LAST UPDATED: March 27, 2019
Best Car Vacuums: Our Top Pick to Keep Your Car Clean
If it’s what’s inside that counts, don’t neglect your car’s interior.
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PUBLISHED ON March 27, 2019
You're probably used to vacuuming your house on a regular basis. Your car also gets a good amount of foot traffic but in a much more condensed space. To make sure your vehicle is nice and clean, you need to know about the best vacuums for car interiors. Here are our top picks.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products 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 style 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. It continues 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 2020
The Shark Rocket Vacuum is one of those incredibly popular tools you can use for cleaning all kinds of surfaces. It weighs about eight pounds, which means you'll be able to move it around with ease. Furthermore, the vacuum transforms from a hand to a floor tool, so you can clean both floors and ceilings. It's incredibly efficient, allowing you to pick up dirt and all kinds of other particles around the house and in vehicles.
The feature that makes this vacuum ideal for car cleaning is its compact design. The tool effortlessly reaches tight areas and is incredibly easy to maneuver. The swivel steering feature allows you to control the vacuum and even get under the furniture and your car seats. Thanks to the fingertip controls, you can also switch between carpet and hard floor modes with ease.
The main drawback to this product is the fact it can't stand upright on its own. That's mostly because the vacuum is designed for easy maneuvering and extended reach, and it's not heavy enough to stay upright. Also, the hard floor head is a little difficult to adjust and might not reach tight spaces.
Black+Decker is known for its innovative power tools and accessories that make completing projects easy. This one is no different. It uses cyclonic action to remove dirt away from the filter and maintain top suction power. Its transparent dust bowl lets you know when it's full so you can empty it.
The car vacuum has a 12V adapter and does not need a lot of power to operate. You just connect it to a cigarette lighter socket and start cleaning. Its long nozzle allows it to clean every nook and cranny in your vehicle, even between car seats. It also comes with a 16-foot cable that allows you to clean without a lot of effort.
However, we’re quite disappointed with the suction power as it is almost nonexistent. The vacuum has a weak motor and only suctions large pieces of dirt. You’ll have to clean your car again after using it. You may also find the vacuum difficult to use because of its awkward design.
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 its hand vacuum offers some extra power to clean car debris.
The main feature that sets this 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 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 users. 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.
With this little tool, you can save the time and money you would usually spend at the car wash. The vacuum is incredibly compact and lightweight, allowing you to pick up most of the dirt and debris in your car. Additionally, since it's a hand-held tool, the vacuum is incredibly easy to maneuver.
The vacuum is highly praised for its efficiency and the overall design. With a small yet powerful motor, ergonomic design, and lightweight construction, it is super useful for quick cleanups. It has three different nozzles, a HEPA filter, and a 16-foot-long cord to help you reach every corner of your vehicle. The package also includes a carrying bag and a special filter cleaning brush. Overall, the tool picks up a lot of dirt and works quietly. What's even more important, the vacuum has a nozzle that reaches tight spaces almost effortlessly.
However, keep in mind that this is a budget-friendly and compact vacuum cleaner. You won't quite be able to clean up big messes in your vehicle. The suction power is not that high. Also, be prepared to spend quite some time on cleaning larger areas because the tool is super small.
This is a super powerful cordless vacuum you can use for cleaning your car as well as your house. With 120-watt powerful suction, the tool can pick up quite some dirt, debris, and pet hair. It's very efficient on all kinds of surfaces, including hard floors, carpets, and curtains. You'll also find it super easy to use.
The vacuum features a reusable HEPA filter and comes with several different attachments to meet your cleaning needs. It's quite a compact and lightweight tool that reaches tight spaces and provides purified air. You can also switch between a handheld tool and a floor one.
Additionally, the vacuum has a flexible head that ensures more efficiency and mobility. There's also a built-in LED light that illuminates dark areas and makes cleanups much easier.
The battery life is not very impressive, however. The vacuum loses its charge rather quickly, and you might even run into a dead battery after some time. Another minor issue might appear when cleaning pet hair. The tool requires frequent cleaning throughout the process because it might get clogged.
The Dirt Devil Scorpion Vacuum Cleaner is one of those super small tools every driver could use. It's lightweight, easy to carry, and ideal for quick cleanups. You'll find it quite useful for taking care of unexpected messes while on the go.
What drivers love the most about this tool is its compact design and powerful suction. The vacuum has a seven-amp motor and can pick up most of the dirt and dust found in cars. You can also use it for reaching tight areas such as underneath your seats.
One of the things to keep in mind before the purchase is the fact that the tool is rather loud. The fan that blows at the back of the vacuum makes quite some noise. Also, there's no way to wrap up the cord around the tool and make it stay on securely. It will mostly go everywhere and get tangled, so you'll probably have to buy a storage bag.
Here’s another small vacuum that is ideal for cleaning up messes in vehicles and around the house. Although rather compact and lightweight, the tool is quite powerful and able to clean up all kinds of dirt.
With the flexible rubber nozzle and an 18-foot-long cord, you'll be able to clean all kinds of surfaces and at farther distances. The tool allows you to move freely and reach tight spaces without having to switch power sockets. In addition, the package includes a hose, crevice tool, and a wide-mouth tool. These cleaning attachments will make your cleaning tasks even easier.
However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind with this tool. First, the vents on the sides blow up quite a lot of air and might move dirt around. You'll have to use the tube attachments to avoid this. Second, the unit is quite noisy and heavy. The cord gets in the way, and you might have difficulties with handling it in tight spaces.
Last but not least, we have the ThisWorx For vacuum with a lot of convenient features to help you with the cleaning process. It's great not only for your vehicle but also for your carpets, curtains, and more.
Because it goes in a 12V lighter port, the vacuum is suitable for all vehicle types. It features a 16-foot-long cord as well as an LED light to improve your visibility while cleaning. Additionally, the vacuum has an ergonomically designed handle to provide more comfort for extended use. It's rather easy to use and can work on all kinds of wet and dry messes. With it, you'll remove mud, dirt, sand, and much more.
However, the extension hose feels a little flimsy and makes getting into hard-to-reach areas a bit more challenging. You should also keep in mind that the tool is not designed for deep cleaning. It fails to pick up super small particles such as sawdust.
- 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 product offers the best features and performance.
For car owners looking for a more affordable option, the Black+Decker Flex Car Vacuum is worth checking out.