The right car vacuum can make cleaning your vehicle's interior easier and more efficient. "It's best to find a vacuum that has good quality and strength," says Igor Pomishchyk, owner of EcoStates Elite Car Detailing. "Preferably the vacuum nozzle should be smaller, thin, and long to reach more areas—like in between the seats and underneath, reaching every corner of the car."
To find the best options, we've purchased over 20 car vacuums from a variety of brands and tested them in real-world conditions and in The Lab. During our testing, we time each product's unboxing and setup process, evaluate its effectiveness on hard and soft surfaces using debris you might find in your own car (like cereal, sand, mulch, and hair), and rate how easy it is to empty the dust bin.
The BLACK+DECKER GEN 2 FLEX Vacuum is our clear winner. It cleared debris from all surfaces and offered steady suction, thanks to its 20V battery. The built-in, flexible hose and handy attachments provided us with plenty of reach while cleaning a vehicle, too.
Here, the best car vacuums, backed by our thorough testing.
BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum
Built-in, flexible hose for extra reach
Easy-to-empty dust bin
Good suction power
Narrow hose diameter
Long charge time
The BLACK+DECKER GEN 2 FLEX Vacuum is the latest version of our previous pick for "best overall" that we tested and also loved, the BLACK+DECKER Flex Auto Vacuum. The new version impressed us with its design, suction power, and portability, just like its older counterpart. To start, it weighs 3.2 pounds and is basically assembled out of the box. It took our tester just one minute to unpack this car vacuum and have it ready for action on both hard and soft surfaces. The cordless model delivers fade-free suction with the help of a 20V battery and has a 4-foot integrated hose. This gives you basically unlimited reach for accessing every area of your vehicle—a key factor as noted by Pomishchyk.
The GEN 2 FLEX has a simple accessory package, just like the Flex Auto, which includes a combination brush and nozzle tool, along with a long crevice attachment. However, the GEN 2 has an additional tool that sets it apart from competing models: a pet hair brush. The pet hair brush has rubber bristles that help to agitate soft surfaces, like carpets or upholstered seats, to effectively pick up pet hair.
When combined with the reach of the flexible hose, our tester felt like this vacuum covered all the bases for car cleaning. Its clever design keeps the footprint small, and the square base means that it can rest on the floor of your vehicle or the ground as you go about your vacuuming. Our tester found it was easy to hold the base unit in one hand while cleaning with the hose in the other.
When it came to effectiveness testing, the GEN 2 FLEX did a particularly outstanding job of clearing sand from hard surface areas, including a dusty dashboard and cup holders. On soft surfaces like car mats, we had to use the attachments to boost the vacuum’s effectiveness, especially for clearing sand and hair—but even then, our tester said hair was no match for this vacuum's suction. In previous testing with the older version, we found it cleared most types of debris in three or fewer passes, but we did run into a problem with mulch. The diameter of the cleaning hose was just too narrow to pass the mulch to the dust bin. On the plus side, the narrow hose diameter means that children’s toys are less likely to be sucked up accidentally.
All in all, the suction power and user-friendly design were enough for our tester to overlook the car vacuum’s narrow hose diameter. The overall feel and use of this car vacuum is efficient, capable, and convenient. While the noise level was louder than average, our tester was still able to have a conversation over it. The clear dust bin is incredibly intuitive to open and empties in a clean, simple way, too. This vacuum does require four hours to charge, but it comes with a docking station that makes charging a simple and fuss-free process. Despite the smaller, 0.53-quart dust bin, you also won’t need to run to the garbage to empty it too often, either.
Price at time of publish: $109
Dimensions: 14.9 x 10.7 x 6.5 inches | Weight: 3.2 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: Not listed | Bin Volume: 0.53 quarts | Included Accessories: Combination brush and nozzle tool, long crevice tool, pet brush
THISWORX Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner
Useful attachments with storage bag
Lightweight and maneuverable
Strong suction power
May spray some fine particles from exhaust vent
Some debris can become lodged in tip of vacuum nozzle
Ready to go out of the box, this affordable car vacuum cleaner is basic, but efficient. It plugs into your car’s 12V outlet and gives you 16 feet of cord to work with you as you vacuum hard and soft areas, like upholstery, car carpeting, and cup holders. In our product testing, we were pleased with its performance on both types of surfaces. The suction was superb, according to our tester: “It’s strong enough to grab pieces of cereal from underneath levers for the hood and gas tank, saving me the step of using a smaller attachment to reach this tight area.” A flexible attachment hose looked flimsy, but proved to be very secure when we connected the crevice tool or brush tool to it. It gives you extra reach for under car seats or into door pockets—spots that are hard to reach with the wide body of this handheld vacuum.
The frills-free THISWORX car vacuum isn’t without its shortcomings, but they aren’t enough to discredit it for light-duty cleanup on your vehicle. We wish the nozzle tip of the vacuum detached, like some other handheld car vacuums, since a piece of cereal or hair could become lodged at the end of the vacuum. It also only features a basic filter, which did allow some fine particles of sand to pass through. We noticed a few grains of sand escaping from the exhaust on the vacuum, but only after we had vacuumed nearly an entire ¼-cup of sand. If you plan to do a lot of fine particle cleanup (like sand or dirt), it would probably help to frequently empty the dust bin.
Our tester found it easy to detach the dust bin and empty it into the trash. It takes just a few shakes to clear the bin of debris before re-inserting the filter and attaching the dust bin to the vacuum.
Price at time of publish: $15
Dimensions: 13.4 x 4 x 4.3 inches | Weight: 2.4 pounds | Cord Length: 16 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: Not listed | Included Accessories: Brush attachment, crevice tool, attachment hose, cleaning brush, carrying bag, additional filter
Hoover ONEPWR Blade MAX AutoVac Vacuum Cleaner
Plenty of useful accessories
Includes two rechargeable batteries
Large dust bin
Fast battery recharge time
No stand for vacuum or accessories
Can’t reach into tight areas without the crevice tool
If cleaning your car is one of life’s little luxuries, then it’s worth investing in a premium car vacuum. More basic car vacuums may be able to get the job done, but with less convenience and ease than what you’ll find using the Hoover ONEPWR Blade MAX. This cordless car vac offers a longer runtime than most car vacuums, and it includes a slew of accessories that make quick work of large and small debris alike. It’s no surprise that it’s paired with a more expensive price tag, but it’s worth the splurge for the extra battery life, suction power, and large-capacity dust bin. It also was very quiet on its standard suction mode, resulting in a 5-star rating from our tester for this attribute.
This vacuum looked the most intimidating to assemble and did take nearly four minutes to do so, but the process was far from complex or challenging. The components click together easily and the vacuum is ready for use—once you charge the batteries. It’s worth noting that Hoover includes two lithium-ion batteries with this cordless vacuum to extend the runtime of this vacuum to about 45 minutes. Each battery fully charges in three to four hours.
When tested on hard surfaces, the Hoover ONEPWR Blade MAX zipped across the car dashboard, clearing sand quickly and easily in a single pass. With the use of attachments, it also reaches into cup holders, compartments, and door pockets. It performs well on soft surfaces, too, clearing carpeting of hair, mulch, sand, and cereal in just one to two passes. We found the boosted suction mode works especially well for capturing fine particles that are embedded in car carpeting with less elbow grease when compared to some other car vacuums. The motorized brush tool is also a big help for hair, clearing short and long strands in two passes.
User-friendly features that elevate the experience of using this cordless vacuum include a long, flexible hose and an extra-large dust bin. While the manufacturer doesn’t provide the size of the dust bin, our tester notes that it’s significantly larger than other car vacuums we've tested. “It’s simple to release the dust bin from the vacuum and its large opening means that dirt and debris are easily released into the garbage can. It definitely has enough capacity to vacuum my entire sedan before needing to be emptied," they add. It would be great to see a charging stand for this cordless vacuum, since it feels like something we would want to keep handy at all times, but it does include a useful hanging storage bag to house the attachments.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions: 11.2 x 7.3 x 28.5 inches | Weight: 6.8 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 45 minutes | Bin Volume: Not listed | Included Accessories: Extension hose, motorized pet tool, flexi-crevice tool, dusting brush, upholstery tool and tough dirt tool
eufy by Anker HomeVac H30 Venture
Two modes of powerful suction
Includes charging stand
Very loud on max mode
Small dust bin
The eufy HomeVac H30 Venture is both convenient and capable, making it our top recommendation for a cordless car vacuum. After trying many different cordless models, we were most impressed by the way this model performed on hard and soft surfaces. The nozzle of the eufy HomeVac H30 is wide enough to capture large debris, like mulch, which is something that other cordless car vacuums struggled with. At the same time, it also vacuums up even fine debris, like sand and strands of hair. "All I can say is 'WOW' regarding this vacuum's ability to suck up tufts of hair," says our tester. "On vehicle carpeting, it definitely pulls the clumps and strands off with ease."
We found the 2-in-1 crevice tool very convenient to use, since we could flip down the bristles for extra agitation when needed. The dust bin is small, as expected for a compact car vacuum. Still, it didn’t fill up even after capturing ¼ cup of Cheerios, plus hair and mulch. The dust bin is easy to empty and slides out along a track, which did get a little jammed up with sand. It has a washable filter, which is a plus.
At about 20 minutes, battery runtime is average for this cordless car vacuum. A charging stand is included and makes it easier to ensure that the battery stays charged up when not in use. We love the fact that this vacuum includes multiple power modes—max and eco—letting us add extra power when needed (like when clearing hair from vehicle carpeting) or conserve battery life for more basic messes. The HomeVac H30 packs some serious suction power, but it’s worth noting that it also was one of the noisiest vacuums of the bunch. Our tester says, “The noise level is annoying, and it even has a piercing or whining noise at times. I wish it was quieter, but I think it's the trade-off for the tremendous suction power.”
Price at time of publish: $160
Dimensions: 16.73 x 3.54 x 2.87 inches | Weight: 1.78 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 20 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.26 quarts | Included Accessories: Charging base, 2-in-1 crevice tool, multi-surface tool
BLACK+DECKER BDH1220AV 12V Car Vacuum
Long nozzle provides excellent reach
Large-capacity dust bin
Power cable wraps around base of vacuum
Plastic construction feels flimsy
Narrow nozzle opening
Battery-powered car vacuums offer cordless maneuverability, but experience fading power and a drained battery after as little as 20 minutes or so of vacuuming. If you want to deep clean your vehicle, without worrying about your car vacuum giving up in the middle of the job, a corded model like the BLACK+DECKER 12V Car Vacuum is our top recommendation. Out of all the corded car vacuums we tested, this option was our favorite for its dustbuster design, long nozzle, and useful attachments.
The BLACK+DECKER car vac looks similar to a standard household dustbuster, but is designed to operate efficiently in a vehicle. It’s equipped with a 12V charger and a 16-foot power cable, giving you room to reach high and low spots in your car. It has a long nozzle that we found great for reaching under the seat of a sedan as we tracked down cereal, sand, and hair. For extra reach, a flexible hose is included, and you can pair it with a long crevice tool or brush. It only took a handful of passes to clear debris from soft surfaces, and a single pass or two on hard surfaces.
However, our tester does report that the nozzle opening of this corded car vacuum is too narrow for especially large debris. “I thought it was doing great capturing large pieces of mulch I spread around the floor of the vehicle. But then, I realized none was entering the clear dust bin. Turns out all the mulch was jammed in the nozzle. It has enough suction to pick up the debris, but too small of an opening to capture it.”
Despite this single shortcoming in our testing, we appreciate how well this car vacuum maneuvered, especially when using the included hose and attachments. The noise level was average for a car vacuum and didn’t make our ears ring. When the cleaning session was over, our tester appreciated being able to wrap the power cord around the base of the vacuum and put all the accessories in a storage bag. “Everything packages up neat and tidy," they said. "It would be easy to store this vacuum in the trunk or a cabinet in the garage.”
Price at time of publish: $50
Dimensions: 11.13 x 8.31 x 8.19 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Cord Length: 16 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 0.64 quarts | Included Accessories: Attachment hose, storage bag, long crevice tool, brush tool
Brigii M1 Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Includes variety of attachments and carrying case
Good battery life
Small dust bin
Round body of vacuum limits reach
This compact car vacuum is just 10 inches tall and weighs only about 1 pound, but surprised our tester with its capable suction and useful attachments. The Brigii Handheld Vacuum Cleaner features a polished metal exterior and cylindrical body with a clear dust bin. Setup was complete in about 30 seconds and the vacuum can keep cleaning for up to 25 minutes before needing a recharge.
Based on its small size, it’s obvious that this compact car vacuum is meant for quick cleanups and light messes. When tested on hard surfaces, it cleared sand from our cup holders and dashboard in a single pass. Due to the narrow nozzle opening, we had to make repeat passes to capture the wide collection of sand we spread across the dashboard, but the ergonomic design of the vacuum didn’t make it feel like a chore. On soft surfaces, the Brigii shines with small but firm debris, like the cereal we dumped on the floor and around the seat.
It’s worth noting that mulch was too big to pass through the Brigii’s narrow nozzle, and we wouldn’t recommend it for fine particle pickup. It eventually succeeded at clearing sand from the carpeting, but not after spreading it around a bit. “It picks up cereal on its first pass," said our tester. "But, because of the vacuum’s round shape, it was necessary to use an accessory to reach into tight areas, like underneath the seat. I was impressed by how simple it was to attach the accessories and how effective they were.”
A washable stainless steel and HEPA filter make maintenance fast and easy for this vacuum, and the filter did a good job of keeping fine particles from reaching the motor. Everything about this car vacuum is lightweight, tidy, and efficient. It includes a carrying case for the vacuum itself and its attachments, so we could see keeping it in the glove box or trunk for easy access.
Price at time of publish: $49
Dimensions: 10.24 x 2.26 x 2.26 inches | Weight: 1.07 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 25 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.1 quarts | Included Accessories: Extension hose, combination brush and crevice tool, blow and suction nozzles
70mai Vacuum Cleaner Swift Handled
Long battery life
Compact and modern design
Dust bin is difficult to remove when full
Dust bin in small
The 70mai Vacuum Cleaner Swift Handled may not look like much on the outside, but a powerful battery and patented ventilation system offer undisrupted suction. The ergonomic, u-shaped handle paired with this vacuum's lightweight (It only weighs 1.32 pounds!) design make it an easy choice for light messes throughout your car. Our tester's main concern with this vacuum was its small dust bin, which does have to be emptied frequently, if you're using it to clean your whole car. The dust bin is also somewhat challenging to align correctly, so this vacuum design may not be the best for users with mobility restrictions.
This vacuum is very similar in outward appearance as other picks in this roundup, like the eufy H30 and Brigii 3-in-1 vacuum, and also similar to other vacuums that weren't up to snuff during testing, like the ionvac Turbo Car Vacuum. However, this vacuum's lightweight design makes it standout in the category compared to our other picks, which also have their own categorical strengths. Along with this vacuum's lightweight design, it has a battery that can last up to 24 minutes on a single charge. A USB-C charging port also makes it compatible with other charging cords you may have in your home. The two attachments made cleaning between crevices and through wide areas of carpet easy, and our tester especially appreciated the HEPA filter that's built into this vacuum.
Price at time of publish: $40
Dimensions: 4.65 x 0.85 x 1.55 inches | Weight: 1.32 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 24 minutes | Bin Volume: Not listed | Included Accessories: Crevice tool and brush attachment
Best for Detailing
Armor All VOM205P Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum
Huge dust bin capacity
Also picks up wet messes
Must be plugged into 110V outlet
Lacks wheels for better mobility
The Armor All VOM205P Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum is the best choice if you need a car vacuum to tackle any type of mess in your vehicle. It’s hard to beat the versatility of this model if you’re looking for a car vacuum for detailing, since it has a strong motor that packs plenty of power and a great selection of accessories to reach into every corner or crevice. Plus, as a wet-dry car vacuum, this shop vac from Armor All can pick up liquid spills along with dry debris. We were also impressed with its large-capacity bin, which holds 2.5 gallons. According to our tester, “It’s very simple to empty—like dumping out a bucket. Just be sure that you have good aim into your trash can.”
Despite its power and size, we were surprised during testing with how quiet this vacuum is. It didn’t make us cringe every time we powered it on and you could easily talk over it. The suction was substantial, making large and small debris disappear with one or two passes. It’s worth noting that the attached, 4-foot hose isn’t the most effective vacuuming tool on its own. But, when paired with one of the many included accessories, it does a great job on either hard or soft surfaces. This car vacuum was also able to easily handle bulky items like mulch, which is something that tripped up a number of other models we tested. The small detailing accessories are well-suited for cleaning air vents, cup holders, or other crevices that need regular attention during car detailing.
We wish that this wet-dry vacuum had wheels, making it easier for the vacuum to follow our movements. It tipped over once during our testing, but no debris spilled from the tightly-sealed lid. Keep in mind that this car vacuum needs to be plugged into a 110V outlet. It doesn’t have a battery source or a charger for the car outlet.
Price at time of publish: $55
Dimensions: 13.7 x 11.5 x 11.5 inches | Weight: 7.5 pounds | Cord Length: 10 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 2.5 gallons | Included Accessories: 2-in-1 utility nozzle, crevice tool, car nozzle, 6-piece detail kit and storage pouch, reusable cloth filter, foam wet filter, wall mount bracket
Best for Attachments
DEWALT 20-Volt Max Stick Vacuum
Made for heavy-duty vacuum jobs
LED light for dark crevices
Contoured handle grip
Battery sold separately
Heavy with extended use
The DEWALT 20-Volt Max Stick Vacuum is sold with an array of helpful accessories—five to be exact—that make it a well-rounded car, workshop, and household cleaning tool. A HEPA filter ensures that finer dust and dander particles stay locked inside the vacuum, and 46 CFM allows for a super efficient clean. This vacuum is designed to pick up everything from discarded nails to large saw dust bits, so its interior is well-equipped to withstand mulch and other debris in your car. A belt loop hood and LED light are integrated into the body of this vacuum for an advanced user experience.
Our tester said cereal and clumps of hair on hard surfaces were no match for this vacuum's suction power, but it did struggle slightly to lift sand on soft surfaces like carpeting. The crevice tool was also helpful at sucking up debris between and under car seats. Our tester really enjoyed the gulper brush, which quickly cleaned larger areas like the trunk of her car.
We recognize this vacuum is slightly expensive compared to other models, but its performance justified the price tag, according to our tester. However, we do wish that more online retailers sold this model with the battery included. Most retailer links list the battery as sold separately. While this is a practical solution for consumers who already own tools from the same brand line, it's not as helpful for consumers just seeking a powerful car vacuum. Despite this purchasing issue, we still loved this vacuum for its performance, coupled with its extensive accessory line.
Price at time of publish: $149
Dimensions: Not listed | Weight: 2.3 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 21.4 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.74 quarts | Included Accessories: Extension tube, floor nozzle, flexible hose, crevice nozzle, gulper brush, round brush, belt hook, and accessory holder
Best for Pet Hair
Bissell Cleanview Deluxe Corded Handheld Vacuum
Wide-mouth attachment for large debris
Easy to hold
Long power cord
Difficult to empty
Rubber hair tool is not very effective
The Bissell CleanView Deluxe Corded Hand Vacuum is a great option for pet owners because it has powerful, never-dulling suction that whisks away pet hair into its surprisingly large dust bin. Despite this vacuum's disappointing rubber pet hair tool, its other attachments prove effective at cleaning up pet hair that inevitably creeps into every crevice of a vehicle. The rubber pet hair tool, while great in theory, proved more irritating than helpful, because the openings were not wide enough to suck up large clumps of hair. More hair also ended up stuck to the rubber bristles on the outside, rather than inside the vacuum, according to our tester.
However, our tester did appreciate the other attachments, which allowed for easy cleaning throughout their car. The hose attachment was especially great for reaching into smaller crevices, when paired with the crevice tool. They also loved how compact and portable this vacuum was for moving around and inside their car. The large handle is also comfortable to hold, but our tester said the placement of the dust bin release button was inconveniently located directly beneath the carrying handle. This made emptying the vacuum rather difficult. They found it easiest to support the vacuum between their legs while using both hands to unlatch and empty the unit.
All in all, a long power cord, lightweight design, and a few helpful attachments make this vacuum a competitive choice to fend off pet hair and other messes in your car. While we wish the rubber hair tool was more effective, the other attachments make up for its disappointing performance.
Price at time of publish: $50
Dimensions: 10 x 5 x 8 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Cord Length: 18 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 0.82 quarts | Included Accessories: Crevice tool, wide-mouth nozzle, extension hose
The BLACK+DECKER GEN 2 FLEX Vacuum is our top choice for a handy, capable car vacuum. It has a compact footprint, but substantial suction to clean hard and soft surfaces in your vehicle. If you're shopping for the most affordable option, we appreciated the basic but efficient features of the cordless THISWORX Car Vacuum Cleaner. It has a bulkier design and basic accessories, but worked well at removing debris and includes a storage bag.
Other Options We Tested
BISSELL AeroSlim Lithium Ion Cordless Handheld Vacuum: Although this vacuum looks similar to several picks in our roundup, our tester found that its performance was best suited for a different setting. This vacuum was great for picking up larger debris like Cheerios, but struggled to suck up hair and sand. The exhaust vent also blew the sand away while our tester was trying to suck it up. We think this model would be much better in an office setting for cleaning up around a desk and computer.
ionvac Turbo Car Vac: Overall, we were disappointed in the ionvac Turbo Car Vac because its performance was lacking in every category. While its compact design would be great for storing in the trunk of a car, it's not actually powerful enough to pick up typical car debris. Our tester also noted that it became quite hot after running for 11 minutes, which makes us concerned for its long-term performance.
Dirt Devil Scorpion Plus Corded Handheld Vacuum Cleaner: Our tester enjoyed using this vacuum for the major problem areas in their car, but it wasn't the best model for cleaning up tight nooks and crannies. Although the attachments may have helped with its effectiveness in cleaning up hair and sand, none of the attachments catered to the long reach (not even the crevice tool) needed for cleaning under seats and between the console.
How We Tested the Car Vacuums
We've purchased and tested over 20 car vacuums at home and in The Lab, putting each option to work in our own cars and in real-world situations. To start, testers unbox and set up each vacuum, noting how difficult or easy the process is, how long it takes, and whether the instruction manual is clear. Next, they test the effectiveness of each car vac on both hard surfaces (like, the cup holder and dashboard) and soft surfaces (like, the floor mats, seats, and trunk) in their car. On soft surfaces, they spill ¼ cup of Cheerios, sand, hair, and rubber mulch to mimic the messes you might encounter in your own vehicle. On hard surfaces, they spill ¼ cup of sand.
They note how many passes it takes to suck up the debris, and whether any gets stuck or tangled in the vacuum. In addition, they try out the different included attachments to see how easy it is to use them and whether they are effective as well. During this test, they also rate each car vacuum for maneuverability, noting whether it's easy to navigate each into tight crevices and between vents. They also rate the portability and noise level of each pick. They note whether you could hold a conversation over it or not, and whether the corded or cordless design is easy to carry and hold, or if they have to adjust their grip often.
After all of these tests are complete, they test the ease of emptying each vacuum, evaluating how messy or simple the process is from start to finish. They then consider their entire testing experience when rating the overall value of the vacuum. All of the consistently applied data turns into this list of, what we believe are, the very best car vacuums for keeping your interior fresh.
What to Look for in a Car Vacuum
For a handheld cleaning tool like a car vacuum, weight is a key feature to take into consideration before you make your final purchase. Most models should be relatively lightweight, especially corded models that aren't laden with a rechargeable battery. Meanwhile, cordless car vacuums, as well as ones that come with an array of accessories, may weigh slightly more and, therefore, be a little more cumbersome to handle while cleaning.
Our "best lightweight" pick, the 70mai Vacuum Cleaner Swift Handled, weighs just 1.32 pounds. The trade-off is a smaller dust bin, but you still receive effective and reliable cleaning power. At about 7.5 pounds, the Armor All VOM205P Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum, is our heaviest pick on this list.
Most car vacuums can plug directly into your car's 12V outlet, making them a breeze to take with you and clean on-the-go. "Corded vacuums are ideal because they are more powerful, long-lasting, and you don't have to worry about running out of power in the middle of the job," says Igor Pomishchyk, owner of EcoStates Elite Car Detailing. Of course, these models are corded, which limits their reach and mobility.
If you opt for a cordless option instead, make sure to consider its battery life and how it recharges. Some models can recharge via USB port, while others will need access to a conventional household outlet for three to four hours at a time. Our "best lightweight" pick, the 70mai Vacuum Cleaner Swift Handled, charges through a USB-C port, which is similar to the port used for charging most iPhones. This model will have to be plugged into a household outlet, but its quick charging time and long runtime, make it a great option for busy families.
If you hope to use your car vacuum for deep cleaning, make sure it has the attachments to get the job done. A crevice tool can access tight spaces, an extension hose can reach under seats, and an upholstery brush can dredge up ground-in dirt from seats and floor mats. A model that lacks these accessories might not be able to clean your vehicle as thoroughly as you'd like.
Our "best for attachments" pick, the DEWALT 20-Volt Max Stick Vacuum, comes with five tools that will help you achieve the best clean. Notably, though, it doesn't often come with a battery.
It's no secret that the filter of a car vacuum gets dirty quickly. Sucking up fine particles, like dirt, dust, and sand, can quickly clog filters and hinder the vacuum's suction power. Car vacuums equipped with a washable filter make for easier maintenance and don't require frequent replacement. Just be sure to allow the filter to fully dry before reassembling and using the vacuum. Manufacturers usually recommend 24 hours of drying time.
For battery-powered car vacuums, a charging dock is a valuable feature to look for. The convenience of a cordless car vacuum is quickly ruined by a low battery, but a charging dock helps to reduce the likelihood of this occurring. By putting your cordless car vacuum back on the charger after each use, it maintains a full battery and is ready to go at any time. Our "best overall" pick, the BLACK+DECKER GEN 2 FLEX Vacuum, has a charging dock that allows the vacuum to sit upright and near an outlet, without having to prop it against a wall or piece of furniture.
Some charging docks also include accessory storage. This is a big plus, since it puts attachments like a brush or crevice tool within easy reach when its time to clean.
Whether you keep your car vacuum stashed in the trunk of your vehicle, on a shelf in the garage, or tucked into a coat closet, a storage bag keeps the vacuum and its accessories organized and accessible. This can save time and frustration when you need to clean up a mess in a hurry and don't want to waste time searching for accessories, or carrying the vacuum and its various attachments to your vehicle.
How do I clean a car vacuum?
Like any other handheld vacuum or dustbuster, your car vacuum likely has a dust bin or bag that you should be able to access, remove, and empty with relative ease. Beyond that, check your car vacuum's manual to determine whether its filter is washable or needs to be replaced. The manual should also note whether it's safe to clean out the interior with soap and water, or if you should only use a dust rag. If you wash it with water, let all of its components dry before reassembling.
How do I use a car vacuum to clean between the car seats?
If messes tend to accumulate in the spaces between your car's seats, a car vacuum with the right set of attachments will come in handy. Make sure your model of choice comes with a crevice tool and an extension hose, both of which will allow you to reach tight spaces that the vacuum's main body can't. In addition to these useful attachments, you can blow debris out of even the smallest spaces. Some picks come with a blower feature that lets you target certain areas this way.
Will using a car vacuum wear down my car's battery?
If your car vacuum of choice relies on your car's 12V outlet for power, you might be concerned that running it will drain the car's battery. This is, indeed, a risk, but it will depend on how powerful your battery is, how long you vacuum for, and how weak or old your car's battery is. It's unlikely that a quick clean will completely deplete your battery, but if you're worried or vacuuming the whole interior, you might be better off opting for a cordless model.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Erica Puisis has been a writer for The Spruce since 2017, specializing as a product researcher for both large and small appliances. To find the best options for car vacuums, she personally tested 15 models in her vehicle, comparing each vacuum's ability to capture debris (including cereal, sand, mulch, and hair) from hard and soft surfaces. Notes were also made regarding maneuverability, portability, noise levels, and how simple it is to empty the dust bin. We included options for both cordless and corded models, since each one offers its own advantages.
For additional insight on how to choose the best car vacuums, we also interviewed Igor Pomishchyk, owner of NYC-based EcoStates Elite Car Detailing. He provided input on the design features to look for in a car vacuum, as well as factors to consider when deciding on corded versus cordless car vacuums.
Emma Phelps, an updates writer for The Spruce, also assisted in adding the latest tested models to this roundup, including the ones that we recently tested but thought fell short.
What Is Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend, and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut. We also pride ourselves on transparency and will always let you know if we received a product for free.