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Numatic George review: A jack of all trades vacuum that’s also a master of wet cleaning

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
260
inc VAT

The Numatic George is a useful all-in-one that’s great at wet cleaning but lacks the finesse of modern vacuum cleaners

Pros 
Great wet cleaning
Affordable price
All-in-one design
Cons 
Cumbersome to use
Fiddly conversion between wet and dry modes
Disappointing vacuuming
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While Henry usually grabs the limelight when it comes to Numatic’s range of cylinder vacuum cleaners, it’s a little unfair on his green younger brother, George. George is a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, so can do everything that a Henry can do in terms of sucking up dust and dirt. However, it can also be used to wash both carpet and hard floor, and can even be tasked to dispose of unwanted water if you find yourself with a significant spillage, blockage or leak.

In fact, it’s these skills that George is best at. The vacuuming prowess of Numatic’s range of cylinder vacuum cleaners has arguably fallen behind the likes of cordless sticks from Dyson and Shark. They rely solely on powerful suction, without the carpet agitating roller you usually find on most modern models. You can find out how well the George performs in the ‘how well does it clean’ section, below.

However, when it comes to wet cleaning, George comes into its own. It still doesn’t have the carpet agitation you’ll find on carpet cleaners from Vax and Bissell, but in our tests the George proved itself to be something of a wet-cleaning hero.

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Numatic George review: What do you get for the money?

The fact that George is both a wet and dry cleaner means that, for less than the price of Dyson’s cheapest cordless vacuum, you’re getting both a vacuum cleaner and a wet cleaner in a single unit. That’s not just a cost-based benefit, it’s also easier to store, with one device that can perform a multitude of functions.

However, let’s not pretend that George is a compact device. Its dimensions are 360 x 370 x 510mm (WDH) before you attach any hoses, and it weighed 8.8kg when configured for wet cleaning. Having said that, once you’ve hauled it out of the cupboard, its weight is relatively inconsequential, because it happily trundles around on its four coaster wheels.

That’s not the end of it, though, with the box contents weighing a total of 14.68kg. If 6kg sounds like a lot of additional accessories it’s because the box is crammed with them. There are two hoses: one standard hose for dry vacuuming, and a second with a supplementary water pipe that runs along the outside and feeds a clean water and detergent mix into the spray attachments. You also get the usual three-part aluminium extension wand, as you would with a Henry, though this version has plates welded on to each end to mount the spray apparatus.

In dry mode, you attach one of the 15 litre bags to the inside, place the filter on top, connect the dry hose and use the suction button to start vacuuming. This mode comes with a floor head, crevice tool, dusting brush and an upholstery tool with a removable brush. There’s only one power setting, though the wand has an adjustable vent that can reduce the suction to a stated 70% when fully opened.

To convert to wet mode, you have to remove the bag and the filter, and replace it with a bucket and lid. The bucket holds the clean water, and a pipe has to be dangled into it, so George can pump it to the spray tool. There are three head options here, with a large wedge-shaped funnel for carpet cleaning, a smaller version for upholstery and spot cleaning, and a hefty brush and squeegee contraption for hard floor.

READ NEXT: The best robot vacuums you can buy

Numatic George review: What’s it like to use?

That process of converting George between wet and dry modes isn’t particularly difficult but it’s an undeniable faff. This, and the fact that you have to plug it into the wall, mean it doesn’t have the same instant grab-and-go appeal that you get with a cordless stick.

This ease-of-use question mark is carried over into actual use. The vacuum floor head isn’t particularly easy to push around carpets, relying on suction alone and often getting caught on thicker pile.

Converting it into hard floor mode, which pushes a brush out from around the outside edge of the floor head, is done with a pair of clips on the top. This felt stiff and is cumbersome to operate.

The attachments for wet work are just as clunky. The carpet cleaning tool is just a flat funnel with a spray behind it. You spray the carpet and drag the funnel along, agitating the carpet manually and sucking the water back out as you go. I found the wedge-on extension pole often twisted during this process, requiring regular readjustment.

If anything, the hard floor cleaning device is even worse. It’s a brush on one side, and a squeegee with a vacuum on the other. Rotating between the two when it’s on the end of the extension wand requires some dexterity.

The extra power and piping needed in George’s lid to pump water out has meant sacrificing the manual cord winder you find in the top of a Henry. There is a hook on the unit designed to hang the cord from, but it’s not as clean and simple as winding it in. There’s a lot of it, too, with 10m of cable, giving the cleaner with the hose and extension wand attached a total reach of 26.8m. That’s great for not having to keep moving between plug sockets, but it’s a painful amount of cable to have to manage.

Controlling the various functions is operated via two switches, located on the top of the cylinder. Because there’s water involved, these are covered in protective waterproof cases, which makes them slightly tricky to flick on and off. One of the switches activates the vacuum, which stays on all the time, while the other powers the clean water pump, which has a secondary control on the hose so it’s only spraying water when you need it.

When all is said and done, however, the emphasis on function over form is also some of the appeal. Spare parts are abundant and your local appliance engineer is unlikely to be put off by a repair job. The latest George is built from tried and tested components and will, in all likelihood, last for years to come.

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Numatic George review: How well does it clean?

I tested the suction on the vacuum, measuring 22.5kPa with the vacuum at full tilt. The only vacuums we’ve recently tested with more powerful suction are Dysons and Sharks, but the advantage George has over the suction in these cordless sticks is that it can keep this level of suction going all day, whereas a cordless on max power will use up its battery charge in about 10 minutes.

However, the decent suction doesn’t make George the perfect vacuum cleaner. In our vacuuming tests, it performed well when picking up flour from hard floor, collecting 49g of a 50g spill, but didn’t agitate the short pile carpet enough to collect more than 40g.

It also fell badly at the Cheerio hurdle. In carpet mode, the floor head doesn’t have any space to let a Cheerio under it and into the path of its powerful vacuum. On hard floor mode, the extendable brush does have some gaps at the front, which let some Cheerios through, but it still pushed most of our test spill ahead of it. In a nutshell, the floor head isn’t well suited for larger particles.

Switching to the less conventional hands-and-knees method showed there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the suction, though. To clear the Cheerio mess that remained, I attached the upholstery funnel and the Cheerios leapt up it, leaving nothing behind. It goes to show that there are tools for most jobs in this package, but you have to be prepared to get down on the floor and do a bit of the work yourself.

I then tested the wet mode, and it’s here where George truly shines. I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly expecting this to be as good as it is, but it did a grand job of washing everything I put in its way.

George comes with 480ml of Nuchem 4 (12 servings), a detergent you add to the clean water bucket, and between it and the suction, it worked wonders. When you run out, a 1 litre bottle costs around £23 on Amazon, which works out to just under £1 per 40ml dose, which seems reasonable.

I started with the rug in my family room, which gets a lot of foot traffic. When I’ve cleaned this with upright style carpet cleaners in the past, it sheds a lot of pile and has a tendency to clog them up. George’s action of spraying down detergent and picking it up without much mechanical agitation makes for a significantly less messy clean.

That’s not to say that George operates without any agitation, but the amount you put in is really down to how much manual pressure you can apply to the cleaner. The more the better, not only for the deepness of the clean, but also because I found that squashing down on the carpet helped squeeze out some of the water I was laying down. It isn’t the same as scrubbing the pile with a rotating brush, but it seemed to add enough agitation to get the job done.

The end result was a visibly cleaner carpet. In fact, it looked like new. What was particularly impressive was that the carpet, while damp for a few hours afterwards, dried reasonably quickly, within 12 hours of washing.

To test the smaller funnel attachment I removed a dirty floor mat from the driver’s side of my car. I went over this with a vacuum cleaner first, which didn’t do much more than lift off loose dirt, then cleaned half with George. The before and after here was phenomenal, with a vastly and visibly cleaner side after a little manual spraying, rubbing and vacuuming off the water.

For the hard floor test I tackled my garage floor. By spraying and using the brush side of the hard floor tool and a bit of elbow grease, I soon saw the dirt lifting off and the dirty water pooling. Flip the tool over to the squeegee side and the water just lifts away and into George. Despite the uneven concrete floor, the water was disposed of quickly and efficiently. It wasn’t touch dry afterwards, but it didn’t pool anywhere or have the chance to drain off before being picked up. Also, the cleanliness of the floor was significantly improved.

READ NEXT: The best Dyson vacuums

Numatic George review: Should I buy it?

If you’ve ever pondered over the virtues of buying your own carpet cleaner, then George should be near the top of the list, particularly if you’re looking for an all-in-one that can vacuum too. Upright carpet cleaners tend to be enormous and need a lot of space to store, and while George doesn’t solve that particular problem, both in terms of its size and the number of tubes and accessories you need to keep along with it, there is that benefit of not having to store two devices.

However, there are caveats to this general recommendation. The first is that it’s a bit of a faff to convert the George between vacuum and carpet cleaner. The second is that, while it offers powerful suction, it’s not the most luxurious vacuum cleaner in terms of ease of use. The wet cleaning tools require some additional effort to use, but they performed brilliantly during testing.

If you want an upright carpet cleaner for a similar price, that you can also push across dirty carpets without needing to scrub, then the Bissell HydroWave is a good option. This doesn’t also operate as a vacuum cleaner, but has a number of useful storage features including a retractable handle and a handy drip tray. The rotating brush bars will agitate your carpet for you, but it isn’t designed for hard floors.

For a more affordable option, perhaps because you’ve already got a functioning vacuum cleaner, there’s the Bissell PowerClean. This costs half the price of the George, but if all you want is a machine for cleaning carpet, it does a decent job for the price.

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