Best Car Vacuum Cleaner of 2018 & Buying Guide
If you’re like most of us, you like to keep your car at least somewhat clean. Doing so can be quite the process, and there comes a point when sweeping off debris doesn’t work anymore. In this situation, it’s time for you to whip out the car vacuum cleaner.
But what if you don’t have one? Then it’s time to buy one. This isn’t always the easiest process, though. Buying a car vacuum isn’t a major thing that people are taught how to do, and it’s easy to mess it up and buy a bad vacuum. Fortunately, we’re here to save the day and let you know how to make an informed decision when you buy your next car vacuum cleaner.
What makes a car vacuum cleaner good?
Picture this. Your car seat is very dirty. Aggressive hand-swiping can’t get rid of all the debris. In a bout of frustration, you grab your house vacuum and plug it into the closest outlet to your car. Angrily dragging the vacuum toward your car, you find out at the last few inches that the cord is too short.
Not an ideal situation, right? For this reason, cordless vacuums are the best for cleaning cars. It’s certainly possible to clean your car with a corded vacuum, particularly with the use of an extension cord. Possible doesn’t mean ideal, though, and using a corded vacuum to clean your car can be a real pain.
Cordless vacuums carry a few inherent benefits that corded ones don’t.
- The lack of a cord makes them much easier to transport and much easier to use. There’s no risk of tripping or getting tangled in a power cord if you don’t have one!
- Cordless vacuums are way smaller which makes them easier to store and less difficult to use
- Cordless vacuums run on batteries which need to be replaced if the vacuum is low-quality. Good cordless vacuums will come with rechargeable batteries
That’s what any cordless vacuum is going to provide for you. The fun part is choosing the qualities and features that aren’t inherent to each cordless vacuum.
Naturally, big, bulky cordless vacuum cleaners will be heavy. A heavy portable cleaner can lead to some serious stress. Since you’re going to be moving and bending at weird angles, you’re not going to want a piece of equipment that’s super heavy, or you could end up pulling joints or muscles.
However, bigger vacuums usually mean more sucking power. If you have something like fur car seat covers, or dirt that’s really deeply ingrained in the material your car seats and floor is made of, you might need a bigger one.
Obviously, you’re going to want a machine with a better battery life. However, buying a machine with good battery life typically costs more than the alternative. If budget is a concern, you may have to make due with a vacuum that you’ll have to charge up once or (god forbid) twice before the job is finished.
This will be greatly affected by both the size and battery life of your unit.
If you’re going to be using the vacuum in other areas besides your car, you might want to consider getting a unit with a (long) cord. Bigger units naturally have more suction power, and using a handheld vacuum to clean an entire floor is going to take you way too long.
An important thing to consider is how much stuff your vacuum can hold (or how much volume of debris is in your vehicle.) Often, handheld units aren’t capable of holding a whole lot of debris due to their small size. Some have bigger dust bins than others, but it’s not necessary to get one with a big bin. You can just bring a trash can with you to your car and empty a smaller debris bin as needed.
- It’s also important to note how easy it is to empty the bin. If you’re buying a unit that needs to be changed every half hour since you’re vacuuming a high volume of stuff, but it takes half an hour to change, you’ll want to reconsider.
- Some units can be emptied at the push of a button, others at the flick of a switch. Some need to be manually unscrewed, emptied, and replaced. Some have bags that can be disposed of – these will require you buy replacement bags, and aren’t good for people on a continuous budget.
Since you’re cleaning a vehicle, you’re going to want a vacuum with a bunch of different attachments. You’ll be going into deep crevasses, small corners, on the roof (depending on its material) and who knows where else.
- Some vacuums just come with the initial hose, or one or two attachments. These aren’t ideal for cleaning cars.
- Some vacuums allow you to purchase more attachments. This way you can figure out what you need and don’t need before shelling out the cash.
- Upholstery brushes, crevasse attachments and extension wands are three of the most recommended attachments for car vacuums.
Wet or dry vacuums?
Dry vacuums are made with the intention of cleaning up dirt, debris, and dust. They’re simple to use and very common. Wet vacuums are used to clean up stains, and can be very useful in cars. Spilled drinks, baby upchuck, and who knows what else can leave their mark on a car seat. We all know how unsightly these stains look, and for this reason, it’s often recommended to get a wet vacuum for your car.
The size and type of vehicle
This is another important consideration.
If you have a bigger vehicle, or you drive a car that frequently has children in it spilling food and drinks everywhere, you’re probably going to want a vacuum that can handle a lot of volumes. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting a huge vacuum – just make sure that the dustbin can hold the amount you need it to.
Also consider the material used in your car. If you have regular upholstery or typical ‘car leather,’ you can get by with a regular portable vacuum. If you have a car with leather seats, you’ll probably want to get one with special brushes.
So what are the best car vacuums?
Again, it depends on exactly what kind of vehicle you have, the volume of dirt and debris that you’re going to be sucking up, and your practical environment. If your car’s always parked in your garage and you’re only ever going to be vacuuming it there, then maybe you’ll be able to cope with a corded vacuum. Others may not.
Still, we’ve included what we believe to be the best car vacuums here. Most of them are cordless, but each has different features. You’ll surely find one to suit you.
1. Eureka EasyClean Corded Hand-Held Vacuum
This vacuum is a good reminder as to how much quality you can pack into an affordable product. It’s under fifty bucks, but you get a lot more than you do with many other cheap handheld vacuums.
It’s got great suction power, but that’s not the selling feature. There’s an extendable hose that you can use to reach all around the car seats, under the seats, up to the ceiling – you name it. You can even reach into the trunk from the back seat.
This vacuum has a separate motor for both the brush and the suction. There’s no bag for this unit – it comes with an easily emptied dust cup that holds a fair amount. You’ll probably be able to avoid emptying it in the time it takes for you to clean your entire car.
One of the reasons this vacuum is so cheap is because it is corded. If your car is far away from your house and you don’t have a garage, you’ll need an extension cord. If you don’t have one already, this could offset the price.
Regardless, this is a simple, strong and effective cleaning tool for your car.
- Very light
- Has a good sized dust bin which you can probably avoid changing too often
- Separate motor for the brush and the suction
- Good, long, flexible hose for cleaning tricky areas
2. BLACK + DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Hand Vac
When it comes to cordless vacuums, Black + Decker are the brand to go to when it comes to affordability. This is one of their best selling models, and it’s not without good reason.
The unit uses a 16V lithium battery which can be easily charged. The battery holds about 20 minutes of charge when you’re doing a full-power clean, which should be enough time to clean a vehicle unless it’s really dirty. The suction you’ll get at this battery rating is 15.2 air watts – pretty impressive for a hand vac.
Unfortunately the battery takes four hours to charge. If your car takes more than twenty minutes to clean, you’re going to want to get a cordless vacuum. Fortunately, you’ll save time in other ways:
- The filters for this unit are all easily hand washed.
- You’ll also be able to clean quicker and more effectively with strong cyclonic action
- Makes cleaning a breeze with cyclonic technology
- Powerful motor and suction
- Completely cordless with a rechargeable battery
- Backed by a great brand name
- 2 airwatts of suction
- Easily washed filter parts
- Only 20 minutes of battery life
- 4 hour charging time
3. Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Bagless Handheld Vacuum SD20005RED
This is another corded vacuum for those with bigger vehicles, or without access to nearby power outlets. This is also the cheapest unit on the list here, so it’s great for folks trying to save a buck.
It’s got a sixteen foot cord, so you’re almost guaranteed to need an extension cord. However the unit makes up for it by being under four pounds. You’ll be able to use it for extended periods without feeling sore.
It’s got a 7 amp motor for good suction, and comes with a 3 year warranty. Chances are you won’t’ need to use that warranty though. There’s not a lot in this thing that’s going to break.
- Cheap as heck
- 7 amp motor
- Good for big vehicles
- Cord is very short requiring more cord
4. Black+Decker BDH2000PL MAX Lithium Pivot Vacuum, 20-volt
This is the number one car vacuum on a lot of lists. It’s great not just for cars, but for the upholstery in your house, and other furniture as well. The lithium battery charges quickly but doesn’t hold nearly as much of a charge as the company’s product page says that it does.
It comes with a brush and crevice tool like many of the others on this list.
It’s designed in a unique way that allows you to wash it in the sink. Other models that boast convenience by having washable filters don’t have anything on this model! It’s also functional and compact, allowing you to hit the weird angles in your car that other vacuums couldn’t.
Speaking of filters, there’s a three-stage filtration system that ensures the air you’re breathing while cleaning stays fresh. It’s got a pivoting nozzle to help you reach difficult areas.
- Sleek attractive design
- Ridiculously easy to clean
- Very powerful motor
- Three stage filtration
- Pivoting nozzle for easy access to hard to reach places
- Battery life is terrible
Which one’s the best?
Despite the bad battery life, the Black + Decker BDH 2000PL takes the cake here. It’s sheer vacuuming power and convenience make it a winner, even if the battery needs a little nursing. It’s worth it to buy an extra battery and keep that one charged so you can use this vacuum for extended periods.
The fact that you can wash it just by cleaning it with water makes it extremely convenient. It’s also got a great filtration system to make sure you don’t breathe gross, dust-blasted air like many vacuums cause you to do.