Shark Lift-Around Canister Vacuum Product Review
A Housecleaning Product Even a Feminist Will Love!
I'm laughing as I write this review. I'm a feminist. Make no mistake: the thought that I would ever be almost giddy over a house cleaning product makes me giggle. I don't live to clean my house, much as I love it when it's clean. I would smother my husband in his sleep if he were to give me a cleaning product for Christmas. Domestic goddess, I am not.
But I love my Shark Lift-Around Canister Vacuum. In fact, it's my newest guilty pleasure: quality time with this sleek, lightweight, and intuitively designed machine. Spare me the bon-bons; don't even think of mentioning romance novels in my midst; but don't try to take my Lift-Around away. It's too good at making my life easier and giving me more time to do the girly things I prefer to do -- like chase cattle around on horseback, go target practicing in the desert, and make things out of leather. I love that vacuum.
Just don't tell my friends. They'd be shocked.
Here It is in All Its Glory
The Perfect Shark for the Desert
When it comes to keeping our house clean, I've got several strikes against me: First, I've got dogs. Two of the three shed 24/7/365, bristly black and white hairs that at least have the good manners to fall to the floor to be swept up. Number three, the Papillon, has that fine, soft hair that wafts up into the atmosphere and clings to every surface it contacts. She sheds a little all the time -- and then blows her coat twice a year with a fury. Somehow, she manages to send a little bit of herself with us everywhere we go. Second-hand Papillon hair may not be as unhealthy as second-hand smoke, but it's still a darned nuisance. Friends of friends have Papillon hair in their own vehicles because it's so good at following people around. Heck, even my Facebook friends probably have some of her hair floating around! But I digress.
Suffice it to say, dog hair is my nemesis. But that's not all. We live in the desert. It's dry, it's dusty, it's downright dirty. I love it. But dust is ubiquitous here. It coats the clothes in the closet, the jars in the pantry, and every surface. It comes in the windows, clings to my clothes, and constantly calls for attention. In addition to the dirt driveway we have, the horses kick it up.
And that's strike three: the horses. I come in from chores with horsehair, alfalfa, grass hay, and unmentionable stall dust deposited on my clothes. In the morning, when I shake out my jeans to make sure there are no scorpions loitering, I see the dirt riding the sunbeams.
That's where my new pet, the Shark, comes in.
Easy as a Broom
With Pergo-type laminate flooring and no carpet, I've relied on a broom and dust-pan to attack the daily dirt. On power-cleaning days, we'd drag the heavy shop vac upstairs from its basement home. It would take two of us to do the job: one to wrangle the clumsy shop vac canister, the other to aim the nozzle. No more. The lightweight Lift-Around follows like a trained puppy while I use the bare floor nozzle. The crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery brush fit neatly onto the canister, just like a shop vac, but the streamlined design makes a difference. It takes seconds to swap out nozzles.
The Lift-Around is faster and easier than the broom and dustpan, and thanks to its completely-sealed anti-allergen design, no dust is sent flying into air and lungs.
Quick, Easy Assembly
I did not refer to the manual on the Lift-Around until I sat down to write this article. Manuals are for sissies. I was easily able to assemble it in minutes without cheating. The Shark has arrows to indicate where tools and parts are inserted. The trickiest part, the dust cup, can really only be fit into place in one way -- which makes it all the easier. The canister fits onto a base with wheels; the dust cup goes into place; the tool caddy snaps on; the hoses or tools are inserted; and you're ready to rock your Shark. Follow the obvious arrows, buttons, and design shape clues, and you'll have no problem putting it together.
For those who want to sling the canister onto your shoulder (for cleaning tough-to-reach areas or vehicle interiors, perhaps) a shoulder strap is included. Just remove the Shark from the wheelie base and go!
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Quick, Easy Cleanout
To empty the dust cup, push one button (well marked with "Dust Cup Release") and the cup pops out. Make sure you don't accidentally push the "Push to Empty" button on the dust cup as I did on my first use. Dust will go everywhere. However, you have to go out of your way to do this -- it was a definite "doh!" on my part.
Once you've got the cup over the dumpster, use that "Push to Empty" button to complete the process. The unit offers additional instructions for allergy-sufferers -- you can slide a plastic bag around the unit when removing the dust cup and never breathe in any nasty particles. It's small enough that you can do so without any trouble!
I haven't yet had to clean the filters. There are three which require maintenance: the Pre-Motor Foam Filter and Pre-Motor Felt Filter must be cleaned monthly. The Post-Motor HEPA Filter requires annual cleaning. The instructions are very precise and well-illustrated. Judging from the overall design of the unit, I expect the filters to be just as easy to manage as the rest of it.
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Other Handy Features
With today's technology, there's no reason not to have certain safety features. A clothes iron, for example, should always have an automatic shut-off when left idle. A vacuum should have a thermostat to shut it off if it overheats. The Shark Lift-Around does have such a feature. It will save your unit from burning up if you have a clog -- something I miss on my old, bulky Dirt Devil vacuum, which constantly burns belts up when I accidentally suck up a bedskirt with it. If you need to reset the shut-off on the Lift-Around, you'll clear the clog and then allow 45 minutes for the unit to cool.
I also appreciate the model design that has clips to hold the hose and telescoping tube in place. Although it is not an upright, the unit stores as easily as one, without hoses and tubes sprawled all over (as with my shop vac). Oh -- that telescoping tube? As a non-reader-of-manuals, I didn't initially realize that it telescoped. (As if the bright tomato-colored button on the tube shouldn't have been a clue!) Out of curiosity I pushed it ... and the tube extended to the perfect length to keep my back entirely straight while vacuuming. (I'm tall.) It will also now reach all the way under the bed! Now that is a thing of beauty.
More Dirty Details.
I weighed my Shark, and including the wheelie base, all the attachments that normally fit on the tool caddy (everything except the power brush), a half-full dust-cup, and the bare floor tool with hose and telescoping tube attached, the entire unit weighs 11.4 pounds. That surprises me, because it feels much lighter to me -- perhaps because of the compact design. Keep in mind that you will be dragging it around on its wheelie base most of the time.
When in place on the wheelie base (properly known as the "canister caddy") the Lift-Around measures under 16" tall (excluding the hoses or tubes).
In my past vacuum-owner experience, I've owned Dirt Devils, multiple Oreck products (upright and portable), and several cordless compacts -- Shark and the original Dust Buster. This vacuum by far trumps the others I've owned. Is it any wonder I love it?
For Comparison's Sake
So far, I've observed no drawbacks to the Lift-Around save one: due to the compact and lightweight design, the dust cup is small. For an average household, you'll possibly get a few uses before you have to take the whopping two minutes to empty it. For my dusty dog-hairy house, I have to clean it out at each use. The manual suggest emptying the dust cup after each use. I think that's a fine idea. It's that easy.
This is an Unsolicited, Unpaid Review.
This is a candid review of a product which I purchased from a retail outlet. I am not affiliated with the Shark company in any way.
Should I notice issues with this product in the future, I will update this article accordingly. Date of original writing: April 17, 2013. Last update: April 17, 2013.
Feel free to ask me in the comments below.
Copyright (c) 2013 by MJ Miller
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