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Crumbs on the upholstery are no match for car vacuums. If you want your car’s carpet to remain pristine, review this comprehensive guide to recommended vacuums for your vehicle. We compiled these ratings based on industry analysis, customer reviews, and Amazon ratings, as well as field testing by Car and Driver editors.
What Are Car Vacuums?
Car vacuums are basically smaller, handheld versions of the vacuum you use in your home. They use suction to remove dirt, sand, lint, crumbs, and other tiny bits of debris from soft surfaces such as carpet and upholstery. Having a vacuum in your car makes it easy to keep the interior clean without dragging the full-size vacuum cleaner outside.
In addition to general cleanliness, the benefits of investing in a car vacuum include:
- Design for smaller spaces with attachments that can reach all the cracks and crevices.
- Ability to remove allergens that can worsen respiratory conditions and illnesses.
- Preservation of the vehicle’s value by preventing carpet and upholstery stains.
- Prevention of vehicle infestation by rodents and insects attracted by food smells and crumbs.
- Lightweight construction for easy portability and storage even in small vehicles.
Types of Car Vacuums
You can choose between a corded or cordless car vacuum, as well as one that offers both wet and dry capabilities.
If you prefer a plug-in model, make sure it’s compatible with your vehicle’s power outlet or purchase an adaptor. Real Simple magazine named the corded ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner as its overall pick. This model features a 16-foot cord, wet and dry capabilities, three attachments, a carry case, and a convenient LED light so you can see under your seats.
If you want a cordless car vac, consider the Hoover DustChaser Handheld Vacuum Cleaner. This Amazon’s Choice winner has outstanding customer reviews; fans love its lightweight, slim construction and deceptively powerful suction. It also has a dual-layer HEPA filter, lithium-ion battery, and tools to clean all the crevices of your car’s upholstery, including an attachment designed for pet hair.
The Armor All AA255 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum doubles as a wet/dry car vacuum, according to the team at CNET Road Show. It has specific attachments designed for your vehicle’s cabin and even has a blow feature that’s handy for sand, leaves, and other dry debris. This vac also received the Amazon’s Choice award thanks to more than 16,000 positive customer ratings. It has a 10-foot cord and integrated accessory storage for easy transport.
How to Choose Car Vacuums
Keep these key considerations in mind when selecting a car vacuum:
- Do you have a pet? Not every car vacuum can successfully handle pet hair. In this category, we recommend the top-rated Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Cordless Handheld Vac, which has a cumulative 4.5-star rating on Amazon with more than 18,000 reviews. Specialized pet tools and a large, easy-empty bin take the hassle out of cleaning up after your dog or cat at home and in your vehicle. These features earned it some of the highest ratings from Car and Driver reviewers.
- How much does the model weigh? Some customers might prefer a lightweight vacuum. The Black and Decker Dustbuster is a classic that weighs just 2.6 pounds, with enough power for use inside or out. It has a 4.5 out of 5-star overall rating on Amazon with more than 52,000 ratings and bestseller status. Fans say it’s easy to clean and has a long battery life.
- How much power does the vacuum have? Make sure the model you choose can adequately clean your vehicle. We love the strong dual cyclone suction of the Shark CH901 UltraCyclone Pro Cordless Handheld Vacuum, an Amazon’s Choice award winner with thousands of positive reviews. This model received high marks from the Car and Driver testers thanks to its impressive performance, reliable lithium-ion battery, diverse selection of attachments, and lightweight portability.
- Does it come with a warranty? If you don’t mind spending a bit more for exceptional performance, it’s hard to beat the Dyson V7 Trigger Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum Cleaner. The exclusive V7 digital motor makes it the most powerful handheld car vac on the market. It has a cool space-age look, plenty of useful attachments, a reliable lithium-ion battery that powers up to 30 minutes of use, and a hygienic dirt ejector for seamless, sanitary cleanup. This award-winning vac is covered by a comprehensive two-year warranty.
- How big is it? If you want a tiny option, we recommend the highly rated 70mai Portable Cordless Car Vacuum Cleaner. Real Simple magazine also recommended this ultrasmall vac thanks to its slim profile and powerful suction and filtration. It has dual-cyclone technology, a dual-layer HEPA filter for improved air quality, and 24 minutes of run time on a single charge. This product also comes with a 30-day 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee.
- Does it have a HEPA filter to remove impurities from the air you breathe in your vehicle? We recommend the three-filter technology you’ll find in the Baucatlan Car Vacuum with Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner Car Cleaning Kit with Three Layer HEPA Filter. Designed for deep cleaning, this 12-volt vacuum features an extra-long 16.4-foot cord and powerful suction that can remove even the tiniest specks of debris. The strong motor provides 32,000 RPM despite product weight of less than 2 pounds. It also comes with a full suite of accessories, including the aforementioned HEPA filter you can remove, clean, and reuse.
- Can it multitask? For example, the VARSK 4-in-1 Car Vacuum Cleaner is also an air compressor and tire inflator with integrated pressure gauge. It features a 15-foot cord, LED light, LED display, and a HEPA filter with suction cyclone technology. VARSK stands by its products by conducting a 50-point inspection before distributing factory products to customers. Automatic shutoff and ventilation provide safe, effective use.
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