Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E review: a quick and nimble steam cleaner

This unusual, stick-style steam cleaner has a love-it-or-loathe-it design with the weight in your hand. Our writer put the Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam through its paces cleaning floors, furniture, fittings and more.
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  • The Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam has an unusual design for a steam cleaner. The weight is in your hand (think Dyson-style cordless vacuum) and then a tube connects it to the floorhead for mopping floors. Alternatively, do away with the tube and add tools for easy handheld cleaning.

    Take a look at the best steam cleaners

    I tested the Bissell on a range of jobs around the house. Thanks to children and pets, there’s never a shortage of cleaning to be done. But I considered practicalities like size, storage, accessories, build quality and value for money as well as its cleaning performance.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    You’ll love or loathe the Bissell’s design. Having all the weight high makes it great for handheld cleaning and nippy for floor cleaning, plus I love the onboard tool storage. But it’s not for everyone. It’s heavier in the hand than upright steam mops that have the weight low down.

    Reasons to buy:

    • Tool storage
    • Wall mount
    • Good handheld cleaning
    • Good reach

    Reasons to not buy:

    • Heavy in the hand
    • No squeegee or mid-sized tool

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    Product specs:

    • Capacity: 300ml
    • Power: mains
    • Cord length: 7.6m
    • Wattage: 1500W
    • Dimensions: H: 110cm W: 35cm D: 26cm
    • Weight: 4.74kg
    • Accessories included (9): microfiber pad, scrubbing pad, small plastic brush, grout brush, scraper, steam concentrator, tool store, jug, wall mount.

    Who will the Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam suit?

    If you’re a dervish who wants to make quick work of steam cleaning, the Bissell is worth considering. All your tools are onboard for handheld cleaning and it’s nippy and manoeuvrable for cleaning floors.

    Unboxing

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    Steam mops are almost always uprights, with the weight low down. The Bissell, however, puts the weight in your hand and adds a tube below. The design is reminiscent of Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners, although the Bissell is of course corded. The steam unit feels heavy in your hand. It’s the size and weight of a large electric drill, even before you add water.

    It comes with an unusual wall mount for storage (being top heavy, it of course won’t stand up by itself) and a plastic case to store its four tools. The case clips onto the underside of the steam cleaner body, so the tools are always with you. There’s also a mesh bag for accessories – including a jug and spare microfiber pad. The Bissell comes with two pads for the floorhead: one plain and one with zigzags on for scrubbing. There’s no carpet glider.

    Setting up

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    The Bissell is quick to assemble: attach the tube between the cleaner and the floorhead and you’re away. Most steam cleaner pads attach to the floorhead with a Velcro-style hook-and-loop fastener but this instead uses strong elastic to fit around the floorhead, rather like a shower cap. The design works very well.

    I love the onboard storage and mesh bag, so everything is on hand. The water reservoir is built into the top of the Bissell’s body, you can’t remove it. But the fill hole is large, so it’s easy to fill whether you use the jug (supplied) or can fit it under the tap.

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    What’s it like to use?

    The Bissell is quite weighty in the hand but has a rubberised, ergonomic grip. There’s a steam trigger under your finger and three buttons in front of your thumb: pause and steam high or low. A light flashes until it’s up to temperature, which is fast, and then it’s lit solid.

    Steam cleaning the floor

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    I test steam mops on flooring: bathroom tiles and also wooden floorboards. A steam mop can make quick work of them but it’s important that it cleans well without damaging the floor and that it leaves the floor as dry as possible.

    The Bissell is a compelling mop to use: nippy and manoeuvrable. You can make quick work of steam cleaning floors. It lifted grime from the bathroom tiles very effectively and went right up to the edges. The microfiber pad wraps around the floorhead, rather than just sticking to the bottom, so it goes all the way up to the edges much better than rivals.

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    It took only 20 seconds to come up to temperature and then it took another 20 seconds to pump the steam to the floorhead. After that, the steam was instant when I squeezed the trigger. It also stopped within 2 seconds when I released the trigger.

    I used the high steam setting for tiles but this meant that it took 3 minutes for them to dry after cleaning. The low setting was perfect for refreshing wooden floors and was faster to dry.

    Steam cleaning by hand

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    Pop off the tube or floorhead and you have a handheld steam cleaner. What’s more, all four tools are clipped underneath and ready to use. You don’t need an adaptor. But it lacks a squeegee and cover for mid-sized cleaning of fabric and upholstery.

    I found the steam plenty powerful enough on bathroom taps and the grout brush very effective – it was best to use it to loosen all the dirt from the grout with the brush, then mop it up with the floorhead’s microfiber pad or a cloth.

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    The hand tools can attach with or without the tube, so you can use them to reach dirt high up. Likewise, you can attach the floorhead without the tube, which is great for stairs. I used the floorhead and tube to refresh a tiled bathroom wall, something that just wouldn’t be physically possible with an upright steam mop because the weight is so far from your hand that you wouldn’t be able to lift it up high.

    My most challenging steam cleaners test is a large sun lounger cushion that the dog has taken as his own. It’s beyond filthy but it’s salvageable. Can I lift that dirt so much that the cushion is fit for human use? I used the floorhead. The steam, which seemed ample on hard floors, took ages to penetrate it and didn’t do much. The good thing was that the microfiber pad didn’t try to peel off, thanks to the elastic. But it didn’t do a great job of cleaning the cushion. I was again disappointed not to have a squeegee and cover.

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    Cleaning and maintenance

    The microfiber pads are machine washable and the Bissell needs minimal wiping down. The pads use strong elastic to fit around the floorhead, rather like a shower cap, which works well. They won’t get caught on anything in the wash.

    Storing your steam cleaner

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    The top-heavy Bissell can’t stand up by itself, so it’s good that it comes with a wall mount. This fixes to the wall using two screws and wallplugs (supplied). There are spaces to stow the steam cleaner body, tube (with floor head) and tools.

    The machine doesn’t have any lugs for the power cord but it has a sturdy Velcro strap to keep it neat.

    Ideal Home’s verdict: is the Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam steam cleaner worth it?

    I enjoyed cleaning with the Bissell a lot. It did most jobs well and fast. I like the design and my only criticism was that it needed a squeegee and cover for medium-sized jobs like cleaning upholstery. However the Vax Steam Fresh Combi upright and Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B cylinder are even more compelling to clean with.

    If you want a much lighter steam cleaner then it’s also worth considering the Black & Decker 10-in-1 Steam Mop. And if you only want to clean floors then the Kärcher SC 2 Upright EasyFix is simple and powerful.

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    About this review and our reviewer

    Caramel Quin has been writing for Ideal Home and other titles at Future for many years and tests a wide range of consumer technology for newspapers, magazines and online. She prides herself in real-world testing and translating geek speak into plain English. Her pet hates are jargon, pointless products and over-complicated instruction manuals.

    She’s an engineering graduate, an award-winning journalist and writes regularly in the Evening Standard. She has appeared as a technology expert on TV and done countless radio interviews.
    Caramel lives in east London with her two children, dog, two cats and eight hens. Together they assist her with destruction-testing home electricals and ensure that the house is always dirty enough to need steam cleaning…

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