The 10 Best Car Vacuums

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This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in February of 2016. Don’t allow the interior of your car, truck, or SUV to become overrun with dust, dirt, leaves, and pet hair. One of these vacuums will help you keep it tidy and presentable. These are all ideal for auto use, though several can be utilized around the house as well. They’re available in a variety of sizes and styles to suit different needs, and some come with multiple attachments. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Bissell Garage Pro

2. MetroVac Vac N Blo

3. Bissell AeroSlim

Editor's Notes

September 16, 2020:

Removed several items due to poor quality. The Lolldeal Mini, for example, does not generate adequate suction, and it tends to break down quickly anyway. We also discovered that the motor of the Eureka EasyClean routinely fails within months.

We upgraded the rank of the MetroVac Vac N Blo, noting in the bullet points that it rarely clogs. It’s a bit more expensive than many items on the list, but its reliable performance and durability make it a good investment. Plus, it has an effective warm air blower and plenty of attachments. While we can confirm that the Fortem Extra Mile is easy to maneuver, some users come away disappointed with its suction power, especially when trying to clean up anything more substantial than light dirt and dust. We dropped this item a bit in the rankings.

We added a few new items to the list, including the Tsumbay Handheld, which can suck up liquids and has an attachment for that very purpose. A nice tidbit for animal lovers: each purchase of the Bissell AeroSlim helps support the Bissell Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets. If supporting a good cause is important to you, there’s a little extra incentive to consider this vacuum.

May 23, 2019:

Here, we've chosen a mix of handheld and cannister options to suit users with different preferences. For heavy-duty jobs, you'll be better off opting for a canister model, which generally can hold much more dirt and dust than their portable cousins. If you simply need something to keep your personal vehicle tidy, a cordless, handheld model is the way to go. You'll notice that many of these items come with multiple attachments that make it easy to do a thorough detailing job no matter what kind of mess you're up against.

As far as updates are concerned, the Dyson V7 Car+Boat and Bissell Garage Pro have been added to the list and awarded the third and first spots, respectively. The Dyson model was chosen due to its easy-to-carry, yet powerful design, and the Bissell vacuum was included for several reasons: it’s wall mountable, comes with plenty of attachments, and is built to last. The Vandek Automotive and Metropolitan Compact were both removed from the list due to quality complaints from users.

Special Honors

Kleen-Rite Commercial If you run a car wash, dealership, body shop or gas station, installing one of these industrial vacuum systems will give potential customers another reason to use your services. Many will accept coins, dollar bills and credit cards, and they’re offered in a variety of styles and color combinations.

Sparco Direct Sparco — known for supplying gear and accessories for the auto racing industry — offers this simple, efficient vacuum that plugs into the cigarette lighter. It’s compact, with an inner filter made of washable nylon cloth and a useful crevice tool for cleaning up corners. It’s available in blue, black or gray.

4. Tsumbay Handheld

5. ArmorAll Peak

6. Hotor Portable

7. Shark UltraCyclone

8. Black + Decker Magic Blue

9. Fortem Extra Mile

10. Carrand AutoSpa

What Makes A Vacuum Suited For Cars

Cordless varieties are ideal for cars, too, so you don't need to worry about a wire getting wrapped up around the seats.

In most cases, using a regular home vacuum cleaner inside of a car can be strenuous, take too much time, and it won't even pick up all of the dirt and debris inside of the vehicle.

A car vacuum has special features designed with the compact and complex landscape of a car in mind. A model with a slim nozzle is crucial since even the widest aisles between car seats is rarely as broad as a full-size vacuum cleaner. But the carpet and flooring between seats is still the easiest part of the car to vacuum; you still have the space under seats, the area between the sides of seats and the doors, the floor beneath the gas and brake pedals and (if you're really thorough) the trunk, with all of its pockets and crevices.

With that cluttered landscape in mind, you want a car vacuum that has various smart attachments, like a visor that can slide into low areas, crevice tools for detailed cleanup, and even blower nozzles for those areas you just cannot reach. When you think of all the eating you do in your car, and the bacteria that comes with it, it's important that no corner goes unvacuumed.

Ideally, you don't eat in your car since a study has found it can reduce the bluebook value of a vehicle. But if it's a habit you can't break, you need to thoroughly clean up the messes that come with it. Since navigating a vacuum around a car is much more difficult than moving one around a home, a model that is lightweight, or even has a shoulder strap for easy carrying, will be very helpful. Cordless varieties are ideal for cars, too, so you don't need to worry about a wire getting wrapped up around the seats.

Tips For Vacuuming Your Car

Professional car wash services will have you believe that they can clean the inside of your car better than you can. But that's not true; save the average $35 to $50 it costs to have a professional do it, and follow these tips. First, remove all of your floor mats and vacuum these outside of the car; this will also let you clean up any particles that may have been stuck underneath them.

Once the area is dry, go over it again with the vacuum to pick up any remaining dirt.

Use the largest nozzle to vacuum the floors so that you can suck up as much dirt in one motion as possible. Remember to move your seats all the way forward and all the way back so you can thoroughly vacuum under them. Use a narrow attachment to thoroughly clean the area around your brake and gas pedals. Use that same attachment to reach between the console and seats.

If you have kids or pets that have soiled the carpet, vacuum that area to remove any surface debris and apply some stain remover. Once the area is dry, go over it again with the vacuum to pick up any remaining dirt. Clean the seats and dashboard with a soft brush attachment as this will be a little more gentle on the materials of these parts.

The History of Vacuum Technology

Before vacuum cleaners, people would remove dirt and dust from their rugs by hanging them up, and beating them with a large stick until most of the debris had flown off of them. Fortunately for carpet cleaners everywhere, in 1869 an inventor named Ives McGaffey invented a hand-pumped vacuum cleaner called the Whirlwind. This primitive model consisted mainly of wood and canvas. McGaffey's hand-operated vacuum had some features that have remained staples of this device, like a tall, erect body that allowed the user to stand up straight while they used it.

Two of the major vacuum systems that came after the WhirlWind depended on horse-driven carriages to operate. A man named John Thurman had a horse-drawn vacuum cleaner service in the early 1900s, that would go door-to-door in St. Louis charging four dollars per cleaning. Thurman went on to file for several patents relating to vacuum cleaners and their parts, including a hand-operated one. The British inventor Hubert Cecil Booth had the second famous horse-driven vacuum system. It ran on petrol, and to use it, one would have to drag its long hoses into their home.

In 1907, a janitor at an Ohio department store James Spangler created one of the first portable vacuum cleaners. His invention consisted of little more than a soap box, a broom handle and a fan motor. Spangler went on to improve his vacuum significantly, found the Electric Suction Sweeper Company, and sell his patent rights to William Hoover of the Hoover company.

Sam Kraft
Last updated by Sam Kraft

In addition to his corporate career as a marketing and communications professional in Chicago, Sam runs a popular blog that focuses on the city’s flourishing craft beer and brewery scene. He received his degree in journalism from DePaul University (which spurred his interest in freelance writing) and has since spent years developing expertise in copywriting, digital marketing and public relations. A lifetime of fishing, hiking and camping trips has left him well-versed in just about any outdoors-related topic, and over several years spent working in the trades during his youth, he accumulated a wealth of knowledge about tools and machinery. He’s a travel junkie, a health and fitness enthusiast, and an avid biker.

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