping the house clean and dust free, I think one of the benefits of a cordless cleaner is that you can use it in the car far more easily than a corded machine. This is of particular value for us, as the house is near the centre of the village, so we don’t have a drive and it is not always possible to park directly outside the house. Having a cordless machine means that we don’t have to worry about trailing wires when cleaning the car, and the stretch hose that is included in the Cordless Pro Kit makes cleaning the car a doddle! It means that I can clean footwells, behind the seats and even the door pockets incredibly easily. In fact, in conjunction with the flexible crevice tool and the textile tool, there really is nowhere in the car that the Blade 2 Max can’t get to!
With a cleaner of this quality and value, it makes sense that you would make sure you maintain it properly. There isn’t a great deal of upkeep for this machine, but it does require some very simple maintenance. With three females in the house, all with long hair, the brushbar can get full of hair. Sorting this out takes a matter of minutes – it is a simple case of using a coin to unlock the compartment, pulling out the brushbar then using a pair of scissors to cut along the groove and pulling the hair out. The brushbar can then be replaced and locked back in to the powered head. The filter also needs cleaning periodically. This is just as simple and pops out of the dust canister and is washed under running water before drying for 24 hours and replacing. Simple tasks like this make a big difference in the suction of the machine and are well worth doing.
I am absolutely delighted with my VAX. The build quality is top-notch and all of the parts that click into place do so firmly and easily. Whilst it is a reasonably light machine, it doesn’t feel in any way flimsy and the lightness just means it requires a lot less effort to clean high up parts of the home. I honestly cannot fault it in any way – it can clean the whole house thoroughly on a single charge and is much less cumbersome to use than a corded machine. I love not having to unplug and re-plug as I move from room to room and am surprised at how quickly the whole house can be cleaned from top to bottom. Finally, much to my partner’s delight, we will not now have seven vacuum cleaners, as this one has replaced at least three of our current fleet! We no longer need the car vac or the corded light-weight vac, and at least one of the corded stick vacs can be rehomed.
Whilst £249 isn’t cheap, it is cheaper than its competitors and does the job amazingly well. We’re delighted with it and will be recommending VAX products to friends and family. It isn’t hard to see why it has won as many impressive accreditations as it has!
For more information or to buy visit www.vax.co.uk.