The Best Car Vacuums

It’s not always the best choice to use your household vacuum in your car. Traditional vacuums for the house are often too large, difficult to maneuver, and do not have the right attachments you’ll need. Investing in a car vacuum is a convenient way to keep your car clean.

Vacuuming your car comes with special challenges that require you to have a vacuum that can perform in small spaces. Each car vacuum comes with unique options and features that can change the way you use it.

Use this guide to find out more about what makes car vacuums unique, and choose the right one for you. We’ll cover key details and important facts along with helpful reviews about the vacuums.

Our Top Picks:

Best Overall: Bissell Automate
Best 12-Volt: HOTOR Handheld Auto Vacuum Cleaner
Best Multi-Purpose: Black+Decker Dustbuster (CHV1410L)
Best Wet/Dry Car Vacuum: Armor All AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vac
Best Wall-Mounted Car Vacuum:  VacuMaid GV50PRO Wall Mounted Garage and Car Vacuum

The Best Car Vacuums: Our Top Picks

Best Overall
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Bissell Automate

Designed for car crevices with LED lighting and attachments.

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$69.50 USD

Why we Picked It

The Bissell Automate is designed to get into even the deepest crevices in the car. The vacuum features an LED light and specially designed attachments modeled after professional car-detailing tools. Its LED light allows you to see into the tightest spaces of the car.

With a 14V lithium ion battery, the Bissell Automate lasts through an entire car cleaning. The motorized brush tool works to pull dirt and even pet hair out of the carpets and car upholstery. It also comes with a flexible tool you can use to get down deep into tight areas of your car. Triple level filtration helps eliminate allergens while the large dirt cup can handle the worst car messes.

Keep in Mind

The vacuum can take up to eight hours for a complete charge, but it can run for around 30 minutes on each charge.

In a Nutshell

  • Bright LED light
  • Lightweight 3.1 pounds
  • Flexible crevice tool
Best 12-Volt
HOTOR Handheld Auto Vacuum

Vacuum including car detailing attachments and convenient carrying case.

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Why we Picked It

The HOTOR Handheld Auto Vacuum cleaner is designed just for car use with a 12-Volt cord. The vacuum can be used on the go and you will not have to worry about charging it or battery power. Since it plugs directly into your 12-Volt car outlet, the HOTOR lasts for as long as you need it. Its 16.4-foot cord makes it possible to clean your entire vehicle.

With detailing tools like an upholstery brush and hose attachment, you’ll be able to get down deep into the crevices of your car. It’s strong suction power and lightweight design make it easy for anyone to use in the car. The HOTOR also features bright LED lights to make seeing what you’re cleaning easier. The attachments and the vacuum all fit conveniently into the carrying case.

Keep in Mind

Since the vacuum features a cord designed for 12-Volt outlets, it can only be used in the car.

In a Nutshell

  • Just 2.44 pounds
  • Stainless steel HEPA filter
  • Long cord for all cars

Best Cordless
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Black+Decker Dustbuster (CHV1410L)

Large capacity dirt cup and an extendable crevice tool make this cordless vacuum ideal for cars.

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$59.99 USD

Why we Picked It

With a 14V battery, the Black+Decker Dustbuster has enough power and suction to get any job done – even inside your home. The battery will not fade during run time and works long enough to vacuum an entire car. It charges in just four hours.

The cyclonic power picks up even the smallest car crumbs and puts them in the clear dirt cup where you’ll be able to see how full the vacuum is. The top nozzle comes off so you can just dump the washable dirt cup in the trash.

Features like the rotating nozzle and extendable crevice tool make this Black+Decker an ideal vacuum for the car. At just 2.6 pounds, the vacuum is possible for anyone to use and can easily maneuver in tight car spaces.

Keep in Mind

While the charging base is small, it must sit on a flat surface for the vacuum to attach to it and charge.

In a Nutshell

  • 2.6 pounds
  • Easy to dump and wash dirt cup
  • Strong, fade-free cyclonic power
Best Wet/Dry Car Vacuum
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Armor All AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vac

Strong suction and wet vacuum designed to deep clean car carpets and upholstery.

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$45.12 USD

Why we Picked It

Clean and wash your car’s upholstery with the Armor All Utility Vac. The vacuum is designed to deep clean using both wet and dry methods. It’s 2.5-gallon collection bin makes cleaning even big messes easy and does not require you to use a bag. Armor All includes a dust cover for inside electrical components that is washable and reusable.

The Armor All includes attachments like the upholstery brush, nozzle, and crevice tool. Armor All’s foam wet filter can be cleaned and reused. The attachments are easy to keep track of because of the on board storage system the vacuum has. At seven pounds and with a 10-foot cord, this vacuum is ideal for cleaning your car out at home or other areas where there is an outlet close by.

Keep in Mind

The relatively short 10-foot cord is designed to be used close to the car or with an extension cord. The Armor All is best for periodic deep cleans – ideally in your garage.

In a Nutshell

  • Cleans wet and dry messes
  • 7 pounds
  • Powerful suction

Best Wall-Mounted Car Vacuum
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VacuMaid GV50PRO Wall Mounted Garage and Car Vacuum

Stationary wall-mounted garage vacuum with 50-foot hose.

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$315.00 USD

Why we Picked It

With a 7-gallon capacity, the VacuMaid is ideal for big car messes and high volume cleaning jobs. Its sealed HEPA filter bag allows for easy cleanup without having to handle the dirt. The vacuum can be mounted to a garage wall and eliminates tipping issues that come with typical shop-style vacuums. It includes the kit needed for mounting and easy-to-understand instructions.

The 5.7” motor can handle big jobs and run for a long time without causing damage to the vacuum. Unlike other wall-mount models, the VacuMaid does not require any special power and can plug into any household outlet. Its 50-foot hose makes the reach better and allows the vacuum to work well in shop environments. The VacuMaid comes with an extension arm, crevice tool and several brush attachments.

Keep in Mind

The vacuum is pricey, which can make it cost-prohibitive for some buyers. But if you’re serious about keeping your cars clean, the VacuMaid is the most powerful option out there.

In a Nutshell

  • Wall-mount kit included
  • Can hold 7-gallons of dirt
  • Long 50-foot hose

How We Chose the Best Car Vacuums

Want to learn about our process for choosing the best car vacuums? These are each of the things we consider when we’re looking at car vacuums:

Power Source

Car vacuums can be cordless, powered by electrical outlet, or powered by 12-volt electric. Each option has both limitations and benefits.

Corded car vacuums are great because they often allow more suction power and last as long as it takes to clean the car. The downside is that they are unable to go anywhere like their cordless counterparts. Corded car vacuums are either powered by an electrical outlet outside of the car or are powered by 12-Volt car power (sometimes called cigarette lighters).

Cordless models come with the benefit that they can be used anywhere. The downside to all cordless models is that there is a limit to the amount of time they can be used. Most have a run time of 30 minutes or less.

Cleaning Power

A car vacuum needs to have enough power to clean all the areas of the car, including carpets and upholstery. Since many people use the car vacuums because they have pets, we considered whether they have enough suction power to pick up pet hair as well.

When we talk about a vacuum’s power, we’re really looking at how well the vacuum suctions; some work through cyclonic power, for example. We also examined about how long the suction is expected to last on a given charge and over the lifespan of the vacuum.

Attachment Options

Attachments are essential for car vacuums because they allow users to get into the crevices of the car. We looked at what the attachments are able to do, and the quality of materials they are made from. Ideally, the vacuum comes with professional-style detailing tools that can meet any need.

Another important factor we considered for car vacuums is the storage of the attachments. Most users prefer on-board storage so they can keep everything organized between uses. Vacuums that have convenient spots included for the attachments receive a higher rating because they are better suited to storing in a car or garage.

Versatility

While car vacuums have a fairly specific purpose, we looked at the versatility of the vacuum within the car. As mentioned above, the vacuums should work on carpet, upholstery and floor mats. We also prefer vacuums that have enough capacity to hold a large amount of debris from the car.

The most versatile vacuums can handle both wet and dry messes. This makes them helpful for cleaning up spills and makes them ideal for all car owners who want to shampoo their car’s interior.

Customer Reviews

We care about what customers have to say. When we’re looking at car vacuums, we take customer reviews into consideration. These reviews tell us about whether customers are satisfied with their purchase and if the vacuum is worth the price. The reviews also tell us about any potential problems that might be common with each type of car vacuum.

What to Look for in a Car Vacuum

If you’re thinking about a car vacuum, there are a few things you should always keep in mind. Remember to consider each of these:

Power Source

The power source is important because it determines when and where you can use the vacuum. With a corded model, you’ll be tethered to an electrical outlet like the kind found in houses. Cordless models also somewhat tether you to a house since they have to be charged. The charge typically only lasts long enough to clean the car and cannot be used multiple times. With a 12-Volt power source, you’ll be able to vacuum your car on the go. Since it plugs into the power of your vehicle, you can use it no matter where you are.

Size

Unless you want a wall-mounted professional-style unit, the typical car vacuum should be small enough that you can fit it in your car. It must also have a place for attachments since there aren’t typically spots in the car designed for them. The vacuum needs to be able to maneuver in the car or have a hose long enough that the body can sit outside the car.

While a larger vacuum can still be useful in the car, you will need to decide where you’re going to store it. If it is too large to keep in the car, it’ll have to stay in a garage or closet.

Accessories

Car vacuums should have accessories. You should look for one that has a hose and crevice tool to reach into the tight spaces of your car. You may also want to consider a car vacuum that comes with brushes so you can clean your upholstery and get down deep in the carpets of your car.

Another accessory type you may want to consider is a detail kit. Look for a vacuum that has small detail brushes and nozzles to get into the tiny spaces of your car.

Wet/Dry Functionality

If you’re looking for a deep down clean including a shampoo, you can’t go wrong with a wet/dry vacuum. Models that are designed for wet and dry messes can be helpful for big spills in your vehicle. Wet/dry functionality allows for a deep clean that you would be unable to get with a traditional dry vacuum.

Who Should Buy a Car Vacuum?

Car vacuums can be beneficial, but are they really worth it? If you’re in one of these groups, a dedicated car vacuum can make your life easier:

People Who Wash Their Own Cars

Or people who want to wash their own cars. If you refuse to pay anymore money to vacuum your car with one of the stinky car vacuums at your local car wash, a dedicated car vacuum is ideal. Investing in a car vacuum can be worth what you were paying in quarters after just a few months of vacuuming on your own.

Rideshare Drivers

Rideshare drivers understand how quickly their car can fill up with crumbs and debris. Having a vacuum dedicated to your car between pickups and dropoffs is essential if you want to keep your car clean and your ratings up. Models that plug into your vehicle are the best option because you can use them in between your customers to ensure the car stays clean all day or night.

People with Kids

Having a dedicated car vacuum can be life-changing when you have kids. Keeping a 12-Volt vacuum handy for small messes is a great way to immediately clean up any spills your kids make. A wet/dry vacuum may also be a great option for parents because it allows you to clean up any wet spills as they happen and shampoo stuck-on messes.

Related Resources

Car vacuums are a great addition to many households, but a vacuum in the house is essential. If you’re shopping for a vacuum you can use in your home, don’t miss these helpful buying guides!

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