The Bissell 5200 Flip-It Bare Floor Cleaner

I installed our laminate hardwood flooring about seven years ago. Then I started my search for a way to keep that like-new clean look. After a couple of frustrating years we had experimented with many tried-but-not-true methods; these included dust mops, micro-fibers, flat mops, multiple spray products, and I was ready to give up. Then, we discovered the Bissell 5200 Flip-It Bare Floor Cleaner. We have never changed since.

The Bissell Flip-It is intended to be a two-in-one tool for cleaning bare floors, such as laminate flooring, vinyl, tile, and the like. It is called a Flip-It because you flip the handle one way to utilize the dry floor vacuum, and you flip it the other direction to utilize the wet vac function.

The engineering is really quite simple. By flipping the handle forward or backward, you are switching the suction port of the motor from the dry-vac side of the head to the wet-vac side. When using the wet-vac side, the spray trigger is “flipped” into the easy to access index finger position. The cleaner includes a handily stowed cleaning solution tank which dispenses any liquid cleaner onto the floor by the trigger for wet-cleaning. The waste-water tank also fits ingeniously into the handle for easy removal and dispensing. It is small enough to easily clean this tank out in any typical kitchen sink. It incorporates a safety float which blocks suction if the water gets too high to prevent it from entering the vacuum motor.

The base of the Bissell Flip-It has two vacuum slots that run across the width of the head, one for dry vacuuming up dust and dirt, and the other side incorporates a squeegee head for sucking up the dirty water. While either side is active, the other is passive conserving the suction power for only one job at a time. Flipping the floor cleaner is no-hassle — simply flip the handle from one side to the other, and the head is oriented the opposite way for the alternate cleaning method. No other switches or latches. No need to turn the power off.

The bottom of the cleaner’s base comes with a choice of two easily removable media for wet-cleaning. One is a brush that works well for scrubbing floor tile and grout. The other is a terry-cloth pad through which your cleaning solution soaks and which also picks up a lot of the dirt and grime as it mops the floor . The unit comes with two of these as you will likely always have one in the wash after each use or two

The electrical cord is plenty long to reach multiple average rooms from one electrical plug. The plug is grounded to protect you against an unlikely electrical shock, just in case.

Over all, after using this machine for four years, I would rate the Bissell Flip-It 5200 Bare Floor Cleaner scale as follows:

Ease of use: 5/5

Ease of cleaning and storage: 4/5

Effectiveness of dry cleaning: 2/5

Effectiveness of wet cleaning: 5/5

Reliability: 4/5

Overall: 5/5

The Bissell Flip-It 5200 Bare Floor Cleaner lists at $90.00 but can be found at many retail outlets such as Target, Ace Hardware, and Amazon.com for as low as $80.

As for the dry cleaning effectiveness, I would not buy the Bissell Flip-It for that purpose. The motor is too light to pick up all but the lightest of dry dirt and dust. Dust-bunnies seem to stick to the head rather than be sucked up by it. In addition, you need to remember that whatever dry material gets sucked into the waste tank becomes wet and disgusting as soon as you flip it and use the wet side.

The real wonder of this machine, and the reason why I would purchase another when this one wears out, is the wet-cleaning method.

Having worked for quite some time in the public school cleaning business, I can tell you that the best method for cleaning hard floors (disgusting elementary school cafeteria floors) is not by the traditional mopping method, where you swirl the water and dust around, but by putting small amounts water down, scrubbing, and extracting the dirty water back up. The water, with a small amount of cleaning agent, carries water up into the machine for disposal down the drain.

Bissell has followed the inspiration of the professional commercial cleaning industry in designing their Flip-It. After sweeping our kitchen and dining room laminate hardwood floor, I finish cleaning all of the areas with the Bissell Flip-It. You can use their hard floor cleaning solution if you like, but any non-soap product will work. I have used a weak vinegar dilluted solution as well as murphy’s oil cleaner in the clean tank. Skipping the dry-cleaning side of the Flip-It, I go straight for the effective wet side.

To clean, I simply follow a forward while pulling the trigger and then pull the Flip-It backward, allowing the suction and squeegees to clean the floor nearly dry. One single pass over the entire floor each week, and I dump the waste tank of totally black water — visual proof that the floor is cleaner than any other method I’ve used. I can quickly go over the whole floor, perpendicular to the first time, or go over any especially dirty section a second time and still extract dirty water. When I am done, I have a beautifully cleaned laminate hardwood floor. Then the dogs and kids and cooking attack it to make it dirty again, but no fear.

After buying your Bissell 5200 Flip-It Hard Floor Cleaner, please follow a couple of important pieces of advice.

First, never let the water set in the waste tank after you are done. I learned fast that after even a day, that water will culture whatever bacteria is present and trigger even the most stalwart of gag reflexes. Since my gag reflex is quite weak, it was a hastily learned lesson.

Second, since the cloth pad is soaking wet, it is best to remove to the laundry immediately before storing the Flip-It. If you choose to leave it in place, then be sure to store it on something that will catch or absorbe the water.

Finally, any time you use water on laminate flooring, leave as little moisture behind as possible. This, of course, is the beauty of the Flip-It as it extracts most of the water from the floor; however, there is still enough left behind to potentially enter your seams and cause swelling of the particle board body of your laminate flooring. I always follow up with a micro-fibre flat mop, which also gets your floor just that little bit cleaner.

We have been using ours for about four years without having to replace any parts, but is just now beginning to show some wear on the clean tank rubber seal. So, I went to the Bissell website and purchased a new seal, a new filter, and two new scrubbing pads for about $10.00. An excellent value for about $90.

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