No matter how hard you try to avoid or prevent it, it's impossible to keep your car completely clean. Kids accidentally drop snacks on the floor while pets shed or leave mud prints on your upholstery. Luckily, a vacuum designed for cleaning your car's interior can help make your automobile feel like it's dealership-new once again. These vacuums tend to be very portable and lightweight. They also favor better performance on low-pile carpet over other surface types, and they come with several tools to help you reach more difficult areas like crevices. While we haven't tested any wet/dry vacuums just yet, we plan to add these to this list in the future.
We've tested over 85 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best car vacuums to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their performance on different types of surfaces but also their feature set, battery life, and price. For more recommendations, take a look at our list of the best vacuums, the best cordless vacuums, and the best vacuums for pet hair.
The best car vacuum with a cordless design that we've tested is the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This compact and incredibly portable handheld vacuum is easy to carry out to your car. It delivers an amazing performance across most surface types and is fantastic on low-pile carpets, where it easily sucks up pet hair and debris.
It has a good build quality and a straightforward design that makes it easy to assemble and maintain. Recurring costs are low because only one part, the dust cup filter, needs to be replaced regularly. There are some tools and brushes included to help with cleaning your car's interior. This includes a turbo brush for cleaning fabric-covered furniture like car seats, a hard bristle brush for scrubbing away stuck-on dirt, and a crevice tool for reaching into narrow spaces.
However, its battery runs out after only about 11 minutes of continuous use, so you need to work quickly if you have a big mess to clean up. It also has a tiny dirt compartment that needs to be emptied quite often, like most handheld vacuums. Otherwise, its fantastic performance and helpful tools make it a great choice for cleaning the inside of your car.
If you're looking for a cordless handheld vacuum that lasts longer on a single charge, consider the Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet. It isn't as well-built as the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ and has a noticeably harder time clearing fine debris, like baking soda, from low-pile carpets, but it does provide roughly anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes of runtime on a single charge depending on your choice of suction power mode, attachments, and usage habits. It also has a bigger dirt compartment that shouldn't need to be emptied quite as often. Like the Shark, it comes with a turbo brush, which makes clearing debris from upholstered surfaces a little bit easier. Unfortunately, this vacuum lacks a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean, and its pre-filter and main filter need to be replaced regularly, incurring somewhat high recurring costs.
Get the Shark if you want a better-built vacuum that delivers superior cleaning performance, but take a look at the Black+Decker if battery life is a bigger concern for you.
The best vacuum for cars that we've tested is the Shark Vertex UltraLight Corded. This stick/handheld vacuum has a long power cord, allowing you to clean your car even if it's parked somewhat far away from any electrical outlets. It feels decently well-built too, and its lightweight plastic construction makes it easy to pick up and carry.
It comes with a turbo brush with a self-cleaning brushroll for clearing debris on fabric-lined car seats as well as a crevice tool for tackling messes in tight corners. Performance on low-pile carpets is good overall, particularly in regards to pet hair, though it might take an extra pass to fully clear finer debris like baking soda. Its bagless design and washable filters also keep recurring costs low.
Unfortunately, this vacuum lacks a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean, which could be a bit of an inconvenience if your pet sheds heavily. Also, many parts need to be cleaned regularly, but it's worth mentioning that they're quite easy to access. Overall, if you value the virtually indefinite runtime of a corded vacuum, this is a good option for cleaning your car.
The best vacuum for cars in the budget category that we've tested is the Eureka Mighty Mite. This bagged canister vacuum is lightweight and fairly compact, making it easier to pick and move closer to your car. You can use it in a semi-handheld configuration by detaching a section of its wand and fitting the included crevice tool or combination hard-bristle brush/upholstery tool in place instead.
This vacuum clears pet hair and larger debris like sand from low-pile carpet without difficulty, and while you might need to do an extra pass to fully clear fine debris like baking soda from this surface type, its overall performance in this regard is still impressive. The suction performance also remains very consistent as its dirtbag fills up, which is good if you have several large messes to clean. It's remarkably easy to maintain, with very few parts that you need to clean regularly.
Unfortunately, its pre-motor filter and dirtbag need replacing periodically, so recurring costs are somewhat high. Its power cord is fairly short, which can make it difficult to clean the inside of your car if you're parked far away from an electrical outlet. Still, if you're looking for a compact canister vacuum that can easily deal with messes inside your car, this is a great option.
If you don't want to worry about staying close to an outlet when vacuuming, look at the HoLife HM036E. Its handheld design makes it a worse fit for cleaning large areas than the Eureka Mighty Mite, but since it's cordless, you can clean far-away areas without needing to worry about the length of a power cord. Its performance on low-pile carpet isn't as impressive as that of the Eureka, especially with fine and larger debris like baking soda or sand, but it's still good overall. You can use it to clean liquid messes thanks to its included nozzle, though be aware that we don't currently test this feature and that the vacuum needs thorough cleaning after this kind of use. It also comes with a hard bristle brush and an upholstery tool for dislodging stuck-on dirt or clearing debris on car seats. Its battery performance is decent, particularly for a handheld vacuum, with a runtime of over 20 minutes, though this can vary in the real world. However, its dirt compartment is very small and consequently needs frequent emptying.
Get the Eureka if you want a vacuum better-suited to cleaning bigger areas, but consider the HoLife if the go-anywhere range is a bigger priority for you.
Jul 07, 2021: Verified the availability of all main picks. Added Wyze Handheld Vacuum to Notable Mentions.
Jun 07, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category. Added iRobot H1 to Notable Mentions.
May 13, 2021: Checked picks to ensure that the products are still the best recommendations and that they're in stock. Added the Dyson V15 Detect to Notable Mentions.
Apr 16, 2021: Confirmed all picks are in stock and still the best recommendations for our users.
Mar 19, 2021: We've verified the accuracy of our text and checked for product availability. There has been no change in our recommendations.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best car vacuums. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also factors like availability, price, and reader feedback.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our vacuum reviews, ranked by their suitability for car cleaning. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.