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Keeping a car in good shape takes a lot of routine maintenance and cleaning. While most people focus on the outside of their car or what’s under the hood, you can't ignore the car’s interior if you want to maximize its value and lifespan. A car’s interior quickly collects dust, debris, oils, and more as it is driven on a daily basis. For a quick and routine cleaning, you'll need a car vacuum.
Like home vacuums, these cleaning tools come in many shapes and sizes. Tending to be smaller and less powerful, you will need to decide between the consistent performance and limited range of a corded vacuum or the limited use, but greater range of a battery-powered option. You should also keep an eye on the different accessories a vacuum offers to make the cleaning quicker and easier, like attachments for upholstery or small corners of your car.
To help you pick the right one, we researched the best car vacuums on the market and rounded up our top picks below.
While you should not expect a lot of suction and power out of a car vacuum compared to traditional household options, the best car vacuums will not leave you hanging when it comes time to clean the car. In fact, a good car vacuum balances power, suction consistency, and portability so you can weave your way around a car’s interior effortlessly anytime you need or want.
The Hotor 4th Gen Car Vacuum takes the top spot for the portability and reliability it offers when you need to clean the car quickly anytime, anywhere. The vacuum comes with a small but powerful motor capable of a 4.5kPa suction level that will take care of most dust and small debris. Using the car’s 12V plug, you can plug the vacuum in and use it anywhere, even on the road.
Many people like to bring along their furry companions during their daily errands. While it may be nice to have a pet beside you during a drive, your car’s interior may suffer from more hair and dirt. Since pet hair can be a challenge to remove for most vacuums, you will need something with a unique design or accessory that attracts the hair more readily than the competition. The Bissell 1782 Pet Hair Hand/Car Vacuum is a multipurpose sucking tool that sports a unique moving foot to help create a tighter seal for better suction. An included upholstery tool works on fabric interiors and furniture to remove troublesome pet hair. Best of all, the vacuum is cordless, so you can reach any space in the vehicle when combined with the telescoping extension wand for greater range.
"We used the vacuum to clean the seats in the car. The puppy is a frequent passenger, so there was plenty of dirt and hair to go around. We were impressed at how well the motorized tool was able to pull out hairs that had worked their way into the upholstery. It also did a good job sucking up dirt from the cracks, and we used the upholstery tool to get into the really tight crevices."—Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Budget vacuums can be a risky purchase since subpar options will lack the power and suction necessary for consistent results. Some budget options do not come with helpful accessories that may make cleaning the inside easier and quicker. This next budget choice, however, manages to give you plenty of suction and a flexible design for challenging interiors. When something small and affordable is all you need, the Lolldeal Car Vacuum Cleaner is a good choice to consider for light suction around the car. The vacuum is powered via a 12V outlet and included cord, and can reach small spaces via the pivoting suction head for better results. For a better, cleaner interior, the HEPA filter removes harmful contaminants and is easy to remove and wash to keep it lasting a long time.
SUVs present a unique challenge when cleaning since they have larger interiors and more space to cover. The main challenge with many car vacuums and SUV interiors is the cord. A limited cord length means you only have a small range to clean unless your SUV has multiple 12V outlets in the back rows. This is where a vacuum with an extra long cord comes in handy. The Black+Decker Flexi Automotive Vacuum takes a unique approach to vehicle vacuum design. Featuring cyclonic suction often found on larger vacuums, this option creates a consistent and continuous air suction that is not affected by larger dust and debris. The included hose and pivoting nozzle make it easy to reach in between seats and into cracks when necessary as well. Finally, the 16-foot cable is perfect for larger vehicles.
Like traditional vacuums, car vacuums can handle a wide variety of cleaning tasks with the right tools and attachments. A vacuum alone is a good place to start for basic cleaning, but the best options come with accessories that extend the reach and grip of the vacuum’s suction. A vacuum with multiple accessories will also give you flexibility for handling different interiors and messes at the same time. If you want the best arsenal of cleaning accessories for your car, the Deenkee Car Vacuum has you covered. In addition to a powerful handheld vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter, this option comes with several nozzles you can attach to the flexible hose. The slim nozzle creates a small profile for cracks and under the seats. The brush, on the other hand, is perfect for getting clinging hairs and larger debris out without needing a full-size vacuum.
The only downside to most car vacuums is the lack of power they have compared to other suction devices. For really dirty cars, you may need something with a larger capacity and more powerful motor. Wet/dry vacuums, often found in homes and wood shops for better suction, are the perfect option for a good, deep clean. When designed for use in a car, this type of vacuum is the best choice for tough jobs.
The Ridgid 3 Gallon Wet Dry Vac is the tool to choose when nothing else will get the job done. As a wet/dry vacuum, the motor offers 3.5 horsepower which overshadows the normal handheld options you will find for the car. Despite the power, the body is small enough to fit inside a car interior where you can use the extension hose and10-foot power cord to get a deep clean of the seats.