Carpet says home to many of us. The warm softness under our toes when we get out of bed, the way a carefully selected color or pattern can tie together a space, the comfort of our children tumbling and stumbling on a well padded playroom. But keeping carpet clean is no picnic.
This is absolutely the case for the new Ultra Soft Carpeting trend. Though fluffy and cozy to the touch, we have our concerns about how to best care for and clean this new style. To ensure we’re providing our customers with the absolute best advice, our team set out to put this Soft Carpet to the test.
Seeking help from a local home improvement store, we got our hands on a large sample piece Soft Carpet with a face weight* of 97.5 (the thickest available.) We won’t share the brand of carpet we sampled, but all the leading carpet manufacturers are producing a near identical, soft carpet product (so it really doesn’t matter.)
Once we had the piece laid out, our test team assembled a variety of our favorite central vacuum system powerheads, stand-alone vacuum cleaners, and vacuum wands. To ascertain a variety of user strength levels, we gathered a diverse team, from youthful, strong males to Central Vacuum Stores’ owner, Renee Ambrose who recently suffered a shoulder injury.
We performed two tests with each product, first with the sample Soft Carpet on a hard surface and again with the sample atop a 60.5-ounce carpet to act as an extra thick pad. By doing this, we can be certain no matter how your carpet is installed, the products we recommend will work for you.
*Face weight is the number of ounces of fiber per square yard of carpet. The higher the face weight, the more yarn in the carpet. Ultra Soft Carpeting carries a very high face weight.
Starting first with central vacuum system products, we assembled a standard wand and powerhead combination. We used the 15,000 watt, high suction central vacuum system that services our warehouse and office building. The moment the vacuum power was initiated, the test team found it near impossible to move the powerhead across the surface of the Soft Carpet. Even as we tried powerheads from different makers, the results were the same: the Soft Carpet completely choked the mobility of the vacuum and kept it latched where it started.
Testing next the new Centec AFR (Air Flow Relief) Wand, we attached one of our best-selling powerheads and toggled between the three AFR settings on the wand. There was a noticeable difference once we fully opened the valve. While this made it possible to easily maneuver the vacuum across the carpet (even for Renee) it dramatically reduced the suction power. Opening the relief on the wand allows the suction to be lessened. However, less suction means less cleaning power. So while we found the AFR wands indeed solved the lack of mobility, the carpet received only a surface cleaning at best, leaving dirt and debris at the base of the fibers.
Transitioning back to a standard wand, the test team then sampled the Wessel-Werk EBK360 Soft Clean Powerhead. The EBK 360 Soft Clean is designed specifically for Soft Carpet and fits on a variety of central vacuum and canister vacuum wands. (To find if this powerhead will function with your vacuum, call 1-800-221-8227.) Part of its design are the eight suction release holes along the base that protect the Soft Carpet against damage from powerful vacuum suction.
By using the 5 height adjustment levels, each test team member was able to find a setting that worked for them. The stronger team members were able to move the vacuum with minimum effort at a lower level (Level 3) than the others. Additionally, a lower level was able to be used once the sample was removed from the padding. This tells us, by selecting a lower grade carpet pad, you may be able to garnish slightly more mobility.
Overall, the Wessel-Werk EBK 360 Soft Clean was the best functioning solution for the central vacuum system. However, bear in mind that (like the AFR wand) the suction release holes and higher height adjustment settings reduce the power of the vacuum suction. You are, again, only getting a limited clean and not reaching the base of the carpet fiber.
As our final test, we used S8 Miele canister vacuums and a variety of Miele powerheads to clean the Soft Carpet sample. We found that the models featuring Miele’s electric hose technology (the Kona, Marin, Cat & Dog, and UniQ) cleaned the carpet better than the non-electric models. (To learn more about the Miele S8 series, VISIT HERE.)
Similar to the Wessel-Werk EBK360, the Miele S8’s feature five power settings and, again, each individual testing the vacuum selected from the lowest or second lowest settings. While the Miele canisters were easy to use and maneuver, the results are the same: Using settings designed for vacuuming upholstery or draperies will not thoroughly clean your carpet.
Since writing this article, Miele has introduced a canister vacuum and powerhead designed specifically for soft carpeting. The Miele SoftCarpet Complete C3 features their brand new Electro SC SoftCarpet floor tool.
The SoftCarpet Complete C3 has a special setting that offers the proper wattage and height adjustment for this delicate carpeting. By tapping your foot on the canister’s operating buttons, you can change from hard floor setting to the SoftCarpet setting in seconds. It means you can vacuum all your flooring, delicate to durable, with one tool. For our full review on this new vacuum, read this blog. Or visit the product page here.
We understand the allure of the Soft Carpet trend. Who wouldn’t want their carpet to be cushiony and buttery to the touch? Who wouldn’t want their children to play on a soft surface? Who wouldn’t want to walk barefoot on smooth, creamy carpet?
But here’s the hard truth about the Soft Carpet phenomenon:
No matter the vacuum or attachment…you will never be able to deep clean Soft Carpet.
The facts are these:
- Soft Carpet fibers are thicker and denser than standard carpets. This is what gives it the softness it’s known for.
- In order to push a vacuum across this extra thick carpet, you must either limit the amount of suction or raise the height of the powerhead (and often, both.)
- The amount of suction reduction and/or height adjustment required to move the vacuum renders the vacuum completely inefficient.
- By not limiting the suction and/or raising the height, the vacuum can lock onto the fibers or remain stationary too long. This is causing standard vacuums to burn and ruin our customer’s newly installed Soft Carpet.
- Dust, debris, pet dander, and other allergens settle at the base of carpet fibers. By not powerfully vacuuming your carpeting, you will eventually affect the health of your family.
Here at Central Vacuum Stores, we take pride in only selling quality name-brands we can stand behind. Each of the products tested above are high-quality and top-selling items loved by our customers and sales team. So we can’t say this enough:
It isn’t the vacuum cleaner or attachment that’s lacking…when it comes to Soft Carpet, no product will give you anything but a surface cleaning.
Central Vacuum Stores’ owner Renee Ambrose really enjoyed being part of the testing and she had an interesting perspective. Renee has been selling vacuum cleaners for over forty years (since she was 15 years old!)
She compared the Soft Carpet trend to the all-too-familiar Shag carpeting sensation of the 1970’s. Like Soft Carpeting, the extra dense fibers found in Shag carpets were impossible to keep clean. While folks fell in line to install the grooviest trend on the market, she sat back and watched as her customers one-by-one needed to replace their carpeting within just a few years. Even worse than that, customers who suffered from allergies or asthma quickly saw diminished health because they couldn’t properly remove the harmful elements settling into their carpets.
Her hypothesis: homeowners will find their Soft Carpet carpet so stained and odorous in the near future, they’ll be shopping for a replacement within five years.
Be sure you truly investigate this trend before installing it in your home. Even in rooms that don’t receive much traffic, you can’t keep dust or dirt away forever. The softness of these carpets is really a wonderful selling feature, but you won’t catch any of our experts recommending them.