Car owners know that keeping their vehicle clean is a full-time job. Usual suspects like empty soft drink cans, plastic wrappers, and dog hair aren’t the only reason. The general rubbish which enters the vehicle during a road trip and stays there afterward also necessitates frequent cleaning.
That is why you might want to invest in the best car vacuum cleaner. Some of them choose to plug into your vehicle’s 12V cigarette lighter. Others have a built-in battery. The way they remain charged matters. What matters more is how deep they’d go to make your vehicle an epitome of cleanliness.
Luckily for you, the leading car cleaners do go very deep. You can testify that by going through our car vacuum cleaner reviews. These models have huge suction power and come with all the necessary attachments that help them suck dust and debris from your car’s interior and boot like a champ.
Best Car Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
1. Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum
Multiple features of the Armor AA255 shop vacuum make it a must-have for most vehicle owners. It offers dry as well as wet vacuuming to suck dirt, debris, and all kinds of spills. It has a huge 2.5-gallon polypropylene dirt tank and comes with a long 10-foot cord.
Equally impressive is the number and the utility of attachments that come alongside this vacuum. You get a floor nozzle whose specialty lies in cleaning car mats. The crevice tool is designed to clean hard-to-reach areas, i.e., the contours in the armrests and the drink holders.
Then comes the concentration nozzle that will come handy to clean up smaller messes such as pet hair from your vehicle’s seats. This vacuum also converts into a blower and offers onboard storage facility for all its attachments and the hose. This model is warrantied for two years as well.
2. BLACK+DECKER dusbuster Handheld Vacuum
If the AA255 isn’t your cup of tea and you want your unit to be cordless, the Black and Decker dusbuster is an excellent option for cleaning small messes. It is one of the lightest models around, boasts a respectable runtime of 15 minutes, and requires eight hours of recharging once its battery goes dead.
The convenience that this model offers in usage is mirrored when you store it. It keeps on charging even when you mount it to the wall. That means that the vacuum will remain up and out of the way instead of accumulating valuable space on the table when you are not using it.
Similar to most other models in this review, the dusbuster comes with a crevice tool for getting into hard-to-reach spots. It also includes a brush tool in its package that loosens stubborn dirt to make its job easy for the vacuum. You get a two-year warranty on this model as well.
3. VacLife Handheld Vacuum
One of the greatest assets of the VacLife Handheld Vacuum is its Lithium-ion battery that keeps this model up and running for 30 minutes. It also reduces the time the vacuum takes to get back from zero to hundred percent– as this model takes only four hours of charging to get back to full speed.
It also boasts a washable stainless steel HEPA filter and wet/dry capability. The detachable dust cup of this model allows you to easily and quickly dump the trash and get ready for the next cleaning session. The LED light located on the top of the vacuum’s nozzle lets you clean in low-light environments.
This model provides three attachments in its package to take its utility to the next level. They include a dust brush tool to loosen up stuck-in debris, a crevice tool to help this vacuum reach every nook and cranny and a rubber jar tool to vacuum spills delicately.
4. HOTOR Corded Car Vacuum Cleaner
Here is another car vacuum cleaner that offers a unique combination of lightweight construction and powerful suction. This vacuum comes with an adaptor that lets you plug it right into your car’s cigarette lighter socket. Its 16-foot power cord means it can clean large-size vehicles with ease.
To protect its primary filter and keep your indoor air clean, this vacuum has double filtration. The first stage removes large particles from captured air, whereas the second deals with the tiny ones. Both combine to save the filter from clogging and the outgoing air from carrying dirt alongside it.
Its dust cup is detachable to let you quickly dump the collected trash. This vacuum also has an integrated LED light to help you clean dark corners. Its package includes 3 different nozzles to meet all your cleaning needs and a carry bag to store the vacuum along with its attachments.
5. ThisWorx for Car Vacuum Cleaner High Power
Boasting dry/wet capability, an ergonomically designed handle and a 16-foot long cable, this car vacuum is a must-have for any avid traveler. It features a built-in LED light to illuminate its cleaning path and make it easy for you to notice small but stubborn messes.
It isn’t only the handle of this vacuum that is user-friendly. Its body also has a flat design that lets it glide effortlessly across your seats and floorboards. That way there won’t be any bumping as you slide this model along the surface of your car in search of hidden dust particles.
The metal turbine inside this model ensures consistent suction, whereas the double HEPA filter prevents clogging and keeps your indoor air safe to breathe. The protective lid in front of the front nozzle protects it against impacts and the included cleaning brush makes cleaning the filter a cinch.
6. GNG Hand-Held Vacuum Cleaner
The GNG Handheld vacuum cleaner offers the best of both worlds. It has the lightweight construction and easy-to-glide design which is the forte of cordless vacuums. The dry/wet capability and enormous suction power that this model offers is not. That is why it’s so popular among its users.
This model comes with two charging cables to take its utility to the next level. One of them plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter socket and powers up this model as you travel. You can keep on vacuuming in the meantime. The other wire plugs into any traditional electricity wall socket around your home.
On top of everything else, this model belies the myth that cordless handheld vacuums cannot boost tremendous suction. Its 4800 Pa power is enough to vacuum small and large dirt in a few swipes. You won’t be able to witness this model struggling while cleaning stubborn debris.
Best Vacuum Cleaners Comparison Chart
Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum
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BLACK+DECKER dusbuster Handheld Vacuum
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VacLife Handheld Vacuum
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HOTOR Corded Car Vacuum Cleaner
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ThisWorx for Car Vacuum Cleaner High Power
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GNG Hand-Held Vacuum Cleaner
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Car Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide
- 5 Considerations When Buying a Car Vacuum Cleaner
- 10 Most Important Car Vacuum Cleaner Features & Specs
- Corded Vs Cordless Vacuum Cleaners
- 9 Tips to Help Minimize Allergens in Your Car
Picking the right vacuum cleaner for your car is a two-step process. The first step requires you to answer several questions. The questions relate to the cleaner you may want to buy, the level of dirtiness of your car, and the level of cleanliness you ideally want once you’re done cleaning.
The second step will make you face-to-face with the cleaner’s features. Some of those features are essential to the cleaner’s performance. Others are merely bells-and-whistles – they do affect the vacuum’s performance but not as much as that of the crucial features.
To help you navigate this two-step process with aplomb, we’ve prepared this buying guide:
Here are some of the essential questions you need to ask yourself before you start searching for a car vacuum cleaner:
What is the level of cleanliness that you desire?
If you’re merely looking for a mild cleanse, you’d be well off choosing a smaller model. These are units that plug into your vehicle’s 12V cigarette lighter. They tend to be extremely lightweight, have a meager suction power, and do an excellent job of picking up dust. However, the fact that their bin capacity is small means you’d have to empty them more frequently.
Those of you who travel with pets onboard or travel frequently might want to invest in a more powerful model. Such units have the huge suction power that is required to pick up pet hair, plastic wrappers, and all kinds of road debris. Some of them go as far as to clean unwanted spills. You can use them to clean your car’s boot as well.
What is the dirt emptying mechanism of the vacuum?
You can find two different dirt emptying mechanisms in car vacuums.
The first are those that come with a release latch. Such models have a latch located in front of their trigger that you can slide down to release the dirt. This mechanism looks relatively straightforward on paper, but it may get your hands dirty, especially if you are to remove stubborn pet hair.
The second type are those whose latch is located at the top, right over the bin. You have to pull the latch to lift the bin up and manually unload the contents of the bin into the trash can. This mechanism is recommended if you’re dealing with lots of rubbish.
Do you want HEPA or Carbon filter?
If you or anyone in your household is prone to dust allergies or asthma attacks, HEPA filters are a must-have as they bring allergy relief. These are a type of mechanical air filter that passes the trapped air through a fine mesh to capture fine particles such as pet dander, pollen, and dust mites.
Carbon filters come handy if your vehicle reeks of smelly substances. These models have activated carbon that neutralizes odors by chemically reacting with them. They cost less than HEPA filters and help you return the factory smell of your vehicle.
Do you want a bagged or bagless vacuum cleaner?
Most vacuums that you see in this review come with a dirtbag. These models tend to be very hygienic because, as you dispose of the bag, the dirt and debris within it remain contained and won’t get back into the air. They are, therefore, recommended for allergy sufferers.
Unfortunately, as the bag fills, the performance of these vacuums nosedive. That means you’d only get the best performance out of your vacuum if the bag is nearly empty. Also, since you’d have to replace the bag every time it becomes full, there is the issue of recurring cost.
Bagless vacuums have a transparent casing and let you check whether the cleaner has sucked something valuable to you, i.e., keys or earrings. It also saves you from the trouble of repeatedly turning off the model, open its bag, and check whether the dirt cup is full. You also save money on replacement of bags.
On the flip side, these models expose their users to dirt and allergens, especially when you’re attempting to empty their dirt container. There is nothing that will be containing dirt and debris when you’d be dropping them off into the trash can.
What is the main task you’ll be using your car vacuum for?
Provided you only have to deal with pet hair, dust, and solid debris, you’d be better off with a dry or handheld vacuum. These models don’t come handy against liquid spills, but their performance against dry dust and debris is admirable. You can use them alongside the best car carpet cleaner to get a deep and thorough clean of your vehicle.
Conversely, if you frequently travel with kids or pets who have a knack of spilling over drinks, a wet/dry vacuum can be a lifesaver. These models make short work of spills and save you from the pain of completing the entire journey with liquid floating in your footrest.
Following are the features which are a must-have for the top-rated car vacuums:
Huge suction power:
Any model you may end up choosing must have considerable suction power. That would ensure that it will be capable of picking up the tiniest of dirt particles as well as pet hairs in a few swipes.
Considerable bin capacity:
Make sure that the model you’re thinking of buying comes with a bin capacity of multiple liters. This will allow you to clean for longer periods without having to stop and empty the dirt cup midway through the vacuuming session.
Multiple cleaning modes:
This feature is essential to have if you’re going to invest in a cordless cleaner. It will let you save battery timing by activating the low-power mode when vacuuming easy-to-clean debris, while also allowing you to ramp up its power when the need arises.
Washable filter and dirt cup:
Almost all the top-rated cleaners not only clean the interior of your car easily but are themselves easy-to-clean as well. That is because both their built-in filter as well as dirt cups are washable.
Your model must come with attachments that are going to help it in cleaning your car. Such attachments include a crevice tool, upholstery tool, dust brush, wide-mouth tool, and extension hose. Some of them also offer upholstery attachment, but if you want sparkling clean upholstery, check out the models in our car upholstery cleaner buying guide.
Onboard attachment storage facility:
Where are you going to store all the accessories that we mentioned above? An onboard accessory storage facility will make sure that you don’t end up losing the attachments anytime soon.
Cigarette light adaptor (for corded units):
If you’re going to invest in a corded model, it must be one that is pluggable to your car’s cigarette lighter adaptor. That way, you’d be able to use the cleaner on the go and during road trips.
10 foot + power cord (for corded units):
Go through the abovementioned reviews, and you’d see that all cord-carrying vacuums, without exception, have a cord length of more than 10 feet. That ensures that you have maximum flexibility while vacuuming with these units.
Sufficient runtime (for cordless units):
Cheap cordless vacuums come with up to 15 minutes of runtime. That is nowhere near enough if you’re going to perform a thorough clean of your vehicle’s interior. You should look for models that last for at least half an hour on a full battery.
Lithium-ion battery (for cordless units):
You might have heard some people complaining that the suction power of cordless units fades with time. That complaint is genuine. Li-ion batteries address it by providing cordless models with fade-free suction from start to finish.
Here’s how corded and cordless vacuum cleaners compare with each other in 7 steps:
- Winner: Corded Vacuum
Cord-carrying vacuums offer the obvious advantage that they never run out of power. You could simply plug them into your car’s cigarette lighter adaptor and use them for hours. That makes them great for cars that haven’t been cleaned in ages.
Cordless vacuums, on the contrary, have a limited battery life that ranges between 7 and 40 minutes. You also have to factor in their recharging times (usually 2 to 16 hours). Models with the latest Lithium-ion battery give you a longer runtime, sure, but even their runtime has a limit.
- Winner: Corded Vacuum
Cord-carrying vacuums are typically more powerful than their cordless counterparts. That makes them handier against stubborn dirt. They are also capable of giving better results, not only on carpets but also on the walls of your car’s doors, its nooks and crevices, and the upholstery.
Cordless vacuums might provide massive suction power at first, but their power fades as the dirtbag starts filling up. Some provide consistent suction power, especially those that have a Li-ion battery. Still, even they cannot compete with their corded counterparts in terms of suction power.
- Winner: Corded Vacuum
The majority prefers corded vacuums because of their dirt capacity. Almost all of them can hold more than 2 liters of dirt. That may not look huge if you compare the capacity with that of your traditional vacuum. But it’s gigantic for a model designed primarily to clean your car.
Cordless vacuums aren’t able to hold as much dirt as their corded colleagues. Most of them have a small capacity, typically about 0.6L. This means that you’d have to take frequent stops mid-cleaning to turn off the vacuum and empty its bin.
- Winner: Cordless Vacuum
Cord-carrying vacuums are more awkward to operate since they always require you to keep them plugged-in. You have to make sure that the cable is out of the way as you’re picking bread crumbs from the footrest. Moving them around might feel like an effort in itself if the vacuum itself is heavy.
Cordless vacuums are not only lightweight – most don’t weigh more than 3kg – but they also give you a cable-free life. That makes them ideal for cleaning the crevices of your car, its footrest, and other hard-to-reach areas. The absence of any wires makes them great at spot cleaning too.
- Winner: Cordless Vacuum
Cord-carrying vacuums are not extremely versatile because of their dependency on a cord. Their lack of versatility may not be an issue if you’re going to use them in your car all the time. But it will pose a problem if, say, you intend to use your car vacuum to perform spot cleaning around your home.
Cordless vacuums are incredibly versatile due to their freedom from the wire. You can use them anywhere and everywhere you like. They won’t require you first to make sure than an electrical outlet is nearby. You simply have to recharge them well in time and then use them wherever you like.
Pros and Cons
Here are the pros and cons of corded vacuums:
- Unlimited runtime
- Larger dust capacity
- Bigger suction power
- Less flexible
Here are the pros and cons of cordless vacuums:
- Relatively lightweight
- More flexible and versatile
- Easier to store and ideal for spot cleaning
- Limited battery life and suction power
It’s really hard to choose, corded or cordless. You may want to invest in a corded car vacuum cleaner if you regularly clean for longer periods, want more suction power and incredible bin capacity. Cordless vacuums, meanwhile, deserve your attention if you’re after more versatility and do not like dealing with a cord.
Turn on the air conditioner
Everyone knows that air conditioners are designed to bring air down to a lower temperature. What they might not understand is that in the process of cooling down the air, the air conditioners also dehumidify the air. That means they lower the amount of moisture the air holds.
As they do that, the air conditioners decimate the high-humidity environment in which allergens love to thrive. They bring the air down to a reasonable humidity level in which common allergens such as mold, mildew, and dust mites can’t live. This allows your car’s passengers to breathe easier.
Keep your cabin’s air filter clean
You should not confuse your cabin’s air filter with your engine’s air filter. While the engine air filter ensures the flow of clean air to the engine, the cabin air filter makes sure that your car’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system doesn’t let in smoke, dirt, dust, and other allergens.
There are various signs of a dirty air filter, including reduced fuel economy, misfiring engine, unusual engine sounds, reduced horsepower and smell of gasoline when you turn on the ignition, and a black smoke emanating from the exhaust. Watch out for them and clean your air filter regularly.
Be careful about fabrics
In contrast to leather seats that are a cinch to clean and don’t harbor allergens, fabric seats are tough to clean. They can also harbor allergens if left unattended. Similar is the case with wool seat covers that are extremely likely to become the breeding ground for allergens.
Keep an eye on those cloth floor mats too. Their thick fibers won’t let go of dust mites, mold spores, pollen, and pet dander. Take them out if you’re using them and replace the cloth floor mats with rubber or plastic ones as both of them are relatively easy to clean.
Don’t tolerate moisture
There is no gainsaying the fact that mold spores love moisture. They don’t care whether it comes in the form of wet clothes in the boot or spilled drinks on car seats. These pesky substances don’t need a second invitation from moisture to make their presence felt in your car.
It is for this reason that you shouldn’t tolerate dampness. Use the dry/wet vacuums recommended in this review to suck it right away. Make a rule that the towel with which you dry your car’s exterior after washing has no place inside your vehicle.
Thoroughly clean your vehicle’s interior
Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to reduce the chances of allergens increasing their population inside your vehicle. This filter passes the captured dirt through several stages to make sure that the trapped allergens aren’t allowed to go back outside with the clean air.
However, simply cleaning your car with a HEPA-filter-containing vacuum may not be enough. You might also have to wipe down the control panel, the windows, steering wheel and even the dashboard with a damp cloth. Only then can you be sure that there is no breeding space for allergens in your car.
Wash the exterior
Ever wondered how allergens can still get into your car even though you take all the necessary precautions? Provided you regularly travel on rural country roads or live in an area whose air is rich with pollen, you can carry the allergens inside when you brush against the exterior.
For this reason, you must regularly wash your car’s exterior. Don’t limit the rinsing session to the windows, windshield, and the doors. Also, include the wheels in it too. You’d ideally want to ensure that everything is sparkling clean once you’re done with the washing and drying.
Keep the windows up
When it is the season of tree pollens swiveling around, keep your windows up. Never for a moment let them down lest you can tolerate the infestation of pollens inside your vehicle. People who have made this mistake know how stubborn pollen is against removal once it has settled down.
Provided pollen has already settled on your car’s upholstery, don’t make the mistake of wiping it off-dry. It can scuff that polished finish and leave scratches behind. Use a microfiber cloth and moisten it with any of the interior protectants available on the market to wipe off the pollen.
Set the air conditioner on recirculation
Just as you should always travel with the air conditioner on and the windows shut, you should also make sure that the air conditioner is on ‘recirculation’ or ‘recycling’ mode. This decision will benefit you in more ways than simply not letting the smoke of other vehicles in. Here’s how.
Once you set your air conditioner at recycling mode, it would use the air that is already inside your vehicle to cool down the cabin. That would prevent the contaminated air from outside coming in and carrying allergens alongside it. ACs that operate at recycling mode also dirty their filter at a reduced rate.
Avoid using air fresheners
All of us like our vehicles to smell beautiful, but that is no reason why you should be spraying an air freshener every half hour during a long trip. Most of them contain a chemical known as formaldehyde that is a known irritant. Its introduction into your car is a recipe for allergy.
Does that mean you should tolerate it if your car smells funny? We didn’t say that. Substitute air fresheners with essential oil diffusers. They are available in multiple scents, so it is improbable that you won’t be able to find one that doesn’t irritate your nostrils.
FAQs and Answers
- Q: What is the difference between HEPA and True HEPA filter in car vacuums?
A: It is their efficiency that differentiates the duo. HEPA filters have a 99% efficiency of removing particles as small as 0.3 microns. True HEPA filters ramp up the game with a 99.7% efficiency rate. Both are equally adept at keeping allergens at bay and making your indoor air safe-to-breathe.
- Q: Do corded car vacuums drain the car’s battery?
A: Most vehicles turn off their cigarette lighter when you turn off the ignition. That makes it impossible for the vacuum to drain the car’s battery as the lighter will be off alongside the car, and the battery would no longer be supplying power.
- Q: How often should you vacuum your car?
A: It depends on how you use your car and where you use it. If you drive your car with windows down on rural county roads or smoke-filled city neighborhoods, a thorough vacuum may be necessary once every two weeks. Otherwise, you may only have to vacuum it once every month.
Maintaining the interior of their car sparkling clean is the primary responsibility of the driver. Regular vacuuming of the seats, upholstery, and floorboard is necessary to prevent accumulated dirt from clogging up and damaging your vehicle’s components. But that’s not all.
A car that is free of dirt and debris is one that is safe and healthy for its passengers. Especially those of your family members who may have skin or pulmonary allergies need you to invest in the best car vacuum cleaner as a clean car is essential for their health and well-being.
As you can see by scrolling back to our car vacuum cleaner reviews, these products do everything that we have just stated. Their vehicle-specific design and lightweight construction features make them the perfect choice to clean every nook and cranny of your vehicle.