Last updated on December 15th, 2019 at 10:49 pm
Have crumbs in between your seats? Stubborn pet hair in your car's seats or carpet? If you're anything like me with a mild case of OCD and enjoys to sit down in a clean car at the end of a work day, or just want to give the interior of your car a quick clean without taking it into the car wash, a car vacuum is an essential tool to have.
It's important to vacuum dirt, dust, pet hair, dander, food, and other particles from your car on a regular basis. Not just for general upkeep, but for long term cleanliness of your vehicle. Crumbs and pet hair/dander can leave your car with a smell that might make your passengers uneasy and require you to keep air fresheners in your vents. Dirt and dust can embed itself int your seats and carpet over time to the point where full removal would require professional help and commercial equipment. A simple five minute vacuum of your car once every week or two doesn't just clean your car, it'll preserve it over time and might even help with resale value.
Like I said, cleanliness of my own cars is a must. I'll still spend 2 hours on an early Saturday morning to wash and hand wax (and occasionally clay bar) the exterior, shine the tires, scrub the rims, wipe the interior panels and dash with a cleaner and conditioner, wash the weather mats, you get the picture. Vacuuming is also a key part of the standard cleaning process for me, especially in my truck which typically is the vehicle for long-distance travels to the lake or to the mountains. Dog hair, fast food, mud and dirt are common on nearly every trip I take with the truck so having a powerful, efficient, easy to use car vacuum that will save me time in my lengthy process of washing a full size truck is really important.
Best Car Vacuum Cleaners
Best Handheld Car Vacuum: Black & Decker BDH2000PL
Black & Decker BDH2000PL Quick Review
Here's a fantastic option for those who are looking for a cordless, versatile handheld car vacuum. The first thing that stands out about the BDH2000PL is it's really unique design that allows the nozzle to pivot. This makes tough to reach spaces easer to clean without having to add a hose. You can easily move the position of the nozzle without impacting suction. This is great for cleaning up spaces like under your seats or in between the cracks.
Suction on the BDH2000PL is solid too, it claims to have a 35 AW suction. It's one of the higher performing cordless vacuums but the downside is the volume. It's one of the loudest on the market for handhelds. For charging and cleaning, it features a compact charging base and a washable dirt bowl that allows you to simply wash it out in the sink. A lithium ion battery also helps with power and longevity, over the NiCad alternatives that many lower quality cordless vacuums use.
If you're looking for cordless, you want powerful suction and don't mind the noise it's a great option for you.
- Unique nozzle pivoting design for hard to reach spots
- Great suction for a cordless
- Reasonably priced
- Easy to clean dirt bowl
- Louder than most
- Smaller capacity dirt bowl
- Some claim it's not so good with pet hair and woodchip like debris
Wall Mounted Pick: Bissell Pro 18P03 (Editor's Choice!)
Bissell Pro 18P03 Vacuum Quick Review
Bissell's Pro 18P03 is a great option for those who have a garage, and enough space on the wall to mount a 2ft x 1ft vacuum (roughly). It's my personal choice for a car vacuum because it's very versatile and equally powerful. I have a 2 car garage so it's easy for me to just pull my car in , pull the 32 foot hose over and start cleaning. Just like they would at a car wash! Being able to mount it on the wall is also a space saver and limits clutter on the floor.
What's also nice about it is that it has a 4 gallon capacity for debris, and it also helps when you want to vacuum up liquids. It's easy to remove the container and dump in the trash. And come fall, you can switch it to blower mode and it doubles as a decent leaf blower. I have a tree that sits feet from the entry of my garage so this proved to be a great feature. And if you're an accessory person, the 18P03 comes with a number of attachments that will cover any type of cleaning you need to do – carpet, tight spaces, tough to reach areas that require extensions, you name it.
If you have a garage and space on the wall, this is my recommendation. It's reasonably priced but it's so versatile and doubles as a leaf blower so it justified the price for me. But, if you don't have a place to mount it (or place it on the ground), this option might not be ideal for you.
- Powerful suction
- Doubles as a leaf/snow blower
- Super long (32ft) hose
- Extra capacity tank
- Tons of attachables
- Requires installation
- Not ideal for folks who don't have a garage or a space to mount and clean your vehicle
- Requires you to change the filter when using for fine dust or dirt
Bagless Vacuum Pick: AutoSpa 94005AS
AutoSpa 94005AS Quick Review
Here's another personal favorite of mine. The AutoSpa 94005AS is another corded car vacuum cleaners that was designed pretty much with one use in mind – cleaning cars. So it's pretty well suited, it features an easy to cary design with a nice handle at the top of the unit to make it a nice handheld vacuum and easy to move around. It's also incredibly light, weighing in at only .5 pounds. Yes it weighs a whopping 8 ounces, making it the lightest unit on our list. It's also a bagless vacuum, with an easy-to-open lid to dump your debris easily into the trash can.
Even the attachments were made for cleaning your car. It has a crevice tool for reaching tight areas and cleaning out things like air vents, along with a blower tool when you want to use it to blow the remnant water out of the cracks. And like most wired vacuums that plug into an ac outlet, it's suction is powerful and it does great for things like pet hair and fine sand. One thing that's missing from the AutoSpa that's important to me is the wet/dry feature, but if that's not a big deal for you and you don't mind plugging in your vacuum this is a fantastic option.
- Powerful motor and suction
- Car-specific attachments
- Super light weight
- Portable and easy to cary
- Not the most universal unit
- No wet/dry feature
- Need an ac power outlet
Cordless Suction Pick: Dyson V7
Dyson V7 Quick Review
Dyson lovers, here's your choice! The V7 Car & Boat vacuum is a super powerful and handheld cordless. They utilize the same vortex technology that's used in other cordless and home vacuums and cram it into a tiny handheld. This is probably the most crammed car vacuum on our list from a technology standpoint. In Dyson fashion they went all out. It features the V7 motor with 2 tier radial cones that, combined, create great and efficient suction. An easy switch at the top of the unit that allows you to empty debris out without ever touching the actual container. And one of my favorite features is the motorized attachment that basically puts a miniature rotating brush bar at the tip of the unit to really help clean your vehicle's seats and carpet. Game changer for pet hair.
With the attachments, you can also have access to an extended hose with brush heads and other tips that will help dig into the crevices and tight spots. And if you were worried about battery length on cordless units, worry no more. The V7 lasts for up to 30 minutes of continuous use which is the highest on our list.
- Incredible design
- Very easy to use
- Packed with tech
- Nice trigger-style power switch
- Long lasting battery
- Great attachments
- Some people complain that the suction isn't enough for the price
- A little heavier and bulkier than other car vacuums on our list
Corded Portability Pick: ThisWorx TWC01
ThisWorx TWC01 Quick Review
The ThisWorx TWC01 is a has a great blend of the benefits that come with a corded vacuum, like suction power and attachments, and that of cordless car vacuums, like portability and weight. In my opinion it offers the best combination of features for the price. It's a handheld vacuum that's small (roughly 13 x 4 x 4 inches) and it's light (only 2.4 pounds). You can choose to use it as a handheld, or hook up a hose and use one of the attachments like a normal hosed vacuum. It features a 16 foot long cord that'll let you reach all the areas of your car, and you can hook it directly into your cigarette lighter or accessory port in your car so you're not limited to an outlet in your house. I also liked the fact that it came with a nice carrying case for you to put all of the attachments, wire and vacuum in and tuck it neatly in the trunk of your car. What stood out to me too is the reviews – at the time of this review it had nearly 4 thousand reviews for an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars which is really good. And, it's cheap! Only around 30 bucks so it won't break the bank.
- Handheld design with attachments
- Reasonably powerful suction
- Very well priced
- Well reviewed
- Suction isn't as powerful as those that rely on AC power
- Limited capacity
- Not ideal for wet cleaning even though it says it's wet/dry
Shop Vacuum Pick: Armor All AA255
Armor All AA255 Quick Review
For those who want to get the most out of their car vacuum, the Amor All AA255 is a fantastic choice. It's a shop vac style, wet/dry that's really universal for everyday DIY projects in addition to a perfectly fit option for cleaning your vehicle. It's a corded option so you'll need an outlet but it features a 2hp motor which is the most powerful corded motor on our list and likely has the greatest suction too. With a 6ft long, 1.5 inch wide hose you can reach all the areas of your car. Although, if you have a Suburban-style car you may need to lift it into the car and it's a bit bulky and heavy (7lbs). But luckily lifting and moving this vacuum is still simple with its handle on top.
It comes with all the attachments you need – crevice tool, blower, detail brush and a deluxe car nozzle. What I really like about this design is that, unlike most shop vacs, it's actually pretty compact (10.6 x 14.2 x 14.4 inches). You can tell it was designed more to be used for vehicle-style cleaning than cleaning up drywall shavings and construction site materials, but I wouldn't say that it's not capable of those types of tasks. And if you need to clean up large spills or vacuum water out of fabric it's probably one of the more ideal units on the list, just pull out the filter and clean away.
- Powerful 2hp motor
- All the attachments an accessories you need
- Doubles as a shop vac
- True wet/dry vac
- Nice organizer for the accessories built in
- Priced well
- Some have complained about longevity
- Clips that hold the top to the bin are tough to snap on sometimes
- Could use a better filter design
Things to Consider in Your Search for the Best Car Vacuum Cleaner
Obviously not all vacuums are equal. And house vacuums, in my opinion, just aren't built or designed for the car application. When you're looking for a vacuum, these key things are what I'd recommend looking into and what I personally consider when choosing the Best Car Vacuum:
Vacuum Cleaner Type
Do you want a cordless car vacuum with the flexibility of vacuuming from wherever you want? Many cordless vacuums are normally pretty small, and you can store them in your truck to use in an emergency or in a parking spot. They're great for when you're in a tough spot and need a quick vacuum and are normally pretty easy to use. However, some of the common complaints and downsides to cordless or wireless car vacuums is that they don't offer enough power or they don't offer the accessories to fit into the small spaces like between your seats. You also have to worry about battery life and capacity with a wireless unit.
Wired car vacuum cleaners are normally a little larger. They'll typically more attachments like hoses and tips that can enable you to clean the tightest of spots and will have a higher powered suction for pulling more stubborn pet hair from carpets. Although, like I said they're normally bigger, bulkier and you're limited by the length of the wire which makes them limited to folks who have a car or power outlet readily available within a reasonable distance of your car. Personally, I think that dollar for dollar wired vacuums are better and offer superior cleaning to cordless vacuums but if you don't have an outlet that's easily accessible I wouldn't recommend one.
One other thing to consider when you're deciding on the type of vacuum is whether or not you'd like a wet/dry vacuum or just a dry vacuum. Wet/dry vacuums are great for cleaning up soda spills, or other fluid accidents. You can use them to clean up these types of messes by just pouring a little warm water on the spill and vacuuming it up. A dry vacuum isn't recommended for use for cleaning up fluids of any sort. For me, the wet/dry type is the way to go.
Since I couldn't write a vacuum review without a suction area, here it is. Suction is obviously a huge factor to consider and one of the most important when I searched for our list of the Best Car Vacuums. In many shop vacs, the standard measurement is actually horsepower. In these types of vacuums the most common measurement is Air Watts (AW). But that's not always all you should look at. When I look at suction and whether it has enough, I look at how well it works with fine sand in my carpet and how well it cleans up my retriever's fine and long hair.
Weight and Portability
The importance of weight and portability will depend on the type of car vacuum you get. If you prefer a larger, more powerful vacuum with more attachments and a longer hose, weight and potability might not be a big deal. But for cordless and wireless car vacuums, you may want it to be handheld and easier to use on the go so the size, weight and design are going to be much more important to you.
Similar to weight and portability, capacity I think is relative to the type of vacuum you want. It might also dictate the type of vacuum you get. If you want more capacity, you likely aren't going to want a cordless vacuum. But if don't mind limited capacity and emptying your vacuum out more frequently, a cordless and smaller unit will probably suit you.
Another common-sense one, but shouldn't be overlooked. Don't just rely on my opinion, although I definitely considered consumer reviews when I chose this list! Amazon has the highest quantity of reviews although the quality of user reviews isn't always high so be vigilant.