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 75 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 Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is the best car vacuum with a cordless design that we've tested. This compact, extremely portable model is easy to carry out to your car. It delivers a fantastic performance on low-pile carpets, where it easily sucks up pet hair and debris.
It's well-built and has a simple design that makes it easy to assemble and maintain. There's only one part, the dust cup filter, that needs to be replaced regularly, so it incurs low recurring costs. It comes with some tools and brushes that can help you clean your car, including a turbo brush for dislodging dirt from fabric-covered furniture like car seats, a hard bristle brush for scrubbing away stubborn dirt, and a crevice tool for getting into tight corners.
However, its battery only provides roughly 11 minutes of continuous use, so you need to work quickly if you have a big mess on your hands. Also, like most handheld vacuums, it has a small dirt compartment, so you need to empty it fairly often. That said, its outstanding performance and handy tools make it a great choice for cleaning your car's interior.
If you want a cordless vacuum but prefer something with longer battery life, you may want the Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet instead. This handheld model doesn't clean debris from low-pile carpets as effectively as the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+, but it has a much longer maximum battery life. If you use its least powerful mode, it provides nearly half an hour of continuous use, and in 'Boost Mode', its most powerful setting, it lasts for roughly 13 minutes. It comes with a motorized turbo brush meant for cleaning upholstered furniture like car seats, as well as a combined extension wand and crevice tool that increases your reach and helps you get into tight corners. Unfortunately, it struggles a bit with fine debris like baking soda on low-pile carpets. It also lacks an allergen-trapping HEPA filter and has a couple of parts that need to be replaced regularly.
If you want the model with the best performance, go for the Shark. On the other hand, if you don't mind sacrificing some performance for longer battery life, the Black+Decker is also one of the best vacuums for cars we've tested.
The best corded vacuum for cars that we've tested is the Shark Vertex UltraLight Corded. It's a portable, fairly lightweight stick vacuum with a long power cord, which gives you more range when cleaning far-off places. You can use it as a corded handheld vacuum when cleaning your car's interior and other awkward places.
There are a few tools and brushes included that can help with cleaning areas like your car, such as a turbo brush for dislodging dirt from fabric-covered seats and a crevice tool for getting into hard-to-reach spots. It performs well on low-pile carpets, where it has no issue sucking up pet hair and larger debris like sand. It has an okay-sized dirt compartment, and its suction tends to stay consistent even when it's partially full.
Unfortunately, it struggles a bit to clear fine debris like baking soda from low-pile carpets. It also has quite a few parts that need routine servicing, including its filters and brushroll, so it's not the easiest to maintain. Otherwise, if you don't want to worry about battery life while vacuuming your car, it's a great corded option.
The Eureka Mighty Mite is the best vacuum cleaner for cars in the budget category that we've tested. This affordable, corded canister model doesn't feel very heavy in your hand and comes with a carrying handle, so it's easy to carry out to your car. You can also detach part of the wand and use it in a semi-handheld configuration.
It does a great job cleaning low-pile carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and most debris, even as its large dirt compartment fills up. It comes with a few tools and brushes that can help with different cleaning jobs, including a crevice tool for tight corners and an upholstery tool for cleaning fabric-covered seats. You can quickly adapt the suction power to different surface types with the slip ring on the handle. It's also incredibly easy to maintain, thanks to its simple, easy-to-assemble design.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a particularly long power cord, so you need to have an outlet nearby. It also lacks a HEPA filter, which is disappointing if you're concerned about allergens. However, if you want a vacuum that can clean your car but don't want to spend too much, it's definitely worth considering.
If you're looking for a budget-friendly vacuum for your car but want something cordless, you may prefer the HoLife HM036E. It's not as well-suited for cleaning big areas as the Eureka Mighty Mite, but it has unlimited range, as long as it has space left in its dirt compartment and battery life remaining. While it struggles a bit with fine debris like baking soda on low-pile carpets, it's very effective at sucking up pet hair and debris like sand from that surface type. Its battery life is decent, as it provides roughly 20 minutes of continuous use. There are also some tools and brushes that can help with cleaning your car, like a turbo brush for cleaning fabric-covered seats and a crevice tool for getting into tight corners. However, it has a very small dirt compartment that needs to be emptied fairly frequently.
Go for the Eureka if you want a corded vacuum or prefer a canister-style model. Try the HoLife instead if you mostly need a vacuum for spot-cleaning small messes or prefer a cordless, handheld model.
Feb 19, 2021: Added the BISSELL AeroSlim to Notable Mentions. Verified that product picks are still the best recommendations and that they're available.
Jan 22, 2021: Verified that we've still recommending the best products for our users and that they're in stock.
Dec 23, 2020: Article overhaul; changes to structure and picks to help you find better vacuums for your needs.
Nov 18, 2020: Replaced the Shark ION W1 WANDVAC with the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ for 'Best Cordless Car Vacuum'. Replaced the Black+Decker dustbuster CHV1410L with the Shark ION W1 WANDVAC and renamed category to 'Alternative With Fewer Recurring Costs'.
Oct 07, 2020: Replaced Dyson V7 Animal with Shark ION W1 WANDVAC as 'Best Cordless Car Vacuum'. Replaced BISSELL Adapt Ion Pet with HoLife HM036E as 'Best Budget Car Vacuum'. Moved Dyson V7 Animal to Notable Mentions.
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.