From the dirt, sand, and mud that get caught in shoes to the mid-commute snacks you (and your passengers) enjoy during drives, it’s no surprise your car ends up getting as dirty inside as it does outside . It’s just too easy for crumbs to fall off while you’re snacking and all sorts of tiny debris to join you when you get back in your ride. Not to mention, all the dirty gear you frequently have rolling around in the boot or the backseat, as well as the pet hair that accumulate when you drive your dogs to the vet.
Just like with detailing gear for cleaning your car exterior, there’s no shortage of car vacuums designed specifically to siphon up all that unwanted muck inside. Some of them are designed for cordless operation, while others are meant to be plugged into a 12V slot the whole time you’re tidying up. Smaller and lighter than traditional vacuums, the best car vacuums can make short work of all the mess in the cabin, with form factors that allow them to get into tight nooks to let you reach those crumbs and debris that make their way to those hard-to-reach areas.
At least, that’s the idea. In practice, many car vacuums you’ll find will struggle to actually remove all the dust and dirt collecting in your floor mats, seats, and everywhere else in the car, not to mention all the sticky mud and the pesky pet hair that’s just scattered all over. That’s why it pays to do some due diligence when it comes to the best car vacuums. In a nutshell, you want car vacuums with enough power to actually pick up the muck in your car. You want to make sure they come with accessories that will make it easier to get into tiny crevices, siphon up pet hair, and brush off stickier grime. If you can afford it, it’s a good idea to stick with reputable brands, although we’re also occasionally surprised with little-known outfits that deliver excellent performance.
These are the best car vacuums to help you keep your vehicle’s interior clean.
Auto Joe ATJ-V501
This corded car vacuum doesn’t look much, but what it doesn’t bring with its unassuming aesthetics, it more than makes up for with effective cleaning power. It just does a great job cleaning for the most part. Sure, it struggles a bit with the finer, stuck-on dirt you’ll often find on the floor mats, but a little persistence with the brush attachment (and a little added elbow grease) does get the job done eventually. The included attachments, specifically the crevice nozzle and the extension hose, really help clean all those awkward spots, while the corded power means you get full suction power the whole time you’re using it. It plugs into the 12V port on the car, by the way, so there’s no need to run any extension from a power outlet, with the 17-foot cable allowing you to take it all the way to the back without any trouble.
We’ll be honest. We didn’t have high hopes for this compact car vacuum. It just seemed too small to have the kind of power we need to clean a car’s full interior. We were wrong, though, because the onboard 80W motor brings impressive power for its size, cleaning most areas we passed through in one go, so long as you use the correct attachment for each area. The 2-in-1 brush nozzle is especially impressive, scraping everything from pet hair and muddy dirt before siphoning it up the nozzle, while the crevice nozzle gets you through those tough-to-reach areas with ease. Do note, this takes a long time to fully charge (around 3.5 hours), although the effective suction power should allow you to clean most vehicles in just one full charge. Heck, it can even clean wet areas without much trouble. By the way, there is a newer A3 version of this vacuum cleaner with a 135W motor and a much longer battery life, but sells for around twice the price.
If you prefer cleaning the car with a proper wet/dry vacuum in the garage, this model from Armor All does an excellent job at a very reasonable price. Designed specifically for cleaning vehicles, this car vacuum comes with a two-horsepower motor and a 2.5-gallon tank, which don’t sound much for a shop vac but perfectly sufficient for its intended purpose. Its smaller size allows you to bring it right inside the car, with the six-foot hose (1.25-inch diameter) allowing you to move around the cabin without having to move the actual vac itself. A variety of attachments are included, such as a 2-in-1 utility nozzle, a detail brush, a blower nozzle, a crevice tool, and an extra-wide nozzle. You’ll need to plug it to a wall outlet using the 10-foot cord.
Designed for strictly for dry materials, this cordless car vacuum can remove dirt, debris, and even hair very capably, while being very easy to carry and maneuver. Its suction power of 15.2 AW, combined with the outfit’s cyclonic action design, does a great job of sucking up all dirt in its path, while the onboard battery holds enough charge to do one full cleaning with plenty to spare. Oh yeah, it charges in its own dock, which needs to plug in to a wall outlet, so you have to charge it at home before putting it in the car. We love the transparent dirt bowl that allows you to see all the dirt accumulate in plain sight, as well as the rotating slim nozzle that can twist up to 180 degrees to fit itself inside awkward crannies. It comes with a flip-up brush you can deploy when you need to do some dusting and an extendable crevice tool for those really tight spots. Build quality feels great, too, making it feel like this is the kind of thing you can use for the next few years.
Black + Decker Dustbuster 20V MAX Flex Handheld Vacuum
If you like Black + Decker but prefer something more versatile than their handheld car vacuum, this 20V Dustbuster offers a bit more function while delivering more suction power. The design is, basically, like a miniature shop vac that you can comfortably hold in hand and put on attachments depending on what you need to do. It only comes with a four foot hose, so you won’t be able to set it down in one place while you do you’re cleaning, although the compact size and light weight makes it no hassle to move around or even carry in your other hand. The accessory package is pretty straightforward, as you get a combination brush and nozzle, a crevice attachment, and a pet hair brush with rubber bristles. Do note, you can also buy this thing with a stick vacuum for cleaning at home, although that will cost a tad extra.
Yes, they styled this car vacuum to look like one of DeWalt’s power tools, which is kind of fun if you own tools from the brand. It has a pretty powerful motor that delivers 65 AW of suction power, so this is going to clean up any dirt you lay in its path. The design lets you use it one-handed, which is very convenient for cleaning cars, with the option to include an extension tube if you don’t want to bend over to reach low surfaces. We love the selection of accessories here, which include a flexible hose for shop vac-style cleaning, two kinds of brushes, a floor nozzle, and a crevice nozzle that’s been purposely made so narrow it will occasionally clog up when siphoning bigger debris, so you better watch out for that. If you already use DeWalt tools and own their 20V batteries, this might be the best pick, since you can swap in fresh batteries without having to wait to recharge.
We love the extended runtime of this car vacuum (it’s rated at 45 minutes), which does feel a lot longer than most cordless vacs we’ve seen. There’s no listed power rating for the motor, but it ran through exposed messes with relative ease, complete with a boosted suction setting that you can activate when trying to siphon off finer and stickier muck (it’s amazing with carpets). The bundled accessories are impressive, too, including the motorized brush tool (perfect for pet hair), a flexible crevice attachment, a tool for cleaning tough dirt, an upholstery attachment, a dusting brush, and an extension hose. The dirt cup on the left side is completely removable, too, so you can leave the car vac when dumping the contents down the trash.
Similar to the DeWalt above, we recommend this car vacuum if you’re already invested in Milwaukee batteries and tools. It just makes sense to get it. You won’t be sorry, too, because it’s very capable of cleaning out your car interior. We love the kettle-like shape, which makes it very convenient (not to mention, familiar) to hold in hand, while the motor, which can suction 40 cubic feet of air per minute, clears away dirt very capably. It has all the attachments you need to clean the whole car including a floor cleaner, a crevice tool, a four foot hose, and a pair of extension wands. Since it uses a design similar to shop vacs, you can set it down on the seat or the floor while you do your cleaning, while the transparent dirt compartment makes it easy to see when you need to empty it out. It comes with a removable HEPA filter.
Yes, it doesn’t look like typical car vacuum. It’s not meant to be used like one either. It’s purposely designed to be mounted up a wall (it comes with wall brackets) while you use the hose to clean up the car, although it can also be set down on the ground or even carried using a shoulder strap. Do note, we don’t recommend the latter as carrying this on your shoulder means risking hitting the car at various times (if you’re even a little clumsy, you will). Why can’t you hold it in hand? Well, the darn thing weighs 10 pounds and you don’t want to spend the next 20 minutes carrying that much weight while cleaning. Yep, it’s heavy, which isn’t a surprise because it houses a 1,350-watt motor that puts out four horsepower, all housed inside a solid steel enclosure. When it comes to cleaning, it gets the job done, with all the accessories you need for various specialized tasks, including two flexible six-foot hoses, an extendable wand (up to 20 inches), four-piece micro-detailing attachment, a blower nozzle, an upholstery nozzle, a dust brush, and a crevice tool. Oh yeah, they even threw in an inflator adapter, in case you need it.
No, you don’t need one of Dyson’s overengineered vacuums to clean your car. If you can afford it, though, it’s well worth the price for all the convenience you will get out of it. This cordless vacuum is about as light as Dyson vacuums go, making it ideal to hold in hand during cleaning. It’s also compact enough to be usable inside the car, unlike many of the outfit’s vacuums, which tend to be bigger. For car cleaning, specifically, it’s seriously overpowered, suctioning dirt with relative ease and even making quick work of bigger debris. And yes, they have accessories that are perfect for tidying up the ride, including a combo brush and nozzle attachment, a crevice tool, and a hair screw tool for making mincemeat of pet fur. Other niceties include an optic cleaner head that can reveal hidden dust using light, an LCD screen that shows the total amount of particles it’s picking up, whole machine filtration that expels cleaner air, and a maximum runtime of 60 minutes. Oh yeah, it also comes with stick attachments, so you can use it as an actual home vacuum.