I’ve been looking for a hard floor cleaner for as long as I’ve had hard floors. Typical upright vacuums don’t work because they are designed around a rotating brush to funnel debris towards a single suction point. If you put the spinning brush on a wood floor it just throws debris all over. If you stop the brush, the vacuum doesn’t pick up dirt across its entire width.
Canister vacuums with hard floor attachments are better, but they often have brushes both in front and in back that are just as liable to flick dirt along as suction it up. Brooms can collect large dirt, but they kick up dust in the process. Swiffers capture the dust but choke on anything larger. So if I want my floors really clean, I have to sweep, wait for the dust to settle back down, and then go back over everything with a swiffer.
I was excited to try Bissell’s new entry in the hard floor space, the “Versus.”During assembly I noted a number of clever design features, from the smooth cam lever to secure the dirt container to the simple hose routing. The cleaning head (Bissell calls it the “foot”) has two legs at right angles to each other. Along the back of the legs is a brush, and in front is a flexible curtain to let dirt in but to keep air running from the end of each leg to the center where the hose provides suction. The foot floats and pivots on soft rubber wheels. The Versus sucked up everything in its path (hair, dust, sand, cereal) and left my floors beautifully clean.
But it’s not a home run: It can only pivot 45 degrees left or right before the brush begins to lift off the ground. This turns out to be a big problem not only because the wheels are quite grippy, but also because the foot is only designed to work when being moved forward. On the backward stroke the brushes lead the foot and kick anything out of the way before the suction has a chance to grab it. The machine is light enough that you don’t mind picking it up to move it, but do so too eagerly and the foot may drop off because it doesn’t always snap on securely.
The other drawbacks: the cord and the noise. When I’m in a hurry, I don’t like to unplug and replug cords while cleaning since every outlet in my house has been babyproofed and removing those plug guards is a pain. Given the state of the art in high-voltage batteries, it would be neat to see a cordless version of the Versus. The Versus also sounds like a traditional vacuum cleaner, so be warned if your baby is a light sleeper. If so, you probably don’t want to use the Versus during baby’s nap.
The Versus Bare Floor Vacuum Cleaner enabled me to clean my bare floors in half the time. Hopefully we will see a cordless revision soon that features a muffled motor and a lower-profile foot that snaps on securely and pivots 180 degrees. But even though the product is not perfect, I would still recommend it as an affordable way to get your floors cleaned faster.
The Bissell Versus Bare Floor Vacuum Cleaner lists for $79.99, but I’ve seen it on sale at Target and Kohls. Plus, if you have a Kohls credit card, you frequently get 10-20% off coupons– which you could use to buy the Bissell Versus at a discount. I also found the Bissell Versus Bare Floor Vacuum at Amazon for less than the list price.