Best Car Vacuums: Keep Your Car Sparkling Clean With These Top Picks
Always keep your vehicle looking pristine with these automotive vacuum cleaners
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON March 27, 2019
You're probably used to how often you need to vacuum your house. Most likely, your car gets the same amount of foot traffic in a much more condensed space. To get the job done, you're going to need to know about the best vacuums for car interiors. Here are our top picks.
- Best OverallArmor All Utility Wet/Dry VacuumSummarySummaryThe best car vacuum for your vehicle is by far this Armor All model due to its outstanding performance.ProsProsThis is a Wet/Dry Vac that comes with a large storage tank and is very lightweight.ConsConsThis cleaner is bulkier than other handheld automotive vacuum cleaners and has no car power adapter.
- Best ValueHOTOR Portable Auto Vacuum CleanerSummarySummaryOffering premium features while remaining at a low price. This is a great option for a cheap handheld auto vacuum.ProsProsHOTOR’s portable vacuum is inexpensive, compact for easy use, has an LED light, and can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter.ConsConsThe handheld model has a smaller receptacle than others and can only be powered by a car.
- Honorable MentionBLACK+DECKER DUSTBUSTER 16V Lithium Hand VacuumSummarySummaryNothing beats this Black + Decker cleaner’s portability and ease-of-use. This Dustbuster is a great option for someone who doesn't want to be bound by a power cord.ProsProsThis car vacuum cleaner is lithium-ion-battery powered, comes with several attachments to get to hard-to-reach places, and is lightweight for easy use.ConsConsThis vacuum can only be used on dry messes, and the battery life may be too short for some uses.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Types of Car Vacuums
Dry Vac vs. Wet/Dry
A crucial distinction between vacuums is what they can clean. Every vacuum can pick up dry trash like dirt, sand, and dust. Some vacuums have an added "wet and dry" capability, which means in addition to regular debris, they can also handle liquids without any issue. So, if your vehicle regularly sees drink spills or snow, having the extra wet cleanup ability makes a huge difference.
Often found in automotive shops and garages, a shop vac has a specific set of capabilities and looks that sets it apart from others. A typical shop vac has a base that sits on the ground, a large basin that holds debris, and industrial hoses to vacuum. Additional features include wet/dry capabilities, wheels for easy mobility, and drains at the bottom so you can easily empty liquid loads.
When it comes to portability, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option than a handheld vacuum. These generally look like your average "dustbuster" but come with a wide range of options like hose attachments, cigarette lighter plugs, and wet/dry capabilities. Some models are even battery-powered for optimal maneuverability.
Established in 1986, HOTOR started out in China and has become a well-known appliance manufacturer. It makes numerous automotive vacuum cleaners that come with a wide array of features for every consumer need. They continue to improve upon their most popular model, the Car Vacuum Cleaner.
This brand giant started all the way back in 1843 in Connecticut. Stanley is a very well-known tool brand with a product range that includes some great car vacuum cleaners. It produces shop vacs that range from lightweight and affordable to industrial strength. Its most popular models include the Stanley Wet/Dry Stainless Steel Tank and Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum.
Started back in 1922 by Raymond DeWalt, this Pennsylvania company is synonymous with long-lasting tools. The company continued to expand and redefine itself through the industrial era. Today, it offers different shop vacs and even some of the best handheld vacuums for cars. Check out DeWalt’s portable DCV517B Baretool 20V MAX and their heavy-duty 16 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac.
Car Vacuum Pricing
- Under $30: Most handheld, corded auto vacuums can be found for under $30. These are usually small models that can be found with either car plugs or wall plugs.
- $30-80: This price range includes the majority of at-home shop vacs and battery-powered handheld vacuums.
- Over $100: The most premium car vacuums are usually large shop vacs that offer numerous features like multiple hoses, detachable leaf blowers, and over 12 gallons of waste containment.
The absolute best vacuum cleaners come with handy utility attachments that make cleaning tight spaces and car seats a breeze. These range from a flexible hose to a wide assortment of nozzles that all have their own ideal uses.
Cleaners that plug into the wall are great for garage use. Vacuums with a 12-volt, DC plug utilize the car's power so you can clean while traveling. Finally, battery-powered devices don't need any cord at all. Every automotive vacuum cleaner lists how it is powered.
A vacuum cleaner isn't going to be too useful if it doesn't retain the waste it picks up. Knowing the size (usually in gallons) of a cleaner's receptacle and how much trash you expect to pick up is essential before you make a choice.
- Vacuum Life: If you’re considering a battery-powered vacuum cleaner, consider how long you normally vacuum for and how long the battery is rated to last. Nobody wants to have their vacuum die in the middle of cleaning.
- Power Plug: Some newer cars are doing away with the cigarette lighter in favor of USB ports, so make sure you know what your vehicle has before making a purchase.
- Vacuuming Location: If you don’t have any plugs near where you park your vehicle, or you like to vacuum at the car wash, then a vacuum that requires a plug and outlet won't be your best choice.
- Spills: If the interior of your vehicle is prone to seeing liquid messes, it’s key to have an automotive vacuum cleaner that can handle dry and wet messes. Vacuums that are only rated for dry debris cannot handle liquid.
Best Car Vacuum Reviews & Recommendations 2019
This Armor All car vacuum delivers the best of both worlds. In many ways, this car vacuum is like a traditional shop vac. It has a generous 2.5-gallon receptacle, a 6-foot long hose that comes with multiple utility nozzles, and all of its pieces have dedicated accessory storage onboard the unit.
Armor All managed to make the vacuum incredibly lightweight and compact, making it ideal for vehicle clean-up. Another remarkable feature is how well it works on fabric interiors. The car vacuum easily picks up animal hair, something even the most premium vacuums can struggle with.
The main issue with this vacuum has to do with its location versatility. The Armor All car vacuum only comes with a traditional wall plug, so if you're looking for something that plugs into your vehicle's power or runs on battery power, this is not the option for you.
Best Value: HOTOR Portable Auto Vacuum Cleaner
If you're looking for an affordable automobile vacuum without compromising on features, then HOTOR’s portable small car vacuum is the perfect fit. This handheld cleaner offers excellent features more common on vacuums in higher price ranges.
Something that sets this vacuum apart from the rest is that it has a DC 12v plug (also known as a cigarette lighter or power point). So no matter where you are, this powerful car vacuum is ready to go. The HOTOR also comes with hose and nozzle attachments to optimize your ability to reach every nook of your vehicle. Also, the handheld unit comes equipped with an LED light to help you see the dark, hidden corners of your car.
Even the best portable car vacuum isn't without its drawbacks. The suction isn't as good as other vacuum cleaners for cars, but it is safe to say it has superior capabilities when it comes to affordable models. While the 12v plug is handy, it is also the only power source, so if you don't want to vacuum with your car running, or you do not have a cigarette lighter in your vehicle, this won't work for you.
Honorable Mention: BLACK+DECKER DUSTBUSTER 16V Lithium Hand Vacuum
Our honorable mention shouldn't be considered less than its competitors. Black & Decker is well-known for making reliable cleaning products, so it's no surprise that their hand vacuum offers some extra power to clean car debris.
The main feature that sets the dustbuster apart from corded options is the portability of the lithium-ion battery power. The battery-powered vacuum doesn't compromise on power either and still comes with handy tools like a crevice tool and a rotating nozzle for easy use.
Something that this particular car cleaner misses out on is a wet/dry capability. This one can only pick up dry debris, which might be a deal breaker for many messes. In addition, it's important to note that the battery lasts an average of 30 minutes (similar to other cordless vacuums), so if you're looking for a longer cleaning session, a plugin vac might be a better choice.
- Always read the directions for emptying your vacuum to avoid breaking any parts or spilling all of the contents.
- Small automotive vacuums, especially handheld options, often won’t work for the entire house. Keep your house and car vacuums separated for the best results.
- Consider the quality of the manufacturer’s customer service program in case you have to contact the manufacturer when issues arise. Quality customer service and a good warranty are hallmarks of a good manufacturer.
Q: How often should I empty my vacuum?
A: Regardless of how much you vacuum, the best option would to be empty out the collection tank after every use.
Q: Will my vacuum pick up animal fur?
A: Yes, these vacuums have enough suction to pick up fur, and some attachments will even make it easier to clean upholstery.
The best overall value when it comes to automotive vacuum cleaners is by far the Armor All Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum. The vacuum offers the best features and performance available.
For car owners looking for a more affordable option, the HOTOR Portable Auto Vacuum Cleaner is amazingly handy and user-friendly. If you have anything to add, feel free to comment below!