The Shark steam mop ‘Lift-Away’ also known as the ‘Shark Lift-Away Steam Pocket Mop 5 in 1 (S3901)’ is a dual function steam mop and steam cleaner in one compact device. It features a removable hand-held cleaner which is suitable for most kinds of domestic cleaning – from cleaning your bathroom tiles to spot cleaning fabrics and steam cleaning your floors and work surfaces and much more.
Shark Steam Mop ‘Lift-Away’ – Overview
The Shark ‘lift-away’ has a speedy heat up time – taking only 30 seconds to heat up from plugging in – allowing it to be ready to clean in virtually no time at all. It comes complete with a good number of attachments and can clean almost any surface (more on this later).
It features a 300ml tank, which is a little on the small side, however this should still provide a good 15 – 20 minutes of cleaning time – this about average when compared to other models.
This Shark steam mop features a very lengthy 7.5m power cord giving more than ample length for cleaning without having to constantly change sockets. The power lead can also be curled neatly around the unit after use and is held in place by two handy cable cord wraps. The top cord wrap features a swivel mechanism and can be turned downwards allowing the lead to be released instantly without tangling.
Inside the box:
One of the first things apparent about the mop is the build quality. The handle is made from a metal shaft (opposed to plastic) for a much more solid feel and the mop itself is assembled in a 3 parts using a system common to virtually all units: the handle locks into the main body and the main body locks into the mop head.
You will require a Phillips or flat-head screwdriver for construction but this is simply to fix one screw through the body and into the metal handle.
Shark have even provided very simple instructions on the handle itself making it even easier to fit. The front of the metal shaft is clearly marked ‘front’ allowing for easy orientation and correct fitting. An additional single line mark on the side of the shaft will indicate when the handle has been correctly attached to the mop body – the shaft should be pushed into the mop body until the line is no longer visible.
What Accessories Are Included With The Shark Steam Mop ‘Lift Away’?
The Shark Lift-Away mop also includes an extensive accessory list. However, we did notice that it does not includes any brush style attachments and instead appear to have opted for an ‘all purpose scrubbing pad’ to complete the tasks usually tackled with by the brushes (although brush style tools are available to buy). In the long term this is likely to turn out quite beneficial because over-time brushes with plastic hairs can become bent due to the steam and pressure. This causes their effectiveness to reduce. Also the scrubbing tool can be used on work surfaces and areas where a brush might scratch or mark the surface.
What can you clean with it?
At a quick glance: the supplied attachments allow your to use the ‘Shark lift away’ to clean floors, carpets, worktops/surfaces, glass, taps/sinks and more. Generally, it should be possible to clean most areas/surfaces in the home with this cleaner. As soon as you remove the handheld cleaner from the device you’ll soon see how versatile it is. You can literally deep clean your entire kitchen or bathroom using just one device. From you shower cubicle, taps and sink to windows and floors.
Plugging the mop in will automatically start the heating process used to create the steam and by default the mop should be in ‘standby mode’. Standby mode is signified by a flashing blue light that surrounds the power button. Pressing this button repeatedly changes the mode of the mop. Each press initiates the following sequences respectively: Dust, Mop, Scrub and Standby.
Lets take a brief look at each of the modes:
- Dust – This is the gentlest of the settings and is used for light cleaning and dusting. This includes sanitizing floors and lifting light dirt.
- Mop – This mid-range setting is probably the one the mop will be used on the most and is designed for every day cleaning. It is powerful enough to lift moderate dirt and grime and can be used in areas of the home that receive high traffic – such as hallways and kitchens.
- Scrub – The final setting is, as the name suggests, the most powerful. It provides enough cleaning power to cut through heavy and stuck-in dirt and can be used for deep cleaning. This is also the recommended setting to be used whilst cleaning carpets, although we would probably recommend using the ‘Mop’ setting initially to prevent possibly over-wetting your carpets.
The mop takes a respectable 30 seconds to heat fully before it can be used. It is worth noting that it can sometimes take longer to reach this temperature the first time you use it. Shark does not provide an explanation for this, but it is something to remember just in case you think its broken the first time you power it up!
Once heated the mop needs to be taken out of standby mode and into one of the 3 settings described above. Whilst out of standby mode the mop produces a continuous jet of steam (whilst being used as a mop). We are not very keen on this setting and prefer using steam cleaners where the operator can control the release of steam. OK, so this down to personal preference, but we find it does provide a greater degree of control and is a little bit safer.
However, continuous steam does have it’s advantages and is particularly useful when using the supplied extension hose attachment. It is possible to set the steam cleaner down and work using just the cleaning attachment on the end of the hose without holding down a button or carrying the steam cleaner. So you can really get the attachment into all the nooks and crevices for a thorough clean without having to lug or move the whole device.
How to use the mop
Despite supplying a high quality device overall, filling the water tank is one place we feel lets down the Lift-Away mop. The water tank cannot be detached from the machine for filling and instead requires water to be emptied directly in the side of the mop. We find it much more convenient to remove the tank and fill it over a sink to catch any spills that may occur. The one saving grace is that the tank is located in the detachable hand-held steam cleaner portion of the mop, so it does make filling it less fiddly than attempting to lay the whole mop on its side. Shark have also included a measuring jug with a spout which will also help filling without spilling!
Supplied with the mop are two mop heads. One is the more ‘traditional’ rectangle shape and the other is shaped like a triangle (a more common shape for mid-range mop heads). Shark does say that rectangle head is for ‘general purposes’ whereas the triangle head is designed for cleaning floor tiles. But we don’t see why you can use either for general purposes. We’ve mentioned in previous reviews that a triangle shaped head it more to our preference because of it’s ability to clean around awkward objects – so including a choice of two heads is very convenient. The only caveat here is that the supplied carpet glider (the attachment that allows the mop to slide-across and refresh carpets) will only fit the rectangle head.
The rectangle mop head sports a very well designed feature and can be flipped to use both sides to clean with. This superb feature allows you to clean more surfaces without changing the micro-fiber cleaning pad. This is especially great if you clean an area of heavy dirt but then need to clean another less dirty floor. A simple flip of the head will allow you to finish uninterrupted.
To clean with the mop it needs to be used in the same way as a typical mop. However, because the steam is on continuously we recommend not leaving the mop head in one place for too long otherwise you will end up with small puddles on your floor.
Another feature that impressed is this mops ability to clean dirt and debris from crevices and tight spaces using the supplied concentrator nozzle. This can can be fitted in place of the mop head; and by using the ‘scrub’ setting with the nozzle the mop can power through tough grime in-between floor tiles and hard to reach places, for example. Then, by switching back to the mop head, the loose dirt can be picked up. This allows for extra cleaning power where needed, and catches the places that some other units may miss or be unable to clean effectively.
Using it as a hand held steam cleaner:
Accessing the steam cleaning could not be easier and requires nothing more than pressing the steam unit ‘lock’ buttons and pulling the hand-held cleaning unit directly from the mop body. This is a very elegant solution and prevents is a very quick way to switch between using the Shark ‘Lift-Away’ as a mop and steam cleaner.
Once removed any one of the attachments can be fitted, allowing you to clean almost any surface. A convenient hose attachment is also supplied which will also accept the supplied attachments on the end of the pipe, making this device truly flexible.
Unlike when this device is being used as a mop the steam is not continuous when being used as a hand-held cleaner. A button on the handle needs to be pressed in order for the steam to be emitted. Once released the device will stop ejecting steam and go back into standby mode. This provides complete control over the steam produced and is an approach we definitely favour.
What we think about the Shark Steam Mop ‘Lift-Away’:
Shark have clearly produced a high quality and well thought out device; and whilst it does have some niggles overall we believe it to be a solid entry that can compete on its own with some of the other heavy weights in the cleaning industry such as Vax and Morphy Richards.
The build quality, versatility and cleaning power definitely make this a steam cleaner we would recommend checking out.