As most car owners know, the interior of a vehicle can go from neat and clean to resembling the bottom of a trash can in 3.5 seconds, particularly if you have kids or dogs who ride in it. A car vacuum helps you clean up quickly and easily, saving you money on costly detailing services. The compact design means you can get into all the corners and crevices of your car, so there’s no spot you can’t reach.
We reviewed dozens of car vacuums to identify the best of the best. We compared and contrasted a range of features, such as power source, suction power, ease of use, and customer ratings.
The BISSELL AutoMate Handheld Car Vacuum stood out as the clear best car vacuum. It comes from a trusted brand in the world of vacuum cleaners and it shows. If you want the best, this is the car vacuum for you.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Car Vacuums
|Best Car Vacuum Overall||BISSELL AutoMate Handheld Car Vacuum||4.3|
|Best Corded Car Vacuum||ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner||4.3|
|Best Budget Car Vacuum||JINPUS High Power Car Vacuum||4.0|
|Best Wet Dry Car Vacuum||ZesGood Powerful Wet Dry Car Vacuum||4.5|
|Best Portable Car Vacuum||GNG Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner||4.3|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Car Vacuum Overall: BISSELL AutoMate Handheld Car Vacuum
We searched extensively, but it was clear that our top car vacuum should be the BISSELL AutoMate Handheld Car Vacuum. It comes fitted with a motorized brush tool that’s great at working hair and ground-in dirt from seats and floors. It does a great job of cleaning larger, more open areas, but it won’t get right into all the nooks and crannies. That’s where the two crevice tools come in handy. One has an LED light to illuminate those dark corners you might not be able to see clearly. The other is flexible to get into those really awkward areas, such as deep into the seat stitching.
This is a cordless model that features a powerful 14V lithium ion battery. It runs for about 30 minutes on a full charge, which is ample time to vacuum a car. It comes with a charging cord that plugs into a standard outlet. At roughly $60, this is on the pricey side for a car vacuum, but it does come from a well-known manufacturer.
BISSELL AutoMate Handheld Car Vacuum Key Features:
- Runs for around 30 minutes and takes around 8 hours to fully charge
- Weighs just 3.1 pounds
- 0.7 liter dirt cup capacity
Best Corded Car Vacuum: ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner
ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner does a great job of picking up all kinds of dirt and debris from your vehicle. It comes with a range of attachments, including a flexible hose, a crevice tool, and a brush, to help tackle whatever your car might have in store for you, plus the LED light illuminates every corner so no dirt goes unnoticed. This is a corded model, but the cord plugs into a 12V lighter port rather than a power outlet, so if your car has one, it’s a convenient option. The cord itself measures 16.5 feet, so it’s long enough to reach right to the back of even the largest cars.
Thanks to its wet-dry capabilities, you can tackle all kinds of mess, even soggy spills or wet mud. This is a popular option that many buyers rave about. Since it doesn’t need to be charged, you can keep it in your car to tackle mess whenever you need to. At $35, it’s a real bargain considering how well it performs.
ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner Key Features:
- Ergonomic handle for comfortable cleaning
- Come with a bag for storage or transportation
- Double filter helps trap allergens
Best Budget Car Vacuum: JINPUS High Power Car Vacuum
The JINPUS High Power Car Vacuum might not be the most impressive model on the market, but it’s a decent affordable choice for buyers on a budget. It might not cut it for heavy-duty cleaning (like if you have messy toddlers or large, hairy dogs), but it’s great for cleaning up the day to day mess you find in your car. This is another corded model that plugs into the 12V cigarette port. The cord measures 16.4 feet, giving you plenty of length for cleaning the whole car, plus the adapter contains a safety fuse so it will cut out should a dangerous fault occur.
Since the HEPA filter traps most particles of environmental allergens (such as dust and pollen), it’s great for people who suffer from hay fever or other similar allergies. It comes with some useful attachments, including a hose and a crevice tool, to help get into all those hard-to-reach spots. Costing just $25, you can’t go far wrong for the money.
JINPUS High Power Car Vacuum Key Features:
- Extremely lightweight; weighs less than a pound
- Includes a strong carry case
- Suitable for both wet and dry use
Best Wet-Dry Car Vacuum: ZesGood Powerful Wet Dry Handheld Vacuum
Although it’s not just designed for cars, the ZesGood Powerful Wet Dry Handheld Vacuum is a great handheld vacuum that’s perfect for use in vehicles. It’s a cordless model, so you can charge it in your home then take it out to your car when you need to. It contains three 2200mAh lithium-ion batteries, which give it powerful suction. It charges fully in 2 to 3 hours then has a run time of 25 minutes, which most people find more than sufficient for cleaning their car. Since it’s a wet-dry vacuum, it’s great for people with kids or dogs, making light work of spilled juice boxes or wet, muddy paw prints.
Weighing roughly 1.5 pounds, it’s a lightweight choice that won’t give you a tired arm. It comes with a crevice nozzle and a couple of brush tools to help you clean deep into car upholstery, down the back of the seats, and in other awkward areas. The double LED lamp lights up dark corners, so you can see where there’s dirt that needs cleaning. Retailing at $42, it’s one of the more expensive options in our top five, but we think it’s worth splashing out on.
ZesGood Powerful Wet Dry Handheld Vacuum Key Features:
- Quick-empty dust cup with reasonable 0.55-liter capacity
- LCD display screen shows level of battery charge
- Powerful motor and impressive suction
Best Portable Car Vacuum: GNG Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
With its own carry case included, the GNG Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner is easily portable to take from your home to the car, to carry in your car for when you need it, or even to take over to friends or family who might want to borrow it. You can charge it up to use it cordless with a run time of 17 to 20 minutes. However, if you forget to charge it or run out of juice part way through, it has an adapter you can use to plug it into a 12V car lighter port, and it will run as it charges.
Despite its small size, it has a respectable 0.5-liter dirt cup and quite powerful suction. The included hose and crevice tool help you to get into those tight corners that you might not otherwise be able to reach. With a price tag of roughly $40, it’s a good mid-range model at a reasonable price.
GNG Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner Key Features:
- Washable filter helps trap dust and other particles
- Suitable for wet and dry use
- Dirt cup is easy to empty
Who Should Buy a Car Vacuum
Anyone who owns a car should really buy a car vacuum. Whether your car usually looks like a crumb bomb went off or there’s just a small amount of dust and dirt, a car vacuum will make cleaning your car much easier. There’s no need to lug your full-size vacuum cleaner from your home, attempting to run extension cords, and so on. Nor will you need to pay significant sums to get your car professionally detailed. You can get your car vacuum out and do it yourself with very little hassle.
If you like to keep your car spic and span, you might also be interested in our top car mats to protect your flooring and for easier cleaning.
Important Features to Consider
A car vacuum should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a car vacuum:
- Power source. Car vacuums can be either corded or cordless. You can charge cordless models in your home and take them out to the car when you want to use them. Corded car vacuums are unlike standard handheld vacuum cleaners because they plug into a 12V car lighter socket, not a traditional power outlet.
- Dirt cup. The dirt cup is what holds the dust and dirt your vacuum has sucked up. Ideally, it should be easy to empty and not too small. Of course, car vacuums are compact, so you’ll never get a huge dirt cup, but expect something between 0.5 and 0.8 liters.
- Run time. If you choose a cordless model, the run time is the amount of time you can use it for before the battery goes dead. You don’t need a huge amount of time to vacuum a car, so a 20 to 30 minute run time will suffice.
- Wet-dry. A wet-dry vacuum cleaner can tackle wet spills in addition to dry dirt. It can also be useful when cleaning your car upholstery, as some cleaning methods require vacuuming while the fabric is still wet.
- Accessories. Expect to receive a handful of attachments for your car vacuum. The most important is the crevice tool, which allows you to vacuum in tight corners and down the back of your car seats. Brush and hose attachments can also be useful for getting your car as clean as possible. Another common accessory is a bag to store both the vacuum and all the other accessories, such as tool attachments and cables.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between a car vacuum and a regular vacuum?
Car vacuums are small and handheld, which makes them quite different from full-sized upright or canister vacuums. They are, however, quite similar to standard handheld “Dustbuster” style vacuum cleaners. The main difference is that corded car vacuums are designed to plug into 12V lighter ports rather than regular power outlets.
How do I vacuum my car?
Vacuuming a car is very simple: just switch on the vacuum and get going. Pay particular attention to areas where dirt tends to gather, such as the corners of footwells, beneath seats, and the crevices at the back of and between seats. Keep an eye on the level of the dirt container and empty it when it becomes full so you don’t get a clog.
Can I vacuum my car with a regular vacuum?
You can, in theory, but full-size vacuums don’t do the job as effectively since they’re far more awkward to maneuver and the head is often too large. What’s more, unless your regular vacuum is cordless, you’d need to run a power cord from your home to your car, which is inconvenient at best.
How often should I vacuum my car?
This is really down to your personal dirt threshold and how quickly your car gets dirty. If you drive your dogs to their favorite hiking spot every day, for example, your car is likely to get dirty quickly and you might want to vacuum it every few days. On the other hand, if you’re usually the only person in your car and you don’t make much mess, you’ll probably need to vacuum it no more than once a month. For most people, once a week is a safe bet.
Other Car Vacuums We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other car vacuums. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best car vacuums list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your vehicle. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
Corded Car Vacuums
This simple corded car vacuum makes it easy to clean everywhere as it comes with three extra nozzles: a brush, a crevice tool, and a hose.
- LED light
- Cord measures 16.4 feet
- String suction
This powerful corded car vacuum makes light work of most dirt. The LED light helps you spot dust and debris in dark corners.
- Comes with three attachments
- Carry case included
- 16.5-foot cord
Surprisingly high-powered considering the low cost, this car vacuum comes with three spare filter covers that are washable to keep suction strong.
- Crevice tool and hose included
- Bright LED light
- Long power cord
The brush tool, crevice tool, and hose help you get into all those awkward spots. It has decent suction and runs fairly quietly.
- Cord measures 16.4 feet
- Can be used wet or dry
- HEPA filter
With an extra-long cord, you can reach every bit of your car. It plugs into a 12V lighter port, so you can use it in most vehicles.
- Handy brush, hose, and crevice attachments
- Low noise
- Carry case included
A similar choice to our top corded vacuum, but with a few differences, such as an alternative handle style and slightly less wattage.
- Crevice tool and brush attachment
- Carry case
- 16-foot cord
Cordless Car Vacuums
With powerful suction and a 25 to 30 minute run time, this is a cordless car vacuum to contend with, particularly considering its affordable price.
- Charges in 3 to 5 hours
- HEPA filter
- Brush, hose, and crevice attachments
Extremely similar to our top pick, but this model has a pet hair attachment which makes it ideal for anyone who regularly drives around with their dogs in the car.
- Large 0.7-liter dirt cup
- Triple filtration system
- 17 minute run time
A powerful handheld vacuum with an extendable crevice nozzle and flip-up brush built-in for easy access.
- Cyclonic action
- 4 hour charge time
- Run time around 15 minutes
While not specifically designed for cars, you can certainly use this cordless handheld vacuum to clean your vehicle. The pivoting nozzle makes it easy to reach dirt at all angles.
- Powerful suction
- Three-stage filter
- Includes crevice tool and brush
This affordable handheld vacuum runs for roughly 20 minutes cordless, but you can also use it corded if it runs out of charge.
- Short 2.5 hour charge time
- Impressive suction
- Comes with carry case
With a 30 minute run time, you’ll have plenty of time to vacuum your whole car top to tail, plus it takes just 3 hours to charge fully for when you need it next.
- Crevice tool, hose, and brush attachment included
- Washable stainless steel filter
- LED light seeks out dirt
Wet-Dry Car Vacuums
This corded wet-dry car vacuum is a versatile model with a crevice tool, hose, and brush attachment included to help you tackle whatever comes.
- 15-foot cord
- Easy-wash filter
- Storage bag
A range of attachments help you get the most out of this wet-dry car vacuum, including a flexible hose and a crevice tool.
- Corded model
- Strong suction
- Comes with carry case
Although incorrectly listed as cordless in some places, this is definitely a corded model with an extra-long 16.4-foot cable that plugs into a 12V lighter socket.
- Includes a range of attachments
- Comes with storage bag
- Can suck up liquid spills up to 100 mls
Thanks to its powerful cyclonic technology, this is a wet-dry car vacuum that should be on your radar. It has a decent run time of 25 to 30 minutes.
- Weighs roughly 2 pounds
- Runs quietly
- Crevice tool included
It has a few quirks, but if you follow the directions, you’ll get extremely impressive suction power from this corded wet-dry car vac.
- Wide range of nozzles
- Weighs less than 1.5 pounds
- 15-foot cord length
Your car will be left looking like new thanks to the strong suction offered by this car vacuum. It’s equally good for both wet and dry use.
- Dual filter
- Low noise
A powerful cordless wet-dry car vacuum with an array of useful nozzles to clean up all kinds of muck from your vehicle.
- 30 minute run time
- LED light to spot dirt
- 3 to 4 hour charge time
While this inexpensive model might not be the most powerful on the market, it’s great if you need a budget wet-dry model for light cleaning duties.
- 0.6-liter dirt cup
- 16.4-foot cord
- HEPA filter