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 100 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 cordless car vacuum that we've tested is the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This small handheld vacuum is well-built and easy to maintain. It does a great job of cleaning low-pile carpets, where it easily cleans fine debris like baking soda, bulkier material like sand, and pet hair.
It's lightweight and easy to carry out to your car. It comes with a few useful accessories, including a turbo brush with a self-cleaning brushroll that you can use to clean fabric-covered seats and a crevice tool for getting into tight spots. The dirt compartment isn't a bad size for a compact handheld vacuum, and there's only one part that needs regular replacing, which keeps recurring costs low.
Unfortunately, the battery only lasts for a little over 10 minutes of continuous use, so you need to work relatively quickly when you're cleaning your car. Also, this vacuum doesn't have an allergen-trapping HEPA filter. That said, it's an excellent choice for cleaning your car.
If you're looking for a cordless car vacuum that lasts a lot longer off of a single charge, consider the Dyson Humdinger. This cordless handheld vacuum is much pricier than the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ and doesn't clear debris like baking soda or sand from low-pile carpets quite as effectively, but its maximum battery life of almost half an hour is significantly longer than that of Shark. However, using it in its most powerful suction mode drops its battery life to roughly 10 minutes, and battery life can vary in the real world. Still, it comes with a turbo brush to clear debris on fabric-lined surfaces, not to mention a combination crevice tool/dusting brush and a 'Worktop' tool designed to help you clean hard surfaces, like counters and tabletops. Its allergen-trapping HEPA filter is washable, so as long as it's periodically cleaned, recurring costs should be virtually nonexistent. Unfortunately, its dustbin is very small, so it needs frequent emptying.
Get the Shark if you want a cheaper vacuum with superior overall cleaning performance. Consider the Dyson if you want a handheld vacuum with a HEPA filter and a longer battery life.
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 cleaning 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 with pet hair, though it might take an extra pass to fully clean 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 regular cleaning, but it's worth mentioning that they're 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. 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 deal with the hassle of a power cord, consider the Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet. This vacuum's handheld-only form factor means that it isn't as well suited to cleaning large spaces compared to the Eureka Mighty Mite, but its cordless design and compact body make it a lot easier to clean far-away areas. It comes with a turbo brush to tackle messes on upholstered surfaces, and its default nozzle effectively works as a crevice tool for sucking up debris in tight corners. Performance on low-pile carpet is satisfactory overall, as it clears pet hair and large debris like sand without too much difficulty, but you may need to make another pass to fully clean fine material like baking soda. Its dustbin is reasonably large, especially by the standards of other handheld vacuums. You can expect a maximum of roughly 30 minutes of runtime, which should be enough for most in-car cleaning tasks. Unfortunately, this vacuum feels rather cheaply built, and its filter assembly needs regular replacing, meaning recurring costs can add up over time.
Get the Eureka if you prefer the virtually indefinite runtime of a corded vacuum, but consider the Black+Decker if portability is a bigger concern to you.
Oct 01, 2021: Replaced HoLife HM036E with Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet as 'Cordless Alternative' pick due to current availability. Replaced Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet with Dyson Humdinger as 'Alternative With Better Battery Life' pick. Removed Dyson Humdinger from Notable Mentions.
Sep 02, 2021: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock. Added the Dyson Humdinger to Notable Mentions because of its portability and decent performance on low-pile carpets.
Aug 03, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given category.
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.
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.