Home » Best Vacuum for Car Detailing and Cleaning [2020 Review]

Best Vacuum for Car Detailing and Cleaning [2020 Review]

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Rather than having to drive all the way to a self-serve car cleaning station to vacuum 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 your car 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 suction power to make short work of your detailing job.

We’ve reviewed a wide range of car vacuum 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 car vacuums. We’ve selected the best options for a variety of situations, from 12 volt handheld car vacuums that plug into your car to canister car vacuums that plug into a wall outlet.

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

Vacmaster VWM510 5-Gallon 5 Peak HP Remote Control...

We love the Vacmaster Wet/Dry 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 car vacuum stand out.

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

When you buy this model, you get a 10 foot flexible hose, an 11 foot standard hose, two extension wands, a round dust brush, a combo floor nozzle with a brush, a car nozzle, and a crevice tool.

Literally everything that needs vacuuming in your car can be done with this one great machine. And, of course, it comes with all of the onboard storage space required for all of those accessories.

The number of 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 best vacuum for detailing cars.

One of the really neat parts about this Vacmaster Vacuum 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 your vacuum 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 Wet/Dry 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

  • Vacuum Type: Corded Canister Wall Mount
  • Motor Size: 8 amps / 5 HP
  • Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Weight:  25.1 lbs
  • Accessories:  10 ft. Flex hose, 11 ft. standard hose, 20 ft. Cord with Cord Wrap, 2 extension wands, round dust brush, combo floor nozzle w/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 vacuum is more than powerful enough to deal with the heaviest of detailing jobs. 5 HP is the strongest motor on our car vacuum reviews. While you can find models with more horsepower, you’ll be paying several hundred dollars. Unless you’re running a car 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 without having to empty it. This combo makes it a great fit no matter how large your car 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 vacuum makes it easy to carry around.

​Moreover, the Vacmaster Wet/Dry Vacuum is ideal for both wet and dry messes.

​This just makes your life ​that much easier once again.

​It even comes with a blower function so you can blow dry your car from top to bottom.

Highlights

  • 5 Horsepower Motor
  • ​5 gallon storage canister
  • ​Heavier weight 26lbs
  • Wall Mount option
  • ​Tons of accessories
  • ​Quiet
  • Plugs into wall outlet
  • ​Wet/Dry capabilities

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

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

​Why Buy?

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

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

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

Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless...

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 of this vacuum is meant to be able to handle both dry and wet debris. You can literally soap down the leather seats in your car and then suck up everything including the water.

​This ​eliminates the need for additional water-oriented tools, which we really appreciate.

We also like about the Shop-Vac 5986000 is that it comes with a myriad of accessories like special wands and car detailing tools. You’re probably noticing a trend in how we rate our car vacuums, and its true. We have found that a combination of high suction, high dirt capacity, and lots of attachments makes for a wining combination for your car vacuum. 

Similar to the Vacmaster, the Shop-Vac comes with virtually every 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 omision on their part. 

​Circling back to suction power, this Shop-Vac has a powerful 4.5 horsepower motor.

Product Specs

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

While this is slightly lower than our top choice above, it is still top-class power. And, you’re paying a lot less for this suction than you are with the Vacmaster. 

​​It also means that it has more than enough suction power to clean up everything in your car including heavier particles.

When it comes to convenience, this particular vacuum 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 car vacuum.

A few final notes about the Shop-Vac – 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
  • ​Many accessories
  • ​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 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 Shop-Vac.

​Why Buy?

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

Sale
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,...

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

Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry...

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

Armor All provides a nice, compact canister-style car 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 vacuum is a lot lighter than some of our previous vacuums. However, since this model doesn’t have wheels, you’ll appreciate the light weight. 

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

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

​This actually makes this machine 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

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

This is something we’ve noticed with the cheaper car vacuums 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 vacuum 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 suction power of the Vacmaster and Shop-Vac, but still has plenty. You’ll make a few sacrifices in convenience, but this is the​ best cheap car vacuum cleaner on the market.

​Why Buy?

​Inexpensive ​canister car vacuum with a powerful motor and loads of accessories.

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

Best Cordless Car Detail Vacuum:: Hikeren Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner

Hikeren Handheld Vacuum, Hand Vacuum Cordless with...

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

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

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

This vacuum cleaner has loads of suction power, with CE, ROHS Certification (12volt, 106watt, 4300A – 4500PA suction). 4500 PA is very good for a vacuum 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 inside your car.

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 vacuum cleaner in the trunk of your car, because it is so lightweight and portable.

Product Specs

  • Vacuum Type: Corded Handheld Car Vacuum
  • Motor Size: 4300 PA – 4500 PA
  • 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 Suction Power
  • ​16ft cord
  • ​Lightweight 2.3lbs
  • HEPA filtration
  • ​Many accessories
  • ​Wet/Dry capabilities
  • 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, which includes the standard long mouth extension, brush extension, and soft long tube.

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

​Why Buy?

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

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...

​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 Wet/Dry Vacuum is the best vacuum for car detailing.

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

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

Features to Look For in a Vacuum for Car Detailing

When choosing ​a vacuum for detailing your car, 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 car 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 detailing your car. There are many other important considerations as well (suction power, attachments, etc), but the first priority is to get a cleaner that is convenient and portable enough to use on a regular basis.

​Style of Car Vacuum

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

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

A great handheld 12 volt car 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 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 car vacuum in (albeit to your car), so you don’t get all of the benefits that come from a cordless model.

Cordless Handheld Car Vacuums​

Of course, a cordless car vacuum is the ultimate in portability. The best cordless car 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 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 that you plug into a wall outlet in your garage, and the vacuum base is a canister-style vacuum. A long hose extends out 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 car 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 hoses that you use to clean your car with. If you need a visual, think about the style of vacuum 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 car vacuum cleaner that has plenty of suction power.

High suction power will help you in several ways:

  1. First, you’ll be able to pull dirt and debris out of the hard-to-reach places, such as under your front seats, and in between the mats. =
  2. Second, high suction power means less passes over your high trafficked areas in the car, saving you time and energy. =
  3. Third, high suction power will allow you to deal with​difficult situations, like pet hair and spills. ​Pet hair sticks to car upholstery and leather​​​, making it especially difficult to pull up. 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 in your car, 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 car 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 car vacuum that runs off of your car’s cigarette adapter. This will use your car battery to run the vacuum, and typically are listed as a 12 volt car vacuum.

​Lastly, if you are going to purchase a cordless car vacuum, you can buy a version that has a charging unit that you would keep in your garage or closet. You can also buy a version that charges in your car off of 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 car at some point, and noticed that the vacuum isn’t picking up the pet hair, even after several passes.

​The best car vacuum for pet hair will have special accessories and strong suction power, designed to overcome the challenges of picking up dog hair. ​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 Cleaners

A wet dry car vacuum means that you can use it to clean up both wet messes (liquid spills, melting snow, etc) and dry messes (dirt, sand, debris, etc). A lot of household vacuums aren’t designed to pick up liquids. A top car vacuum will have both wet and dry suction capabilities.

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

​Sometimes, these models don’t have filters, and some dust and dirt goes back into the air. Most of the options on our list are both wet and dry 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 car vacuum you opt for.

​A​dditionals and Accessories

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

When we say “​additionals”, we’re really talking about all of the little things that make a car vacuum unique. Cord and hose length, HEPA filter, 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 vacuum cleaner to make a specific job easier. Nozzles, brush rollers, and extended 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 vacuum 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!