Best Overall Car Vacuum
DeWalt DXV08S

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

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Best Cordless Vacuum
Milwaukee 0880-20

A battery-powered vacuum with superb design.

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Best Suction Power
Vacmaster Beast

A large vacuum with excellent suction power.

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Best Handheld Vacuum
ThisWorx 12V

A small hand vac suitable for minor spills.

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Best Budget Vacuum
Black+Decker Flex

A 12-volt hand vacuum that is easy to store.

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While you could use a house 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 dog hair that accumulate on your floor mats and upholstery.

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

5 Best Car Vacuums

Best Car Vacuums posed on studio table.

  1. Best Overall Car Vacuum: DeWalt DXV08S
  2. Best Cordless Vacuum: Milwaukee 0880-20
  3. Best Suction Power: Vacmaster Beast
  4. Best Handheld Vacuum: ThisWorx 12V
  5. Best Budget Vacuum: Black+Decker Flex

#1 Best Overall Car Vacuum: DeWalt DXV08S

dewalt-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.

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Pros High suction power Large capacity Multiple attachments Wet and dry vacuuming
Cons Corded Expensive

The DeWalt DXV08S is not designed solely for car 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.

Buy this vacuum if you need a car cleaning machine that you won’t need to replace any time soon. For the price, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the DeWalt DXV08S in suction power, versatility, and quality. It’s capable of handling nearly any car mess you could encounter, including liquids, making it one of the best car vacuums on the market.

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

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $160
  • Weight: 15.0 pounds
  • Power: 120.0V
  • Tank capacity: 8.0 gallons
  • Accessories: Extension wand, crevice nozzle, utility nozzles (2), accessory bag
  • Power source: A/C outlet
  • Wet or dry: Both

Our Experience

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

The DeWalt is easy to use and maneuver. It has a number of attachments to access every part of your vehicle and the suction power to remove tricky pet hair. There’s a large collection tank, meaning it can easily be used to detail your entire car several times before changing the bag.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Suction Power4.5
Maneuverability4
Ease of Maintenance4.5
Versatility5

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.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 170 ratings

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 four horsepower rather than five. This seems relatively unimportant, as we found the suction power to be strong enough for car detailing.

#2 Best Cordless Vacuum: Milwaukee 0880-20

milwaukee-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.

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Pros Lightweight Cordless Highly portable and compact Strong suction power
Cons Expensive Short hose Doesn't include battery

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.

Buy this vacuum if you need a portable vacuum that is also strong enough to pick up pet fur. This is a good pick, especially for those who already own Milwaukee tools since the battery is compatible with several different Milwaukee products.

Don’t buy this vacuum if you need something that can be used for an extended length of time. While the battery means increased maneuverability, it also limits the amount of time the vacuum can be used before recharging.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $170 for the vacuum, $65 for the battery and charger
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Power: 18.0V
  • Tank capacity: 2.0 gallons
  • Accessories: Crevice nozzle, wide nozzle
  • Power source: Rechargeable 18.0-volt lithium-ion battery (sold separately)
  • Wet or dry: Both

Our Experience

milwaukee-car-vacuum-test

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.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Suction Power4
Maneuverability4
Ease of Maintenance5
Versatility5

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-volt 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.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 400 ratings

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 Best Suction Power: Vacmaster Beast

vacmaster-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.

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Pros High suction power Large capacity Several attachments
Cons Corded Expensive Relatively large and heavy

The Vacmaster Beast is a large shop vac with superb suction strength, many accessories, and a huge stainless steel collection tank. This type of 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.

Buy the Vacmaster Beast if you want a multi-purpose vacuum with the best suction power. This large vacuum comes with several attachments, which means it takes up a lot of storage space. However, the Beast can withstand heavy use and the large tank takes a long time to fill, meaning you won’t have to change the bag very often.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $180
  • Weight: 28.0 pounds
  • Power: 120.0V
  • Tank capacity: 14.0 gallons
  • Accessories: Extension wands (2), brush squeegee, crevice nozzle, utility nozzle, floor brush tool, foam wet filter, tool storage bag
  • Power source: A/C outlet
  • Wet or dry: Both

Our Experience

Vacmaster being tested, posed outside drivers side door.

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 are 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 Overall.

Overall Rating4.3 out of 5
Suction Power5
Maneuverability3
Ease of Maintenance4
Versatility5

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 with 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. However, you will likely need an extension cord if you are 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.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 1,800 ratings

Most reviews speak highly of the Vacmaster Beast because of its second-t0-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.

#4 Best Handheld Vacuum: ThisWorx 12V

this-worx-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.

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Pros Lightweight Small and compact Inexpensive Easy to clean Plugs into car outlet
Cons Low suction power Dry vacuuming only

The ThisWorx 12V car vacuum is a good low-cost option to keep in your vehicle for minor spills and crumbs. While the suction power does not match corded or more expensive models, this handheld vac plugs directly into your car’s auxiliary power outlet (cigarette lighter). There is no need to recharge batteries and it can be easily stored in your trunk, back seat, or glove box.

Buy this vacuum to keep in your car for messes as they happen. This vacuum isn’t good for deep cleaning, but we designated it as the best car vacuum for little messes.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $30
  • Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Power: 12.0V
  • Tank capacity: ~8.0 ounces
  • 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

Our Experience

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

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.

Overall Rating3.6 out of 5
Suction Power3
Maneuverability4
Ease of Maintenance4.5
Versatility3

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 vacuum’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.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4 out of 5 based on over 225,000 ratings

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.

#5 Best Budget Vacuum: Black + Decker Flex

black-decker-car-vacuum and accessories on studio table, frontal view.

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Pros Lightweight Inexpensive Compact design Plugs into car outlet
Cons Low suction power Dry vacuuming only

The Black + Decker Flex is our second choice for a handheld vacuum cleaner. It shares many of the same strengths and drawbacks as the ThisWorx 12V. While it has slightly stronger suction capabilities, it is a little more expensive and isn’t quite as well-designed for ease of maintenance and storage.

Buy the Black + Decker Flex if you need a vacuum to keep in your car for small messes. Compare the Flex with the ThisWorx 12V to decide which would be the best car vacuum for your needs. The Flex has a slightly stronger suction capacity and a different design that some may find more ergonomic than the ThisWorx 12V.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $65
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Power: 12.0V
  • Tank capacity: 19.0 ounces
  • Accessories: Crevice nozzle
  • Power source: Car auxiliary power outlet
  • Wet or dry: Dry

Our Experience

black decker car vacuum cleaning interior of car door.

Like the ThisWorx 12V, the Black + Decker Flex doesn’t have much suction power. But what it lacks in suction, this vacuum makes up for in portability and convenience. We found that it was able to pick up small crumbs and glitter, but not embedded pet hair. The small nozzle size and lack of larger attachments mean it isn’t the best choice for detailing your vehicle, but it is handy for small spills. There is no battery that requires charging, which is also a plus.

Overall Rating3.5 out of 5
Suction Power3.5
Maneuverability4
Ease of Maintenance3.5
Versatility3

Suction Power: This vacuum doesn’t have much suction power, though it is slightly stronger than the ThisWorx 12V. For a low-cost hand vacuum, the suction is strong enough. Again, you won’t be able to use this vacuum for large debris or deeply embedded crumbs or fur. For small spills, it gets the job done.

Maneuverability: You can easily get this vacuum to any part of your vehicle. The power cord is long enough to reach the back seat.

Ease of Maintenance: Emptying this vacuum is simple, though messier than the ThisWorx 12V. If you aren’t careful, some of the crumbs may be left in the long nozzle and can fall out when you turn the vacuum off.

Versatility: This vacuum is only suitable for smaller messes and cannot be used for wet material. It is easy to store as it is small and compact, but it doesn’t fold up as neatly as the Milwaukee 0880-20 and isn’t quite as compact as the ThisWorx 12V.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.1 out of 5 based on over 3,300 ratings

Satisfied customers mention the vacuum’s convenience and portability. Some users complain about low suction power, though this is to be expected from a 12V vacuum in this price range (under $70).

Car Vacuum Buyers Guide

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Size

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.

Car Vacuum Testing Process

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

Black + Decker Flex

black and decker 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 Tested

To determine the best car vacuum cleaners, our review team first combed through the top products on Amazon. We chose products to test based on customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and price. We also selected several sizes and styles to find car vacuums for different uses and budgets.

The five vacuums we selected were tested for:

  • 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.
  • Maneuverability: A good car vacuum should be easy to maneuver through your vehicle so that you can reach every nook and cranny. We put each vacuum to a practical test by cleaning a sedan front to back.
  • 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 include useful attachments and are able to vacuum both wet and dry materials scored highest in this category.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. A 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.

Car Vacuums: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.