The 8 Best Car Vacuums to Keep Your Car Looking Brand New for 2023
If you thought using your home vacuum in your vehicle was the right move, think again. These are the best car vacuum models you need.
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When you’re buying a home vacuum, it’s essential to do your homework in order to find the best vacuum cleaners on the market. Whether you’re a pet parent in search of the best vacuum for pet hair, a cleaning enthusiast on the lookout for a trusty cordless vacuum, a multitasker who wants to save time with a vacuum-mop combo or a brand loyalist who wants a top-rated Dyson, a vacuum is an investment. So, do you really need a separate car vacuum when you already have something fabulous? In a word: Yes! In fact, according to car experts, it’s a big no-no to use your regular vacuum on your car.
“Think about the wintertime when you get in your car with your boots on after trekking through your yard or a parking lot,” says Dave Utecht, owner of Connecticut-based Torrington Toyota and Torrington Ford car dealerships. “That muddy slop on your boots ends up on the floor of your car.” That’s problematic, he explains, because regular vacuum cleaners aren’t designed to suck up liquid. If you try to vacuum the sorts of messes caused by muddy boots or other spills, not only do you run the risk of electrocution, but you’re also likely to clog the hoses on your vacuum and, ultimately, ruin your machine. That’s why you need one of these vacuum deals for your car.
What to look for when buying a car vacuum
Food, sand, dirt and pet hair are among the most common messes you’ll want to clean in your car, says Utecht, and there are tons of car vacuums on the market to deal with those issues. Analyze your cleaning needs first. Do you have deeply rooted stains? Is pet hair the issue? Want something lightweight and portable? Once that’s determined, browse our list of the best car vacuum models to find the one that works for you.
The best car vacuums
- Best overall: Shop-Vac 6-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Best value: Thisworx Portable Car Vacuum
- Best splurge: Bissell Garage Pro Wall-Mounted Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Best cordless: Mini Cordless Car Vacuum
- Best for pet hair: Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Vacuum
- Best wet/dry: Bissell Little Green Machine
- Most portable: Varsk Four-in-One Car Vacuum Cleaner and Air Compressor
- Best for car detailing: Craftsman 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
Best overall car vacuum
Shop-Vac 6-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
When it comes to sending cars home looking brand new, Utecht’s service department relies on Shop-Vacs to get the job done. Not only do they have powerful suction, but, as Utecht notes, these car vacuums are designed to suck up moisture, as well as debris. This mid-sized Shop-Vac wet/dry vacuum comes with a foam sleeve for wet pickup and a large cartridge filter and collection bag for dry pickup. You’ll also get a hose, three extension wands and a large floor nozzle, which can conveniently be stored on the vacuum. It’ll become one of the car gadgets you won’t know how you ever lived without.
- Clears wet and dry messes
- Holds 6 gallons of debris
- Wheels and handle make for easy maneuverability
- Comes with accessories
- Good value
- Cord is only 6 feet long
Best value car vacuum
Thisworx Portable Car Vacuum
More than 143,000 people have given this affordable ThisWorx portable vacuum a five-star rating. While this vacuum isn’t cordless, its 16-foot-long power cord allows you to clean your car from bumper to bumper. Just plug it into your car’s 12-volt lighter socket and you’re ready to clean! Plus, it only weighs 2.4 pounds and has impressive cleaning capabilities. In fact, it’s so compact that you could easily leave it in your trunk for when unexpected messes find their way into your vehicle.
- Affordable price point
- Has a 16-foot power cord
- Has a washable HEPA filter
- Includes three all-purpose nozzles, a carrying bag, a filter brush and a spare filter
- Not made for deep cleaning
Best splurge car vacuum
Bissell Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum
If you’re tight on garage space or you simply hate clutter, you’ll love this wall-mounted Bissell vacuum. It gets the job done with a 32-foot hose, seven car-detailing attachments for wet and dry messes and a blower function, which lets you easily get rid of leaves and other dry debris that makes their way into your garage and car. This Bissell vacuum has a 4-gallon semi-translucent dirt tank and LED full water tank indicator, so you’ll know exactly when you need to empty it. Bonus: You won’t have to spend more money on replacing filters, as Bissell’s are reusable.
- Has a 32-foot hose
- Cleans wet and dry messes
- Mounts to the wall
- Features an LED water tank indicator
- Hose may be difficult to wrap around the designated holder
Best cordless car vacuum
Mini Car Vacuum
Let struggling with outlets and too-short cords be a thing of the past. This mini car vacuum is the best cordless car vacuum that’s portable and stows easily in the trunk of your car. Whether the kids have spilled their snack or the family dog has tracked leaves and debris on his paws, the handheld vacuum‘s strong suction can handle the mess—even though it weighs just 1 pound. It has a run time of 25 minutes and can be charged with a USB port rather than a traditional outlet. This mighty model is the best mini vacuum for cars—both big and small. Add it to your list of road trip essentials.
- Lasts for 25 minutes on a full charge
- Has a washable HEPA filter
- Includes three nozzles
- Charges with a USB cable
- Has a small tank capacity
Best car vacuum for pet owners
Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Vacuum
Pet hair is one of the most common messes found in cars, according to Utecht, and it’s not always easy to clean. That’s why you’ll want this cordless Shark Pet Pro+. It fuses two cyclonic air streams, which generates powerful suction and enables long-lasting battery life. Three attachments, including a crevice tool and self-cleaning brush roll attachment, make it the best car vacuum for pet hair. Plus, while this vacuum may be small, its extra-large dust cup tackles the messiest of cars. When you’re finished, empty the dust cup with just the push of a button. While you’re checking out the Shark brand, we love the Shark VacMop Pro for inside messes.
- Features a detachable self-cleaning Pet Power Brush
- Only weighs 2.8 pounds
- Allows for hands-free emptying
- Contains a washable filter
- Not meant for wet messes
Best wet/dry car vacuum
Bissell Little Green Machine
Don’t be intimidated by using a wet/dry vacuum inside your car. The Bissell Little Green machine is one of the easiest, most effective and all-around best handheld car vacuum picks out there. It combines the power of a vacuum and a mop to suck the invisible dirt out of the car’s interior. Be satisfied with the coffee-colored tank of water at the end of the job and that new car smell. It’ll quickly become a car-cleaning essential in your book.
“The included stain-removing attachments also work well. I reached for the self-cleaning hose attachment time and time again. It makes cleaning most surfaces a sort of fun spectator sport, as you watch the dirty fluid get sucked up in real time,” writes our tester, Bryce Gruber, in her Bissell Little Green review. “Gross—but gratifying.”
- Combines the power of a vacuum and mop
- Has a 48-ounce tank
- Includes multiple attachments
- Has an easy-carry handle
- Acts as a powerful spot cleaner
- Deep stains may require cleaning product
Most portable car vacuum
Varsk Four-in-One Car Vacuum Cleaner and Air Compressor
If you’re looking for a multipurpose machine that extends the life of your car, thousands of Amazon shoppers recommend this four-in-one vacuum. With its 15-foot cord, you can move around your vehicle with ease. Just use the three different nozzles to really get in there. Not only will this machine vacuum your car (and vacuum it well), but it can also add air your tires. Don’t know how to inflate a tire? That’s OK. It will automatically stop once the preset pressure is reached. There’s an easy-to-read digital tire pressure LCD display, as well as a built-in LED work light.
- Weighs about 4 pounds and has a comfortable handle
- Vacuums and adds air to tires
- Has an easy-to-clean HEPA filter
- Features a digital display
- Not suitable for RVs, large trucks or other high-pressure tires
- Power cord is 1 foot shorter than standard corded car vacuums
Best car vacuum for car detailing
Craftsman 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
If you’re looking for professional-worthy results, a larger model is the best vacuum for car detailing. Craftsman’s heavy-duty shop vacuum, which has an average of 4.7 out of five stars from over 9,600 ratings on Amazon, sucks up everything from Cheerios to the slush you trekked in on your winter boots. It features an oversize top-carry handle, built-in accessory storage, a 20-foot power cord and a built-in drain, so you can easily empty any liquids you suck up. This vacuum also comes with a range of accessories, including a 7-foot hose and two extension wands, utility nozzle, car nozzle, wet nozzle, Qwik Lock pleated paper filter and dust collection bag.
- Has a 16-gallon capacity
- Comes with a range of attachments
- Has a built-in drain
- Cleans wet and dry messes
- Features built-in accessory storage
- Weighs 26 pounds
- On the pricier side
How do you clean a car vacuum?
This will mostly depend on the type of car vacuum you have. Some require regular washing the filter while others’ tanks will need to be rinsed every so often. Be cautious of what your vacuum is picking up, as certain items should never be vacuumed because it can shorten the life of the device.
Will using a car vacuum wear down my car’s battery?
Some car vacuums draw their power from the car’s battery. However, whether or not it has a negative effect on the battery depends on how much power the car vacuum requires and how long it takes to finish the job. But unless you’re vacuuming for more hours and hours on end, your car battery should be fine.
Why you should trust us
When it comes to vacuums, we know our stuff. From upright vacuums to vac-mops to car and robot vacuums, we’ve had our hands on every type of vacuum you can think of. We’ve tested the best vacuums and vac-mops for hardwood, tile, carpet, stairs and for cleaning up after pets. With more than 20 rounds of testing under our belts, we’re deeply familiar with the best vacuum brands. And don’t forget: our editors also have homes and cars to keep tidy, and we want to use the best products available to make cleaning easy. We’re not just testers — we’re users, too!