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 reviewed any wet/dry vacuums just yet, we plan to add these vacuums to this list in the future.
So far, we've reviewed over 30 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 Dyson V7 Animal is the best vacuum cleaner for cars with a cordless design that we've tested. This lightweight model has parts that can be quickly clipped and unclipped together to turn it into a handheld to better get into crevices and other hard-to-reach areas. It also comes with a variety of specialized tools and brushes to help you clean your car more effectively.
If you have kids or pets, you may have to deal with stuck-on mud on your car carpet or chairs. Luckily, it comes with a hard bristle brush to help get stubborn messes out. It's not unusual to spill food, so if you're looking to tackle runaway french fries or trail mix, it has great performance picking up large and small debris on low-pile carpet. It can also pick up pet hair without a problem.
Unfortunately, its battery doesn't last that long and if you need to clean a particularly large or difficult mess, its 'Max' mode only lasts just over seven minutes. Some may also find its dirt compartment to be a little small and it has many parts that need regular maintenance too. On the upside, as long as you take care of each part when needed, there are virtually no recurring costs, making it one of the best vacuums for cars we've tested.
If you prefer the ease of a completely handheld vacuum, check out the Black+Decker dustbuster CHV1410L. While its performance on low-pile carpet isn't as great as the Dyson V7 Animal and it has a longer recharge time, the Black+Decker is much more portable and its dirt compartment is larger. It also has better build quality and is easier to maintain. It doesn't come with as many tools and brushes as the Dyson, but it has a crevice tool as well as a hard bristle brush to help clean more stubborn messes. Since it's so small, it's also easier to store. However, it has a few recurring costs such as its disposable filter which needs to be replaced regularly.
If you're looking for a cordless vacuum with a better battery performance as well as virtually no recurring costs, consider the Dyson. However, if you want something a little more portable and lightweight, check out the Black+Decker.
The Eureka Mighty Mite is the best car vacuum with a corded design that we've tested. If you don't want to worry about battery life, its corded design allows you to keep going until you're finished cleaning. Although its cord and hose length are a bit shorter than other canister models, it should still be long enough to clean a car with little problem.
Despite its size compared to others on this list, it's quite lightweight, especially in hand, which makes it easy to maneuver. You can remove one part of the wand to shorten its length so that you can access hard-to-reach places. It comes with an upholstery tool, which is great if you have fabric upholstery. It also does a great job on low-pile carpet as it's able to pick up pet hair and most large debris like cereal without too much of a problem. While it has a bit more trouble picking up smaller debris, its performance remains consistent, even as the dirtbag fills up.
While its maintenance is pretty easy, its dirtbag needs to be replaced whenever it gets full, which can add up in costs in the long-term. Luckily, the dirtbag is quite large and it comes with an indicator to let you know when it's ready to be discarded. If your car tends to be the site of tough messes and you don't want to worry about battery life while you clean, this is a handy tool that can also double as a shop vacuum.
The best budget vacuum for cars that we've tested so far is the BISSELL Adapt Ion Pet. If you're on a tight budget, it can do double duty as an upright for your home as well as a separate handheld for cleaning your car. It has excellent maneuverability, so it can get into hard-to-reach places.
While this lightweight model comes with only a couple of tools and brushes, it has an upholstery tool to help clean your car seats. It has decent performance when cleaning up pet hair as well as large debris like cereal on low-pile carpet. It struggles more with small debris, though, so you may need to do a few passes to fully clean an area. While it's fairly easy to maintain, several parts need regular maintenance, but as long as you take care of it, it has virtually no recurring costs, which is great.
Unfortunately, its dirt compartment is quite small. Its battery performance is pretty disappointing, and even if you're only tackling a couple of small messes in your car, its minimum and maximum battery life are both under twenty minutes, so you need to work quickly. It also takes almost five hours for it to fully recharge again, which can be a pain if you have a large or difficult mess. That said, if you're looking for an affordable vacuum to spot clean your car, this is a suitable choice.
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.
That said, if you'd like to make your own choice, here's the entire list of vacuum cleaners that we've reviewed so far, as to let you make the best choice for your current situation.