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From heavy buckets to sloshing and spilling, the laws of physics and chemistry conspire to make mopping the most painful of all chores—literally and figuratively speaking. We’ve done our due diligence, scientifically testing in our labs to determine the best mops in the cleaning space. So it is with full awareness that we deem the Kärcher FC 3 cordless floor cleaner (available at Target for $279.99) a feat of engineering. It has a water tank like a Swiffer and the brush motor of a cordless vacuum. Combine all three, and you get this device that saves you from gross floors and a ton of back pain.
About the Kärcher FC 3
• Dimensions: 12” x 8.9” x 48” (L x W x H)
• Weight: 5.3 pounds empty
• Warranty: 3-year limited warranty
• Included attachments: One set of rollers, storage stand, 16.9 oz. multipurpose floor cleaner, and battery charger
The FC 3 is a cordless floor cleaner that has a motorized roller on the front and two water tanks on the back. Before beginning, the user pours clean water and a multipurpose floor cleaner into the “clean” tank. While cleaning the floor, this fluid washes over the roller brush, to wet it so it can scrub the floor. The excess water and stains get squeegeed back into the machine and deposited in a separate “dirty” tank. You can empty the dirty tank down the drain.
A battery operates the entire unit and lasts for around 20 minutes before requiring a recharge. Karcher designed the FC 3 to work on all types of hard flooring, including sealed hardwood, oiled wood, waxed parquet, stone, laminate, tiles, PVC, and vinyl.
A dock that comes with the FC 3 allows the whole unit to stand upright when you’re done cleaning.
What we like
It cleans really well for its size
The FC 3 cleaned surprisingly well for weighing under six pounds. We challenged it to clean up chocolate syrup, tomato soup, and a little grease. Within two minutes, the FC 3 presented us with spotless floors. We should point out that this floor cleaner is designed specifically for spills and debris.
It is more hygienic and ergonomic than a mop
The FC 3 operates without the need for a bucket of sloshing water that feels like it tips the scales at a million pounds. In fact, the FC 3 carries its water all along its spine, and distributing its mass like this greatly increases your leverage—think backpack versus briefcase.
The FC 3 also squeegees up what it cleans. A major complaint we hear from mop users is that they feel like they’re spreading the mess and germs around. The dirty water tank holds 140 ml—about a third of the size of a can of soda. This may seem small, but the FC 3 is designed to clean an area of about 645 sq. ft. If there’s a big spill, you’ll probably have to make multiple trips to the sink.
It is more economical and environmentally friendly than a Swiffer WetJet
When compared to a Swiffer WetJet, the FC 3 is more economical and environmentally friendly. Its rollers are reusable and machine washable. Refills for the tank are also on tap—via your sink. You can use the included multipurpose cleaning fluid, but it’s not essential. The detergent is highly economical—you’re only supposed to add a capful at a time, which means a bottle is good for about 100 uses.
Comparably, new pads and refills for a Swiffer will cost you and, despite their fairly affordable price tags, adds up over time. When you combine the cost of a WetJet, the pads, the cleaning fluid, and batteries, we calculate that within 18 months, the Kärcher is cheaper to own.
While the FC 3 is pretty expensive upfront, in the long run, you’ll save money.
What we don’t like
The motor is loud
The FC 3’s cleaning capacity is made possible by a motor capable of spinning up to 500 RPMs. Consequently, its motor is very noisy. While in operation, our sound meter picked up levels between 68 and 70 dBA—loud enough to make a whole house aware that you’re cleaning. Not great if you have napping children or you like to clean late at night.
The docking and charging station is inconvenient
After you’re done using the FC 3, you place the whole unit in a dock that allows the machine to stand up on its own. We were disappointed that you have to actually bend over and plug in the FC 3 for it to charge rather than just plop it down into the dock. This is a minor complaint, but it is an extra step, and everything else about the FC 3 is so adeptly engineered that this felt like an oversight. On the laziness scale, here at Reviewed, we can’t be bothered.
Should you buy the FC 3?
Totally. If you hate feeling stickiness under your feet, but dread mopping, the FC is for you. It cleans floors in minutes without the need to lug a bucket around.
We think people with minor mobility issues will appreciate the fact that the FC 3 is self-propelled and weighted evenly.
Kärcher’s cordless floor cleaner is pretty expensive, regard it as an investment and use it regularly to make it worth its cost.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.