Home » Best Vacuum for Detailing Cars [2020 Review]

Best Vacuum for Detailing Cars [2020 Review]

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Rather than having to drive all the way to a self-serve cleaning station to clean and detail your car, you can save a lot of time and money by simply doing the job at home with a vacuum cleaner that is made for cleaning cars.

Detailing isn’t necessarily difficult, but since you’re working in a lot of awkward positions and angles, using the right vacuum can make a big difference. Beyond that, you want to choose a vacuum that has a lot of power to make short work of your detailing job.

We’ve reviewed a wide range of the best car cleaners, and we share our top picks to select for detailing your car, truck, or RB

Best Vacuum for Car Detailing Reviews

​As we’ve noted, there are a lot of different factors to take into consideration when selecting the ​top rated vacuums. We’ve selected the best detailing vacuum options for a variety of situations, from 12 volt handheld car vacuums that plug into your car to canister car vacuums that connect to a power source.

The handheld detailing best vacuum options are highly convenient and will do a great job. However, the canister vacuums have quite a bit more suctioning. Depending on your price point and needs, you’ll want to decide between a cordless hand vacuum and a corded, canister vacuum.

Brand
Best Overall
Vacmaster 5 gallon 5 HP Vacuum
Best for the Money
Shop-Vac 5986000 Vacuum
Best Cheap Pick
Armor All Vacuum​ AA255
Product
Vacmaster VWM510 5-Gallon 5 Peak HP Remote Control...
Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless...
Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry...
Product Dimensions
18.5 x 15.4 x 20.7 inches
14 x 14 x 21 inches
10.6 x 14.2 x 14.4 inches
Item Weight
25.1 pounds
15 pounds
7 pounds
Rating
-
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Vacmaster 5 gallon 5 HP Vacuum
Product
Vacmaster VWM510 5-Gallon 5 Peak HP Remote Control...
Product Dimensions
18.5 x 15.4 x 20.7 inches
Item Weight
25.1 pounds
Rating
-
Best for the Money
Brand
Shop-Vac 5986000 Vacuum
Product
Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless...
Product Dimensions
14 x 14 x 21 inches
Item Weight
15 pounds
Rating
-
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Armor All Vacuum​ AA255
Product
Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry...
Product Dimensions
10.6 x 14.2 x 14.4 inches
Item Weight
7 pounds
Rating
-

Best Vacuum for Car Detailing: Vacmaster 5 gallon 5 HP

Sale
Vacmaster VWM510 5-Gallon 5 Peak HP Remote Control...
  • 2-Stage Motor for Powerful Suction and Quiet Operation
  • Complete Vac Organization with On-Board Hose, Cord and Accessory Storage
  • 20-Foot Cord with Cord Storage
  • 41-Foot Cleaning Reach with Hoses and Power Cord

We love the Vacmaster Vacuum, and it gets our vote for overall best vacuum for car detailing and cleaning.

A powerful 5 horsepower motor and a large 5 gallon storage canister are just a few of the things that make this detailing vacuum stand out.

One of the very best features of this Vacmaster Vacuum is that it comes with a whole lot of cleaning tools.

When you buy this detailing vacuum, you get a flexible 10-foot long hose, a standard 11-foot long hose, which is already long enough for most cases, two extension hose wands, a round dust brush, a combo floor hose nozzle with a brush, a car nozzle, and a crevice tool to better clean your car’s interior.

Literally everything that needs vacuuming can be done with this one great detailing vacuum. And, of course, it comes with all of the onboard storage space required for all of those tools.

The number of hose attachments that the Vacmaster provides makes cleaning quite a bit more convenient. This makes the Vacmaster incredibly convenient and tips the scales in getting our vote for the top vacuum for detailing cars.

One of the really neat parts about this Vacmaster is that it has a remote-controlled ON/OFF switch for your convenience. Even better is that it comes with a wall mounting system for easy storage and use. As we mentioned above, mounting it on the wall of your garage ups the convenience factor significantly. 

​If you’re looking for the best garage vacuum that is wall-mounted, then go with this Vacmaster cleaner. ​Don’t worry though, because the specific wall mounting setup for this Vacmaster makes it super easy to dismount and use with wheels. The best of both worlds!

​​What you might also like about this model is that it comes with an air and noise diffuser to help keep it extra quiet at all times.

Product Specs

  • Type: Corded Canister Wall Mount
  • Motor Size: 8 amps / 5 HP
  • Power Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Weight:  25.1 lbs
  • Features:  10 ft. Flex vacuum hose, 11 ft. standard hose, 20 ft. long power cord with Cord Wrap, two extension hose wands, round dust brush, combo floor hose nozzle with brush, crevice tool, car nozzle, air/noise diffuser, accessory caddy and remote control handle, washable cartridge filter, and foam sleeve

The 5 horsepower motor on this is more than powerful enough to deal with the heaviest of detailing jobs. 5 HP is the strongest motor on our vacuum reviews. While you can find models with more horsepower, you’ll be paying several hundred dollars. Unless you’re running an auto detailing business, this is just not worth the cost. 

​Its 5 gallon dirt canister is more than large enough to keep you going for a long time cleaning without having to empty it. This combo makes it a great fit no matter how large your vehicle or how tough the job.

The foam sleeve and the washable cartridge filter help makes things even easier for you. The carrying handle on this makes it easy to carry around. ​Moreover, the Vacmaster is ideal for both messes.

​This just makes your life ​that much easier. ​It even comes with a blower function so you can blow dry your vehicle from top to bottom.

Highlights

  • 5 Horsepower Motor
  • ​5 gallon storage canister
  • ​Heavier weight 26lbs
  • Wall Mount option
  • ​Quiet
  • Plugs into wall outlet
  • ​Wet/Dry capabilities
  • 2-Year Warranty

In the end,  we vote the Vacmaster the best vacuum for auto detailing.

​For the price, you are getting pretty much everything you need: high suctioning power, lots of convenience, and lots of hose attachments for every type of use imaginable.

​Why Buy?

​​A top line shop vacuum with tons of power and an army of features.

Best Car Detailing Vacuum for the Money: Shop-Vac 5986000 Vacuum

Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless...
  • POWERFUL & PORTABLE: This wet/dry vacuum has a 5-gallon stainless steel tank & a 4.5 peak horsepower...
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: This wet/dry vac includes 1.25 " diameter accessories: 7-foot hose, 3...
  • GOT DIRT? Shop-Vac's full line of products includes cordless, rechargeable wet dry vacuums,...
  • AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL: Shop-Vac offers the most complete line of vacuum cleaners, bags, filters,...

We really like the Shop-Vac 5986000 Wet Dry Vacuum because it is both reliable and inexpensive. We also really like how this particular vacuum has a five-gallon dirt canister. It has a huge capacity, making it very convenient and user friendly. The only vacuum on our reviews that has this large of a dirt canister is the Vacmaster, and that car cleaner is a lot more expensive. 

Moreover, the canister and overall design are meant to be able to handle both dry and wet debris. You can literally soap down the leather car seats and then suck up everything with the hose including the water from your seats. ​This ​eliminates the need for additional water-oriented tools, which we really appreciate.

We also like about this model is that it comes with a myriad of hose tools like special wands, hose and auto detailing tools. You’re probably noticing a trend in how we rate our vacuums, and it’s true. We have found that a combination of high suction, high dirt capacity, and lots of hose attachments make for a winning combination. 

Similar to the Vacmaster, it comes with virtually every hose and cleaning attachment you need to make cleaning your car a simple and easy task. We also like how this model comes with a filter to remove fine dust particles in order to prevent dust and dirt from reentering the air.

However, this model does require a bag for dirt storage, which is something that some people may not like too much. Given the lower price tag on this model, this is an acceptable omission on their part.

Product Specs

  • Type: Corded
  • Motor Size: 12 amps
  • Power Cord Length: 18 ft
  • Weight:  14.9 lbs
  • Features:  7′ x 1.25″ Hose, (3) Extension Hose Wands, Crevice Tool, Gulper Hose Nozzle, Floor Hose Nozzle, Cartridge Filter, Foam Sleeve, Filter Bag

​Circling back to power, this model has a powerful 4.5 horsepower motor. While this is slightly lower than our top choice above, it is still top-class power. You’re also paying a lot less for this suction than you are with the Vacmaster. 

​​This also means that it has more than enough power to clean up everything in your car with its hose including heavier particles. When it comes to convenience, it comes on a little wheeled cart for easy transportation and a high level of versatility.

It does not mount to your wall, which is a feature we really have found to prefer. However, in this price range, you’re not going to find a good wall-mount vacuum. While it has an average weight of 15lbs, honestly, you’ll never really notice it, though, because its on wheels.

Highlights

  • ​4.5 Horsepower Motor
  • ​5 gallon storage canister
  • ​Average weight 15lbs
  • Good air filtration
  • ​Very mobile
  • Plugs into wall outlet
  • ​Wet/Dry capabilities

Even better is that it comes with a rear blower port so you can dry off wheels, seats and other wet objects. 

​This is a great mid-tier option and high on our list when it comes to the best vacuum for car cleaning. If the Vacmaster was too expensive, opt for this one.

​Why Buy?

​Middle tier canister vacuum pricing for top end power and tank storage.

Best Cheap Vacuum for Car Detailing: Armor All Vacuum​ AA255

Sale
Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry...
  • 2.5 Gallon Polypropylene Tank
  • 2 Peak HP Motor
  • 10 Ft. Cord With Cord Wrap
  • Blower Function – Easy Conversion

One of the best vacuums for car detailing, the Armor All AA255 ​is a highly servicable option for those trying to save a few bucks but still get a great vacuum. 

Armor All provides a nice, compact canister-style vacuum cleaner that features a 2 horsepower motor and a 2.5 gallon dirt tank. 

The Armor All AA255 is large enough for most jobs, but also light enough to carry around. ​At just over 8 lbs, this specific product is a lot lighter than some of our previous best vacuums for car detailing. However, since this model doesn’t have wheels, you’ll appreciate the light weight. 

What is also neat is that it can suck up both wet and dry messes for your convenience. We have found this Armor All to be a notch above when it comes to cleaning wet messes compared to other best vacuums for car detailing in this price range. 

One of the coolest features is that it can be converted into a blower to dry off the outside of your vehicle, motorcycles, etc.

​This actually makes this one of the best vacuums for car detailing, an even better bargain, because it is two tools in one.

It has a 10-foot cord with wrap, and a six-foot hose. This is short on both counts, and one of the drawbacks to this car cleaner. You’ll need an extension cord for most situations.

Is this a really big deal? No, of course not, but it isn’t as convenient as other models with longer cords.

​Product Specs

  • Type: Corded
  • Motor Size: 7.4 amps
  • Power Cord Length: 33 ft
  • Weight:  8.3 lbs
  • ​Accessories:  Tool bracket, Telescoping extension wands, Floor brush, Dusting brush, Crevice tool, Carry strap for canister

This is something we’ve noticed with the cheaper vacuums for car detailing we reviewed – you’ll have to make some sacrifices in convenience.

The 6 ft hose is also a bit short. You’ll notice it when you’re trying to clean multiple parts of your car. Instead of being able to do it in one pass, you’ll have to back out of the car and adjust the vacuum’s position. Once again – is this a huge deal? No not at all, but it is worth mentioning. 

The built-in air and noise diffuser helps to keep this fairly quiet. Noise can be common in cheaper vacuums but this one does a good job keeping it to a minimum.

Moreover, all of the tools you need to detail your car come included in this package, including a two in one utility nozzle, a crevice tool, a deluxe car nozzle, a blower nozzle, and a detail brush too.

Highlights

  • 2 Horsepower Motor
  • ​2.5 gallon storage canister
  • ​Lightweight 7lbs
  • Reusable air filter
  • Many accessories
  • ​Relatively quiet
  • Plugs into wall outlet
  • ​Wet/Dry capabilities

The reusable cloth filter that this model comes with means that the air which gets released from this vacuum is clean, plus you don’t have to deal with bags.

In the end, if you’re looking to save a few bucks, we​ love the Armor All AA255. It doesn’t have quite the power of the Vacmaster, the Dewalt DCV581H, the Bissell Garage Pro, or other models but still has enough power to clean your car. You’ll make a few sacrifices in convenience, but this is the​ best cheap vacuum cleaner on the market.

​Why Buy?

​This is one of the best vacuums for car detailing, it’s an inexpensive ​canister vacuum with a powerful motor and loads of attachments and accessories.

Best Cordless Car Detail Vacuum: Hikeren Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Hikeren Handheld Vacuum, Hand Vacuum Cordless with...
  • 【 POWERFUL SUCTION】 Hikeren cordless handheld vacuum with updated stainless filter, which better...
  • 【3-in-1 VERSATILITY & DRY WET AMPHIBIOUS】 The handheld vacuum comes with 3 serviceable...
  • 【CORDLESS, LIGHT WEIGHT & PORTABLE】 Cord-free, hassle-free! The cordless vacuum dust cleaner is...
  • 【Long Lasting Cordless Use】Long Lasting Battery - The battery vacuum cleaner takes 3 -4 hours to...

The Hikeren Vacuum Cleaner is a handheld, wet and dry, multi-functional vacuum that makes cleaning your car fast and easy.

It even comes with a handy carrying bag, so you can take it with you.

Since it plugs into your 12 volt power adapter in your car, this is great if you are on the go a lot and need to have a vacuum handy.

It has loads of power, with CE, ROHS Certification (12volt, 106watt, 4300A – 4500PA suction). 4500 PA is very good for a product in this price range

This is a quiet machine at 75db, and it has a stainless steel HEPA filter that can get rid of the dust and allergens in your car interior.

This vacuum cleaner has an LED light, which makes it easy to see all of the areas in your car that need to be cleaned.

You can easily store this portable vacuum cleaner in the trunk of your car, because it is so lightweight and convenient.

Product Specs

  • Type: Corded Handheld Vacuum
  • Motor Size: 4300 PA – 4500 PA
  • Power Cord Length: 16 ft
  • Weight:  2.3 lbs
  • ​Accessories:  Brush Mouth, Long Mouth, Soft Long Tube, Stainless Steel HEPA Filter, Black Zipper Carry Bag

It has a carrying case, and you can plug it right into your car to use.

As mentioned, the HEPA filtration system is made from stainless steel, and it is detachable and easy to clean.If possible, give it a clean after each use

to keep it performing well. It comes with a lengthy 16ft cord, so you should be able to cover your entire car.

Highlights

  • ​4500 PA Power
  • ​16ft cord
  • ​Lightweight 2.3lbs
  • HEPA filtration
  • ​Many attachments and accessories
  • Long Extension Wands
  • Motorized Brush Extension
  • Plugs into car

In total, this machine only weighs 2.3 pounds. Handheld vacuums are typically light in weight and weigh roughly this amount. 

​In addition, the Hikeren comes with the normal supply of accessories and attachments to better clean the interior of your car, which includes the standard long mouth extension wands, motorized brush extension, and soft long tube.

​For the price, the Hikeren Vacuum Cleaner is a fantastic, all-around handheld vacuum that you won’t go wrong with.

​Why Buy?

​Good all-around handheld vacuum for a killer price.

​Final Votes

To start, you’ll need to determine if you want a cordless handheld option, a corded 12 volt vacuum, or a larger canister style vacuum. If you want the best of all worlds (in our opinion), the Vacmaster Vacuum is the best vacuum for car detailing.

It has loads of suctioning power, a large capacity, and is very reasonably priced given all the attachments and accessories that are provided.

When you move down into handheld vacuums, the Deik Vacuum Cleaner is the top 12 volt option and the Hikeren Vacuum Cleaner is the top cordless option.

Features to Look For in The Best Auto Detailing Vacuum for Your Car

When choosing ​a vacuum for auto detailing, you need a combination of power and portability. We’ll talk through whether a corded or cordless model makes the most sense for you, and what the differences are in a wet vs dry vacuum.

Best Vacuum Cleaners for Cars

Portability and Convenience

Above all, we ​have found that portability and convenience ​are the two biggest factors in selecting a vacuum for auto detailing. There are many other important considerations as well (suction power, crevice tool, attachments, etc), but the first priority is to get a cleaner that is convenient and portable enough to use on a regular basis.

​Style

Purchasing a model that is specifically designed for auto detailing ​will help you clean the interior of your car quickly and proficiently. However, there are several different styles of vacuums that can accomplish your goals. Here are the four different styles of vacuums, and their positives and negatives:

12 Volt Corded Vacuums​​​​ That Plug into your Car​

A great handheld 12 volt auto detailing vacuum is great to have in your car for general cleaning. They are also great for small spills, and for specific situations. For example, after you get home from a trip to the beach, breaking one of these out with a crevice tool to quickly clean up the sand is a really good option.

​But, for the deep cleaning that is required to detail a car, you’ll get frustrated really quickly. There just isn’t enough power to pick up embedded and deep lying dirt. In addition, you still have to plug this style of auto detailing vacuum in, so you don’t get all of the benefits that come from a cordless model.

Cordless Handheld Vacuums​

Of course, a cordless car detailing vacuum is the ultimate in portability. The best cordless car detailing vacuum cleaner will maximize portability because you don’t have to worry about the pesky cords as you wind in and out of your car.

​You sacrifice some suction power to have this convenience, and you also have to deal with charging the lithium-ion battery. If you’re looking to detail multiple cars in one job, you might want to elect for a corded model.

However, if convenience is your top concern, there are some great models available that give you a lot of power.

Canister Style Corded Car Vacuums​

These types of models have a long cord, long enough to plug into a wall outlet in your garage, and the vacuum base is a canister-style vacuum. A long hose extends out along with a crevice tool that you use to clean and detail your car with.

This specific style often comes with the most suction power, due to the fact that you’re powering via a cord, and the canister style can produce a lot of suction. What you gain in power you lose a bit in convenience. You’ll have to navigate a cord, along with moving your canister vacuum around your car as you detail it.

​Wall Mounted Car Vacuums​

​For suction power, a wall mounted vacuum is the top selection. You need to have a garage for this option, but nothing can match the power of a wall mounted vacuum for car detailing.

These models come with long suction flexible hose and a crevice tool that you can use to clean your car with. If you need a visual, think about the style that you use when you go to a professional detail shop to get your car cleaned. You can get this style for your house.

Power

​The typical car has all sorts of awkward angles, crevices, and hard-to-reach places where dirt, debris, and food can get trapped. It is vital that you select a vacuum cleaner that has plenty of suction strength and a crevice tool.

High power will help you in several ways:

  1. First, you’ll be able to pull dirt and debris out of each hard-to-reach crevice and place, especially with a crevice tool, such as under your front seats, back seats, and in between the mats.
  2. Second, high power means less passes over your high trafficked areas or every crevice, saving you time and energy.
  3. Third, high power will allow you to deal with ​difficult situations, like pet hair and interior spills. ​Pet hair sticks to car upholstery and leather​​​, making it especially difficult to pull up, even with your hose. Spills and stains also pose a similar problem.

Depending on your specific situation, you’ll need to evaluate how much power you truly need to detail your car. If you have pets that travel with you, or little kids that are prone to frequent spilling, you might want to opt for a car detailing vacuum that has a lot of power.

Charging and Cord Length

​You can buy a corded vacuum that plugs into a wall outlet. In this case, there is no battery charging involved, and you’ll want to focus on the cord length, and​ that you have a conveniently located power outlet near where you will be cleaning your car.

Once you find the outlet that is closest to your car, it makes sense to measure the distance of cord you’ll need on your vacuum cleaner.

A​nother type of corded cleaner you can buy is a handheld vacuum that runs off of your car’s cigarette adapter. This will use your car battery to run, and typically are listed as a 12 volt vacuum.

​Lastly, if you are going to purchase a cordless vacuum, you can buy a version that has a charging unit that you would keep in your garage or closet. You can also buy an interior version that charges off the cigarette adapter.

Best Vacuum for Car Detailing Cars

Pet Hair

​Pet hair interacts very uniquely with car upholstery. It’s almost as if the pet hair sticks to car upholstery, making it next to impossible to pick up. Undoubtedly, you’ve been vacuuming your vehicle at some point, and noticed that the hose isn’t picking up the pet hair in every crevice, even after several passes.

​The best car vacuum for pet hair will have special accessories and attachments like a crevice tool and strong suctioning, designed to overcome the challenges of picking up dog hair even in the smallest crevice. ​To rank as a top vacuum for pet hair, it also needs to have a HEPA filter, which will remove the allergens found in pet hair and dander.

Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaners

A wet dry car vacuum cleaner means that you can use the hose to clean up both messes (liquid spills, melting snow, etc) and dry messes (dirt, sand, debris, etc) in every crevice of your cart’s interior. A lot of household vacuums aren’t designed to pick up liquids or don’t have enough power to create water lift. A top vacuum will have both suction capabilities.

​A wet/dry auto vacuum will draw in both dirt and water, which is great if you have any spills in your auto’s interior. It means that you don’t have to waste any time picking up the liquid in the interior before busting out your hose.

​Sometimes, these detailing vacuum models don’t have hose filters, and some dust and dirt goes back into the air. Most of the options on our list are both in their functionality, and we’ll go into more detail in the individual reviews.

Weight

​Portable handheld car vacuums, whether a cordless or corded 12 volt option, will typically always be lightweight and easy to hold.

Wall mounted car detailing vacuums have the weight of the vacuum mounted on the wall of your garage, so weight isn’t an issue worth considering.

If you opt for the canister style corded car detailing vacuum, this is where you’ll have to make up your own mind. Most in this style range come with wheels on the canister base, allowing them to move freely around your garage.

For the canister style option, weight might or might not be a concern. If you think it will be for your situation, then make sure to look at the weight of the one you opt for.

Crevice Tool

You may already seen a crevice tool with the rest of your hose accessories, it’s the one with a thin shape and angled tip that connects to your hose. A crevice tool is specifically designed to clean into your car’s tight spots. Your crevice tool can effectively clean around corners, along your car’s baseboards, around the radiators, on the vents, even between the sofa’s cushions, and more.

You can even use the crevice tool for cleaning other things like refrigerator coils or you can use the crevice tool to get rid of any lint in the inside of your dryer.

​A​dditionals and Accessories

​When you buy the best ​car upholstery cleaner and vacuum, it’s going to come with a plethora of hose accessories to help you with car cleaning. What is important is for you to consider if there are any hose accessory that you need, so that you can ensure the model you chose has it.

When we say “​additionals”, we’re really talking about all of the little things that make a cleaner unique. Cord and hose length, crevice tool, HEPA filter, upholstery tool, noise volume, wet/dry functionality, and cleaning of the unit are all things to consider.

When we say “accessories”, we are talking about additional tools that attach to the auto detailing vacuum to make a specific job easier. Hose nozzles, dusting brush rollers, and extended hose tubes are typically what you’ll see.

Vacuuming your car like a pro doesn’t have to be a hassle. We’ll review each of the factors we’ve outlined as we ​recommend the best ​vacuum for car detailing and cleaning.​

​Conclusion

​In the end, our vote for best vacuum for car detailing goes to the Vacmaster Wet/Dry Vacuum. This consideration is what led us to pick up a unique cleaner for our car, and we couldn’t be happier. We made a small, one-time investment and got a top rated car vacuum. And, we’ve shared our in depth car vacuum reviews with you here.

Enjoy!

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.