The Best Car Vacuums for a Clean Interior, December 2022 - (2023)

Car vacuums are often very affordable, list cool features, have great reviews, and usually don’t work. They promise to make car cleaning easy: Just plug them into your 12V port or pick them up off the charger, and in just a few seconds you can keep your seats, floor mats, and console from getting dirty. They come with car-specific accessories like crevice tools, long hoses, and brushes, and pack up into convenient storage bags. It’s so easy to put off cleaning up some dirt in your car and before you know it, it’s out of hand. With a car vacuum you should be able to get it out at a moment’s notice, tidy up, and be on your way.

Your actual experience is likely to be a lot more disappointing. When we started testing, we were surprised by just how bad they were. Our Editor’s Pick does a great job, and there are plenty of other battery or corded vacuums that will work great on your car, but we didn’t find any 12V car vacuum cleaners that we would recommend.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t good options. Shop vacs have a lot of power and long hoses, and are the first tool any detailer breaks out when starting on a car interior. Plus, they’re very useful both around the shop and for household jobs. There are also conventional handhelds that we like.

How We Rated Car Vacuums

We purchased a selection of car vacuums in different styles to test. We had several people try them out throughout car interiors, used the accessories, and compared them to other kids of vacuums for the same jobs. All of the 12V vacuums we tested were too bad to recommend, but we left one in (with warnings) because it’s so popular.

For more information on the best car vacuums, refer to our table of contents.

Table of contents

  • 1. Editor's Pick: Black+Decker Dustbuster Hand Vacuum (CHV1410L)
  • Promoted Product: ANKO High Power Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner
  • 2. Best Wet/Dry Vacuum for Cars: Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
  • 3. Best if Price Doesn't Matter: Dyson V7 Cordless Trigger
  • 4. Best Dustbuster Alternative: Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Handheld Vacuum (SD20005RED)
  • 5. Best Full Size Shop Vac: DeWALT DXV10P 10 gallon Quiet Poly Wet Dry Vacuum
  • 6. Best for Cordless Tools Battery Systems: Milwaukee M18 Lithium Ion Cordless Compact Hand Held Vacuum
  • 7. BISSELL AeroSlim Cordless Vacuum
  • 8. Not Recommended: ThisWorx Model 1.0 Car Vacuum Cleaner
  • Everything You Need to Know About Car Vacuums
  • Why Do You Need a Car Vacuum?
  • Can I Use My Household Vacuum in My Car?
  • Should I Use a Carpet Cleaner on my Car Upholstery?
  • Choosing the Right Vacuum for Your Car
  • Is a Wet-Dry Car Vacuum Right for Me?
  • What’s a Shop Vac?
  • What to Look for When Shopping for a Car Vacuum
  • How to Care for Your Car Vacuum
  • Should I Wash or Vacuum First?
  • How to Vacuum Your Car

1. Editor's Pick: Black+Decker Dustbuster Hand Vacuum (CHV1410L)

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The Dustbuster doesn't cost much more, and is far better than other choices. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus /

We think the best handheld vacuum currently available is the Black+Decker Dustbuster. This hand vacuum isn’t just an ideal choice for cleaning cars, but is also great for household use. Weighing just 2.6 pounds, the cordless vacuum can only be used on dry materials, which isn’t true for all handheld cordless vacuums, so keep that in mind if you’re shopping for a wet/dry vacuum. It is rated at 15.2 watts with max voltage of 16 volts and has a suction power of 15.2 air watts (AW).The washable dustbowl has a capacity of 20.6 ounces and it’s one of the easiest hand vacuums to empty out and clean. Powering the Dustbuster is a lithium-ion battery that takes about four hours to fully charge. Best of all, charging is easy since it uses a charging base. The company says the battery is capable of holding a charge for up to 18 months, allowing you to conveniently keep it in your car.

We’ve tested six vacuums so far in 2022, and this model of Dustbuster is by far our favorite for cleaning a car. The only drawbacks are that it’s larger, and a little louder, than most 12V and some other battery vacuums, so it can be hard to fit into tight places. Otherwise, it outpowers anything this side of a 110V household vacuum, easily picking up small gravel and other debris. A built-in crevice tool works great for getting into seats, cupholders, and other small places, and it has enough power to pull dirt out of floor mats, although it won’t do as good a job as a shop vac (or pressure washer). Build quality is also a big step above every 12V vacuum we tested, giving us confidence that it will last for years.

With multiple vacuums currently scattered around the AutoGuide Garage, the Black+Decker Dustbuster is the only one we reach for (aside from occasionally a Bissel AeroSlim for tight spots) that isn’t a shop vacuum. Black+Decker backs the Dustbuster with a two-year warranty and has customer service and warranty options through web forms and email on the site, but we could not find a toll-free number.

  • Pros/Attachments are part of the vacuum and can't be lost, powerful, recharging stand
  • Cons/Larger and more expensive than 12V car vacuums
  • Promoted Product: ANKO High Power Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner

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    Here’s a wet and dry vac that packs some serious suction power. ANKO’s 12-volt portable car vacuum boasts 4,300-4,500PA (pascal pressure units) suction, making it strong enough to pick up two iPhone 6s with ease. In other words, with that kind of suction power, dust and dirt doesn’t stand a chance. ANKO’s portable car vac is also exceptionally quiet, generating only 75db of noise.

    While the vacuum is corded, that cord is over 15 feet long, or more than enough to get into pretty much any nook or cranny in your vehicle. It also comes with plenty of attachments—a long mouth, brush, and soft long tube—so you’ll have the right tool for any job, be it pet hair, food crumbs, even liquids. It is a wet and dry vac, after all, so it’s got an answer to pretty much any mess.

    Best of all, ANKO offers a 100% satisfaction warranty, meaning if you don’t love it, you’ll get your money back. If you’re looking for a versatile handheld car vacuum, you’ve found it.

    *This is a sponsored placement.

  • Pros/Wet/dry shop vacuum, portable, comes with 3 useful accessories, great suction power
  • Cons/Corded
  • 2. Best Wet/Dry Vacuum for Cars: Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

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    Compact size and useful power make the Armor All vacuum a good choice for more intensive car cleaning. Photo credit:

    Don’t care for a cordless, handheld vacuum? If you have easy access to a power outlet and need a wet/dry vacuum, the Armor All 2.5 gallon shop vac is a great choice. It’s not overly powerful with a two-horsepower motor, and its 2.5-gallon storage tank isn’t the largest available, but this vacuum is small enough to get inside your car for cleaning, where a full-size portable vacuum would be too big to maneuver.

    It comes with a 10-foot power cord and since it’s just a 2.5-gallon tank, this vacuum is easy to move around while you vacuum your car. Also included is a six-foot hose, which should help minimize the need for an extension cord. Like other shop vacuums, switching the hose from intake to exhaust easily converts the vacuum to a blower.

    The vacuum organizes its included accessories in slots as part of a Complete Vac Organization system, including a 2-in-1 utility nozzle, crevice tool, deluxe car nozzle, blower nozzle, detail brush, reusable cloth filter, and reusable foam anti-splash sleeve. A two-year warranty is standard on this small vacuum.

    The Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry vacuum is ideal for car owners who often wash their cars at home and have access to a convenient power outlet. The tank, while smaller than other shop vacuums, should be adequate for your cleaning session. It’s one of the most portable shop vacs you can purchase, so taking it over to the trash to empty and clean isn’t as cumbersome as larger units.

  • Pros/Wet/Dry shop vacuum, portable, includes several useful accessories, two-year warranty
  • Cons/Corded, smaller tank, shorter cord and hose than full-size shop vacs
  • 3. Best if Price Doesn't Matter: Dyson V7 Cordless Trigger

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    You could buy 10 Dustbusters for the price of one Dyson, but it's a very good vacuum. Photo credit;

    It’s rather difficult to do a list of vacuums without including a product from Dyson. The company specializes in making high-quality vacuums, and you probably can’t find a product that will more efficiently clean your car. The Dyson V7 Trigger is the most expensive option on our list, but it’s recommended for those who want the absolute best.

    The V7 features a powerful Dyson digital motor and is capable of up to 30 minutes of runtime thanks to its lithium-ion batteries. Given its compact size, it’s no surprise its capacity is at 0.15 gallons, but it’s also one of the easiest vacuums to empty. There’s no need to touch any of the dirt, simply pull the lever and release all its contents into a waste bin.

    Completely cord free, Dyson includes a two-year warranty with its product, along with a mini motorized tool, combination tool, and crevice tool. Dyson even tests using the IEC 62885-2 international standard for vacuum cleaners, if vacuum cleaner testing is one of your hobbies.

  • Pros/It’s a Dyson!, powerful suction, up to 30 minutes of runtime, hygienic bin emptying
  • Cons/Expensive, small capacity tank
  • 4. Best Dustbuster Alternative: Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Handheld Vacuum (SD20005RED)

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    Dirt Devil is direct competition for the Dustbuster, but isn't cordless. Photo credit:

    Dirt Devil is likely a brand you have heard of when it comes to vacuums, and its Scorpion Quick Flip bagless handheld vacuum is a great choice for cleaning a car. Finished in Dirt Devil’s signature red, it features an integrated Quick Flip crevice tool that makes cleaning tight spaces a breeze. Attached to the vacuum is a 16-foot power cord, which is shorter than the Eureka vacuum. Included with the vacuum is a 2.5-foot hose, a dusting brush, sliding brush, and upholstery tool.

    Weighing 3.75 pounds, the Dirt Devil Scorpion is slightly heavier than the Dyson V7 trigger, but it is significantly cheaper. In fact, it’s one of the most affordable car vacuums on our list. It’s powered by a seven-amp motor and comes with a three-year limited warranty, which is the best of the bunch and impressive considering the price of the vacuum.

    The Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip vacuum is recommended for car owners who are looking for a cordless handheld vacuum that just “does its job” without anything fancy. Its price makes it a compelling option for everybody looking for a simple, affordable solution.

  • Pros/Seven-amp motor, quick flip crevice tool, very affordable, variety of attachments, three-year warranty
  • Cons/Not extremely lightweight, average length power cable
  • 5. Best Full Size Shop Vac: DeWALT DXV10P 10 gallon Quiet Poly Wet Dry Vacuum

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    A full size shop vac takes up a lot of room, and offers a lot of power and versatility. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus /

    Not every household needs a wet/dry vacuum such as this one, but when the AutoGuide Garage needed a shop vac, we went with DeWalt’s 10-gallon wet/dry vacuum. Powered by a 5.5-peak horsepower motor, it’s designed for large applications, so whether it’s your work truck that needs cleaning from bumper to bumper, or your minivan filled with spilled cereal, this vacuum will handle it all. We’ve been so impressed by how quiet and light it is for the power, that we end up using it in place of a household vacuum, especially for big jobs, and a shop vac is part of every workshop.

    It features five durable rubberized casters at the bottom for smooth swiveling and easy movement. An extra long 20-foot power cord and long seven-foot hose means you have plenty of reach without having to plug or unplug the vacuum as you clean. The exhaust port also functions as a built-in blower port, using the suction hose, if you want to reverse the function of the vacuum. Lastly, the large built-in tank drain makes it easy to clean up liquid messes. When vacuuming wet messes, a washable foam filter keeps water out of the motor.

    For convenience, there’s large a built-in accessory bag that’s conveniently attached to the backside of the vacuum, allowing you to keep the includedextension wands, floor nozzle, utility nozzle, and crevice nozzle organized; and an elastic hook secures the hose in place when not in use.

  • Pros/Powerful motor, large capacity, rubberized casters for mobility, 20-foot power cord, heavy duty vacuum
  • Cons/Corded, may be too large and cumbersome for some users
  • 6. Best for Cordless Tools Battery Systems: Milwaukee M18 Lithium Ion Cordless Compact Hand Held Vacuum

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    If you have Milwaukee batteries, the 18V vacuum is a great option. Photo credit:

    Milwaukee makes the most popular line of cordless power tools, so it makes sense they’d offer a cordless small vacuum (in fact they have three). In the middle of the lineup is the0882-20, a large, powerful handheld that sucks up 40 cu.ft. per minute. An included HEPA filter removes allergens while you vacuum, which is particularly important inside a car.

    Included accessories are a crevice tool, floor cleaner and two extensions. The extensions are the right length to use it as a stick vacuum around the house, or you can use the four-foot flexible hose and set it down flat while vacuuming your floors and seats. However, it does not include batteries. You must get or already have Milwaukee’sM18 18 volt lithium ion batteries. The good news is they are compatible in various capacities up to6.0Ah, which will give you extended run time and potentially power. Plus, you can keep running yourportable vacuum cleaner as long as you have fresh batteries to swap in.

    Milwaukee offers an outstanding five-year warranty on theircordless handheld vacuum.

  • Pros/18v battery system, 40 CFM, lock switch
  • Cons/Needs Milwaukee batteries, expensive, large for a handheld
  • 7. BISSELL AeroSlim Cordless Vacuum

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    The Bissel AeroSlim doesn't have much power, but it's convenient. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus /

    The Bissel AeroSlim is surprisingly well reviewed, but we’re not sure why. It’s definitely a step up from 12V vacuums, and does have at least a little suction, but not very much.Powered by a lithium-ion battery, this vacuum operates for up to 12 minutes on a single charge, which may or may not be enough depending on the size of your vehicle—and the mess. As with all rechargeable batteries, if you use it frequently and need to charge it often, battery life and performance will start to degrade.

    Features on this handheld vacuum include a duel level filtration system that uses washable and reusable filters, a small but easy-to-empty dirt bin, and USB charging. That means you can charge this vacuum with your vehicle if it’s equipped with a USB port. It doesn’t come with very many accessories however, with the sole 2-in-1 crevice tool and dusting brush found inside the box. We found that while it would pick up dust and light dirt, it couldn’t get sand out of the crevices of a floor mat, and didn’t get seats very clean.

  • Pros/Compact and sleek design, USB charging, washable filters, fairly quiet
  • Cons/Low power and small capacity
  • 8. Not Recommended: ThisWorx Model 1.0 Car Vacuum Cleaner

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    ThisWorx is all style and no substance. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus /

    This is not just the best selling car vacuum on Amazon, but one of the best-selling automotive products, period. We’ve left it in our list for just that reason, but we don’t recommend buying it, either for yourself or as a gift. It’s very quiet, we’ll give it that, but that’s because it isn’t doing much. It is also very light and easy to clean, although the housing is a static dust magnet.

    But it isn’t good to use. It wouldn’t pick up anything heavier than light dust, and lacked the power to suck up anything at all through the extension tube. In fact, none of the accessories seemed to work, because there really isn’t any air moving through them. We have no idea why it’s so popular, other than it looks interesting? If you really must have one, you can buy the identical vacuum with slightly different colors and accessories from innumerable other brands. Some of those will be cheaper, but they will not be any better.

  • Pros/Quiet, easy to clean
  • Cons/It's a bad vacuum cleaner
  • Everything You Need to Know About Car Vacuums

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    It may not seem like a car vacuum is a necessity unless you’re an absolute clean freak, but they’re an important investment in keeping your car in tiptop shape. You likely spend at least an hour in your car each day, so you might be surprised at how much dust and dirt can gather up inside your cabin. There’s also the chance something may spill in your car and having to find a car wash with an accessible vacuum isn’t always possible, and those quarters add up fast.

    Car vacuums are even more important if you’re often traveling with kids. In 2013, Honda started what has become a trend, outfitting its Odyssey minivan with a built-in car vacuum. Since then, other makes and models including the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica have been equipped with integrated car vacuums. In a way, a car vacuum is like what you thought was a luxury item that you find you can’t live without once you own one.

    Having your own car vacuum has plenty of benefits and many car vacuums are portable enough to fit in your car’s trunk so it’s easily accessible when you need it. But shopping for the right car vacuum can be overwhelming, with a plethora of options available across various price ranges. There are a few things to consider before you click the add to cart button, don’t simply just pick the highest rated or most affordable option available within your budget.

    Why Do You Need a Car Vacuum?

    Your first instinct might be to just use your household vacuum to clean up your car, and it may do an adequate job depending on the vacuum. Some household vacuums are now cordless and come with a variety of attachments, but they will never be as convenient as a car vacuum. Upright or canister household vacuums will, at the very least, need a hose attachment to help clean your car, and you’re unlikely to be use a stick vacuum at all. All large household vacuums are cumbersome and can tip over, making the task of cleaning your car’s interior more difficult than it should be.

    As you can imagine, household vacuums are designed to clean large surface areas efficiently and quickly. They may work well enough on your car’s floorboards and floor mats, but some home vacuums will have a difficult time getting into hard-to-reach places. Like most things automotive, you need the right tool for the job, which is why a car vacuum is recommended to keep your cabin nice and clean.

    Can I Use My Household Vacuum in My Car?

    We’ve certainly done that—hauled our household upright bagged vacuum outside, run an extension cord, hooked up accessory hoses and cleaned a car. But it’s cumbersome and inconvenient, and can potentially damage your vacuum as you stretch short and easy-to-tear hoses to reach inside. Stick vacuums are lighter than traditional uprights, but often don’t have the optional hoses to reach many spots, or the powerful suction to deal with dirt and gravel from your floors. Canister vacuums are a much better choice, have the best suction of all three types of household vacuums, and are always equipped with longer hoses. You’ll still have to deal with getting it, its cord and hoses and accessories out to your car, and potentially scraping it along the ground as you work.

    Should I Use a Carpet Cleaner on my Car Upholstery?

    No. Our short answer is no. Car upholstery is easy to stain, whether with coffee, kids or pets, but in our testing carpet cleaners do a poor job of removing those stains and often leave marks of their own. Even if you rent a Rug Doctor or the equivalent carpet cleaner with a special upholstery wand, in our experience it won’t clean evenly, leaving permanent dark and light spots or strips. If you have seats that need cleaning, it’s worth using a professional detailer, and to preserve your car’s appearance and resale value, we recommend a high-quality set of waterproof, washable seat covers.

    If you’re able to, you can remove you car’s seat fabric and test an area you’ll never see, like the underside. If it doesn’t stain or discolor, then you can risk using a carpet cleaner on the seating surfaces.

    Choosing the Right Vacuum for Your Car

    One of the most important factors in picking the right vacuum for your car is determining how your car is used every day. Maybe your vehicle is often used for work and gets wet and muddy, or you have a pet that loves taking rides with you. If you have kids, there’s a good chance they’ll accidentally spill food inside the car. If your car sees heavy duty use, you’ll likely want to pay close attention to the car vacuum you’re planning to purchase. Some vacuums specialize in picking up pet hair, while others will operate wet or dry.

    Now if none of the above applies to you, then a lightweight, handheld cordless vacuum might suffice. Determining how often you need to clean your car’s interior plays an important role in choosing the right car vacuum.

    Aside from budget, you’ll want to decide whether you want a corded or cordless car vacuum. Cordless vacuums are generally more expensive and have the added convenience of not being tethered or having to look for a power outlet. The downside, of course, is that they are often less powerful need to be charged after use. If you are unable to vacuum your car within a garage, there are also corded car vacuums that use the 12-volt cigarette lighter in your car. While they may seem to be the best option, they’re not as convenient as cordless vacuums and are often not as powerful as vacuums that plug into a wall.

    Recently, some automakers have been outfitting their vehicles with AC power outlets, which is something to consider when shopping for a car vacuum. If your vehicle has a power outlet built-in, you could use a corded option without having to fuss with the power outlet in your garage, although you should be careful of draining your battery.

    Is a Wet-Dry Car Vacuum Right for Me?

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    As its name suggests, a wet-dry vacuum serves a dual purpose, allowing you to vacuum wet and dry parts of your interior. A wet-dry vacuum has a bucket or a collection chamber, so that wet materials never pass through any electrical or mechanical components. A wet-dry vac is ideal if you’re worried about having to deal with spills, wet, or muddy floor mats and carpeting.

    In addition, almost all wet-dry vacuums have a blower function, allowing you to blow air out rapidly. This could be useful for blowing dust or other particles from your interior.

    Basically, a wet-dry vacuum is designed to vacuum liquid, so it’s protected from possible short circuits. A typical dry vacuum is not made to hold liquid, so it’s possible whatever you vacuum can leak into the electrical components, potentially even causing a fire. Avoid using a car vacuum on wet surfaces if its description doesn’t specifically state that it’s safe to use on liquids.

    What’s a Shop Vac?

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    You have likely heard of or seen shop vacs before, which are intended for heavy-duty use. They can also be used as a car vacuum, especially for vehicles that often get filled with mud or dirt. Most shop vacs feature a huge canister to hold debris and liquid, along with a long and tough hose. They’re also versatile since they typically have wheels, making them very mobile and easy to maneuver.

    Shop vacs are typically equipped with a longer hose and more powerful motor than a household vacuum, and can handle much heavier objects. For cars,however, there are smaller shop vacs available that are lightweight and compact. They’re a great all-around option if you’re willing to spend a bit more and don’t need a handheld, ultracompact vacuum. Shop vacs are highly recommended if you’re often dealing with spills or food in the car, or you travel in harsh weather conditions. They’re also handy for cleaning up all kinds of hard-to-handle messes not just in a basement, garage or shop, but throughout the house as they can easily suck up things like broken glass, dirt from a spilled plant or water off the floor from a leak.

    What to Look for When Shopping for a Car Vacuum

    Regardless of whether you’re shopping for a corded or cordless car vacuum, you will want to pay attention to a vacuum’s power rating. But don’t be fooled into thinking the bigger the number, the better. Along with wattage, you will want to research its suction pressure, which is often measured in pascals, along with cubic feet per minute of airflow—basically, how hard it can suck and how much it is sucking.

    You will also want to check whether the car vacuum you’re looking at comes with a variety of accessories. You may not need any of those accessories if you’re using the vacuum for general cleaning, but having additional nozzles and brushes could prove handy if your car sees heavy use.

    If you’re shopping for a cordless vacuum, pay close attention to its advertised battery life and weight. You might find it uncomfortable to use a heavy handheld vacuum for an extended period of time in awkward positions. If you have a larger vehicle, smaller batteries may not allow you to completely clean your car on a single charge.

    One aspect that’s often overlooked when shopping for a car vacuum is its tank capacity. For smaller, compact cars, you may not need a large canister. But if you own an SUV or a minivan, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have to constantly empty out the canister while vacuuming your car. Along the same lines, you may want to do some research to see how easy or difficult it is to clean a particular vacuum. You likely don’t want to purchase a vacuum that’s complicated to disassemble and maintain.

    Prepare to be overwhelmed by the number of manufacturers who offer car vacuums. You’ll likely recognize familiar brands such as Black+Decker, Bissell, and Dyson, but they may not necessarily be the best for your needs. If you’re shopping for a shop vac, Armor All is a brand you likely recognize since the company specializes in car detailing products.

    Once you’ve decided whether you want a corded, cordless, or shop vac, narrow down your product choices by budget and power. You will also want to pay close attention to the warranty that is offered when comparing vacuums. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a bit more for a product from an established company, knowing you have warranty support you if something breaks.

    The last thing you should consider is how easy it is to find replacement parts for the vacuum you’re interested in. Can you purchase replacement filters easily? If you’re looking at a cordless vacuum, are replacement batteries expensive? Lithium-ion batteries degrade over time, so eventually you’ll have to purchase a replacement. You may also want to check if accessories can be purchased separately, in case you only need one specific item.

    How to Care for Your Car Vacuum

    Making an investment into a car vacuum may not be cheap, so you’ll want to take a few steps to maintain and keep your vacuum clean. If your car vacuum has a filter, change it on a regular basis and more often if you’re using the vacuum frequently. Some filters can also be washed, so you’ll want to check your specific product to see if that’s an option.

    Make sure to empty out your vacuum canister every time you’re done cleaning, even if it’s just a little amount of debris or dirt. This is especially important if you’re using a wet-dry vacuum, since leaving anything wet for a long period of time can lead to mold and mildew.

    If you’re using an attachment that has a brush or roll, make sure you clean it on a regular basis. Over time, certain objects can get caught in the brush or roll, preventing it from spinning and performing as effectively as it should and potentially burning out a motor. If you’re using a vacuum with a hose attachment, make sure nothing is stuck inside the hose after each cleaning, so you don’t cause a clog next time you use the vacuum.

    Should I Wash or Vacuum First?

    We’re fans of the “work your way out” philosophy. Our theory is that when you’re working on the interior, you’re more likely to get the exterior dirty by accident. And when you’re done inside and move to the exterior, you don’t have any reason to open the doors until your cleaning is finished and the whole car is ready.

    On the other hand, we also know very good detailers who start with the exterior, because they feel that way they won’t track anything into the exterior when they start. We think that increases the chance of bringing something wet into the interior, but the professionals know what they’re doing.

    Either way, no one recommends doing part of one and then the other. Do the entire interior or exterior, then move on to the rest. Which you choose first depends on your preference, your style, and your situation.

    How to Vacuum Your Car

    Once you’ve chosen a car vacuum that suits your needs, it’s time to get cleaning. Vacuuming a car may sound like a straightforward task, but here are some tips to make sure you properly do the job:

    1. Before you start, open all the vehicle’s doors so it’s convenient to access every part of your interior and allow any dust you kick up to circulate out. You’ll also be able pull the vacuum’s hose straight through the cabin instead of going around the car.
    2. Make sure to clear out trash and other large items prior to vacuuming. Not only will this make vacuuming easier, it ensures your vacuum won’t get stuck on large debris—plus you won’t suck up any dollar bills. Keep an eye out for sharp objects that can damage your vacuum, and loose items such as strings or hair. While strings or hair shouldn’t clog or damage your vacuum, it could over time make a mess out of an attached brush or roll.
    3. Remove all your floor mats and trunk liners if you’re planning to also vacuum your trunk. Most modern vehicles have hooks or eyelets that are used to secure the floor mat in place.
    4. If your car vacuum came with a brush attachment, use that to vacuum. While suction alone does an adequate job, a brush attachment will help lift up dirt and debris stuck in your car’s carpet.
    5. Thoroughly vacuum the floorboards of your car and make multiple passes to ensure the carpet is free of debris. When vacuuming the front of the car, slide the driver and passenger’s seats as far back as possible so you can cover more surface area. Do the opposite when vacuuming the back of the car.
    6. If you have cloth seats, make sure to run the vacuum over the upholstery. Recline the front seats so you can get in between the seat and seat back.
    7. Use your crevice tool to get into the seams of the seats, between them and the consoles, into door pockets, and any other hard-to-reach area.
    8. You can also run your vacuum along the dash to pick up any dust or debris, but be careful not to scratch it. If your dash is made of soft plastic, just use a microfiber towel instead.
    9. For the floor mats that you removed earlier, shake them out first (or use your shop vac to blow then off) before vacuuming each mat one by one. Properly re-install each floor mat on their hooks once they’ve been vacuumed. This keeps them from interfering with your accelerator or brake pedal.
    10. Lastly, don’t forget to vacuum the trunk. Since it is often the place where large objects are stored, you’ll want to maintain it from time to time.
    11. After you’re done cleaning your car, make sure to take a few minutes to clean your vacuum by emptying the canister and making sure nothing is stuck in the hose or brush attachments.

    Recent Updates:

    October 27, 2022: Updated product links.

    September 1, 2022: Added ThisWorx back to list as an example of what not to buy.

    July 8, 2022: Added hands-on testing and photo to Black+Decker Dustbuster.

    June 30, 2022: Added additional link for Milwaukee 0882-20. Removed ThisWorx vacuum hands-on review.

    June 21, 2022: Removed THISWORX Car Vacuum Cleaner from recommendations due to poor performance and reviews.

    We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews.Learn more about how this works.

    Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus /


    What is the best car vacuum for 2022? ›

    Our Top Picks
    • Best Overall. Dustbuster 16-Volt Black+Decker. ...
    • Runner-Up. Pivot 20-Volt Black+Decker. ...
    • Powerful and Portable. Vac N Blo Compact Wall Mount MetroVac. ...
    • Most Versatile. V8 Dyson. ...
    • Longest battery life. M18 Cordless Vacuum Milwaukee. ...
    • Honorable Mention. ...
    • Best for small, quick cleanups. ...
    • Honorable Mention.
    26 Aug 2022

    What vacuum do auto detailers use? ›

    The Vac N Blow Pro-83BA Professional Grade Vacuum Cleaner is one of the most powerful vacuums available on the market. This professional grade vacuum cleaner is an excellent tool for auto detailers. This portable vacuum comes equipped with 4.0 horsepower electric motor and features an extra-long 24 foot hose...

    What is the number 1 vacuum cleaner? ›

    Our overall favorite vacuum, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away, had some of the best cleaning performance of all the vacuums we've tested.

    What is a good vacuum for seniors? ›

    Top 5 Senior Vacuums
    • SEBO Dart Upright Vacuum Cleaner (9855AM) ...
    • Johnny Vac JV252 Stick Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • Titan T1400 Compact Canister Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • SEBO Premium Felix 90814AM Upright Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • SEBO 91620AM Airbelt E2 Turbo Canister Vacuum Cleaner.

    What vacuums are just as good as Dyson? ›

    These Vacuums Work Just as Well as a Dyson but for a Fraction of the Price
    • BISSELL MultiClean Allergen Pet Bagless Upright Vacuum. ...
    • Shark VM252 VACMOP Pro Cordless Hard Floor Vacuum Mop with LED Headlights. ...
    • Anker eufy HomeVac S11 Reach, Handstick Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • BISSELL 3-in-1 Turbo Lightweight Stick Vacuum, 2610.
    16 Aug 2022

    What is a good HP for a car vacuum? ›

    Light-duty models land anywhere between 1 and 4 hp, generally speaking. Heavy-duty car vacuums will offer 4 hp or more. Cordless vacuum power ratings are described in terms of voltage, and it's determined by the batteries they use. Models that use 18V to 20V batteries are likely to be similar in suction power.

    What do car detailers use to clean interior? ›

    You guessed it, microfiber towels are the heroes of car detailers everywhere. Wipe off the wax haze using circular motions. As the towel loads with wax, refold it to a cleaner section. Use a second towel when the first one is fully loaded.

    How much suction power should a car vacuum have? ›

    Power: When you buy a car vacuum, one of the most basic things you need is the power to get the job done. A good car vacuum should have at least 15 air watts or a battery of 16V or higher.

    What is voted the best vacuum cleaner? ›

    The 8 Best Vacuum Cleaners - Fall 2022 Reviews
    • Best Vacuum. Dyson V15 Detect. ...
    • Best Upper Mid-Range Vacuum. Miele Triflex HX1. ...
    • Best Mid-Range Vacuum. Shark Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away. ...
    • Best Budget Vacuum. ...
    • Best Corded Vacuum. ...
    • Best Upper Mid-Range Corded Vacuum. ...
    • Best Mid-Range Corded Vacuum. ...
    • Best Budget Corded Vacuum.
    4 days ago

    Which vacuum cleaner has the highest suction power? ›

    • Eureka Forbes bold wet and dry vacuum cleaner. ...
    • Karcher WD3 Wet & Dry Vacuum Cleaner: ...
    • Dyson V7 Animal Cordless Vacuum Cleaner with Powerful Suction, Hygienic Dirt Ejector. ...
    • EUREKA FORBES Trendy Nano Dry Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • AGARO Regal Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, 800W. ...
    • Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop P:
    28 Jul 2022

    How do I clean my car interior like a pro? ›

    Follow these steps to clean every curve, crack, and crevice of your car:
    1. Take Out and Clean Floor Mats. ...
    2. Vacuum Interior. ...
    3. Clear Dust and Disinfect Dashboard. ...
    4. Carefully Clean Console. ...
    5. Clean Cupholders, Door Panels, and Steering Wheel. ...
    6. Wipe Interior Windows. ...
    7. Take Care of Seats. ...
    8. Deodorize.
    24 Jun 2022

    How do you vacuum in between car seats? ›

    Whether you're cleaning with the seats removed or by just moving the seats, the best way to clean between car seats is by using a crevice tool because of its thin, narrow, long shape. Vacuum the console as well as down the sides of the console and seats.

    What is the best vacuum cleaner for the least amount of money? ›

    If you're looking for the cheapest possible option, consider the Bissell Featherweight Stick Lightweight Bagless Vacuum. It's a highly-rated vacuum that you can use for all types of indoor cleaning -- and it costs less than $35.

    How much should I spend on a good vacuum? ›

    Cost Range for Vacuum Cleaners

    On the lower end you can find a whole-home upright vacuum for less than $50 (not counting cheaper stick vacuums). On the higher end, brands like Miele retail for $1,500 or more, and Roomba robot vacuums also have models for over $1,000.

    Is it better to vacuum fast or slow? ›

    Take your time. Vacuuming slowly will allow your machine to suck up more dirt and dust, and ultimately get your rugs and carpets much cleaner. Slow vacuuming allows the brush to agitate the carpet properly and suck up the unclean bits that emerge.

    What vacuum is better than a shark? ›

    The Miele Classic C1 is a better overall canister vacuum than the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe NV360. The Miele is better built, easier to maintain, and has a larger dirt compartment. It's also more portable, it has better maneuverability, and it comes with an extension wand as well as a soft-bristle brush.

    Which cleans better shark or Dyson? ›

    Cleaning Tests Compared

    When it comes to raw cleaning power on carpets the Shark Vertex DuoClean lags behind the Dyson V15, V11, and V10. However, not by a huge margin. While the Dyson vacuums are objectively better in terms of cleaning power, they are also notably more expensive.

    How much horsepower should a car vacuum have? ›

    Article Writer at AndroidPin. To get excellent suction power, have a higher HP. If you have already vacuuming stuff, any 1-2 hp vac will do for removing dirt, san, and all types of debris. You are recommended to go for 4-5 hp.

    How much suction should a car vacuum have? ›

    The average suction power for a car vacuum is around 100 watts. This allows you to clean up small and medium messes. However, if you want to be able to pick up larger or heavier pieces of debris, consider a more powerful model.

    What is the highest suction power in a vacuum? ›

    The Miele Boost CX1 Parquet is the most powerful bagged vacuum cleaner at the moment. The vacuum cleaner has a suction power of no less than 21 kPa, which is very strong compared to other vacuum cleaners.

    What is the best way to clean cloth upholstery in a car? ›

    Mix a cup of vinegar, a few drops of dish soap and about a gallon of hot water in a bucket. Then dab the mixture into the stain and use a brush to scrub it out of the seat, use clean water to rinse the seat off. Use laundry detergent.

    Are car vacuums worth it? ›

    A: Car vacuums are great for cleaning up dirt, grass, pet hair, and the small bits of debris that make our cars look worse for the wear. Some are even capable of cleaning up wet messes like mud, slush, and spilled drinks.

    What is a perfect vacuum PSI? ›

    If we had a container at a theoretical perfect vacuum (that is, we have removed every molecule and its components from within the vessel) then we could state that vacuum condition as 0 (zero) pressure absolute or 0 PSIA.

    Is 8000 Pa suction good? ›

    8000Pa is very strong for a portable vacuum cleaner. It can also suck up wet debris because of its power.

    What is the most powerful cordless car vacuum cleaner? ›

    13 of the best car vacuum cleaners to buy in 2022
    • Shark Cordless Hand Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • Karcher WV5 Window Vac. ...
    • Ultenic U11 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • Hoover H-Handy 700 Express Handheld Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • Proscenic S1 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner. ...
    • Ryobi 18V One+ Hand Vac vacuum cleaner.
    4 Mar 2022

    How do I increase the suction on my car vacuum? ›

    One of the easiest ways to increase vacuum cleaner suction is to empty the dust collection bag. Dust containers need to have enough space for airflow, otherwise, they could get clogged and have less suction power. Regularly check your dust compartment and empty or change it when it's already 70-80% full.

    How can you tell how strong a vacuum suction is? ›

    The sealed suction of a vacuum cleaner is measured in inches of water lift. This rating is taken when the motor is totally sealed, and the term refers to how many inches the motor will vertically lift a 1" column of water.


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