I Tried This $500 Wet/Dry Vacuum and I Have Complicated Feelings

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Person wearing an apron cleaning a kitchen and dining room with a stick vacuum cleaner
Credit: sukiyaki/Shutterstock

I am not afraid to admit that I am something of a vacuum snob. My German mother taught me the importance of owning a good (read: German) vacuum and I have made her proud by religiously using this same (German) vacuum for the past 13 years. But every once in a while, one gets the itch to try something new. It’s not that my vacuum doesn’t work anymore; it does! — even though my dog decided one day that it was a chewing toy. Honestly, I blame my vacuum unrest on the pandemic. Two years spending all my days and nights in the same (small) space made me ready for a change.

So, when I heard about Tineco’s newest wet/dry vacuum, the FLOOR ONE S5, I decided to give it a try. It was shiny and new and, as yet, unmarred by tooth marks. Here is my honest review:

It actually makes vacuuming fun.

Just because I am a snob about vacuums does not mean I enjoy vacuuming. It is, in fact, one of my least favorite cleaning tasks. Give me a dirty toilet bowl any day! So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually looked forward to using this vacuum (and, for what it’s worth, so did my 11-year-old daughter).

For starters, it’s pretty intuitive to use. You just fill it up with warm water and soap and turn it on. There’s some kind of motor that propels the vacuum (and you!) across the floor, so there’s no need to push at all. The Tineco also senses which areas are dirtier than others and powers up or down, accordingly. I found it a (somewhat) fun game to guess when the vacuum would kick into high gear and when it would just sort of hum along.

It makes your floors super-clean.

Walking on my hard wood floors after using this vacuum is a dream. It picks up every speck of cat litter, cat food, and cat fur (yes, there’s a theme here) that my (lovely) kitten Ramona leaves behind and expertly sucks up dust bunnies, pine needles, and all other manner of grit and grime that accumulate in a New York apartment. It gets the floors just wet enough, without leaving behind residual water. When you’re done, you really feel like you could eat off the floors. Admittedly, I didn’t try that, but I will say, since using it, I’m much more likely to go barefoot.

It’s grossly satisfying.

Another highlight of this vacuum is also one of my complaints. The dirty water canister is really really gross. I imagine this is true if you don’t have pets, but it is especially true if you do. And it’s super-satisfying to know that the vacuum is getting up so much stuff. The first few times I used it, everyone oohed and ahhed over the murky water and clumps of hair. But then there is the reality of cleaning out that dirty canister.

It needs to be cleaned every time you use it.

If you do not want your vacuum to start smelling, you will need to clean it each and every time you use it. This is something I learned the hard (stinky) way. I don’t often set aside a big block of time to vacuum the entire house. I vacuum for short spurts, whenever I have a few minutes to spare, or whenever there is, say, a trail of kitty litter that needs immediate tending to. Often, once I finish vacuuming, I’m distracted by something else (like a work call or a kid who needs help with homework) and then I forget that there is a vacuum with a quarter-tank of dirty water in it… until the next time I vacuum and I discover that it smells.

Now, luckily, the vacuum has a self-cleaning function, which makes cleaning relatively easy. You will also want to take the parts out, wash them with soap and warm water, and let them dry completely before putting them back. It’s not hard, but it’s also not easy. And the part where you have to empty the dirty water canister is (again) pretty gross.

It needs to charge before use.

The vacuum is cordless, which is great for using it here, there, and everywhere. But it needs to be charged before you use it. And that means plugging it in somewhere well in advance of when you’re actually planning to vacuum. It also means, if you’re trying to clean a rather large home all at once, you’ll need to re-charge it in the middle of your vacuuming endeavors.

Bottom line: I feel mixed about this vacuum. On the one hand, it’s fun to use and extremely effective. On the other hand, it’s not particularly suited to the way I like to clean — and cleaning it is pretty gross. At the end of the day, my German vacuum is still my go-to vacuum.

Have you tried this vacuum? What do you think?