A good car vacuum is an essential tool for making sure the inside of your car stays free of crumbs, stray french fries, Cheerios, and muck. Fortunately, it’s no longer necessary to haul out your upright or find a place to plug in. Smaller vacuums are made to be portable, cordless, and powerful, and there are so many great options on the market. Before making your purchase, it’s a good idea to understand what you’re looking for in a car vacuum cleaner so you can get the best model for your needs and budget.
First, let’s take a look at what kind of features you should look for in a car vacuum. There’s a host of sophisticated models out there, each one with specific capacities for different vehicles and situations.
Features and considerations to look for in a car vacuum
Corded or cordless
The obvious advantage of a cordless vacuum cleaner is better mobility. You don’t have to worry about being near a wall outlet and can even clean on the go. However, corded vacuum cleaners tend to be more powerful than their cordless counterparts, and, naturally, cordless vacuum cleaners still need to be charged regularly via a wall outlet.
Being smaller than traditional domestic vacuum cleaners, car vacuums also have smaller dustbin capacities. Of course, car vacuums won’t need to suck up half as much dirt as a home vacuum cleaner (unless your car is really dirty), and so they don’t normally have to be emptied very often. Some car vacuums, however, have a higher capacity than others, so bear in mind when choosing your car vacuum how often you think you’ll be using it. If you have more than one car, for example, or really messy kids or pets, you might want to consider a larger model.
Accessories and attachments
Cleaning your car can be tricky as there are lots of hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, especially in, around, and under the seats. A good car vacuum will come with accessories that make the job much easier, such as an extension wand, crevice tool, or small motorized upholstery head.
Dry or wet/dry
All car vacuums can suck up dry dirt, but some of them can pick up wet messes too, and this is particularly useful for families with small children who may suffer from motion sickness — enough said!
Suction power is measured differently in cordless and corded vacuums. The former is measured in volts and the latter in amps. With a cordless vacuum, the ideal suction power is between 15 and 20 volts, while, with a corded model, you’re looking for between 5 and 7 amps.
Weight and size
Make sure to check the weight of the model. The standard weight is around 5lbs, and you don’t really want it to be much heavier than that since you’ll have to maneuver it around a fair amount.
Car or RV use
Another aspect to consider when choosing your car vacuum is what kind of vehicle you have. Obviously, a bigger vehicle would benefit from a vacuum cleaner with a larger capacity. Although most car vacuums are only adapted for cars and not for the home, models such as the Dyson V11 Absolute can be used in both.
Now that you have an idea of what to look for in your car vacuum, let’s move on to our choice of the top vacuums for the car.
Which are the best car vacuums?
The best for pet hair: Bissell Cleanview Deluxe Corded Handheld Vacuum (47R51)
This affordable handheld vacuum has an impressive 18-foot cord, meaning you get the power of a corded model with the reach of a cordless vacuum. Its clear container lets you see exactly when to empty the bin, and this lightweight model has a range of accessories, including one specifically for pet hair.
The best for battery life: Holife HM036B vacuum cleaner
A great cordless wet/dry option, this model also has a lithium-ion battery, giving it a longer running time than many of its competitors.
The best home and car hybrid: Dyson V11 Absolute cordless
When it comes to cordless vacuum cleaners, you can’t beat the Dyson V11. Although pricey, this powerful model is a great investment if you want a vacuum cleaner that can be adapted to both your car and your home. It is super lightweight, at just 3.2 pounds, and has an LED screen that lets you know exactly how much battery life is left.
The best for versatility: Black & Decker CHV1410L Dustbuster
Another vacuum with a lithium battery, this model holds its charge for a long time, and its slim, lightweight design makes cleaning every corner of the car simple and easy. It also has a transparent container, meaning you always know when to empty it.
The best for wet cleanups: Armor All AA255 Wet/Dry vacuum cleaner
One of the cheapest and most powerful handheld vacuum cleaners, this model has a 16-foot cleaning reach and a 2.5-gallon capacity. Being a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, it is perfect for families with kids as it can tackle any mess quickly and easily.
The best for power: Black and Decker Max Lithium Pivot BDH2000PL Vacuum Cleaner
With its foldable head allowing you to reach into even the narrowest spots, this is an extremely powerful handheld vacuum cleaner. Its lithium battery means you can clean your car several times in one charging cycle, and its small size makes storing it a dream.
There’s a great range of car vacuums on the market, each with its own pros and cons. We hope our guide to the top vacuums for the car has helped you to understand which model is best for your vehicle.
The best for reaching into small spaces: Shark Ninja Rocket
Another versatile option for your home and your vehicle, the Ninja Rocket is lightweight and has fantastic suction power. It’s also a flexible machine and is able to reach difficult spots, making it perfect for the car.