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Product Review: Shark Vacuum Cleaners

Chances are, three or four years ago you may not have heard of Shark vacuum cleaners.

But in the last couple of years Shark have become really popular,  competing with the big names such as Dyson and even our favoured Miele. At Just Helpers we’ve taken a closer look at what Shark has to offer, and put them to the test ourselves.

Why Consider Shark Vacuum Cleaners?

Shark have quickly gained a reputation as a good value, effective product. Shark Vacuum Cleaners recently scored highly in consumer testing carried out by Which?. In May 2019, Which? rated the Shark Lift Away NV590UKR corded vacuum cleaner as the best cheap upright cleaner.  And we do love a Which? review here at Just Helpers! This model scored particularly well on carpets, and on dealing with pet hair efficiently.

Choice

There is a mind-boggling range of options when it comes to choosing a Shark vacuum cleaner. Are you looking for:

  • a traditional corded model for reliable, long-lasting cleaning power,
  • a battery cordless for go-anywhere convenience
  • A light-weight stick vacuum for maximum portability
  • Extra power or attachments to deal with pet hair or allergens

Shark has all these options and more – in fact, researching all the models available is a task in itself!

The Just Helpers team tested two models from the range of Shark vacuum cleaners.

Shark Duoclean IF200UKT True Pet

This model is a cordless vacuum cleaner. The battery gives you 20 minutes cleaning on the standard setting, or 12 minutes of turbo. Shark sell additional batteries so you can always have one on charge, if you need a longer cleaning time.  This can often be a challenge for our colleagues who normally vacuum the whole house in one go.

A big feature of this model is its flexible wand, which is great for reaching under furniture and up high to those pesky cobwebs.

We loved this feature. It’s especially handy for reaching under heavy furniture such as sideboards. The flexihose is easy to operate with one hand, just by pushing a button. This feature also means the vacuum cleaner folds down for storage, so it takes up less room and doesn’t fall over, a handy feature in many new build London flats with limited storage options. This model also comes with several attachments and a handy bag to store them in. As it is a “pet” model, it includes a turbo brush for dealing with animal hair. However, we found this really useful for vacuuming the stairs, too.

Another useful feature is the removable wand, which converts the vacuum into a handheld – great for quick clear-ups, stairs, or for vacuuming the car interior. We found this model to be effective on both hard floors and carpets. Although it is not quite as powerful as a corded vacuum cleaner, it is certainly very convenient and easy to use.

Shark Rocket HV300 UltraLight Corded Stick Vacuum Cleaner

This is a more traditional corded vacuum cleaner, so there are no worries about running out of battery power! However, its simplicity is a bonus – it is really simple and effective. This model has separate attachments for hard floors and for carpet. Our team described the carpet head as having ” a spinning brush like a torpedo”! The hard floor attachment has a handy cloth to trap dust as you go.

Our tester (our wonderful Ops Manager Monika), has a cat, and found this model to be very effective on pet hair. In addition, this Shark has a big capacity – Monika vacuumed a three bedroomed house from top to bottom before it needed to be emptied.

Filters

Another great feature of Shark vacuum cleaners is the washable filters. Both of these models include a washable, anti-allergy filter, which prevents particles which cause allergies from passing back into the air.

Value for Money

Shark Vacuum Cleaners are a less expensive option than big names such as Miele and Dyson. If you choose your model carefully, with features that suit your needs, you can get a fab vacuum cleaner at a great price too. Plus it’s worth checking the Shark website as they often have some brilliant offers available.

The Just Helpers Verdict

Overall, we were impressed by Shark Vacuum Cleaners, This comparative newcomer is well worth considering next time you choose a vacuum cleaner for your home.

How to Clean Your Carpets: with Antoinette

If your carpets are clean and smell fresh, it makes a big difference to your home.

Like many cleaning tasks, prevention is better than cure when it comes to carpets.

Regular Cleaning

Vacuuming your carpets regularly helps to keep them clean. It also reduces allergens such as house dust mites, pollen and pet dander.

Ideally, you should vacuum your carpets twice a week.  Focus on areas where crumbs and dust gather, such as under the dining table or around the sofa.

In high traffic areas such as the hall and stairs, you might want to vacuum more frequently to stop your carpets getting flattened and grimy.

Choosing a Vacuum Cleaner

You can’t beat cordless for convenience. Most cordless vacuum cleaners are lightweight too, so are perfect for the stairs. A cordless vacuum is perfect for a quick whizz around, but the on-board battery can mean you run out of power before you’ve finished the job. Most brands sell spare batteries, which allow you to have one on charge all the time.

A traditional corded vacuum cleaner (very much your Helper’s preference) gives you unlimited cleaning time, and they are often much cheaper to buy than the cordless versions. Look out for a model with a long power cable, especially if you have stairs. Always vacuum with the cleaner at the bottom of the stairs to avoid the risk of it falling onto you.

Make sure your vacuum cleaner has a good range of tools. Upholstery and pet attachments are particularly useful, and a turbo tool can give you an extra boost when you need it.

We remain stalwart supporters of the Miele range. Look out for Miele bargains around the summer sales.

Treating Spills and Stains

Look at any supermarket cleaning aisle and you will see a huge selection of stain removers for carpets. Always make sure you use a product that is suitable for your type of carpet, and do a patch test in an inconspicuous area, just in case.

For dried-in stains, use a sponge to dab the stain towards the centre. Don’t be tempted to rub too hard or you may make the stain bigger! Use a dry white cloth to blot the area, then leave to dry.

Eco Alternatives

Bicarbonate of soda is a great stand-by for dealing with spills or pet accidents.  It quickly neutralises nasty odours. Once you have removed the spillage from the carpet, sprinkle the dry powder over the affected area. Leave for an hour or two, then vacuum.

The Big Clean

Every six to twelve months it is well worth giving your carpets a deep clean by shampooing them. You can hire a machine from many DIY stores. Why not consider splitting the cost by sharing a weekend hire with a neighbour? I recently hired a Rug Doctor machine from my local supermarket. The whole process was surprisingly easy and gave my beige carpets a well-needed lease of life.

When you’re shampooing your carpets remember:

  • Vacuum your carpets thoroughly before you begin
  • Always read the instructions for the machine carefully
  • Check the care instructions for your carpet and do a patch test first
  • Use the correct cleaning solution for the machine
  • Be careful not to make the carpet too wet
  • Open windows when you have finished to let out the moisture, to avoid mildew.

Top Tips for Clean Carpets

  • Choose your carpets carefully. If you are replacing carpets, avoid very pale colours, especially in high traffic areas such as halls and stairs. These colours might look beautiful when they are new, but they will show up every mark!
  • Consider opting for carpets which are stain resistant.
  • If you have young children or pets, this is especially important.
  • Use barrier mats or rugs to protect carpets from muddy paws or food spills.
  • Treat spills and stains immediately if you can – it will make them much easier to remove.
  • Vacuum regularly to keep carpets looking their best.

If you’d prefer to relax and let us look after your carpets for you, contact us here to book your helper or let us arrange a service with one of our tried and trusted carpet cleaning partners.

Useful Links
Big Green Smile offer a range of eco-friendly carpet and floor cleaning products.
More tips here on shampooing, from Vax.

Room by room by Antoinette – Entrance Hall

Room by room by Antoinette – Entrance Hall

The Entrance Hall in your home is often the first space that your guests will see. Taking time to ensure that this room is clean and clutter-free will enable both you and your guests to feel relaxed as soon as you come through the door.

With so many elements making up an Entrance Hall it is often overlooked as it can be tricky.

Here are my top tips on how to achieve the best for your Entrance Hall. It is the window into your home after all.

Order

  • When cleaning your home a common mistake can be doing the hallways last.  If the floors need mopping you need to think this through, as the worst thing is mopping and then having to walk back over your hard work.  Consider doing the downstairs hallway before you go upstairs or vice versa depending on what order you have cleaned the rest of your house.  This gives your floors time to dry.
  • Vacuuming rugs and moving them out of the way is essential for a thorough clean.  Expensive and delicate rugs should be vacuumed carefully and then placed safely somewhere to air.
  • Bookshelves are often housed in hallways and can give a lovely aesthetic to this space. This feature is often neglected and can get very dusty. By using a  Feather Duster you can easily eliminate the dust. The much maligned feather duster is great for getting to the tops of books and into the edges of the bookshelf. I highly recommend an annual prune and spring clean where all the books come completely off of the shelves to prevent any stubborn marking on your selves.
  • Every home has it! The ‘Tidy Disaster Zone’. You know that drop zone by the front door. Shoes, scarves, jackets, scooters, shopping bags, Abel and Cole boxes… and anything else that randomly gets dumped there. Is it time to throw away the broken umbrella that’s been lurking there for 3 years? YES!
  • Entrance Halls are also notorious for cobwebs. Staircases are often the highest ceilings of the house, so by using a Telescopic-Static-Duster, you can dust high-level cobwebs with ease.
  • Light fittings and their bulbs show dust off when illuminated. So take time to dust light fittings and chandeliers.  If you do have chandeliers in your home be very careful when dismantling.  Allow an hour for this task and take a photo before you start from all angles! They are like a jigsaw puzzle, you do not want to be left with a random piece once you have carefully reassembled it.
  • Carefully dust tops of pictures. Be careful of precious artwork. I find an old-fashioned feather duster comes in handy here.
  • Polish mirrors using a special glass microfibre cloth for a sparkly, streak-free finish.
  • Dust Dado Rails and Skirting Boards.
  • Dust tops of light switches, then anti-bac wipe and polish them for a hygienic and sparkling finish.
  • Dust tops of plug sockets, anti-bac wipe and polish them to ensure no dirt accumulates.
  • Dust between the balusters (I bet you didn’t know that term!) for us common folk, they are the spindles or banister supports on your staircase.  If they are really dirty, use the damp cloth to give them all a thorough clean.
  • Hard to reach windows can be difficult and potentially dangerous to clean effectively. You may need specialist window cleaners. Please feel free to contact us for our recommended window cleaning partners should you require this service.
  • Vacuum the whole area including the stairs.  Don’t forget to do edges first with the corner nozzle attachment and then use the large attachments for each step. Ensure that you adjust for the correct floor setting for carpet, hardwood or other surfaces to do the landing areas.
  • Mop, make sure you always mop your way towards the next room you will clean.

Enjoy

Now you can fling open your front door with pride and let your Entrance Hall welcome guests in.  Think how proud (and shame free ;-)) you will feel the next time friends and family visit. Until next time. Happy Cleaning! Antoinette.

Room by Room by Antoinette – Bedroom 


Is your bedroom a place for relaxation and rejuvenating sleep?

In order for your brain to ‘switch off’ this room should be clutter-free and look and smell fresh and clean. Here is a helpful insight into how your Helper ensures that this is our priority in your home, enabling you to spring out of bed ready to rock with whatever your day has in store.

Having the correct toolkit for any job is essential for getting great results. Here is a list of the key ingredients to making your boudoir beautiful. Next, of course, is the method in which the magic happens. Follow this simple, yet highly effective order and I know you will be impressed with the outcome:

Order

1. First strip the bed linen and place it in the washing machine. If you are anything like me, the idea of getting two jobs done in one time slot is intensely satisfying.
2. Vacuum any rugs thoroughly and remove them to the landing outside the bedroom.
3. Make the bed with clean linen (It’s really important to do this now so that lint and fluff doesn’t land on your newly dusted surfaces)
4. Dust all available surfaces going from high to low. Don’t forget your window ledges, blinds and radiators.
5. Use this opportunity to declutter your room and arrange high traffic areas such as dressing tables and bedside cabinets so that things are relevant and easily accessible. This is the time to let your artistic flair shine!
6. Vacuum the floor. If you are a shredder and don’t have a fabulous Miele Hoover with it’s special hair grabbing head, then try using the brush function to loosen any hairs from the carpet.
7. I would suggest, that once a month if you store your life under the bed, pull it out and make sure the vacuum gets into all those nooks and crannies. Once a quarter pull your bed away from the wall and make sure you get to these areas too. Grossly, it’s renowned for dead skin cells, hairs, runaway tissues and all the other clutter you have dropped down the side during your nightly Netflix binge.
8. It’s likely that you have ruffled the bed. Make sure that one of your last actions is to give it that hotel feel. Pull the edges of the duvet out and smooth the duvet down from the middle to the edges using the flat palm of your hands.
9. If you have special items such as silver, gold or brass trinkets, take them out to the hallway and treat them using specialist cleaning solutions. Watch this space for our future blog on ‘The Lost Art of Polishing including Silverware’.
10. Return any rugs.

Stand back and admire our handiwork, smug in the knowledge that you can look forward to a good night’s sleep in crisp fresh linen and a newly adjusted Feng Shui bedroom.

Rock a bye baby….

It’s worth noting that we would recommend minimal use of sprays and products in your baby’s bedroom. Dry dusting with microfibre cloths should be sufficient along with a good vacuum. At worst, an anti-bacterial spray could be used, though there is a school of thought that recommends no products so that your baby can build resilience to germs. I’ll leave that battle with you!  Don’t forget to do a regular dust between the struts of your baby’s cot too.

Sweet dreams, Antoinette.

Room by room by Antoinette: Living Rooms

Your living room should be an area of your home where you can relax and unwind.

In order for you to do this, it help’s if it is clean and tidy. Here are my tips on how to achieve a sparkling living room clean.

This is the time for me to rave on about one of my favourite topics – yes! Miele Vacuum cleaners. The ‘creme de la creme’ of vacuum cleaners, consistently number one in most Which? trials, and more importantly for us, most widely recommended by our Helpers. Miele cylinder vacuums come into their own when cleaning your carpeted rooms, and rooms where other fabric surfaces need attention such as your sofa, curtains, and pet beds.

It is really important to invest in a vacuum cleaner that has at least 3 attachments: The Corner crevice/Extension wand (long with a tapering thin end), the Upholstery tool; great for vacuuming sofas and curtains and your Dusting brush – great for leather sofas, and other dusty surfaces that your arms can’t easily reach with a cloth.

Most Miele models helpfully store the three main tools in it’s body so you need never have to scrabble at the bottom of your cleaning cupboard again.  With it’s helpful variable suction feature you can use your machine to vacuum a large variety of surfaces.  That said, your hand, a good cloth and some elbow grease are still the very best tools for most things.

Things that are commonly forgotten

Don’t forget to dust skirting boards using either the crevice tool, or a cloth. A great tip from my good friend Clair is to put a pair of fluffy socks on and use the edge of your foot to dust the skirting boards.  Genius! Lamps can be vacuumed with the vacuum dusting tool and the lightbulbs dusted by hand with a cloth. Blinds can get a quick dust with the long handled duster, or a more thorough clean with a cloth and one finger. We usually recommend this happens as a ‘Helpful Extra’ twice per year.

Other things to consider

Special items such as brass door knobs, silver ornaments and photo frames all need special polish and cloths. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It is best to remove the items to the dining room or kitchen counter, covering the surface with newspaper to protect it.

Final touches
Mop your way out of the room, moving furniture back into place as you go.
Clean another room in the house and come back to replace the rugs and dustbins.

That’s it! I hope you find this useful for your living rooms. Now you can sit back, relax and enjoy ‘Strictly’ in a dust-free and sane environment!

My Miele obsession

Household appliances are a huge part of our lives, and we take them for granted until they get in the way, either by breaking down altogether or, more frequently, causing us some doubt as to their performance standard.

“Is that rattling normal?” “Really, you need more salt again?” “I put it to 200°C just like the recipe said but it’s just not browning!” You could say that these occurrences are just minor disruptions, but when you add them up with all other appliances running your life, it can start to drain.

It would be my advice to not cut corners on choosing the devices and appliances you add to your home, they could be part of your life for a long time. We tend to choose a fridge freezer based on value, forgetting that we would spend hours researching the purchase of a car even though our fridge freezer is in our lives for about the same amount of time, if not more!

I can’t give you advice on the best sound system, or the best in home security system, but get me going on vacuum cleaners and you’ll never hear the end of me.  Miele is a German brand with the tag-line “forever better”. I’m not normally a sucker for tag lines or advertising, but for me, this brand has proved its worth over and over and many of their products are featured highly by Which?

John Lewis and Amazon sell most of the Miele vacuum cleaner range. They start at £99.95 and prices span all the way up £499.99 for the Scout RX1 bot. Robotics aside, the features that make some more expensive than others are mostly arbitrary: specialist filters for pet hair, capacity, fancy attachments. At their core, each vacuum cleaner has the unique technology relying on an age old system: the bag.

Bags get bad press but they are not necessarily the runt of the litter. Bags keep more dust out of the filters so you have to clean them less regularly, ultimately allowing them to last longer. Bags also maintain consistently good suction up until the point that the bag needs emptying.  Gone are the days when bags were fiddly and frustrating, leaving you wheezing in a cloud of cat hair, if anything they are often cleaner and simpler to empty than bagless options.

The benefits of the Miele vacuum cleaner do not stop at their bags; my experience has also found them to be durable, portable and practical: Bits do not tend to break off, unlike other more fancy brands. They are light and wheel about well, unlike trendy upright types. Practical internal storage of attachments means they don’t get lost, and finally, when you thought I might have exhausted my long list of praise – the power cable is longer than your average and retracts with one touch of a button, very handy indeed!

I can’t write a post on Miele Vacuum Cleaners without mentioning the Scout RX1 robot. A round robotic vacuum cleaner commonly found on YouTube comically carrying round cats and babies in methodical straight lines and circles. Unfortunately technology needs to evolve a little bit more before it can compete with our Helpers, one such bot in a friend’s house has several blind spots that it never cleans, while running over and over other spots to the point of almost wearing the carpet out! And for the price, you could get 40 hours of one of our lovely Helpers who can come and make your bathroom and kitchen sparkle at the same time.

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