Spring is a beautiful time of year. The blossoms come out on the trees, there are little ducklings in the park, and every single company you have ever heard of decides to release a vacuum cleaner they claim will revolutionise the cleaning market. The latest company to join the fray is Vorwerk, best known for the Thermomix, which can be purchased from the company in what it prefers to be referred to as “direct selling”. It’s accredited by the Direct Selling Association Australia, which also accredits companies like Arbonne, Herbalife Nutrition, and Amway. This latest product is the Kobold VK7 Cleaning System and, much like the Thermomix that tries to do everything, the Kobold VK7 can mop, vacuum, and agitate powder into your mattress, for some reason.
I’ve spent some time with this contraption, and these are my thoughts.
What is the Kobold VK7 Cleaning System?
Calling something a “cleaning system” sounds so much fancier than “vacuum cleaner with a mopping attachment”, but it is, in fact, a cordless vacuum cleaner with a variety of optional attachments.
While every other company is still moving to bagless vacuums, Kobold has made the (ko)bold choice of making this a bagged vacuum cleaner. I’m sure if you asked the company, they would say that the bags filter better than even the most diligent HEPA filtered bagless vacuum cleaner (a claim which will raise more than a few eyebrows), and that it’s cheaper to replace vacuum bags than it is to buy new filters. The vacuum bags are $45 for a 6 pack.
UPDATE: The original version of this story claimed that the KV7 doesn’t vacuum and mop at the same time. I have since received an email from Vorwerk pointing out that the mopping foot does, in fact, vacuum and mop at the same time. I made the assumption that it didn’t because I watched it push some small debris around the floor while I mopped. So, I guess it does vacuum while it mops, just not consistently.
The KV7 is available in several different bundles:
There’s the straight vacuum cleaner for $1699. The 2-in-1 vacuum mop attachment for $2399. And the complete cleaning system for $2999. I’m reviewing the complete cleaning system.
The complete system includes:
- The vacuum stick
- Electric brush head
- 4 filter bags
- 2-in-1 mop attachment
- Textile nozzle
- Cleaning solution
- Soft mop cloth
- Above floor set surface nozzle
- Above floor set Vario nozzle
- Telescopic tube
- Mattress freshening massage attachment
- Mattress beating suction attachment
- Upholstery brush
- Hard floor brush.
That is a lot for a cleaning system so, sure, let’s call it complete.
But is the Kobold VK7 good at cleaning?
On the one hand, yes. It cleans pretty well. Once you get it going and work out how to tame it, it can be a breeze getting the floor clean. It’s not the most powerful vacuum cleaner on the market (especially not at this price point), but it gets the job done better than most vacuum cleaners half its price. I would describe the suction as average. It doesn’t clean the floor as well as a Dyson, and it left a fair bit of debris behind. But it’s fine.
The mop function is where it’s at, though. It feels like using one of those floor buffers, and it can pull you along a bit if you’re not ready for it. When my wife took it for a spin, she wondered if it used more or less energy than just using a regular mop.
The mop function on the lowest water setting put out more water than I’m comfortable with on my wooden floors, so my solution is to turn on the water function long enough to get the cloth damp, and then put it on the dry setting until it needs to be rewet. It’s not a perfect solution, with devices like steam mops and the Dyson Submarine exist, but it’s effective.
It is absolutely the most ruthless mopping function I’ve used. It really scrubs that floor for you. The floor definitely becomes clean. Unfortunately, the way the pad moves means that tiles dry looking a bit weird because of the pattern cleaning, but this seems to be more of an issue on my dark bathroom tiles than on paler floors, so your mileage may vary.
The upholstery brush is very good, and got a lot of really gross things out of my couch that apparently my other test vacuums hadn’t been able to touch, which is a huge tick in the Kobold’s favour. But, as with all cordless vacuums, it can be difficult to know what to do with the big body of the machine. This is especially difficult with the Kobold, because it’s such an awkward shape. However, if you’re willing to use the body strap, that does make it much easier.
Electric floor brush is easy to use and works really well. It’s more like a dustpan and brush than a vacuum cleaner, which is an odd attachment for a vacuum cleaner to have, but would be handy for brushing up broken glass, chips and other larger debris.
The attachment that agitates the mattress freshening powder into a mattress is almost as weird as the idea of agitating mattress freshening powder into your mattress. I really, really wanted to test the mattress powder, and I like the idea of refreshing my mattress. However, after reading the instructions, and how they recommend the powder can only be used in a well-ventilated space (I assume due to the chemical composition), I decided I did not want to rub it into the object on which I sleep. I don’t trust me or the Kobold VK7 system enough to get up all the mattress powder. What if I’m not thorough enough and it hurts my skin or my lungs or something? Also, I live in an apartment, which is not very well ventilated in the bedroom.
UPDATE: Vorwerk has gotten in touch to say that when the instructions specify that the mattress powder needs to be used in a well-ventilated room, what they meant was that the room needed to be well ventilated so that the powder could dry, not due to the chemical composition of the powder. I feel that the instructions could have been clearer about this.
What is not good about the Kobold VK7 Complete Cleaning System?
I understand that the purpose of getting an all-in-one machine with a variety of attachments is to save space. But many of the attachments are so large, that I don’t think you’re really saving any significant space. Perhaps it’s to cut down on how many vacuum bodies you need, but I also notice that it means that only one person can really clean at a time, but perhaps this isn’t the moment to talk about the uneven distribution of household labour.
Plus, the instructions are poorly written. I know that Vorwerk and Kobold want you to do the in-house demos, or get an online demo, or watch a video, but some of us prefer written instructions that are easy to refer to. I want to be able to consult a contents page and then flip to page 42 to read one paragraph on how to do a specific thing, not scrub through a 40 minute video to find the one minute section I need, or contact a “sales rep”. Not everything has to be a video. There are written instructions, but the person/people who wrote them are not great at the art of easy to digest instruction writing.
It’s quite funny that in the instruction manual it says to refer to the instructions on the bottle of the cleaning chemicals, and then the bottle just tells you about its chemicals and gives no instructions.
The whole machine is also just a bit unwieldy. Like, I wouldn’t be giving this to my grandma, were she still alive.
Plus, despite repeated claims about how quiet the machine is, it is still very loud. It is true, there are louder vacuum cleaners, but 79decibels is still a lot of decibels and above average for a vacuum cleaner. On various decibel comparison charts, 70-75dBs is listed as “traffic, vacuums” and 80dB is an alarm clock. I wouldn’t have called out how loud it was, had the website not so proudly announced out how quiet it supposedly is.
Would I recommend the Kobold VK7 Complete Cleaning System?
Yes and no. Yes, I really like the mopping function and the upholstery attachment no I don’t really like any of the other functions. There are better, easier to use and store machines, that are cheaper.
At retail prices, the Kobold VK7 vacuum cleaner, without any of the fancy accessories is $1699, while the top-of-the-range Dyson Gen5 Complete (with 3 accessories and a floor dock) is $1599.
If you want a vacuum cleaner that mops, I still don’t fully recommend the V15s Detect Submarine Complete (because it’s difficult to wash the mop head), but that’s $1649 for the fanciest model, which is about $750 cheaper than the 2-in-1 Kobold model. In fact, you could get the Dyson Gen5 Detect Complete Dyson vacuum cleaner for $1599 (which is, incidentally, currently on sale for $1349), and my steam mop of choice, the Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off Steam mop ($199) and still save $601.
Granted, the Dyson machine will not massage powder into your mattress, so I’m going to leave that decision up to you on whether it’s worth getting a $3000 machine with very expensive vacuum bags for that purpose.
The Kobold VK7 Complete Cleaning System is a pretty good machine, that mostly does what it says it will, but I’m not seeing anything here that makes it worth hundreds of dollars more than the current top-rated machines that do basically the same thing.
This article has been updated since it was first published.