With as much time as some of us spend on the road, our vehicle can start to feel like a second home. Even if you're the only one who ever sees the inside of your car, it's a good idea to keep it clean. Dust particles, dirt, dander, debris and crumbs can make your car feel less appealing and smell less inviting, and the buildup of debris can irritate allergies and exacerbate asthma and other conditions. Enter: the car vacuum.
One of the best features of car vacuums is that they're lightweight, which is great for getting them into the car and using them in a tight space or at odd angles. The best car vacuum options are also usually battery powered and cordless, which, along with the lighter weight, make them more maneuverable than your typicaland regular . They're often specifically designed to fit in and around tight spaces, making it easy to keep dirt and debris at bay so that your car can remain a spotless sanctuary. If you need to suck crumbs out of even the smallest crevices, you're going to want a quality car vac with enough suction to get the job done. Some even have a motorized brush, a dusting brush or an upholstery cleaner tool to clean up messes that could stain your seats. Others have an extension hose or a narrow crevice tool for those hard-to-reach spaces.
Most car vacuums are designed specifically for your car's interior, which means even the best car vacuum options are too small to do the bigger jobs outside of the auto, and not powerful enough to clean a house (the Dyson V11 excluded). But even if a handheld vacuum for your vehicle doesn't have the powerful suction needed to clean your living room carpet, car vacuums definitely come in handy. The only difficult part is finding which is the best car vacuum for you. Should you get a wet/dry vacuum cleaner for big messes and deep cleaning? A cordless battery model? A handheld auto detailing vacuum with a killer brush tool? A vacuum with a long, flexible hose for hard-to-reach spaces between the car seats?
We've compiled a list of the best car vacuum options that cut across categories, making it a virtual lock that you'll find something that works for you. Based on customer satisfaction ratings, here are eight of the best car vacuum models on the market.
Best overall car vacuum: Armor All AA255 Wet/Dry Vacuum
Best overall cordless car vacuum: Black and Decker MAX Lithium Pivot BDH2000PL
5 things to know before you buy a car vacuum
1. Do you need a wet/dry car vacuum cleaner, or just a dry one? A wet/dry vacuum allows you to pick up both wet mess spills and dry messes, but most vacuums are only approved for the latter.
2. Does your parking setup allow you to use a vacuum cleaner with a power cord, or do you need a portable cordless vac? Cordless vacuums may be more convenient, but they also require charging.
3. Weight -- even small differences in weight add up after long cleaning sessions battling dirt and debris.
4. Do you have a pet that rides in your car? If so, they likely leave dander and dog hair, making them a major source of car mess. The HoLife corded vacuum cleaner and the Black and Decker 2000 series cordless are regularly ranked among the best vacuums for picking up pet hair.
5. Suction -- the more suction power a vacuum has, the more effectively it cleans, especially on carpeted surfaces. The Dyson V11 has the best car vacuum suction of any cleaner on the list, which is especially impressive given that it's a cordless handheld vac.
Make sure to answer all these questions before you buy anything, so you can then select which car vacuum cleaner is the best for your specific needs.
Car messes are made of more than dust, dirt and crumbs -- sometimes there are also spills and "accidents," and for those moments, you'll need a wet vac. It's even better if you can find a portable wet/dry vacuum to clean all sorts of messes, and that's where the Armor All AA255 comes in.
The Armor All AA255 may resemble a shop vac, but it's specifically designed for cleaning your car interior, with a nozzle and several crevice tool options custom made for getting into nooks and crannies. This car vac also converts to a blower, allowing it to easily provide air flow to remove debris that gathers on the outside of a car, like leaves or dirt.
The AA255 is a corded cleaner, but the six-foot hose adds some flex room to the reach afforded by the 10-foot cord. Its 2.5-gallon tank ensures that even large messes are little challenge. As for performance, the AA255 is consistently among the highest-rated car vacuums on retail sites such as Amazon, Walmart and AutoZone.
Corded handheld vacuums
The Dustbuster-style Hotor car vacuum is a model of efficiency. At only 2.44 pounds, the Hotor is one of the lightest options available, which makes maneuvering in a car's interior or cleaning for extended periods easier. The long power cord (16.4 feet) also gives you less to worry about during a car wash.
One thing to note about the Hotor -- the description on the Sears website notes that the vacuum has trouble picking up debris such as pet hair. If you have a pet that regularly rides in your car, it may be a good idea to consider a different car vacuum.
That said, it will be hard to beat a Hotor vac when it comes to price. Regularly priced at $34 on Amazon, it's often on sale, and boasts a super low price for an elite cleaning machine (its rating on the same site currently sits at 4 out of 5 with over 17,000 reviews). This means you can maintain a dirt-and dust-free car without breaking the bank.
If the Hotor car vacuum isn't quite your cup of tea and you have a bit more money to spend, the Shark Rocket Corded Bagless Stick Vacuum is another great option. It comes with an ultralong 25-foot power cord, and like the Dyson model later on this list, it has enough suction power to be used as a vacuum cleaner for your house, as well.
The attachments offered by the Shark Rocket make cleaning nooks in cars easy. There's a precision duster, a pet multi-tool and a crevice tool that can reach just about anywhere in a vehicle -- even under the front seats.
While the Shark Rocket may run you more money than some of the other models on this list -- and you may decide it's ultimately not worth it if you're only using it on your car -- the customer satisfaction rates speak for themselves. The model currently has a 4.6-star rating out of 5 on Amazon, with over 9,000 reviews.
With a unique design and an affordable price ($70), the Bissell Cleanview stands out from many competing car vacuums. It functions as a portable handheld Dustbuster, but also comes with a hose attachment for cleaning tighter areas. It boasts an 18-foot power cord, which really helps when doing a deep dive into the backseat.
The Cleanview boasts near-universal approval on Bissell's website, with 99% of respondents recommending the vac. People cite its powerful suction and ability to reach and clean tight spaces as benefits.
At 5 pounds, the Cleanview is a bit heavier than the other hand vacuums on this list, but part of that weight comes from the large tank, which holds more dirt and debris and is an easy dust bin to empty.
Cordless handheld vacuums
The Black & Decker Dustbuster offers a modern spin on an old classic. Like the Pivot, it has a lithium-ion battery that allows for hours of cleaning -- it holds a charge for 18 months -- along with a sleek rotating nozzle that helps it dig deeper than many other hand vac options.
This car vac is also an environmentally conscious option if you're concerned with energy consumption. That's thanks to the model's Smart Charge Technology, which uses only half the energy of similar models.
The CHV1410L is currently the top-selling handheld vacuum cleaner on Amazon, with a 4.2 average score based on more than 21,000 reviews.
You know what's annoying? Finally setting aside time to clean your car only to find that your vacuum's battery is drained. Fortunately, that disappointment can be all but eliminated with the Max Lithium Pivot, which boasts a lithium-ion battery capable of a four-hour power duration. That's enough time for one car vacuum to clean a fleet of limousines.
In addition to the robust battery life, the Pivot has an ergonomic design with an adjustable nozzle that makes this portable vacuum ideal for cleaning hard-to-reach places in your car or home. It also boasts a three-stage filtration system that improves both power and cleanliness.
The Pivot's unique design and properties of the Pivot make it ideal for car cleaning, so even with the price fluctuation, this model may actually be a steal.
Dyson has a reputation for making some of the best cleaning machines available, and while they may cost more than their competitors' products, their popularity suggests they're worth the price. The Dyson V11 is no exception: A handheld, cordless vacuum that can clean your whole house just as effectively as it can clean your car's interior.
Each of the various V11 models -- from the $600 Animal to the $800 Outsize -- come with a series of nozzle attachments that allow the Dyson to remove dust and dirt from crevices and tight spaces, making them ideal for a vehicle's interior. These battery-powered cleaners also boast twice the suction of many cordless hand vacuums.
As far as user ratings, the V11 is unmatched. On the Dyson website, it has a 4.8 rating out of 5, and on both Amazon and Costco, different models have 4.7 ratings out of 5. If price were no object, this vac would be the best overall, but it's worth a reminder that you can use it for cleaning your home, making the price more reasonable.
Written by Scott Fried for Roadshow.