Most standard household vacuums don’t seem to work well with a car for a simple reason: the interior of your car is different from the floors of your house.
A tall, bulky machine with a big cleaner head could hardly find a way to access the tight spots and other hard-to-reach areas in a car. That’s why you should put some money into a separate cleaner for your car if it gets dirty often instead of stubbornly clinging to your regular vacuum.
To preserve the interior of your car and get rid of all the crumbs, dirt, dust, and dander, let’s find out which car vacuum is the right one for you.
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How To Get The Right Vacuum for Your Car
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If portability is your top priority, you will hardly find a better option than handheld units. They usually have the look of common dust busters but feature a wider range of features and accessories, including corded and cordless models.
While AC-powered units are often more powerful and don’t carry the risk of running out of power during your vacuum session, cordless vacuums are more portable and not limited by the position of your power outlet.
Some units have been added the ability to suck up liquids on top of the common dry debris. This adds up to a huge benefit and can make a big difference if you often have drink spills in your car.
This kind of heavy-duty vacuum cleaners is often found in garages or automotive shops, where you can spot them immediately thanks to the distinct look. They are larger than a standard handheld vacuum, provide stronger suction capability and more durable attachments.
You can find a shop vacuum like this in a garage.
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A vacuum needs to store the dirt it has picked up. The dirt cup inside your vacuum should at least equal the amount of debris of regular cleaning in each vacuuming session. Otherwise, you will need to empty it more often.
There is no right choice between cordless and corded vacuums because it’s totally up to you. However, no matter what you prefer, make sure the power cord or the batteries of the machine provide enough vacuuming range and run time for your car.
A too-short cord means you can’t get to access tight areas while a vacuum that runs out of power too quickly isn’t very useful either. Luckily, you can find this information easily right in the product description.
Accessories and Special features
Some manufacturers have equipped their vacuums with attachments that can help clean the car seats and other tight spaces easier. This is a huge advantage of models that are designed with cars in mind. Pet owners should also give some thought into vacuums with additional pet hair features.
Best Car Vacuums For Every Purpose
1. BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Flex Handheld Vacuum – The Best Overall
Vacuums for cars come in a huge variety of shapes and functionality, but if you have no other specific need and want a great general-purpose model, the BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Flex is your best bet. This handheld vacuum strikes a perfect balance between compact design, versatile tools, ease of use, and steady suction power.
The 20V MAX Flex is so small and lightweight at around 3 pounds so that you can hold it comfortably with one hand inside your car. Vacuuming tight spots should also be no issue thanks to the stretchy and flexible 4-foot long hose.
Even though this is a handheld model, BLACK+DECKER has provided a huge set of accessories, including a washable filter, a charging base, a 2-in-1 brush tool, a pet-hair brush, and a crevice tool.
You don’t need to worry about losing the tools as they can look securely into place. And with the Lithium-Ion batteries, the 20V MAX Flex offers a steady, powerful suction that won’t fade away in use.
This handheld unit is easy to use for any car owner out there, even if you are not familiar with this type of vacuum.
With one hand holding the machine, you can guide the hose freely with the other. Using this design is much less tiring than that of other handheld models when you must keep holding a heavy machine in an awkward position.
When you’re done, just put it back into the included charging station, and this vacuum won’t bother you again.
However, remember to charge it fully before a long vacuum session as this handheld vacuum has a short battery life of only 12 minutes. On top of that, while it does have a steady suction, the raw power of the BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Flex is not the strongest among handheld vacuums.
Verdict: Even though it isn’t the strongest machine out there, the BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Flex is a safe bet for car owners who want a high-quality and reliable vacuum cleaner.
- Well-rounded design
- Convenient and easy to use
- Many tools included
- Steady suction power
- Not cheap
- Short run time
- Not the highest performance
2. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum – Best For Pet Hair
If your pet is a frequent passenger in your trip, having a handheld vacuum that is specifically designed to deal with pet hair is a must. Bissell pet Hair Eraser handheld vacuum is one of those machines that can make all pet owners happy.
It comes with two nozzles, a hard one and a soft one, so you can tackle pet hair in different types of surfaces in your car.
For example, the more flexible, softer rubber nozzle can lift pet hair and dirt effortlessly from upholstered surfaces such as the seats. Meanwhile, the plastic nozzle works great with dry messes on other hard surfaces of the car.
To improve the pet hair performance of this handheld vacuum, Bissell has equipped it with the cyclonic cleaning technology. As a result, the Pet Hair Eraser can spin dirt, debris, and dust into the cleaner head before going through the filtration system.
But this will mean little if it doesn’t have a high-grade filter to protect your health from risks of pet hair. Luckily for you, this vacuum features a multi-filtration system with a HEPA filter. If you or your family members have any asthma or allergic conditions, you should never overlook this thoughtful design.
However, compared to other cordless units, this handheld vacuum has a small disadvantage. Even though the power cord can keep your machine running at a steady and power rate, it’s only 16 feet long – a huge hassle if you don’t have a power outlet close by.
Verdict: The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser has all the features and performance of a standard-sized pet hair remover in the form of a compact handheld. Despite some minor issues with the design, it will free you from the mess left by your little friends.
- Great performance with pet hair
- Light and highly maneuverable
- Multi-filtration system with a HEPA filter
- Short power cord
- Unpadded handle
3. ArmorAll Utility AA255 – The Best Wet-Dry Vacuum for Cars
Not every car owner deals with the same issue with their cars. Some only struggle with dry dirt or pet hair, while many others often face a mix of wet and dry mess. And no model can get this job done better than a high-quality wet-dry vacuum like the ArmorAll Utility AA255.
This machine has a powerful suction to handle all kinds of debris you may have in your car or truck. They will get sucked up into the big 2.5-gallon tank, which is enough for those with a big car.
To make this job easier, ArmorAll provides some attachments so that you can have a thorough clean of the interior of your car.
The Deluxe Car nozzle can work with the main machine to pick up general debris while the detail brush is a godsend when it comes to AC ventilators, where hidden dust tends to gather over time.
On top of that, you can use the included crevice tool for tight corners and spaces. Finally, you can finish everything up with the blower tool by, for example, drying up all the water droplets outside and inside your car.
Even though it doesn’t have wheels like other wet-dry vacuums, it isn’t hard to carry the ArmorAll Utility AA255 around since it weighs only 7 pounds. Even when your hands or the handle are wet, you can still hold it comfortably without slipping off.
But, like the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser above, many customers wish the power cord would be longer. And the blowing mode seems not to work properly either as the cleaner tends to tip over easily when you use it.
Verdict: The ArmorAll Utility AA255 produces the best cleaning results for both wet and dry debris without being too bulky. If drink spills appear to be the problem to you, give it a try.
- Can clean both dry and wet debris
- Large tank capacity
- Many accessories for cars
- Lightweight and easy to handle (for a wet-dry vacuum)
- Short power cord
- Easily to tip over
4. Bissell Garage Pro – Heavy-duty Option for Garages
For those who don’t mind investing in a stationary cleaner in their garage, the Bissell Garage Pro wet-dry vacuum isn’t going to disappoint them.
This machine provides a heavy-duty capability with a long hose, multiple operating modes, and a convenient mounting option, allowing you to take care of your car like a professional mechanic.
Thanks to the wall-mounting design, the Bissell Garage Pro frees up a lot of floor space while removing the risk of your vacuum tipping over. Every time you need to do a cleaning, the vacuum is there for you to use without needing any special setup. Additionally, you don’t need to lug a heavy machine in your hand around anymore.
Don’t need to worry about the cleaning range of this wet-dry vacuum even though it’s fixed in one place: the hose of the Bissell Garage Pro is 32 feet long, which should be enough for most garage uses. It is pretty stretchy, so you can access tight spots in your car without issue.
On top of the standard wet-dry cleaning, it also offers a blower mode. This is a godsend when autumn comes, and leaves are everywhere in the garage.
But keep in mind that since the Bissell Garage Pro is a heavy-duty model, the price is quite high, and you also need to carry out routine maintenance frequently.
Verdict: The Bissell Garage Pro is a durable wall-mounting vacuum that can deliver strong suction for various heavy-duty tasks.
- Wall-mounting option
- Very long hose
- Not suitable for light cleaning tasks
5. Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum – The Best Basic Model
This Dirt Devil handheld vacuum was created for car owners who prefer an affordable, simple but easy to use and maneuverable vacuum. A basic machine that doesn’t require much to set up or troubleshoot is the primary design philosophy of the Dirt Devil Scorpion.
It offers a 15-feet cord, allowing you to cover even a big car, while the extended nozzle works great in narrow corners. Bissell has even built in a Quick-Flip crevice tool to make sure you don’t have any trouble cleaning hard-to-reach areas.
The way it works isn’t complicated either. The Dirt Devil Scorpion uses purely suction power without involving any agitator or rolling brush.
But it still provides two cleaning modes that you can switch between, depending on the areas inside your car. In the Basic mode, the Scorpion acts as a simple handheld vacuum. When facing stubborn dirt and dust in tight areas, you can trigger the Quick-Flip crevice tool without needing to attach anything.
Even the maintenance is minimal and won’t cost you much. Because the design doesn’t have any rolling brush, the most frequent task you need to do is replace the filter every few months.
The real pain while using this basic vacuum comes from its small cleaning path and dirt cup capacity. This means you may need to do more passes and empty the Dirt Devil Scorpion more often.
Verdict: The Dirt Devil Scorpion is one of the rare basic vacuums on the market that you can actually rely on for a long time as long as you don’t need to cover a large space.
- Basic and easy to use
- Lightweight and highly maneuverable
- Minimal maintenance
- Narrow cleaning path
- Small dirt cup
Compared to a standard model, choosing a car vacuum is easier and harder at the same time.
It doesn’t need to have too many features but, at the same time, work well with the interior of your car. It must be portable but also offer a big enough coverage so you can have a thorough cleaning result. No one wants to spend big on a machine like that, but a durable vacuum is also the desire of every customer.
While it’s in no way a complete list, the recommendations above should lend you a hand with this dilemma.