Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner CDCW-CSXS review: a mini carpet cleaner for everyday mess

We put the compact Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner to the test, to see how it coped with stains and spills around the home

Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner being used to clean a sofa by woman with dog in the background
(Image credit: Vax)
Real Homes Verdict

A must-have machine for busy homes where accidental spills are a common occurrence. It will take up hardly any room in your storage space and is an affordable way to avoid permanent upholstery damage.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Cleans multiple surfaces including carpet, hard floors, car seats and upholstery

  • +

    Lightweight and compact

  • +

    Effective and versatile

  • +

    Easy to clean after use

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Doesn’t completely remove deep stains on first wash

  • -

    Not designed for large areas

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If spills and stains are a common occurrence in your home, you may be looking for a more effective way to tackle them, which isn’t going to be timely or involve lugging a large machine out of storage. If this sounds like you, then you may want to invest in the Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner, a small, lightweight cleaner, that is both effective and easy to use.

With a very active three-year-old, inquisitive one-year-old, two cats and a very clumsy partner, spills and stains in our house occur on a weekly basis – if not more. We get through a lot of kitchen roll and have carpet stain remover under our sink for emergencies, so when the Vax SpotWash arrived, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I had to put it to the test.

We have cream carpets throughout our house, with some deep stains from coffee, mud and makeup. We also have cream covers on our dining room seating (bought pre-children), which were absolutely filthy, stained with all kinds of matter, from play dough and paint, to tomato sauce. I was interested to see how the Vax SpotWash would cope with these deep stains, as well as everyday spills and if it was quicker to use than a cloth and carpet cleaner. I also wanted to see how this compact little machine matched up to the best carpet cleaners out there, including some much larger machines I had already tested.

Vax SpotWash Carpet Cleaner cleaning a spillage on carpet

(Image credit: Vax)

Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner CDCW-CSXS specifications:

  • Cable length: 4.5m
  • Dimensions: 38.2 x 35.8 x 24.1cm
  • Weight: 3.9kg
  • Capacity: 1 litre (dirty water); 1.5 litres (clean water and cleaning solution)
  • Warranty: Manufacturer’s 2 years
  • What’s included: SpotWash Spot Cleaner machine, hard floor tool, multi-surface tool and 1x 250ml solution

Who will the Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner suit?

Busy families, those with mucky pets, and anyone who finds spills and stains in the household are a common occurrence. It will cut your use of liquid carpet cleaning products that require more elbow grease, too.

It isn't designed for cleaning full rooms of carpet like a larger upright carpet cleaning machine – instead it is the perfect helper for stains, spills, stairs, car seats and upholstery cleaning. And for what we think is a relatively low price, it will perfectly complement your other cleaning tools for a stain-free home.

What is the Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner CDCW-CSXS like to use?

My first impressions of the Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner, were how light and compact the box was. Upon opening the box, I found that there were only six separate items in the box, one being the solution. So, I hoped assembly would be quick and easy. I was also pleased to see that there was only one booklet in the box, as well as a quick-start guide attached to the machine.


The main 'Let’s Get Started' booklet contains all the information you will need to know to effectively operate your machine. The smaller guide, attached to the machine, contains condensed information on assembly and operation. I opted to read the main booklet, as this was the first Vax product I had used, although I have used other carpet cleaners before.

After a quick whizz through the safety instructions, which are clear and separated into ‘Dos and Don’ts’, I moved on to assembly. This involved attaching two hose clips to either side of the machine, by just clicking them into place, wrapping the hose around the machine and into the hose clips, sliding the wash tool onto the end of the hose and pushing the hose end into its clip. Finally, I wrapped the power cord around the cord release hooks and I was done. Easy!

Following assembly, the machine was ready to use. I just needed to fill the clean water tank with a mixture of water and the Vax cleaning solution. Removing and replacing the water tank is really simple – you press the tank release button to pull it out and then click it back into place after. I did notice a small design flaw when filling the tank though. There are several lines on the tank which show how much warm water (maximum 40 °C) to add, then how much solution. 

This is great, but you need the tank to be on a level surface to see the water lines. The cap and hole for filling is on the side of the tank, near the top, so you have to hold the tank at an angle to fill it and then keep putting it level again to see if the water has reached the line. It would be a lot easier, if the cap was on the top of the tank. The neck of the solution bottle fits through the filling hole, so you can add this more easily when the tank is level, but you would have the same problem if using a larger bottle of solution.

A good feature of the clean water tank is that it gives two options for how much to fill the machine. You can either fill it just enough for a small area, or enough for a large area, meaning you don’t waste water and solution by guessing how much to put in. Assembly and filling the machine took just two minutes.

Cleaning carpets and rugs

The Vax SpotWash is designed for cleaning carpet in small areas to address stains or spills. Anyone with kids will find these to be a weekly (if not daily) occurence and sure enough, it wasn't long before a cleaning task presented itself. Unfortunately, my youngest hadn’t been very well had brought up his milk on his bedroom carpet. Never a nice thing to clean up, but this provided an excellent opportunity to use the SpotWash for the first time.

Once I had filled the machine with clean water and solution, I carried the Vax SpotWash up to my son’s bedroom. The spot cleaner is incredibly light and easy to carry around the house and up and down stairs. Following the instructions, I plugged the SpotWash in, unclipped the hose and with the multi-purpose attachment in place, I turned the machine on.

As the stain had dried (I had to leave it while he was napping), the instructions tell you to use the brush to agitate stubborn stains. To release water and solution, you press the trigger on the wash tool and move the head and brush over the stain. You then release the trigger to suck up the water and solution, which then hopefully lifts the stain too. This was really simple and even my three-year-old had a go. 

After a couple of minutes, the stain was completely gone and I went over it a couple of times until I could see no more water being sucked up into the nozzle. The carpet was left only slightly damp and within half an hour, it was completely dry and looked as good as new.

child using Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner

I let my son have a go as it is so easy to use the Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner. In no time his brother's sick had been cleaned from the carpet

(Image credit: Bethan Davis)

Next, I moved on to my bedroom carpet which had been victim to a baby-meets-eyeshadow-palette episode. I had also dropped a mauve lipstick on it, which had left a small, but deep stain. The eyeshadow was no match for the SpotWash and lifted away easily. The lipstick however, was very stubborn and after a few minutes, although the appearance of the stain had improved, you could still see it.

I also used the SpotWash to clean some coffee stains in our lounge and some marks left from our sofa legs. I had used a carpet cleaner a couple of weeks ago and we had moved our relatively new sofas back into position when the carpet was still damp, this had removed some of the stain on the legs and left a navy blue stain on the cream carpets. The carpet cleaning solution hadn’t lifted the coffee stains, but by using the brush on the Vax wash tool to agitate the stains, it really made a difference and following a good wash and almost a whole tank of water, the stains were gone.

Cleaning upholstery

Following cleaning the carpets, I only had enough cleaning solution to clean one more small area, so I decided to test it on the cream cushion on our dining table bench. This is where our eldest sits to have his meals, do crafts and play, so it was covered in a variety of food matter, paint and dried play dough. Many of the best upholstery cleaners had been pitched against the mess, but while they're great for the odd small stain, I needed something to do the whole bench which was discoloured from the dirt.

I used the machine in the same way I had used it on the carpets and although it improved the appearance of the cushion cover, it didn’t lift the paint stains or some of the dirt, like I had hoped. Next time I use the spot cleaner, I might try pre-treating the stained areas first before going over them with the Vax SpotWash. With a few goes, I am confident the engrained dirt will lift so I will definitely be using this for cleaning upholstery elsewhere in my home.

dirty dining room bench

Halfway through cleaning I could see the SpotWash was doing a great job on general grime but the dried on paint and play dough would need more attempts

(Image credit: Bethan Davis)

Cleaning spills

A few days after testing the Vax SpotWash on the carpet and cushion, I had to unexpectedly use it again, but this time for a spill. My youngest had put his drink bottle on our play mat and it had left a large puddle. Meanwhile, my eldest had done the same in the lounge, so I used the SpotWash without cleaner and just the suction, as it was just water that had spilled. This worked perfectly and both the play mat and carpet were left feeling dry in no time.

Machine cleaning and maintenance

At the end of every clean, you will need to empty both the water tanks. The dirty water tank is released in the same way as the clean water tank: by pressing its release button. You then have to lift a clip and unhook it to remove the lid. You can empty the water and rinse the components under the tap. It’s at this point, where you can see just how dirty your surfaces were, as the debris collects in the tank. Mine was full of cat hair, sand and mud. Once you’ve done this, refit the tank, simply by replacing the lid and clipping the tank back into place.

Another great feature about this machine is that it has a self clean function for the hose, to stop dirt and solution building up in it. To use this, you fill the clean water tank with about an inch of warm water. You then fit the tank back in and remove the wash tool from the end of the hose. Next, push the end of the hose into the hose self clean port and switch on the machine, holding the hose in place until the clean water tank has emptied. Finally, empty the dirty water tank, rinse it then slot it back into place.

The wash tools can also be rinsed under the tap and come apart to aid in better cleaning. The instructions give advice on cleaning the filter grill, but I haven't had to do this yet.

Vax SpotWash carpet cleaner with instructions

Both the quickstart guide and full instructions are concise and very easy to follow – surprisingly this is a rarity among other appliances

(Image credit: Bethan Davis)

Handy features

Having tested a few similar appliances, one thing I love about this machine is the instructions. Unlike other manuals I have used recently, this booklet is clear and concise, making the instructions really simple to follow. It also gives you hints and tips along the way, relevant to each section of use. There is also a handy troubleshooting section on the last pages.

The two attachments for the hose, make it easy to clean multi-surfaces, including stairs, car interiors and even sealed hard floors. The one thing I would have liked on this model was some on-board storage for the different heads, therefore I’d be less likely to lose it and it would be easier to switch heads between surfaces as I move around the home.

The long reach hose, of 1.5m is great for cleaning stairs and the slim design of the machine, means you can leave it on the bottom step, whilst cleaning.

Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner CDCW-CSXS being used to clean a car

Not just for carpets and hard floors, the Vax SpotWash can be used to clean stains in the car too

(Image credit: Vax)

Storing the Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner

Unlike my vacuum-style carpet cleaner, the Vax SpotWash is compact and slimline, meaning it fits comfortably in my storage spaces, without taking up much room at all. The hose wraps neatly around the base of the machine and the power cord is stored tidily on the cable hooks.

Manoeuvrability and noise

At just under 3.9kg, the Vax SpotWash is very light and easy to move around the house, from room to room and up the stairs. In terms of noise, it’s much louder than a standard vacuum cleaner, but not so much that it scared my children when it was on.

How does the Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner rate online?

I have rated the Vax SpotWash Spot Cleaner four and a half stars due to its versatility, how easy it is to assemble, use and clean and the fact that it is great for removing spills and stains. I would have rated it higher if the design of the clean water tank was different, there was on board storage and it lifted stubborn stains more effectively.

Online the Vax SpotWash rates very highly, with mostly four and five star reviews. Users agree that it’s east to use, the results are good and it’s easy to clean, with many people saying that ‘every home needs one’. Reviewers who have left two stars and below have had issues with the machine leaking or leaving water marks, but these have been addressed by Vax showing good customer service should you have an issue.

I would agree with the majority though, that this is a fantastic machine which will definitely be taking pride of place in my cleaning arsenal!

About this review and our reviewer

We test all appliances in the setting in which they were intended to be used – the home. This carpet cleaner was tested by Bethan Davis, a PR and events officer, who spends her time juggling her career, an on-the-go three-year old, an active one-year-old baby and two even more needy cats. Finding ways to keep the house clean, hygienic and tidy with ease has been tricky, so she is testing the latest buys to help make daily life less hectic. She tested this carpet cleaner against all the grime of a normal home, plus some curveballs thrown in by her sons and accident-prone partner...

Bethan works in PR in the tourism industry and lives with her fiancé, toddler Danny (with another baby on the way) and two cats, Jasper and Leo. She is always looking for appliances and tools that will make busy family life easier (and less messy) so she can cut the time she spends cooking, cleaning and washing when she gets home. She strives to find the perfect stylish storage solution for her son's toy dinosaur collection and is currently decorating her new home, room by room.