Vax Platinum SmartWash review: An upright cleaner that makes carpets look like new
If you think your carpets deserve more than just a quick vacuum every now and again, the Vax Platinum SmartWash could be just the ticket. Although it looks like an upright vacuum cleaner, albeit a large one, this device gives your carpet and upholstery a shampoo and scrub-down, washing out stubborn stains and stinky bacteria, leaving everything looking and smelling cleaner.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: What do you get for the money?
At £300 it’s quite pricey and £50 more than its predecessor, the Platinum Power Max Carpet Cleaner. What’s the difference? The big change is that the SmartWash no longer requires a trigger to deploy water and cleaning solution onto the floor. Instead it automatically deposits a suitable amount as the unit is moved forward, and picks the dirty liquid up as it rolls back.
The SmartWash also has a separate tank for cleaning fluid, where the Power Max had a single tank, requiring you to mix it manually. It’s lighter, too, and no longer comes with a pre-treatment wand.
Otherwise, it’s pretty similar. In the box, there’s a 2.5m hose onto which you can clip the supplied antimicrobial tool for manually scrubbing upholstery, and a spinning brush head that automatically massages stubborn stains on rugs and carpets.
There’s also a handy bag to keep all this stuff in and it comes with 500ml of Vax’s antibacterial cleaner plus a 250ml spray bottle of pre-treatment solution, to start working on the dirt before you tackle it with the machine.
Replacement antibacterial cleaner is quite expensive, though: it’s £44.99 for four litres and you can’t use alternatives without invalidating the SmartWash’s guarantee. In my tests, on a carpet that had never been cleaned before, the SmartWash used around 20ml per square metre, which works out to around 22p per square metre. If you have a lot of carpet, that’s going to stack up, although regular subsequent washes shouldn’t need to use as much liquid.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: What’s it like to use?
There’s a bit of setting up to do each time the SmartWash is used, as Vax recommends not leaving liquids in it while not in use. The cleaning fluid has to be poured into the smallest tank and warm water into the medium-sized tank. The largest tank is used to store dirty water that’s collected as it cleans.
The first thing I noticed about the SmartWash is how noisy it is. With water being pumped into and out of your carpet, the cleaning fluid being added and two motorised brush rollers giving everything a vigorous scrub, it creates a cacophonous racket.
It’s heavy, too, weighing 7.4kg even before you load it with liquid and needs a fair bit of pulling back and forth to get decent results but, once you start going with it, it’s relatively easy to manoeuvre. Pushing the cleaner forwards sluices the area with liquid, while pulling it back sucks the dirty water back up again. In between these actions, the SmartWash’s two brushes are working the cleaning agent into the carpet as if it were being scoured with a scrubbing brush.
To accelerate the drying process there’s a dry-only button, which stops adding more water when pushing it forward and just lifts water out of the carpet. I found I needed to do this a fair bit to collect the moisture from the carpet but it leaves it surprisingly dry considering the amount of water that’s passing through the system and collecting in the waste tank. It still needs a few hours after cleaning to completely dry, though.
If you want to use the accessories, these connect to the hose, which in turn hooks into to the front of the unit, bypassing the main roller brushes. The spinning brush attachment is great for taking the hard work out of removing a stubborn stain, as its rotational movement does some of the scrubbing for you. Hold the trigger down to add water and release to suck it up again. The antibacterial tools work in a similar way but aren’t motorised.
When you’ve finished, the cleaning fluid tank is easy to pour back into the bottle so there’s little waste, and the clean and dirty water tanks are also easy to empty, too.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: How well does it clean?
I tested the SmartWash on a 15-year-old rug that’s only ever been cleaned with a vacuum, running the SmartWash over the rug several times and switching to the dry only mode to remove as much of the moisture as possible.
I started cleaning half the rug to observe the difference and it came up noticeably brighter and cleaner-looking once I’d finished. The cleaned area was fresher-smelling and softer to walk on as well. Frankly, it looked like a new rug.
The drying process didn’t leave the rug perfectly dry and it wasn’t dry enough to walk on without getting wet socks for a couple of hours. However, by the next day the rug was perfectly dry. I was pleasantly surprised by how little water had soaked through to the underside of the rug in the process, which remained dry throughout.
One section of the rug had a stubborn stain that wasn’t removed by the main unit, so I tackled it with the rotating attachment and it made short work of the stain. It couldn’t completely remove a small spot of hard sticky stuff that was well and truly attached to the rug, although it was able to break it up and tease off some of it.
I also tested the upholstery attachment on a section of my once cream-coloured sofa that’s seen three children grow up on it. This also lifted off a lot of dirt but requires more work because you have to do the scrubbing yourself.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: Should I buy it
The Vax Platinum SmartWash isn’t going to replace your vacuum cleaner and it isn’t the kind of device you’re going to want to use every week. This means your mileage is really going to vary depending on how much carpet and upholstery you have that needs cleaning, and how regularly you’re willing to put up with the inconvenience of damp carpets, no matter how temporary.
It’s expensive, too, at £300, although if you have a mostly carpeted house and pets or other inhabitants that regularly leave it dirty, it could work out cheaper in the long run than paying a professional to come and do it for you.
There’s no doubt that this left my carpets cleaner but I’m not convinced I’d use it more than a handful of times a year, if that. For the rest of the time, it’s a large device to have hanging around and it takes up quite a lot of space.