In this Vax Platinum SmartWash review, we won't be fixating on dog muck. However, this is a carpet cleaner that proved its worth in a test so extreme, it changed my perception of carpet cleaners in general. It's not just a carpet cleaner; it's a crap-et cleaner.
Before getting this Vax, I saw carpet cleaners as something to be used once in a blue moon, when the whole house needed a good seeing to. But since receiving a sample of the Vax Platinum SmartWash, I’ve found it to be useful on a number of occasions, mostly because I have two Labradors (one a puppy) and three cats, but also because I have had my own fair share of recent accidental spillages, like the last time I reviewed a pod coffee machine and spilled the contents of a whole shot over the lounge rug.
To sum the Vax Platinum SmartWash review up very adroitly, it's the best carpet cleaner you can get. Just pair it with something from our list of the best vacuum cleaners or, if you are a modern type, the best cordless vacuum cleaners, and you're set for life.
Finally, for any literate dogs, reading: this is your nemesis when it comes to cleaning up behind you. Go on, give it your best shot, if you think you’re hard enough.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: price and availability
Vax's rug demon costs £300 in the UK and AU$500 in Australia. It doesn't appear to be available in the USA but if it were it would cost about $420. Amazon has lots of all-American carpet cleaners, should you need one immediately. Bissell and Hoover are the big boys of carpet cleaning, Stateside.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: design
From a design point of view, most carpet cleaners share one thing in common – they look the same; rather like oversized upright vacuum cleaners from the 1960s only with a modern, Dyson-esque transparent plastic twist. This model sticks to the formula and features a big wide transparent cleaner head, two large wheels on the rear and two water containers – a 3.5-litre one for clean water and a 1.9-litre reservoir for all the dirty water that’s been sucked out of the carpet. Mounted to the rear is a smaller auto-mixing reservoir for the cleaning solution (it comes with two 250ml Platinum Solution bottles and a Pre-Treatment spray). In the realm of carpet cleaners, the Vax is a good looker, not that it matters.
One of the main problems with domestic carpet cleaners of the upright variety – the most common style – is storage, as in ‘where the hell am I supposed to put this when I don’t need it?’. The Platinum SmartWash is certainly big but I reckon it’ll easily fit in a cupboard under the stairs or any dry outbuilding. Crucially, at 7.4kgs, it’s not quite as heavy as some models I’ve tested so it’s not too bad to lug up a flight of stairs. It’s also surprisingly easy to push and pull, especially on thin to medium pile carpet.
One of the key things about this model is that it doesn’t come with a trigger on the push handle and I shall explain why this is so, just a short finger scroll below.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: features
Most carpet cleaners have a trigger on the handle and you pull it to squirt solution into the carpet as you push the cleaner through the pile. You then release the trigger on the backstroke and the cleaner’s suction is activated, drawing all the filthy water from the carpet and depositing it into the dirty water container.
The Vax Platinum SmartWash doesn’t have a trigger because it senses forward movement, activating the solution pump as you push it. It also senses rearward motion, automatically activating the powerful suction function on the backstroke. This is clever and I generally really like it, even though fingering a trigger is hardly a strenuous exercise. The main reason I like it is because it’s actually quite possible to forget to release a trigger on the backstroke which means the carpet receives a double dose of water.
With this model I simply push it forward slowly (slowly being the watchword here) and draw it back even more slowly so as much water as possible can be vacuumed up in a single rearward sweep. And just in case you’re wondering how, with an automatic system like this, it’s possible to perform two or three consecutive rearward drying sequences without it continually dispensing solution on the forward stroke, the Vax bods are one step ahead of you. Simply tap the ‘Dry Only’ button and the washing function is turned off so you can suck up any excess water on both the forward and backward strokes. An illuminated ‘Wash and Dry’ display on the brush head tells you which function is in operation.
There is, however, a small catch with this automatic system that I’m not so keen on. Since this machine activates the water solution whenever it’s pushed, you have to either push it to the area you want to clean while tilted and locked in its upright storage position or, if the cleaning head is flat on the floor, push it along the carpet with the power off. Otherwise it will simply start washing the carpet en route to the cleaning area. And worse, you may not even realise this and end up with a wet stripe across a section of carpet you didn’t intend to clean. It’s not a major issue but you just need to be aware that if the power’s on and the cleaning head’s down, it will start dispensing water the moment it detects forward motion.
The Vax is equipped with two forward-spinning Flexforce brush bars that reach deep into the fibres. These bars can be easily removed for cleaning, along with the whole transparent housing. This is something you will need to do after each session or some of the fluff and muck that isn’t sucked into the dirty water chamber will linger and dry when in storage.
The machine also ships with a patented SpinScrub hand tool and 2.5m long hose for sorting the stairs, upholstery and the car. The 9 metre cable provides more than enough leeway to tackle even the largest rooms from one mains outlet.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: performance
This carpet cleaner has proved itself exceedingly well, first during a standard full scrub of a bedroom carpet that had never been cleaned and, just 30 minutes later, a cataclysmic disaster involving dogs. It miraculously sorted the smeared excreta without leaving any evidence and I was overjoyed by the results. The same can not be said about the robot vac which required wearing a face mask while giving it a full clean using a toothbrush and copious amounts of paper towelling.
For something so wide (13 inches/33cm), the Vax’s cleaning head is pretty easy to manoeuvre though it did tend to veer off course a bit on my medium pile carpet. The low profile head also proved handy for reaching under the bed.
This beast has impressive suction and I was amazed at the amount of water that was being sucked into its maw. The result was an almost dry carpet after two or three extra strokes in the ‘Dry only’ mode.
Vax Platinum SmartWash review: verdict
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use carpet cleaner that doesn’t weigh a ton and is relatively easy to store, Vax Platinum SmartWash comes highly recommended. It’s easy to push and pull, pretty simple to clean and it deals very well with all kinds of stains – except, understandably, some that have been in situ for several months.
Given that the price is not noticeably inflated, this is, all told, probably the best carpet cleaner you can buy today, pound for pound (or dollar for dollar).