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Best Car Vacuums

If you detail your own vehicle, a dedicated car vacuum with purpose-built attachments is a necessity.
Written and Tested By:
Will Moore
Written and Tested By: Will Moore Senior Writer – Motor1 Review Team

Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339).

Last Updated 01/04/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • We think the DeWalt DXV08S, Milwaukee 0880-20, Fanttik V10 Apex, Vacmaster Beast, Fanttik V7, and ThisWorx 12V are among the best car vacuums for detailing.
  • A serviceable car vacuum for small spills can be had for around $50, but plan to spend closer to $100 for something with enough suction power for full detailing.
  • If you plan to clean out every nook and cranny in your vehicle, be sure to choose a car vacuum capable of wet car vacuuming and with a large tank capacity.
Best Car Vacuum
DeWalt DXV08S

A high-power wet/dry vacuum suitable for any job.

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Best Cordless Car Vacuum
Milwaukee 0880-20

A battery-powered vacuum with superb design.

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Best Handheld Car Vacuum
Fanttik V10 Apex

A handheld vacuum with suction power to rival a plug-in shop vac.

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Most Powerful Car Vacuum
Vacmaster Beast

A large vacuum with excellent suction power.

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Best Portable Car Vacuum
Fanttik V7

A compact car vacuum to clean the hard-to-reach spots.

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While you could use a typical household vacuum to remove the grit from your car’s interior, that isn’t always practical. The best car vacuums are easy to handle in tight spaces and able to remove the mud, crumbs, and pet hair that can accumulate on your floor mats and upholstery.


Car Vacuum Reviews

Car Vacuums

After extensive in-person testing, we recommend several car vacuums of different sizes and power levels – from heavy-duty plug-ins to handheld 12.0V vacuums. Each car vacuum has useful features and a few drawbacks, so the best car vacuum option for you will depend on your preferences and budget.

What Is The Best Car Vacuum?

Based on the suction power, maneuverability, ease of maintenance, and versatility, we think the top car vacuums of 2024 are the DeWalt DXV08S, Milwaukee 0880-20, Fanttik V10 Apex, Vacmaster Beast, Fanttik V7, and ThisWorx 12V.

Brand/ModelOverall RatingAwardCost

DeWalt DXV08S

4.5

Best Car Vacuum

$125

Milwaukee 0880-20

4.4

Best Cordless Car Vacuum

$145

Fanttik V10 Apex

4.3

Best Handheld Car Vacuum

$90

Vacmaster Beast

4.3

Most Powerful Car Vacuum

$220

Fanttik V7

4.0

Best for Small Messes

$55

ThisWorx 12V

3.6

Best Budget Car Vacuum

$25

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

Car Vacuum Ratings: Our Testing Process

To determine the best car vacuum cleaners, our review team first combed through the top products on Amazon. We selected car vacuums to test based on size, type, brand reputation, customer ratings, and prices. A team member tested each vacuum in a dirty vehicle, taking note of suction power, attachments, maneuverability, and any additional features. Each car vacuum was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Learn more about how we tested car vacuum cleaners here.


1. DeWalt DXV08S: Best Car Vacuum

DeWalt car vacuum
DeWalt DXV08S Best Car Vacuum
dewalt-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.
  • Cost: Around $125
  • Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 (approximately 270 reviews)
  • Weight: 15.0 pounds
  • Power: 120.0V
  • Tank capacity: 8.0 gallons
  • Accessories: Extension wand, crevice nozzle, utility nozzles (two), accessory bag
  • Power source: A/C outlet
  • Wet or dry: Both

The DeWalt DXV08S is not designed solely for car cleaning use, but to pick up any type of workshop spill. Because of its maneuverability (the DeWalt is big, but it has wheels), versatility, and suction power, this style of vacuum is popular for cleaning vehicles and is often used by professional detailers.

It should be noted that this car vacuum is too big to comfortably store in your vehicle and will need its own special place in a closet or workshop to lay its hose while off the job. You can see how the DeWalt DXV08S performed in each of our review categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Suction Power 4.5
Maneuverability 4.0
Ease of Maintenance 4.5
Versatility 5.0
Overall Rating 4.5

It should be noted that this car vacuum is too big to comfortably store in your vehicle and will need its own special place in a closet or workshop to lay its hose while off the job.

Below are the pros and cons of the DeWalt DXV08S:

Pros
  • Easy to use and maneuver
  • Lots of attachments
  • Powerful suction
Cons
  • Too big to store in the car

The DeWalt is easy to use and maneuver. It has several attachments to access every part of your vehicle and the suction power to remove tricky pet hair without concern of clogging the vacuum. There’s a large collection tank, meaning it can easily be used to detail your entire car several times before changing the bag.

Suction Power

Corded vacuums typically have the greatest suction strength, so this vacuum can easily pick up anything in your vehicle. You’ll even need to hold down the ends of your floor mats when vacuuming them.

Maneuverability

The DeWalt has wheels so it can easily move around your car. The hose is long enough to reach across the seats, and there are extension nozzles and wands that can help you reach floor mats and under the seats. Because the vacuum requires a power source, you will likely need an extension cord to use it in your car. The size of the vacuum prevents you from easily picking it up, though, with the long hose and nozzle, this isn’t necessary.

Ease of Maintenance

When you need to clean the DeWalt, the top pops off easily to reveal the filter inside. If you want to use the wet vacuum function, you’ll need to get a foam filter (sold separately) to cover the paper filter. You can buy such a filter for around $20. Debris collects in the can, but the DeWalt includes a bag that can be attached, which is easily removed and discarded when full. Overall, this vacuum is easy to maintain. It even comes with an accessories bag to help store the extra hoses and attachments.

Versatility

The DeWalt earns top marks for versatility. The crevice tool can help you get between the seats and the wide nozzle makes vacuuming the other parts of your car quick and effective. The vacuum was able to pick up glitter, chip crumbs, and pet hair with ease. The high suction power makes it an effective vacuum for any car spill, including wet spills. It can also be used as a blower, though this may not be especially useful for detailing.

Dewalt car vacuum being tested by writer, cleaning his car.

The most-praised feature is the DeWalt’s high suction power, especially for the cost. The product’s only negative review is a complaint that the vacuum is only 4.0 horsepower rather than 5.0. This seems relatively unimportant, as we found the suction power strong enough for car detailing.

2. Milwaukee 0880-20: Best Cordless Car Vacuum

Milwaukee car vacuum
Milwaukee 0880-20 Best Cordless Car Vacuum
milwaukee-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.
  • Cost: Around $145
  • Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 (approximately 800 reviews)
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs.
  • Power: 18.0V
  • Tank capacity: 2.0 gal.
  • Accessories: Crevice nozzle, wide nozzle
  • Power source: Rechargeable 18.0V lithium-ion battery (sold separately)
  • Wet or dry: Both

The Milwaukee 0880-20 is a battery-powered vacuum with decent suction strength. The excellent design makes this vacuum easy to store and maintain. However, if you don’t already use Milwaukee tools, the cost to purchase the required battery and charger nearly doubles the purchase price.

You can see how the Milwaukee 0880-20 performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Suction Power 4.0
Maneuverability 4.0
Ease of Maintenance 5.0
Versatility 4.5
Overall Rating 4.4

Below are the pros and cons of the Milwaukee 0880-20:

Pros
  • Vacuum and parts store as a small box
  • Good suction power
  • Easy to maneuver
Cons
  • Battery and charger is additional cost
  • Shorter hose

The Milwaukee was our team’s favorite vacuum to test. Storage for the hose and attachments is elegantly designed into the vacuum body. The entire kit is easily converted into a small box that takes up very little space. Latches on the top provide access to the hose and attachments, while the bottom latches provide access to the collection area for emptying and cleaning.

Without significantly increasing your budget, you’re unlikely to find a cordless handheld vacuum with better suction power. The Milwaukee is not as powerful as the DeWalt, Vacmaster, or other plug-in vacuums, but it is strong enough to remove embedded pet fur.

Suction Power

The Milwaukee packs enough suction for anything you’d need to clean from your car seats, including crumbs and pet fur. While it is not quite as powerful as plug-in models, it boasts top-tier suction for a cordless option.

Maneuverability

Because it is uncorded and portable, the Milwaukee is easy to maneuver anywhere in your car. It’s a bit larger than a 12.0-V vacuum, but not especially heavy. One drawback is that the hose is a little short. You’ll need to hold the box near whatever you’re vacuuming, which can become cumbersome.

Ease of Maintenance

Of all the vacuums on this list, the Milwaukee is the easiest vacuum to store and maintain. It features an easy-access bagless collection area, and every attachment perfectly fits into the small package. Storing the Milwaukee is simple, and the convenient size means you can easily keep it in your trunk. You will need to keep the battery charged to use the Milwaukee. The battery has around a 40-minute runtime, which is enough time to detail one car but could be inconvenient for those who require several continuous hours of suction.

Versatility

This vacuum can pick up most car debris and includes both a thin and wide nozzle. The portability is a big selling point for this vacuum, as it’s easy to use in the car for nearly any mess or spill. The Milwaukee features wet and dry functions and can even be used as a blower.

milwaukee-car-vacuum-test

The Milwaukee vacuum earns high marks from reviewers for portability, weight, and suction power. There are a few complaints. One customer says the vacuum is too noisy, and another is upset that it was not manufactured in the United States. However, none dare cast doubt on the Milwaukee’s raw suction strength.

3. Fanttik V10 Apex: Best Handheld Car Vacuum

Fanttik V10 Apex Best Handheld Car Vacuum
fanttik v10 apex vacuum cleaner
  • Cost: Around $90
  • Amazon review score: 4.4 out of 5.0 (approximately 80 ratings)
  • Weight: 3.8 lbs.
  • Power: 10.8V
  • Tank capacity: 17.0 ounces
  • Accessories: Soft carry case, stiff brush head, soft brush head
  • Power source: Lithium-ion battery
  • Wet or dry: Dry

The Fanttik V10 Apex is a handheld car vacuum with impressive suction power. In general Fanttik handheld vacuums are some of the best-designed that we’ve used. Common across their offerings are exceptional ease of maintenance, intuitive design, and excellent suction strength.

The downside of this handheld vacuum is that the small collection canister makes it unsuitable for large car messes.

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Suction Power 4.0
Maneuverability 4.5
Ease of Maintenance 4.5
Versatility 4.0
Overall Rating 4.3

Below are the pros and cons of the Fanttik V10 Apex:

Pros
  • Cordless and easy to maneuver
  • Includes soft brush head for leather upholstery
  • Soft case for attachments
Cons
  • Small suction nozzle
  • Smaller collection canister compared to a shop vac

The V10 Apex is our favorite handheld car vacuum. Relative to the cost, it offers impressive suction power. Not only that, it charges quickly, lasts long enough to clean an entire vehicle, and is easy to use and clean.

Suction Power

Few handheld vacuums that we’ve tested match Fanttik when it comes to suction strength, especially options under $100. The V10 model offers a noticeable step up in suction from Fanttik V7 and V8 models.

Maneuverability

The V10 Apex has exceptional reach in vehicles. The only spot it has trouble reaching is deep underneath the car seats. The rotating head and extendable nozzle help reach seat belt crevices, cup holders, and door storage areas, which many larger vacuums struggle to reach.

Ease of Maintenance

The brushless design makes the V10 easy to clean. All Fanttik vacuums feature a minimal design with only a few parts, making them easy to clean and maintain.

Versatility

This great car vacuum only includes a few attachments, but they are most of what you would need to clean a car. A stiff brush can help with crusted and stuck-on debris, while a soft brush is good for materials like leather seats.

The suction nozzle is small enough to get into cupholders, but this also means it isn’t ideal for cleaning car floors. You can get the job done, but it will take longer compared to a shop vac with a wider suction nozzle.

fanttik v10 apex cleaning a car

Most reviewers are impressed by the suction power offered by the V10 Apex, which surpasses most other handheld vacuum cleaners. Users are also impressed by the sleek, easy-to-clean design.

Complaints about the V10 have to do with the battery life. This vacuum has two power modes: low and high. On the low setting, the vacuum is powerful enough for most debris, but the high setting is required to get up embedded pet fur. On the high setting, however, the battery drains very quickly – in around 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Vacmaster Beast: Most Powerful Car Vacuum

Vacmaster car vacuum
Vacmaster Beast Most Powerful Car Vacuum
vacmaster-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.
  • Cost: Around $220
  • Amazon review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 (approximately 1,200 reviews)
  • Weight: 28.0 lbs.
  • Power: 120.0V
  • Tank capacity: 14.0 gal.
  • Accessories: Extension wands (two), brush squeegee, crevice nozzle, utility nozzle, floor brush tool, foam wet filter, tool storage bag
  • Power source: A/C outlet
  • Wet or dry: Both

The Vacmaster Beast is a large shop vac with superb suction strength, many accessories, and a huge stainless steel collection tank. This strong car vacuum is built for heavy use and big messes. It features both dry and wet vacuuming functionality and includes the necessary foam filter for wet vacuuming.

You can see how the Vacmaster Beast performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Suction Power 5.0
Maneuverability 3.0
Ease of Maintenance 4.0
Versatility 5.0
Overall Rating 4.3

Below are the pros and cons of the Vacmaster Beast:

Pros
  • Powerful suction
  • Stainless steel collection tank
  • Extra-long power cord
Cons
  • Difficult to store
  • Bag doesn’t fit all the attachments

The Vacmaster Beast was the most powerful vacuum we tested. The suction power is second to none, and the vacuum comes with all the bells and whistles. The extra-long power cord made the vacuum easy to maneuver around the car, and it was the best for picking up embedded dog hair.

The size of the vacuum makes it a little unwieldy, and it may not be the best choice if you’re looking for something that is easy to store. The included accessories bag doesn’t fit all the attachments. If you only need a basic car vacuum for small messes, look for something smaller and cheaper.

While the Vacmaster Beast outperformed the DeWalt DXV08S when it came to suction power, the attachments and construction weren’t quite as good as the DeWalt, which is why we named the DeWalt DXV08S the Best Car Vacuum.

Suction Power

The suction power of the Vacmaster Beast is beyond reproach. In addition to testing each vacuum by picking up pet fur, glitter, and crumbs, our tester applied the hose of each vacuum to his face to feel the incredible power on his own skin. The Vacmaster Beast was the only high-power vacuum to make our tester question the wisdom of this choice.

Maneuverability

The size of the Vacmaster Beast makes it harder to maneuver than a handheld car vacuum. However, few handheld vacuums can match its tank size or suction power. The vacuum is mounted on wheels and has a long power cord. You’ll likely still need an extension cord if you’re using this to clean out your car.

Ease of Maintenance

The Vacmaster Beast requires some assembly out of the box. You’ll need to attach the hose, hose brackets, and wheels. The included assembly instructions are not very good, but the vacuum only took us a couple of minutes to assemble. This short assembly time is a greater hassle than other vacuums (which require no assembly), but overall this is a minor drawback. Once constructed, the Vacmaster Beast is easy to clean by removing the top.

The vacuum bags don’t fit as securely as they could, which can result in some debris in the canister. However, even this debris is cleaned out easily enough. One drawback is that the power cord is built into the top of the vacuum, which makes it more cumbersome to remove when cleaning.

Versatility

The Vacmaster Beast is one of the more versatile vacuums on this list. The only drawback to the Beast’s versatility is its size. It can’t be stored in your trunk for use on the go, but once you get your car to your garage, the Beast can clean up any mess. It has high suction power and both wet and dry vacuum capabilities.

Vacmaster being tested, posed outside drivers side door.

Most reviews speak highly of the Vacmaster Beast because of its second-to-none suction strength. One negative reviewer mentions receiving a broken vacuum, but this is uncommon. There are a few comments about hose length and quality, though, for most vehicles, the hose length is more than enough.

5. Fanttik V7: Best For Small Messes

Fanttik V7 Best For Small Messes
  • Cost: Around $55
  • Amazon review score: 4.7 out of 5.0 (approximately 100 reviews)
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs.
  • Power: 7.4V
  • Tank capacity: 3.0 oz.
  • Accessories: Crevice nozzle, push-in brush, cleaning brush, USB-C charging cable, storage bag
  • Power source: Battery
  • Wet or dry: Dry

The Fanttik V7 Vacuum is the most compact car vacuum that we tested. Despite its battery-powered operation and small size, it offers decent suction strength. Since the V7 has a small chamber, this hand vacuum isn’t suitable for cleaning out your entire car, but is perfect for getting dirt and crumbs out of your cupholders, cigarette lighter, crevices, and around the dashboard.

You can see how the Fanttik V7 performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Suction Power 3.5
Maneuverability 5.0
Ease of Maintenance 4.5
Versatility 3.0
Overall Rating 4.0

Below are the pros and cons of the Fanttik V7:

Pros
  • Decent suction
  • Small and maneuverable
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • Small chamber
  • Not for deep cleaning

While the small size makes this dustbuster easy to maneuver, we found that it lacked the suction power and versatility to pick up items that other vacuum cleaners excelled at. We concluded that this vacuum would be best suited for small messes and crumbs that get stuck in between seats and cup holders.

Suction Power

The suction power of this vacuum lacked when picking up larger trash particles, like paper or dirt. The suction was most effective when used on cloth seats with the push-in brush attachment. This vacuum would be best for light cleaning or detail work, but we don’t recommend it for any type of deep cleaning.

Maneuverability

Due to the small size, this vacuum was fairly easy to maneuver. The small size made vacuuming many of the hard-to-reach areas of our vehicle easier, including between car seats, inside cup holders, and floor mat crevices. Where we struggled to pick up debris was toward the back of the dashboard. The angle of the crevice nozzle made it harder to vacuum smoother and flatter surfaces that had little maneuvering space.

Ease of Maintenance

After vacuuming, we found cleaning out the vacuum cleaner to be incredibly easy and quick. The simple lock and unlock system to open the tank and remove the filter was an overall smooth process. Since this vacuum is best for picking up crumbs and small debris, it was simple enough to dump out the debris in the tank and wipe out the inside to keep the vacuum cleaner in top condition.

Versatility

The push-in brush proved to be the most effective attachment for picking up crumbs off cloth material, while the regular crevice nozzle was best for picking up debris off floor mats and cup holders. You can also adjust the suction power of this vacuum, making it easier to pick up larger messes in a quick amount of time.

While this vacuum has only a handful of reviews, buyers are overall pleased with their purchase of the Fanttik V7. Many reviews highlight the battery power, claiming it stays charged for a good amount of time. The adjustable suction power was also a highlight for many, making it easy to clean debris from small spaces that are otherwise out of reach.

6. ThisWorx 12V: Budget Car Vacuum Cleaner

ThisWorx car vacuum
ThisWorx 12V Budget Car Vacuum Cleaner
this-worx-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.
  • Cost: Around $25
  • Amazon review score: 4.0 out of 5.0 (approximately 295,000 reviews)
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs.
  • Power: 12.0V
  • Tank capacity: 8.0 oz.
  • Accessories: Flexible extension hose, crevice nozzle, replacement HEPA filter, floor brush attachment, filter dusting brush, carrying bag
  • Power source: Car auxiliary power outlet
  • Wet or dry: Dry

The ThisWorx 12V car vacuum is an inexpensive and easy-to-maintain car vacuum. While it lacks the suction power of other vacuums, it’s easy to use and effective for daily cleaning. You won’t want this vacuum if you plan to deep clean your entire vehicle, but it’s a good option to keep handy for quick jobs. There is no need to recharge batteries and it can be easily stored in your trunk, back seat, or glove box.

You can see how the ThisWorx 12V performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Suction Power 3.0
Maneuverability 4.0
Ease of Maintenance 4.5
Versatility 3.0
Overall Rating 3.6

Below are the pros and cons of the ThisWorx 12V:

Pros
  • Small enough to keep in your car
  • Lightweight with a flexible hose
  • Budget-friendly
Cons
  • Less suction than other top picks
  • Short power cord

The ThisWorx 12V lacks the suction power of the other best car vacuums that we tested, but it is strong enough for many jobs. We recommend this vacuum if you need something small to keep in your car for minor spills. It easily picks up minor debris like glitter or sand.

Suction Power

Suction power is where the ThisWorx 12V vacuum performs the weakest. Again, it is strong enough to pick up glitter and crumbs but is not suitable for embedded pet hair. One Amazon reviewer said that they used it to vacuum up pet fur, but it performed that task inadequately during our tests. For this reason, we don’t recommend the ThisWorx 12V for deep cleaning, though it is a handy tool to have in your car for a quick clean.

Maneuverability

The portable vacuum cleaner’s light weight makes it very easy to use around your car. The flexible hose attachment can extend your reach but is not very useful because of the vacuum’s low suction power. While the vacuum is small, it does need to plug into your car’s auxiliary outlet. The power cord is long enough to reach the back seat with compact and sedan cars but may be a bit short if you have a larger vehicle like a minivan.

Ease of Maintenance

This was one of the easiest filtration systems to maintain. The top snaps off for emptying, and the filter can be cleaned with the provided brush. The small size makes it easy to store in your trunk or back seat. The included carrying case can hold the vacuum but does not easily fit all of the included accessories. The extendable hose attachment isn’t especially useful, so you could leave it behind and fit everything else in the carrying bag.

Versatility

What makes the ThisWorx 12V versatile is the ability to store it in your car and the fact that it doesn’t require a battery. You can leave this vacuum in your glove box and suck up minor messes as soon as they happen. The weak suction power means this vacuum shouldn’t be your only solution for detailing your car. To get a deep clean or remove embedded pet hair you’ll need something stronger. This vacuum is not suitable for wet spills.

this workx car vacuum being tested, cleaning frontal storage compartment in car.

Reviewers happy with the ThisWorx 12V vacuum mention the ease of use and low price point. Complaints mention the short power cord and weak suction power.


Car Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

Besides the DeWalt, there are many quality options that may be more suitable depending on what you’re looking for. Make sure to consider power, tank capacity, power source, and whether or not the car vacuum can collect wet or dry debris.

Compare Car Vacuums

Brand/ModelPowerTank CapacityPower SourceWet or Dry

DeWalt DXV08S

120.0V

8.0 gal.

A/C outlet

Both

Milwaukee 0880-20

18.0V

2.0 gal.

Rechargeable battery

Both

Fanttik V10 Apex

14.8V

17.0 gal.

Battery

Dry

Vacmaster Beast

120.0V

14.0 gal.

A/C outlet

Both

Fanttik V7

7.4V

3.0 oz.

Battery

Dry

ThisWorx 12V

12.0V

8.0 oz.

Car Outlet

Dry

The best car vacuum for you depends on your needs. Do you want to deep clean your car like a professional detailer? Do you need something to handle wet spills? Are you looking for a portable car vacuum to store in your vehicle for quick cleanups as they’re needed? Do you have pets and regularly clean out pet fur, or do you only need to pick up a few crumbs here and there?

When selecting a vacuum cleaner for a car, there are some things to consider that are different from what is best for a household vacuum. You won’t need the largest canister vacuum on the market but will need smaller nozzles, bristles, and maneuverability for a smooth car cleaning session.

When shopping for a car vacuum, you’ll want to consider:

  • Suction power
  • Price
  • Versatility
  • Power Source
  • Size

Car Vacuum Suction Power

Suction power is one of the most significant qualities people care about when it comes to vacuums. You’ll need a vacuum with strong suction power if you’re dealing with dog hair, but most crumbs can be picked up by a weak vacuum. Also, consider your car’s upholstery. Cloth seats and floor mats can more easily trap debris than leather or pleather upholstery. You’ll want a more powerful vacuum if your vehicle has a cloth interior.

Car Vacuum Cleaner Price

The cost of a car vacuum can range from $30 to $200 and higher. Low-cost vacuums may not provide the same suction power or tank capacity as pricier models. There is no reason to spring for a $100 car vacuum if you only need to pick up French fry crumbs every now and then.

Car Vacuum Versatility

Do you need a vacuum with a blower function? Do you need something that can handle wet spills? Consider how you’ll use a car vacuum when making your decision. Also, pay attention to which attachments are included with your vacuum. Extra hoses and extendable nozzles can help you reach places under the seat without too much bending.

Power Source

Would you rather have a vacuum that plugs into an outlet, uses a battery, or plugs into your car’s auxiliary power source? A vacuum that plugs into an outlet is likely to have greater suction than any other type. A battery-powered vacuum will likely have very poor suction unless you spring for a model like the Milwaukee 0880-20, which can cost upwards of $100.

A vacuum that plugs into your car’s auxiliary power outlet will not have very powerful suction but is likely to be inexpensive and easily stored.

Portable Car Vacuums

Do you need a little vacuum or a large vacuum? If you clean multiple cars and want to do a full detailing job quickly, you’ll need a larger vacuum. However, a large car vacuum may not fit in your vehicle for on-the-go cleaning.

How Often Should You Vacuum Your Car?

Regularly vacuuming your vehicle is important to keep it looking and smelling its best. But this isn’t the only reason to own a car vacuum. Removing salt and debris from your carpets is an essential part of vehicle maintenance.

When we spoke with Robert Harper, Director of Product Development and Tech Support at detailing company Ziebart International, he shared:

“The stuff that gets dropped off your feet and the stuff that falls on the floor while you’re eating, it needs to be removed as quickly as possible, especially winter salt. Every time the floor gets wet, the salt that came off your feet drops down into the fibers of the carpet, and then below. So you’re just allowing all this salt and grime and everything to fall to the matting and subsequently to the steel floor of the car – that causes rust. So getting that vacuumed out – however often you wash your car at the very least, once a week, once every couple weeks – is very important to the longevity of the car.”

Exactly how often you should vacuum your car is partially dependent on your habits and driving conditions. For instance, if you live in an icy area and often deal with road salt, you may need to vacuum more frequently than someone who lives in a warm climate. A daily driver will need to be vacuumed more often than a weekend pleasure vehicle.


Best Car Vacuum: Bottom Line

In this article, along with sharing helpful purchasing tips for those interested in purchasing a car vacuum, we reviewed the top six car vacuums in 2024:

  1. Best Car Vacuum: DeWalt DXV08S
  2. Best Cordless Car Vacuum: Milwaukee 0880-20
  3. Best Handheld Vacuum for Cars: Fanttik V10 Apex
  4. Most Powerful Car Vacuum: Vacmaster Beast
  5. Best for Small Messes: Fanttik V7 Vacuum
  6. Best Value Car Vacuum Cleaner: ThisWorx 12V

Car Vacuums: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about car vacuums:

Is a car vacuum worth it?

Depending on how much you regularly clean your vehicle, a car vacuum might provide some value. There are many psychological benefits to having a clean car. A small stick vacuum can be efficient for general grime and debris, but there are more serious vacuums for professional car details.

What is the best portable car vacuum cleaner?

Efficient and nimble, the best handheld vacuum cleaner we tested is the Fanttik V9 Mate. For a battery-powered vacuum, it offers excellent suction strength. It is easy to clean and completely cordless.

What is the most powerful car vacuum?

The most powerful car vacuum we reviewed is the Vacmaster Beast. It demonstrated high suction power strong enough for the deepest crumbs.

What is the best cordless vacuum for cleaning cars?

Our favorite cordless car vacuums are the Milwaukee 0880-20 and the Fanttik V9 Mate. Both vacuums are easy to store, have a decent battery life, and boast enough suction power to clean a vehicle. The Fanttik V9 is not quite as powerful as the Milwaukee 0880-20, but it is considerably smaller.

How do I choose a car vacuum?

Before choosing the best car vacuum for your needs, you’ll need to decide what you want your vacuum to do. If you need an automotive vacuum for regular detailing and pet fur, you’ll want to purchase a corded model with high suction power, such as the DeWalt DXV08S. If you’re looking for a vacuum to store in your car and use for minor spills and messes, get a cheaper model that plugs into your vehicle’s auxiliary power source, like the ThisWorx 12V.

Can I use a regular vacuum for my car?

You can use a regular vacuum for your car, but most household vacuums are not designed for easy use inside a car. These vacuums often stand upright and do not have hose or nozzle attachments. To clean your vehicle, you need a car vac with a thin nozzle to get into the cracks between your seats. A long hose also allows you to conveniently vacuum inside the smaller space of your car.

Can you vacuum a car with a shop vac?

Yes, a shop vac-style vacuum is an excellent choice for vacuuming a car and is what many car detailers use. These vacuums are powerful and maneuverable, and the included attachments are often useful for getting into the nooks of seats and under the floor mats.

How can I vacuum my car without a vacuum?

While it may not offer as deep a clean as an auto vacuum or cordless stick-style vacuum, brushes can help collect hair and other debris. You can also shake out your removable car carpets in between car washes.


Full Car Vacuum Testing Methodology

Our product testing team then ordered the car vacuums that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE, taking note of each car vacuum’s suction power, maneuverability, ease of maintenance, and versatility. Each car vacuum was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Suction Power

Suction strength is among a vacuum’s most important traits. While just a little suction is needed to pick up dirt and crumbs, only a high-powered vacuum can remove deeply embedded animal fur. We tested each vacuum’s ability to remove chip crumbs, glitter, and dog hair from a cloth floor mat.

Vacuums that could remove the aforementioned debris and had the highest suction power scored best in this category.

Maneuverability

A good car vacuum should be easy to maneuver through your vehicle so you can reach every nook and cranny. We put each vacuum to a practical test by cleaning a sedan front to back.

Vacuums scored well in this category if they were easy to move around the car, were lightweight, and/or featured long flexible hoses for interior detailing.

Ease of Maintenance

Every vacuum must be cleaned and emptied eventually. We serviced each vacuum after use and rated it based on how easy it was to disassemble and clean. Maintenance also includes storage, so vacuums that store well (including their accessories) scored highest in this category.

Versatility

Each vacuum was used to pick up three types of common car debris. Vacuums were also used in different parts of a car, including rubber floor mats, fabric floor mats, seats, and the center console. A versatile vacuum can be used on a variety of surfaces to pick up all sorts of matter. Vacuums that included useful attachments and were able to vacuum both wet and dry materials scored highest in this category.

What Is A Good Suction Power For Car Vacuum Cleaners?

To help select the best car vacuum, we tested each product with consideration for how most people practically use car vacuums. We unboxed and assembled each vacuum to see how easy it was to put together and get working.

Pet hair is perhaps one of the most annoyingly difficult things to vacuum out of a car, as small fibers can easily get stuck in floor mats. We tested each vacuum’s ability to pick up pet fur as well as crushed chips and glitter.

DeWalt DXV08S

dewalt mat test gif

Milwaukee 0880-20

milwaukee mat test gif

Vacmaster Beast

vacmaster mat test gif

ThisWorx 12V

this-worx mat test gif

We also used each vacuum inside a car to see how well it stood up to practical use. This helped determine our maneuverability and versatility scores. We made sure to test all included nozzles and accessories.

Finally, we emptied and cleaned each vacuum after use to learn how easy it was to maintain and store.

How We Score Car Vacuums

Every car vacuum we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating means a car vacuum is among the best in a category. It picks up everything that isn’t attached to the floor, can be serviced in under five minutes, easily reaches any part of a vehicle, or can be used for any type of spill (dry and wet).
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means a car vacuum performs better than average in a category. It can pick up embedded pet fur, is easy to clean, can reach every part of the vehicle but with some difficulty, or can be used for wet and dry spills, though may not feature every type of nozzle.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for a car vacuum, based on our testing experience. It can pick up most crumbs and debris, requires regular but simple servicing, reaches most parts of a vehicle, or features more than one attachment.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the car vacuum performs poorer than average. It struggles to pick up heavy debris, is difficult to maintain, can’t get to every crevice of your vehicle, and doesn’t feature more than one attachment.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the car vacuum performs well below expectations in a category. It offers no suction power, cannot be cleaned, or is permanently built into the ground.

Why Trust Motor1.com

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page.

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.