Maintaining the cleanliness of a car’s interior is a car owner’s responsibility. Regular vacuuming of the floor, car seats, and other surfaces is important in removing dirt, debris, pet hair, dust, and other particles that can damage the car components in the long run. It is also crucial in maintaining a healthier driver/passenger environment, especially for those with pulmonary issues and skin allergies. And while you can technically use a conventional vacuum cleaner, they’re not really purpose built to clean every square inch of your vehicle. As such, only the best car vacuum cleaners will keep your car clean. Not to worry though, since we’ve prepared this automotive cleaners guide just for you.
The Best Car Vacuum Cleaners
The Armor Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum is a mighty machine for cleaning your vehicle. It’s not exactly the easiest thing to store in a car, but it is surprisingly lightweight and portable. It has an easy-to-grip handle that makes it simple to move around. The vacuum is also one of the strongest on our list and boasts 120 volts of power.
It’s bright orange, so it stands out in a garage or closet, too. Plus, it’s set at a relatively low price for its size and power. However, it must be plugged into a power outlet in order for it to work. The cord can get in the way and make things more difficult to clean. On the other hand, it does have a large 2.5-gallon tank, so it is able to hold plenty of garbage.
- 2.5-gallon tank
- Corded vacuum
- 120 volts
- Brand Armor All
- Model AA255
- Weight 7 pounds
Not easy to store
Difficult to fit inside of a car
One of the greatest assets of the BLACK+DECKER dustbuster is its battery life. It stays powered up anytime you want to use it for up to 18 months. And if you’re going to trust the countless car owners who have used it, then you know that despite having a 15.2-watt motor it’s powerful enough to provide you with a really clean car. This is one of the obvious advantages of the BLACK+DECKER. It may run on a less-powerful motor, yet it provides exceptional suction.
It also has cyclonic vacuum action, which separates the larger debris particles from the finer ones so its filtration system will not get overwhelmed easily. This also extends its life. Sadly, we would prefer it if the filter included HEPA filtration, although the dustbuster does a good job of filtering out dust particles. Nevertheless, for its always-ready feature, ease of use, and excellent energy efficiency, the BLACK+DECKER vacuum is a great buy.
- 16V, 15.2-watt motor powered by lithium ion battery
- Battery charge can last up to 18 months with auto-shutoff feature
- With Smart Charge Technology
- Removable and washable filters
- Cyclonic vacuum action
- Comes with 2-year limited warranty
- Brand BLACK+DECKER
- Model CHV1410L
- Weight 2.6 pounds
Long-lasting battery if left idle
No HEPA filtration
Battery might run 15 minutes while in use
Flimsy nozzle attachments
The VacLife Handheld Vacuum is lightweight and a great portable tool to have in your car. It features a sleek streamlined design that is able to reach tough to reach places. It has a long, yet thin nose which is even better for getting in between car seats, floor mats, or door handles. It’s also 100 percent cordless which is a huge benefit for cleaning vehicles.
As a bonus to both you and your car, the vacuum includes three different sized nozzles as well for a more thorough and deep clean. And best of all it comes with a built-in LED light so you can pick up any trash if it’s dark outside. It is priced rather high when compared to other vacuums on the market, however. Another issue is the battery life. It doesn’t charge all that quickly – three to four hours – and it may only last around 30 minutes.
- Four hour charge time
- 30-minute battery life
- Three included nozzles
- Built-in LED light
- Brand VacLife
- Model B08548WD5P
- Weight 1.9 pounds
Sleek and easy to use
Short battery life
Long charge time
The VACPOWER Handheld Vacuum is perhaps one of the most futuristic-looking car vacuums on our list. It’s elegant in its shape and doesn’t have a high price point. It’s set at a mid-to-low range price, making it more economical. It doesn’t run off any cords either, so you won’t get stuck or suck up any cables while cleaning. Instead, it runs off of powerful lithium batteries.
The vacuum has a total of three nozzle attachments for extra versatility and functionality. One of its best features is its easy-to-clean waste bin. It’s great for crumbs and small messes but may have issues picking up larger pieces of debris. It has a charge time of four hours and a total run time of around 30 minutes. That’s not the best nor is it the lowest, but it’s still short.
- 65 watts
- 35 minutes of run time
- Brand VACPOWER
- Model B08NP7RKFQ
- Weight 2.07 pounds
LED light included
Short battery life
Not great for picking up larger pieces of food or messes
Weaker suction power
The Metro Vacuum draws its inspiration from a high-performance vacuum cleaner and a portable hand vac. Although we do wish it came in a fully cordless form, its 11-foot-long power cord should be long enough to help you clean the interior of your car, although you will have to make sure your car is positioned in such a way that you can optimize the cord length.
One of the Metro’s greatest assets is its 500-watt motor plus an exceptional water-lifting capability up to 60 inches. The motor is housed in an all-steel body. Despite its metal body the Metro only weighs about 2.7 pounds.
- 110V, 500-watt motor with 11-foot power cord
- Bag-less design in all-steel construction
- 60-inch water lift capability
- Comes with 5-year motor warranty
- Brand Metro Vacuum
- Model VM6BS500
- Weight 2.7 pounds
Strong suction power
Durable build quality
The BLACK+DECKER Flex Car Vacuum is compact and fits easily inside of any car. While it does include a cord it is designed to be used inside of the cigarette lighter. This makes it much easier to maneuver inside of the car. Rather than plugging in the cord to a power outlet, you can just connect the 12V adapter to the car.
It has quite a bit of reach, too, with its four-foot flexible nozzle. Plus, it has three configurations so you get a deeper clean of carpets, seats, and the dashboard. The holding container is large as well. Although it does weigh three pounds which isn’t too heavy, it is heavier than other available vacuums.
- 12V cigarette lighter adapter
- Two-in-1 configuration
- 19 ounce holding container
- Brand BLACK+DECKER
- Model BDH1200FVAV
- Weight 3 pounds
Weak suction power
Yes, BLACK+DECKER returns with a more powerful car vacuum, the BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum. It sticks with the same sleek and modern design of the previously mentioned model but adds more suction power and force. Yet, this does also dramatically raise the price to a premium level.
The vacuum is light and ultra-portable. Don’t be fooled by the pictures as it is much more compact than it looks. Though if you need to reach tight locations or corners it does offer the benefit of attaching a long arm to its flexible hose. However, due to its size and voltage, it does tend to be noisier than other car vacuums. It may also run out of power in around 15 minutes as well.
- Powered by 20V battery
- 15-minute runtime
- Long flexible hose
- Brand BLACK+DECKER
- Model BDH2020FL
- Weight 3.2 pounds
Short battery life
A great budget-friendly choice for a car vacuum would be the CHERYLON Car Vacuum. It’s also the most unique looking of the bunch. Instead of using a standard nozzle on the nose of the vacuum to suck up any dirt or debris, you instead attach hoses and nozzles to a tube underneath the trash chamber.
It is able to run completely off of battery power, but it may not be quite as strong as powering it through the car’s cigarette lighter. What happens to be both a blessing and a curse is the lengthy 16-foot power cord that you can attach to the vacuum if you so choose. Another great benefit is the included carrying bag for the device itself.
- Corded and battery powered
- 150W motor
- 32000 RPM
- Brand CHERYLON
- Model B085TNBFS9
- Weight 1.76 pounds
Compact and simple
Trash compartment is difficult to manage
Poor suction power
The ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner comes in two different colors. Not to mention it looks great for a vacuum and is easy to set up and manage. It puts out 106W and has an 8.8 amp motor. And one of its most beneficial features is its metal turbine that provides more suction power. Plus, it doesn’t make it all that much heavier than other brands.
However, it does have a cord and must be plugged into a wall socket in order to run. The cable is 16-feet long which is great for reaching across the car but it can get in the way of the vacuum. What you do get is three nozzles that attach to the front nose of an ergonomic vacuum. However, the suction could be stronger. It’s enough for crumbs and a few large pieces of trash but not much else.
- 8.8 amp motor
- 16-foot long cable
- Brand ThisWorx
- Weight 2.4 pounds
Compact and light
Not enough suction power
No LED light
Picking the right vacuum cleaner for your vehicle actually has a lot to do with how often you clean your car, how “dirty” it can get with each trip, and how obsessive you are keeping it in pristine condition. You will have to consider the gadget’s vacuum power, its tank capacity, its weight, and the various attachments that come with it. To help you better arrive at a product that’s perfect for you and your vehicle, we’ve prepared this buying guide.
Types of Car Vacuums
There are a number of different vacuum cleaners on the market that suit a number of different applications. Some are best used for the household car, some for workplace applications, and some for different types of spills or messes.
Dry vs Wet/Dry
A dry vac is somewhat different from a wet and dry vacuum. A dry vac is like any regular vacuum cleaner, it uses high levels of suction power to clean and suck up any dry messes such as dust and debris that it then stores in a vacuum bag or dry container.
Whereas, a wet and dry vacuum can safely clean up both dry and wet messes like spilled liquids or dirt and debris. This is achieved with the use of a two-bucket system, one for wet messes and one for dry messes.
A shop vac is just as its name states, it’s a vacuum cleaner that is best used and specifically designed for use in workshop environments. Shop vacs are an easy-to-use, corded vacuum that utilizes serious suction power which makes short work of wet or dry messes.
One of the best things about a shop vac is they are easy to empty and can be used with many different attachments or accessories. Anything from a crevice tool, dusting brush, extendable and flexible hose, or even a motorized brush head.
One downside that shop vacs have is more often than not they will need to be used with an extension cord. A shop vacuum comes with a relatively short power cable so the use of an extension enables the user to cover large areas synonymous with workshops.
Handheld vacuum cleaners are just as they sound, a small and portable corded or cordless vacuum best used for cleaning a car’s interior or getting to those hard to reach places in the home.
Corded vacuum cleaners must either be plugged into a car’s cigarette lighter or a house’s main power. Whereas a cordless car vacuum or regular cordless vacuum is battery powered and will require incremental charging from either a 12-volt system or mains power source.
Things To Consider When Buying A Vacuum For Car Detailing
Not all corded cordless vacuums or corded handheld vacuums are best suited for cleaning your car. Each car’s interior is different and this will ultimately affect which is the best car vacuum cleaner for your personal requirements.
Wet and dry vacuums are some of the best overall vacuum cleaners to keep your car clean. Their ability to not only take on dry messes but also wet messes makes them an awesome all-in-one vac for your car’s interior.
They are easy to use, effortlessly get into those hard to clean tight spaces, and are great for disposing of allergy-inducing pet hair.
Corded vs Cordless
When it comes to choosing the right vac to clean your car, choosing between corded or cordless can be the difference between making a tedious job harder or making it much, much easier.
There really is no right or wrong choice as each car is different and every household is unique. Some cars are spacious and a power outlet is easily accessible, allowing for easy use of corded car vacuums, while other cars are more cramped and an outlet harder to reach, meaning cordless vacuums are probably best.
For most applications, a cordless handheld vacuum is often ideal as they are lightweight and super portable. Although, if your car is relatively big, a power outlet is close by, or you wish to use the vac for other cleaning projects around the house, then a corded handheld vacuum may just be what the doctor ordered.
Dust Cup Or Storage Tank
Dust cups or storage tanks are used by bagless vacuum cleaners in place of a dust bag. And they are another important consideration when searching for the best vacuum cleaners to suit your individual needs.
Basically, the bigger a vac’s dust cup or storage tank the more vacuuming you can do before having to empty the unit. However, big doesn’t always mean better. The larger the dust cup capacity the larger the unit and the heavier the vac is likely to be.
The overall weight of a vac — whether it be a shop vac that isn’t designed to be carried or a cordless vacuum that is — can make or break the overall ergonomics and design of a unit.
This, again, comes down to individual preferences and cleaning applications. Heavy cordless vacuums aren’t a great idea as they will add unnecessary strain and effort to an already tiresome job.
Whereas weight isn’t as imperative to a corded vacuum that isn’t handheld and mounted on wheels. Although, something lightweight is often always preferred, for those that are using a vac for commercial purposes a heavier vac with a larger dust cup capacity may mean sacrificing some weight.
The best car vacuum cleaner is one that possesses large amounts of suction power. Not only will this make it less effort to clean your car but it will also cut down the overall time to complete the job.
Any good vacuum comes with a well-designed filtration system. Filters stop, or at the very least limit, dust particles and allergens from being redistributed or recirculated throughout your car or home.
A vacuum without a fitted filter, or an excessively dirty filter, can cause asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Not only this but it will also make a relatively clean area dusty and dirty in no time.
The power source determines how much wattage is delivered to handheld vacuums or corded car vacuums. The trick to remember here is the overall wattage a vac uses doesn’t necessarily equate to suction power.
An inefficient unit with a high level of power usage will be costlier to operate and will have limited suction. Whereas a more efficient unit may use less power but will have great suction power compared to a less efficient vac.
As a reference, most cordless vacuums usually possess around 20-200 watts while corded vacuums generally possess anywhere between 1000-2000 watts.
Utility Nozzles And Accessories
To ensure the best overall clean possible, utility nozzles and accessories are a must. A crevice tool, dusting brush, flexible hose, upholstery tools, extension wand, or even a pet groomer to vacuum your best pal to lessen collecting pet hair, will turn a good clean into a spotless clean.
Most vacs will come with at least a few different utility nozzles and attachments. However, to get the best out of your vacuum cleaner, you’re best hunting down a few extras to add to your cleaning arsenal. This will not only make short work of car cleaning but it will also take your cleaning abilities to the next level.
Corded vs. Cordless Car Vacuum Cleaners
Choosing between corded and cordless vacuums is all a matter of preference as well as your car interior cleaning habits. Here we’ll try to examine the pros and cons of each type to help you make a better-informed decision.
Corded systems have power cords that can be connected to either DC or AC power source. Some models allow for the interchangeability of the power source given that the appropriate AC-DC adapter-converter is readily available.
One of the most significant advantages of corded vacuum cleaners is their power which translates to better cleaning efficiency. Since the device is plugged directly into an electrical outlet or even into your car’s 12-volt battery system, you can draw as much power into the device to ensure greater vacuuming efficiency. This helps save time in cleaning and ensures deeper, more thorough cleaning.
However powerful, corded devices will have to sacrifice convenience since you will be limited to the availability of a power source. This is where 12-volt corded systems have the advantage over their AC counterparts since you can easily plug such systems into your car’s cigarette lighter adaptor. But then this will also draw power from your vehicle’s battery. On the other hand, an AC-only corded vacuum cleaner can still be used efficiently provided you have an electrical extension cord or if you choose a system with an exceptionally long power cord.
For those who clearly don’t like getting tangled with wires or cords or even those who simply don’t wish to use their car’s battery or home’s electricity to power up their cleaning devices, then the cordless vacuums is a must-have. Such systems allow for greater coverage, flexibility, and versatility since you’re not literally tied down by power cords.
Sadly, there are quite a few drawbacks to such systems. Cordless vacuums, in general, provide less suction power than their corded counterparts. And even if the device happens to churn impressive numbers in the suctioning department this often comes at a price in terms of battery drain. Most cordless systems can only manage a meager 15-minute runtime which is, unfortunately, not really sufficient if you’re considering really performing a deep and thorough clean of your vehicle’s interior. Additionally, while the runtime is dismal at best, their charging times are also mediocre since you will need a considerable amount of time to charge its batteries.
Nevertheless, if your car doesn’t really have that much dirt or debris to pick up, then cordless vacuums provide a great solution. Just make sure to pick one that charges really fast and has a longer-lasting battery life with each operation.
Tips on Using a Car Vacuum Cleaner
Now that you have an idea of the type of vacuum cleaner to get for your vehicle, it is equally important to know how to use it properly. Here are some tips you might want to consider.
Open your car’s doors and windows
Whenever you have to use any cleaning tool or gadget in your car, don’t ever forget to open the doors and roll down the windows to allow for dirt and debris to naturally be carried by the circulating air. This is especially true if you’re working with certain chemicals. While vacuuming doesn’t really involve the use of chemicals, opening your windows and doors can help dissipate musty, stale odors. Additionally, it allows for greater use of the space you have.
Physically remove trash and other large objects
Your car vacuum cleaner is designed to pick up smaller objects. As such it is important to physically remove or pick up your trash and other larger objects before giving your vehicle interior a good vacuum cleaning.
Remove car accessories to allow for more expedient cleaning
Check your car’s interior accessories and remove those that can be removed such as floor mats, seat covers, dashboard covers, cup holders, and the like. The point is that you would want to access every inch of your vehicle’s interior. Having these can only impede the cleaning process. Moreover, you can give these accessories a separate yet more thorough cleaning.
Use the various attachments of your vacuum cleaner
For your car’s floor as well as other surfaces with fibers, it is best to use the brush attachment. This physically loosens up dirt and debris that may be trapped within the fibers themselves. This allows for easier vacuuming. If you don’t have a brush attachment, then an ordinary brush will do. Also, use the long-nose hose attachment of the vacuum cleaner to access hard-to-reach areas. If it comes with a crevice tool, make sure to vacuum every inch and all the tight spaces in your car. Vacuum your floorboard, the seat track rails, the air vents, the area underneath the pedals, the dashboard, the upholstery, and everything else inside the car.
Vacuum every inch of your car’s interior
It is often ideal to vacuum with a system in mind such as vacuuming the driver section first before heading to the front passenger side then finally moving to the back. Or it could also be the other way around. It’s actually up to you to devise your own system. The whole point of vacuum-cleaning your car is to make sure that it is free from dirt, debris, pet hair, and other particles. As such, making sure that there is no surface that is not covered by your vacuum cleaner is an absolute must.
There is an extensive array of car vacuum cleaners to choose from. In fact, there are so many it can be super hard to discern which one best suits your needs.
To help you out, here are the top brands to keep an eye out for during your search.
ArmorAll is a well-known and trusted brand in the car care industry. It’s been around for years, manufactures a huge range of different products that are sure to suit any application, and its products are top-notch in materials and design as well as effective.
If you are looking for the right tool for the job, there’s no doubt Black+Decker has just the thing. Its massive range of power tools, garden tools, household tools, and, of course, car care tools are sure to help you complete any DIY project.
Hotor manufactures a large range of quality handheld corded and cordless car vacuum cleaners. All Hotor vacuum cleaners come with a set of super handy utility nozzles to get into those annoying tights spaces and hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
Stanley is your one-stop manufacturer for everything power-driven. It makes anything from drills, grinders, multi-tools, torches, fans, as well as wet-dry vacuums and cordless handheld vacuums. The best part, though? Not only is their product range massive but their tools are also super durable and ergonomically designed.
No quality power tool manufacturer list would be complete without mentioning DeWalt. DeWalt makes a wide range of sanders, routers, nailguns, compressors, power supplies, dust extractors, and vacuums, just to mention a few. If it’s DIY-related, Dewalt is sure to have the right tool for you.
Choosing A Car Vacuum By Price
The price is often the number one determining factor when purchasing a product. And often you don’t have to fork out top dollar to find something that will suit your needs.
To help you out, here are the best car vacuums listed by price.
Best Car Vacuums For Under $50
Best Car Vacuums For $50 – $80
Best Car Vacuums For Over $80
- BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Handheld Vacuum
- Metro Professional High Performance Vacuum
Q. Can I use a regular vacuum for my car?
A. Technically, yes. You can use a regular vacuum cleaner for your car. However, a standard vacuum may not have the flexibility or reach needed to get into all those tight spaces or hard to reach nooks and crannies. With that in mind, a specialized car vacuum will do a much better job.
Q. What is the most powerful wet/dry vac?
A. The ArmorAll AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum is the most powerful wet/dry vacuum we have tested. This beauty uses a massive 2.5 gallon Polypropylene tank, possesses a 2 peak HP motor, has a convenient 10 ft. cord, uses a built-in air and noise diffuser, and is super lightweight and portable.
Q. How often should you vacuum your car?
A. As often as it needs it. As a general rule, about every other time you wash your car. Sometimes a spot-clean is all you need, and that’s when a car vacuum comes in super-handy.
Q. Do gas stations have car vacuums?
A. That depends. Smaller gas station companies are less likely to have car vacuuming facilities. Whereas larger franchised gas stations are more likely to. Companies like 7-eleven, ARCO, BP, Chevron, Citgo, and Kwik Trip are all likely to have facilities that you can make use of.
Q. What are the best attachments for a car vacuum?
A. Well-designed car vacuum attachments can make a somewhat tedious job incredibly easy. Attachments like a crevice tool, upholstery tool, bristle dusting brush, or claw nozzle will all make short work of dirt and debris. Using attachments such as these not only makes your life easier but also ensures a better overall clean.
Our Top Pick for Best Car Vacuums
In this list of the best car vacuum cleaners, we’ve seen a variety of units from corded to cordless and from bin units to handheld vacuum cleaners. It is quite difficult to zero-in on a single absolute best overall.
ArmorAll’s Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum is a formidable gadget for the mere fact that it has the most powerful suction capabilities on this list. It’s very affordable, too, considering the various attachments that it comes with, enabling you to not only clean your car but your house and backyard, too. The only downside is that it is reliant on electrical power and not from batteries or from your car’s 12V system.
At first glance, the 15.2-watt power of the BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L seems underpowered to even suck up anything at all. But a lot of car owners sing praises for its suction power plus an exceptionally remarkable battery-powered technology that allows it to remain charged for up to 18 months. What we only wished is for a HEPA filter to be made an integral part of the system.
The ArmorAll needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet for it to operate. The BLACK+DECKER requires its battery to be charged before use. For a really automotive vacuum cleaner that you can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter adapter, we’ve got several candidates.
Related Post: Best Car Air Purifiers
So which among our top three should you get? If it’s power and home and car versatility that you’re after, then ArmorAll’s Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum is a good choice.
However, if you prefer powerful suction with superior battery technology, the Metro Vacuum VM656500 Professional High Performance Hand Vacuum is the one to get. But if you’re looking for a cleaning tool that you can use anywhere and is affordable, then the The VacPower Handheld Vacuum is tops.
As we already said, the ArmorAll is great, but you will have to make sure you have an electrical outlet nearby. The VacPower Handheld Vacuum is not very expensive, but it has a short battery life and is not as powerful as some of the other options on this list. Overall, we’d say the Armor All Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum provides the best solution for today’s car owners.
Cleaning your car’s interior doesn’t really have to be a chore. As long as you have the right device to help you remove dirt and other unwanted particles in every imaginable surface in your car’s interior you should do just fine.
- How Vacuum Cleaners Work – HowStuffWorks