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The Best Car Vacuum for Detailing and Cleaning

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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

​Our Reviews of the Top Car Vacuums

​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. The first two vacuums are 12 volt handheld car vacuums that plug into your car. The final three vacuums are 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.

Best Overall
Vacmaster 5 gallon 5 HP Vacuum
Best for the Money
Shop-Vac 5986000 Vacuum
Best Cheap Pick
Armor All Vacuum​ AA255
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
Best Overall
Vacmaster 5 gallon 5 HP Vacuum
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
Best for the Money
Shop-Vac 5986000 Vacuum
Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless...
Product Dimensions
14 x 14 x 21 inches
Item Weight
15 pounds
Best Cheap Pick
Armor All Vacuum​ AA255
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

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.

There are a lot of quality vacuums that will do a great job on your car. However, the number of attachments that the Vacmaster provides makes this process 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.


  • 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 rated car vacuum.

​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 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.

This means that you can easily clean up huge messes in your car or shop without having to empty it all of the time. 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.


  • ​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.

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.


  • 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. Voltage - 120V-60Hz
  • 10 Ft. Cord With Cord Wrap ; Hose Diameter: 6 Ft. x 1-1/4 In.

Best Cordless Car Vacuum: Black+Decker Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum

BLACK+DECKER Cordless Hand Vacuum, White

The Black+Decker CHV1410 14.4-Volt Cordless Hand Vac is the only cordless car vacuum to make our list.

In general, we’ve found most cordless car vacuums to be fairly similar in features. However, the Black & Decker stands out from all the others – this is because this model does things that no other vacuum does.

We love this cordless handheld car vac, and vote it the best portable car vacuum on the market. 

Unlike all of the other other models we’ve reviewed, the cordless features of the Black+Decker CHV1410L mean that we need to review battery capabilities and time. 

The good news is that this model outperforms much of the competition, giving you 16 volt lithium battery, which supplies plenty of battery power.

In total, this equates to roughly 20 ​minutes of cleaning time. ​Normally you don’t see amazing suction on a cordless handheld car vacuum.

However, in this Black+Decker model, ​cyclonic cleaning action is incorporated, typically only found in upright and stick vacuums, in order to provide a deep clean.

​They use a Smart Charge Technology to provide this high-powered suction combined with long-lasting battery charge.

This combination of amazing suction and good battery life are what separates this model from all the other cordless car vacs out there.

The battery will take you roughly 4 hours to charge, and they provide a charging base with the vacuum.

​Product Specs

  • Vacuum Type: Cordless Handheld Vacuum
  • Battery Size: 16 volts
  • Runtime: 20 minutes
  • Charge Time: 4 hours
  • Weight:  5.2 lbs
  • ​Accessories:  On-board extendable crevice tool, On-board flip up brush, Washable filter, Wall mount bracket

As such, this isn’t the right vacuum for a deep, detailed cleaning, as it would probably take you 2-3 passes. Vacuum for 20 minutes, charge for 4 hours, vacuum for another 20 minutes… you get the picture.

The car vacuum is bagless, and comes with a 2 year warranty.

One downside worth mentioning: this model doesn’t come with a HEPA filter, while so many others on our list do. If you have pets that frequent your car, keep this in mind. If you do still opt for this car cleaner, you’ll want to also vacuum the car once in a while with a car or household vacuum that does have better filtration.

Cordless car vacuums are the ultimate in convenience. We love to keep this model plugged into our garage, and it is incredibly simple to quickly clean the car upholstery.

You don’t even need ​ to invest time getting a vacuum out and unwrapping the cord. ​You’ll want to decide what type of car vacuum you need.


  • ​16 volt battery
  • ​15.2 Watts of power
  • ​Lightweight 2.6lbs
  • ​Bagless
  • Comes with charging station

​If you prefer heavy duty usage, you’ll probably want to opt for one of the corded canister-style car vacuums we recommended ​above.

​However, of the three best handheld vacuums for the car that we’ve listed, the Black+Decker CHV1410 14.4-Volt Cordless Hand Vac is by far the most convenient. And, you don’t have to spend that much more to get this convenience. That’s why we have the Black+Decker as the best cordless car vacuum on the market.

​Why Buy?

​​Cordless Car Vac that provides both convenience and strong suction.

BLACK+DECKER Cordless Hand Vacuum, White
  • Rotating, slim nozzle targets dirt in tight spaces
  • 50% more reach than the previous Dust buster design for less bending and better accessibility
  • Brush and crevice tool accessories are located on-board so there are no loose items to misplace

Best Portable Vacuum for Car: Deik Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner

Cordless Vacuum, Deik Stick Vacuum Cleaner, 11 Kpa...

The Deik Car Vacuum Cleaner is one of the only small vacuum cleaners for cars that comes with a lifetime warranty, which really separates it from its competition.

The vacuum has very similar suction capabilities to the Hikeren we review below, with 12volt, 100watt, 4300PA – 4500PA suction).

You’ll notice the Deik uses slightly less watts, equaling slightly less power. But, it has the same 4500PA, so you won’t notice any differences.

Again, this is an ample amount of power and suction for the price point and model. When you opt for a handheld option over a stronger, canister-style car cleaner, you will need to make some small sacrifices in suction power.

This Deik handheld gives you loads of convenience with only a small drop off in suction power. 

This machine has a stainless steel HEPA filter, along with a triple cyclone filtration system, so no dust, dirt, and allergens are released back into the air. This is one area that separates from the cordless Black and Decker above. While this Deik is corded, it has better filtration and a HEPA filter for allergies. 

This filter system uses three stages through a high-density PU sponge mesh, and it is a lot more durable than other filters in other machines.

​Three stage filtration certainly sets this vacuum apart. It is not typical to see that in a handheld vacuum this affordable.

The HEPA filter is coated with nona-materials, and it can easily be cleaned by rinsing it under clear running water.

​Product Specs

  • Vacuum Type: Corded Handheld Car Vacuum
  • Motor Size: 4500 PA
  • Cord Length: 13 ft
  • Weight:  2.25 lbs
  • ​Accessories:  HEPA filter, Extension Hose, Brush Attachment, Crevice Attachment, 4 meters long Lighter Cable, Carrying Case

Cleaning the machine regularly, including the filter and the front cover, will help to prolong its life. It will also make the suction power stronger and helps the filter work better. 

The Deik has a 13ft power cord. Included in your purchase is the handheld car vacuum, one HEPA filter, one extension hose, a brush attachment, a crevice attachment, and a carrying case.

Lets talk a little bit about why this vacuum gets our recommendation for top portable car vacuum, over the Hikeren that we review below. There isn’t much of a difference between the Hikeren and the Deik, and they are virtually the same price.

The Hikeren comes with wet/dry capabilities, while the Deik doesn’t.

However, there are several features about the Deik that we prefer, such as triple filtration and cyclonic suction power. In addition, you get a lifetime warranty.


  • ​4500 PA Suction Power
  • ​13ft cord
  • ​Lightweight 2.3lbs
  • HEPA triple cyclone filtration
  • Many accessories
  • ​Lifetime warranty
  • ​Plugs into car
  • ​​Wet/Dry capabilities

If we had to vote, we’d say the best handheld vacuum for car interiors would have to be the Deik Car Vacuum.

​While the Hikeren is both wet/dry (and the Deik is not), we love the added features like the lifetime warranty and triple filtration.

​Why Buy?

​​Similar to Hikeren but with better filtration and a lifetime warranty.

Cordless Vacuum, Deik Stick Vacuum Cleaner, 11 Kpa...
  • Ultra Lightweight & Cordless Convenience: Only 3.1lb weight in the anti-corrosion main machine which...
  • Excellent Endurance & Detachable Battery: With 500hrs life expectancy, The performance of upgraded...
  • HEPA filter + 4-Stages Cyclone Filtration System: It creates a high speed rotating airflow to remove...

Alternative Portable Car 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.

You don’t have to wait until you get home, and you’ll never run out of power using it.

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 will no longer be needing a flashlight and neither will you be needing to turn on your car’s ​overhead light.

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.


  • ​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 to...
  • 3-in-1 VERSATILITY & DRY WET AMPHIBIOUS The handheld vacuum comes with 3 serviceable attachments for...
  • CORDLESS, LIGHT WEIGHT & PORTABLE Cord-free, hassle-free! The cordless vacuum dust cleaner is...

​Final Votes

​There are a lot of things to consider when picking the best car vacuum for detailing, and we hope you’ve enjoyed our reviews. In the end, 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), opt for the Vacmaster Wet/Dry Vacuum.

This option mounts to your wall, but can conveniently be pulled off to mimic a canister style shop vac. It has loads of suction power, a large capacity, and is very reasonably priced given all the attachments and accessories that are provided.

The other car detailing vacuums that are listed are also great options, and perfect if your budget is a little more limiting. When you move down into handheld car vacuums, the Deik Car Vacuum Cleaner is the top 12 volt option and the Black+Decker ​Cordless Hand Vac 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

One of the biggest reasons for purchasing a specialized vacuum for the car comes down to convenience. Yes, you could use your regular home vacuum cleaner for cleaning the car.

If you’re like the rest of us, you have likely tried using your regular household vacuum cleaner. “Why buy another vacuum cleaner when the one I use in my home works great?

However, we consistently found that our home vacuum is far too big and bulky for cleaning out the inside of a vehicle, especially when it comes to getting in between the seats. It’s annoying to lug out to the car, and it’s even more annoying trying to deal with the cords as you navigate through cleaning your car. Even our lightweight stick vacuum was too much hassle.

Because of the annoyance, we found ourselves not cleaning and detailing our car. It seems trivial, but the facts are there. Our car wasn’t getting deep cleaned very frequently, and we needed a solution.

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

​We were tired of lugging our upright vacuum cleaner out to the garage, unwinding the cord, and plugging it in. Once we had the vacuum set up, we got tired of awkwardly working the wand extender through the car, while the vacuum would sit outside of the car. Inevitably, it would fall over at some point, and the process would start over again.

We thought we needed to go with a cordless car vacuum. In the end, though, we realized that that wasn’t necessarily the case. What we needed was a vacuum that was specifically designed for car cleaning. And, there are several different styles available. 

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​

Think in terms of your standard 12v car vacuum that you plug into a power adapter in your car. Honestly, we’re not big fans of going this route if you want the best option for detailing your car.

Now, don’t get us wrong – 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​

Think in terms of a canister vacuum, designed specifically for cleaning and detailing your car. 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.

For many, this might seem over the top, but you’d be surprised how economical some of the models are. And, it will make cleaning and vacuuming your car a breeze.


​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:

  • 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. Often times, the angle is so tight that you can’t place your vacuum hose right up against the debris. High suction allows you to still get all of the dirt and debris.
  • Second, high suction power means less passes over your high trafficked areas in the car, saving you time and energy. With a lower suction power, you might have to make several passes over your mats. But, the best vacuum cleaner for your car will ​have enough suction power to take care of cleaning​ in one pass.
  • 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. High suction power handles these situations.

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.

But, if you generally keep good care of the inside of your car and don’t traipse in a lot of dirt and sand, you might prefer the convenience of a cordless or 12 volt car cleaning vacuum.

Charging and Cord Length

​This might seem self explanatory, but there are several ways to “charge” your car vacuum, and it’s important to consider the options before you purchase. We briefly went over this above in the Power section, but lets go into a little more detail.

​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.

For most, this is in the garage or in front of their house. If you live in an apartment complex or dorm, where will you be vacuuming your car? Is there a power outlet close by?

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. Yes, you can always plug in an extension cord. But, if you are purchasing a car vacuum for convenience, needing an extension cord just to clean your car might be antithetical to the entire reason you are purchasing the car vacuum!

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, there are several other factors to consider. Cordless car vacuum cleaners run on battery power, and need to be charged. 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

​Again, this is something that we addressed a bit in the Power section, but it warrants more detail. If you have a pet that ever travels in your car, then you have to look into a car vacuum that is specifically designed for 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

First, lets define what a wet dry vacuum cleaner for your car really is.  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.


​The weight of your car vacuum cleaner is an interesting subject to discuss. Depending on the specific style of car vacuum you select for your detailing work, this might or might not be a big deal.

​Portable handheld car vacuums, whether a cordless or corded 12 volt option, will typically always be lightweight and easy to hold. Weight is an important consideration with this style of car detailing vacuum, as you’re choosing a model for convenience and portability. Pay attention to the weight, as you’ll be holding this model in your hand for the duration of the cleaning.

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’re going to buy a wall mounted car vacuum, don’t worry about it’s weight.

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. However, there is typically the inevitable times where you’ll need to pick it up to move it around.

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.

These extenders and nozzles are essential when you consider the ​best car upholstery cleaner. Without these accessories, it can be next to impossible to clean all of the nooks and crannies of your car upholstery.​​​

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.​


​If you’re still on the fence about picking up a vacuum specifically designed for car detailing and cleaning, consider these thoughts. This consideration is what led us to pick up a unique vacuum for our car, and we couldn’t be happier.

  • We could waste a lot of time and money by going to one of those coin-op car cleaning places that has vacuum cleaners. You get about 3-4 minutes of suction, and then you have to put more money in.
  • We could hire someone to clean and detail our car. However, that is very expensive and we couldn’t afford to do that every time we wanted our car cleaned.
  • Or, we could make a small, one-time investment and get a top rated car vacuum. That is what we did, and it was well worth the investment. And, we’ve shared our in depth car vacuum reviews with you here.