I know many of you would start a world war if someone wants to have munchies in your car. The very thought of dripping fondue and Cheetos crumbs smearing the seats and interior carpet sends a chill down your spine.
Sure you cannot stop your friends, kids, and pets from creating a mess in your car. But what you can do is buy a best car vacuum cleaner to clean up the mess. These vacuum cleaners are portable and have enough suction power to eliminate both solid and liquid dirt off your dearest leather seats.
Vacuuming a car is, in no way, a super fun activity. But it surely spares you a costly trip to the car wash place and that’s worth a lot. So, here I present you a comprehensive list of the best car vacuum cleaners in the market. Read my in-depth reviews and take your pick.
Best Car Vacuum Cleaners of 2018
|2 hp||2.5 gal||6ft / 10ft||Picks up wet/dry|
Reusable cloth filter
|0.6 L||Cordless||Extra-large dirt bin|
|Holsea||80W||0.5 L||28"/ 16.4ft||Reusable/wash filter|
|HOTOR||106W||28"/ 16.4ft||Dry & Wet|
75db low noise
Armor All – Best Vacuum Cleaner for Car and Home
Most car vacuum cleaners, at least in my experience, perform poorly when it comes to wet cleaning.
This product has a 2.5-gallon storage tank. It can dry the wet floor of a small room in minutes. It is equally effective in wiping fluid off the car carpets and seats too.
As far as dry pick up is concerned, it yields enough suction power to clean up the sand, gravel, stones and food leftovers. But don’t expect it to work like a traditional vacuum cleaner.
The auto shut-off feature ensures you never have to worry about tank overflow.
With its 6- foot hose, I could easily access the hard-to-reach spots. There was no leak in it and it has a snug fit.
This is where car vacuum cleaners like this get an edge over those cumbersome vacuum cleaners. With its suction power and flexible design, you can thoroughly clean the inside of your car, leaving no corner unattended, without the use of any soap, water or even a brush.
The tool combines several useful features and a wide assortment of head attachments. For an inexpensive tool like this, this is surely a lot.
One thing you need to be informed about while purchasing this product is that it doesn’t come with a collection bag. However, you can always order a fine filter that costs a mum if you are not satisfied with the filter included in the product package.
Wrap this filter around the inflow tube and let the ashes be collected in the filter bag. This will prevent the dirt and dust from affecting the engine performance.
Once the vacuuming is done, you just have to remove the bag and litter the deposit.
This is way easier than removing the top and turning the canister over to dump the collected dirt into the trash can. One of the best things about this vacuum cleaner is the assortment of attachments that come with it.
It includes a car nozzle, a crevice tool, a concentration tool, a floor nozzle along with a detail brush. All these accessories are provided to aid different types of clean-ups in different corners of a car.
For people like me who are prone to losing things, the accessory storage is a savior. From cobwebs, dust, food leftover, fluid, gravel, sand to pet fur, there’s nothing this little but one hell of a sucker cannot gobble up.
I’m sure a 10-foot power cord is an adequate cord length for the majority. If in case it isn’t, you can always use an extension cord.
It also allows you the option to run the vacuum via a power inverter. In my experience, having an inverter with 800 watts capacity and a peak of 1600 watts would do the best with it.
However, the required wattage should be always calculated based on the type of vehicle, whether you want to keep the engine on and what the DC outlet of the vehicle is fused for. How can I forget mentioning how peaceful working with this vacuum cleaner is?
The only thing that was a bit of a let-down was the lack of a locking mechanism between the hole and the hose. It could have ensured a more secure fit.
Armor All AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum is a feature-packed, upscale gizmo that doesn’t leave a burning hole in your wallet. Granted that it has its share of flaws, but the number of positives easily outshine the negatives.
It offers more features than what you will require giving a regular clean-up to your car. The additional accessories will come handy when the car gets super dirty, times when a gentle sweeping or washing won’t be much of a use.
Bissell – Best Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner
But you cannot deny that pets can make a lot of mess, both in the house and in a car.
They shed fur which gets badly stuck in places that are hard to clean with a regular vacuum cleaner.
This equipment comes with premium accessories that help you eliminate pet hair and other debris off the upholsteries with ease.
You will get two attachments with the vac. One is a brush tool and another is a crevice tool with a sliding brush.
Its detachable hair brush has rubber teeth that do a great job sucking up the hair and dust particles from soft fabric. However, I would rather prefer a rotating brush for more demanding jobs.
In addition to this, it also integrates a crevice-dusting combo tool. With this, you can sweep off the clingy hair and other types of solid dirt from the tightest corners of your vehicle.
The handheld design includes a looped handle for a firm grip. It sources its immense suction power from a rechargeable 16V Lith-Ion battery.
When switched on, it produces a high cyclonic suction that sucks up every atom of dirt that lies in front of the vac nozzle. To start the device, just press the thumb-touch power button and let the technology cast its spell.
Charging the battery is easy, thanks to the plug-in charger. It takes about 4 hours to fully charge the battery.
In this price range, most handled vacs provide a maximum runtime of 15 minutes. Bissell 2133 raises the bar higher for its competitors by allowing for 25 minutes of runtime.
This is more than sufficient to efficiently clean a dirty 4 wheeler or RV. There’s a battery indicator light on the machine as well that blinks when the battery requires a charge.
Its application isn’t limited to just cars. You can also use it to vacuum the furniture and carpets in your apartment.
One thing I need you to be mindful of is the placement of the collection container releasing button and the power button. Both are located side by side.
The container capacity is 0.6 liters. This drastically reduces the number of times you need to head to the trash can to empty the container.
I was even more pleased with the reusable filter bag that minimizes dust blow-back when you dump the deposit into the trash can. On top of that, the dust container is completely see-through.
This not only keeps you from overfilling the bag but also lets you see what exactly the vacuum cleaner is gobbling up. Have you ever simply vacuumed a 100 dollar bill buried under the pile of dirt and sobbed furiously for the rest of the day?
Yeah, me neither. However, there’s one downside to the plastic bag. It is so wide-mouthed that if you are not careful enough, it may spill the deposit.
This mini vacuum cleaner is an excellent bargain for money pet owners, especially the ones who are looking for a compact suction tool for their vehicles. The makers have put a lot of thought into the design as well as the performance.
It doesn’t pack any unnecessary, gimmicky feature. The 16V battery provides a long battery time and produces enough suction power to lift unsightly pet hair, sand, dust and leftover food pieces.
Holsea – Best Vacuum Cleaner for Car Valeting
Moreover, the corded design of the device ensures a consistent supply of high suction force.
I have also noticed that the suction power is nearly doubled when the engine is active, thus, significantly reducing the cleaning time.
If you have your doubts about the ease of cleaning, the 16.4 ft standard cord makes cleaning the back seat and back trunk of my SUV a breeze for me. The filter has a capacity of 0.5 L which saves numerous trips to the trash can while cleaning a really messy car.
However, to my slight disappointment, there’s a slight glitch. The filter cannot properly contain small dust particles.
As a result, the dust particles are blown out by the fan, causing a mini dust cloud. This issue, however, is not grave as it might sound.
You will need to plug the device into the12 V accessory outlet/ cigarette lighter socket of your car. There’s no button to hold down constantly while vacuuming.
You just have to push the power button and let the magic happen. You will receive 4 handy attachments that aid different types of cleaning.
You can clean debris, sand, dust and even pick pet hair with this little bad boy. It can also take care of few liquid spills.
It comes with a crevice suction tool as well which lets you reach the tiny nooks and crannies of your car for a thorough clean-up. The unit is rated safe by RoHS, FCC, and CE, so, that’s a relief too.
If you need a car vacuum cleaner for low-key applications, this unit is could be a decent bargain for the money. No way would I say that it is the best car vacuum cleaner on a budget.
Nonetheless, it is quite a powerful machine compared to its humble build. It consumes minimal energy and makes it easy to access the otherwise the hard-to-reach spots of cars, RV, and boats.
Hotor – Best Car Vacuum Cleaner for Pet Hair
I have to admit that most of them had battery issues. Either the battery won’t last for more than a couple of minutes or would take ages to charge.
Sometimes, both. That’s why I am more drawn to corded vacuum cleaners these days.
The Hotor vacuum cleaner packs quite a punch despite its miniature build. It is small enough to easily fit on one hand.
It operates at 4300-4500 Pa which translates to an enormous level of suction force for a handheld car vac. This little beast can suck up pebbles, dust, debris, sand, pet hair and food leftovers.
Moreover, it also supports wet cleaning which is a relief because my kids would often spill soda in my car. I would recommend using the brush attachment for picking pet hair off the seats.
The brush comes handy while dusting the dashboard as well. The scaled-down dimension of the unit makes reaching hard-to-access spots of the car a hassle-free affair.
It even has LED lights, aiding a clear view of the cleaning action. This is a minor yet significant addition, especially when you have to give a quick touch-up in the absence of adequate natural or ambient light.
It is a 12 V cigarette-light driven unit which is standard in almost every four-wheeler in the United States. If you wish to use it in your house, you have to consider buying an AC to DC adapter.
The filter is large enough to accommodate a good amount of deposit. Therefore, you can perform multiple cleaning without having to empty and wash the HEPA filter with plain water.
Another feature I absolutely adore is the air filter. It prevents the filter bag from blowing out the dust from the back, something people with severe dust allergy will appreciate a lot.
Most vacuum cleaners are noisy as we all know. This one is a delightful exception, though.
The silent fan keeps the decibel low all the time, making sure I don’t end up waking the neighbors while vacuuming my car. The cable is adequately long.
I can easily run it right up to the back seat and trunk of my SUV from the front.
It even comes with an extension hose, adding to its ease of use. Since there is no battery to deal with, I always take my time to clean every tight corner of my car.
No matter how long it takes, not for once have I encountered any heating issue. While vacuuming the tight spots, I always opt for the crevice tool.
On the downside, while washing the filter bag is a breeze, opening and replacing it is not that smooth. It will take a bit of practice and patience to get the hang of it.
You will get a nice and sturdy zipper bag to contain the unit as well as all the accessories. A very useful addition as most of us tend to lose the attachments and tools exactly when we need it the most, don’t we?
The Hotor vacuum cleaner is a power-packed vacuum cleaner that completely sucks (dust, debris, sand and snack crumbs off your car seat, floor and the dashboard). I have come across several portable vacuum cleaners that, in no way, deserve to be called portable.
The blue-themed, lightweight body of this vacuum cleaner is easy on your arm muscles. 20-25 minutes of cleaning won’t strain your arms.
It is also one of the best car vacuum cleaners for lifting pet hair in my experience. So, if you want to save yourself the weekly/monthly trip to your local car wash place, consider purchasing a capable machine like this one.
Black+Decker – Best Car Vacuum Cleaner Brand
So, when I had to test the latest cordless vacuum cleaner from the house of BLACK+DECKER, a leading manufacturer of automobile maintenance accessories, I was full of mixed feelings.
I have to admit that this unit completely changed my perception about battery-powered, handheld vacuum cleaners. The suction power produced by this unit is a notch higher than many average corded machines.
It takes only a few minutes to make floors, carpets, upholsteries and an entire car squeaky clean with its help. The suction power is incredibly high for a machine of such compact build.
I have a dog who sheds a lot of hair and two toddlers who think spilling food here and there is an art form. So, you can guess how dirty my car can get when I take them on a trip.
I also spend a lot of cruising along the roads of Cape Cod. After each long drive, my car would be covered with sand, snack crumbs, wrappers, small pebbles and what not!
This easy-to-handle machine employs cyclonic action technology which means it can eliminate every tiny ounce of dust and dirt within just a few minutes.
It also uses a special 3-stage filtration system, preventing the filter bag from blowing dust from the air exhaust, forming a dust cloud. It is equally effective on a wooden floor, sofa and carpets.
But that’s a flaw I can do away with. The good thing is it comes with a pet hair brush that makes sucking up pet hair off the furniture a breeze.
This compact vacuum cleaner is often used by my kids as well. They find it easy to maneuver and which parent won’t want their kids taking up cleaning as a fun sport?
The 4-foot flexible hose is one of the biggest strengths of this unit. It makes reaching hard-to-access corners a cakewalk.
Accessories like a rotating slim nozzle, a crevice tool, and a two-in-one nozzle/brush tool can be easily attached to the head of the vacuum cleaner for deep cleaning of different types of dirt. The package also includes a floor extension, allowing you to maneuver the equipment seamlessly while standing up.
This addition is particularly useful during large-scale cleaning.
The BDH1620FLFH MAX comes with a charging station that doubles up as a safe storage for the unit and accessories. The product uses Lithium Ion batteries which are far better than Ni-Cad batteries used by most manufacturers.
Ni-Cad batteries drain quickly. Therefore, you will have to hurry up or wait till the batteries are recharged. On the other hand, Li-Ion batteries take only a few hours to get fully charged.
Once completely charged, it will provide a runtime of about 20-25 minutes. Given the supreme suction power and easy handling of the vac, 25 minutes is sufficient to tide up a dirty floor or car.
The charging station has an indicator light which tells you when the machine is ready to work. Detaching and emptying the canister is pretty straightforward.
If you don’t wash the filter frequently, it will affect the suction power of the unit. That’s why I would suggest dusting the filter bag once or twice a month to ensure optimal performance and longevity.
I also discovered another quirky, albeit, practical use of this compact car vacuum cleaner. While camping in the wilderness, you can use it to suck up bugs and tiny insects prevalent in marshland.
BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac is undoubtedly one of the most competent cordless vacuum cleaners I have ever used. The lightweight structure and futuristic design make it score full points in the look and feel department.
I was quite astonished by its ability to clean the hard floor as well as the 4-wheelers and RVs with equal efficiency. Such a versatile device with the assurance of BLACK+DECKER at this price-point is worth checking out.
Best Car Vacuum Cleaners – Buyer’s Guide
What to Look for While Buying a Car Vacuum?
Choosing the right car vacuum cleaners require an in-depth knowledge of the technical aspects of a vacuum cleaner and vacuum cleaning.
Unless you are an automobile aficionado or a Physics lover, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to get into aggressively technical details.
Suction is the key feature of a vacuum cleaner. The problem with most handheld car vacuum cleaners is that they don’t produce enough force.
As a result of this, it takes multiple attempts even for cleaning a small amount of dirt. Air watts is the industry-standard unit for measuring the suction power of a vacuum cleaner.
Machines rated for 15 air watts are good enough for low-key cleaning. If you can tweak your budget a little more, I would strongly recommend a machine rated for 20 air watts or higher.
The best part about 12V cigarette light-driver cleaners is that they don’t limit the suction power or usage time as opposed to battery-powered devices. You don’t have to worry about the battery running out in the middle of the task.
And most of all, mains powered vacs are usually the most powerful types of handheld car vacs in my experience. If you are keen on purchasing a cordless unit, make sure it uses a powerful motor, 2 amp or above.
Corded vs Cordless Vacuum Cleaners
It has been a matter of countless debates among car experts as well as hobbyists.
However, I don’t think it has got anything to do with your level of knowledge or expertise over automobiles.
If you really enjoy taking your time while cleaning, you shouldn’t have any problem using a corded vac.
It has a couple of advantages over their corded counterparts. For one, they supply power for an unlimited time.
Second, they usually yield more power than battery-powered devices, providing a more thorough clean-up with each pass.
I have already discussed the types of batteries used in such units and what are their respective pros and cons.
Some upscale devices also employ SmartCharge technology to reduce battery consumption by almost 50% and significantly reduces the charging time as well. However, such products can be quite costly.
Those who are planning to buy a battery-driven vac, read this section carefully. Always opt for devices powered by either lithium or lithium-ion batteries.
Nickel Cadmium batteries drain quickly. The suction force is significantly reduced when the battery is low.
On the contrary, lithium and Li-Ion batteries last longer, charge quickly (in less than 4 hours) and keep the performance unaffected throughout the runtime.
Battery Back-up and Charging
And if it will be used for a quick touch-up now and then, cleaners providing 12-15 minutes of battery back-up will do just about fine. Many cordless, handheld vacuum cleaner manufacturers provide a charging cradle that doubles up as a dock.
If you prefer a no-frills design, lay your hands on a device with the old-school plug-in pin charging mechanism.
Look and Feel
Car vacuum cleaners are supposed to be lightweight and compact in order to easily access every tight spot of the car. It is difficult to maneuver a heavy-duty, traditional vacuum cleaner to clean the back seat and beneath the seats of a car.
What you should first look for in terms of design are the length of the hose and available head attachments.
A long hose is a bare minimum requirement. It helps you easily clean the back of a car, high and low angle spots of your house if it’s a corded device.
Accessories like square brush and crevice tool aid in a deep cleaning of different types of dirt from clingy surfaces such as carpet and mattresses.
Also make sure the product you are eyeing for has an air filter, especially if you have a dust allergy. The absence could cause dust blow-back. I have been the victim of it several times.
You should be easily able to open and replace the filter. The best car vacuum cleaners employ a push button for releasing the canister.
If the filters are reusable, it will consequently cut back on the fuss of maintenance. You will just have to give the filter bag a nice, thorough rinsing with plain water and it will be good to go.
A motorized brush or a rotating brush is a must-have in a cordless vacuum cleaner if you are hoping to clean carpet-covered staircase and floor. It can be, otherwise, extremely difficult to pull out pet hair, fine dust and food crumbs from the carpets.
Portability and Durability
Most people buy car vacuum cleaners for grab and go clean-up while traveling. The machine requires being present in the car all the time.
Therefore, look for a compact vac that can be operated single-handedly. It will help you clean the dashboard, beneath and under the seats without causing you the slightest fatigue.
Do not buy a large, heavy-duty machine if you own a small car. It will increase the difficulty of cleaning the tight corners.
So, what you can really do is devote some time to find out a frame that’s neither too heavy to carry nor feather-light.
Bagged vs Bagless Car Vacuum Cleaners
Bagged vacuum cleaners are cheaper than their bagless counterparts but cost more money in the form of maintenance expense in the long run. You will have to replace the filter bag often.
Not replacing it for a long time will cause clogging, leading to performance reduction and overheating issues.
However, on the bright side, you will be able to clearly see what goes inside the filter. So, if you by mistake vacuum a $100 bill or tiny toy or any other valuable item, you will be able to undo your mistake.
The only drawback is that you will have to frequently clean the filter bag to prevent clogging.
How to Use a Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner?
Once you have chosen the right portable vacuum cleaner to vacuum the dirt sitting here and there in your car, it’s time to learn how to use it properly. Before I jump to the details, let me just give you one tip.
Step 1, open all the doors of your car. You need the ventilation to force the dust and dirt out of the car.
Closed doors will only result in the formation of an ungodly, unsightly dust cloud inside the car.
Step 2, manually clear out the trash that won’t require vacuuming such as soda cans, wrappers, papers etc. Also, remove the floor mat and other covers in the car.
Step 3, attach the brush attachment on the cleaning head and start cleaning. The rotating bristles will sweep off the fine dust off the seats and accessory board.
It is also used for trapping pet fur and hair. Give the seats and carpet a thorough cleaning with the brush before using suction.
Step 4, start off by vacuuming the floorboard. You may need multiple passes to clear off the stubborn debris from it.
Gradually, move on to the edges of the seats, back of the passengers’ seats, seat track rails, underneath the seats and pedals. Next, run the nozzle over the seats and back of the seats to loosen the grip of the fine hair and dust particles.
Step 5, the dashboard of a car is perhaps the most neglected area while cleaning. In reality, a hell lot of dirt and debris are often trapped in this small area. Just dust it off with the soft brush attachment.
Step 6, the trunk of the car requires aggressive cleaning. The trunks tend to get dirty way faster than any other part of your car as all the extra equipment and items are stashed in it while traveling.
Unused shoes, toolbox, dirty sports equipment- everything goes into the trunk. Therefore, after removing the floor mat of the trunk, use the highest suction power allowed by your vac to clean the space from top to bottom.
Step 7, Bang the floor mats and cover against a wall and shake them vigorously to blow away the trapped dirt on them. Then quickly vacuum the surface and carefully place the mats where they belong.
Can You Use a Vacuum for Car Wash?
Self-service vacuum stations are very common in the United States. They offer a thorough interior cleaning in exchange for tokens or coins.
Many modern vacuum stations accept debit card, credit and even digital wallet as a mode of payment. Since paid vacuums allow a limited usage time, they are used less frequently and therefore, have a greater durability.
Can You Use a Vacuum Cleaner for Car Detailing?
There is no dearth of vacuum cleaners for car detailing in the market. Most users struggle to understand what to look for in such an equipment and how they work.
Do I need a Heavy-duty Vacuum Cleaner?
A lightweight, handheld vacuum cleaner cannot reinforce enough suction power to handle a huge mess in a big house or in factories or garages. If you have to clean a massive amount of dirt off the floor, furniture, and upholsteries, your safest bet is a deep-cleaning vacuum cleaner.
These machines are powerful enough to make a sand-covered floor or carpet super clean in a few minutes.
Car owners mostly need a compact device for clearing up the dust, debris and food leftovers gathered inside the car. Portable car vacuum cleaners are mostly kept in the car.
Wrapping It Up
You must be wondering how I have so many information about car vacuum cleaners. Well, I am no vacuum cleaner trader.
I love cars and everything related to them. Therefore, whenever I have spare time, I indulge in my hobby of studying about automobiles.
Following closely behind is BLACK+DECKER BDH1620FLFH with its commendable ease of use, sturdy build, and fuss-free maintenance.