The 7 Best Car Vacuums of 2022, According to Lab Testing

The Black+Decker BDH2020FL Gen 2 Flex Vac shows your car who’s really in the driver’s seat.

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In a perfect world, your car would remain as clean and organized as it is when it first rolled off the lot. But in the real world, your car is a magnet for dirt and sand, crumbs, pet hair, and beyond. Luckily, car vacuums are an easy way to keep your car’s interior in good shape.

“A car vacuum should do two things: first, provide access to all upholstered and carpeted areas in your vehicle, and second, have enough suction to pick up the dirt, crumbs, dog hair, etc. that you and/or your family leave behind,” says Jennifer Myers, director of marketing at Kunes Auto & RV Group.

Sounds simple, but it can be a tall order. To find the best car vacuums, we put 20 car vacuums to the test at our testing lab in Des Moines, Iowa. Using a pre-determined methodology, ten testers evaluated each vacuum based on seven categories: effectiveness, maneuverability, ease of emptying, portability, noise level, setup, and value.

In addition to Myers, she also consulted Kevin Huang, founder and CEO of Ambient Home, and Phil Hoblet, vice president of category management at Driven Brands, the parent company of Take 5 Car Wash, for additional insight.

Overall, the best car vacuum is the Black+Decker BDH2020FL Gen 2 Flex Vac thanks to a long flexible hose and a brush that picks up pet hair.

Here are the best car vacuums.

Best Overall: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum

4.9
BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Flex Handheld Vacuum

Walmart

Why You Should Get It: It has a long flexible hose and a brush attachment that’s ideal for picking up pet hair.

Keep in Mind: The battery lasts less than 10 minutes before you need to recharge.

Overall, the best car vacuum is this pick from Black + Decker, which takes just a minute to set up. During testing, the vacuum performed well on the car’s floor and seating areas, but it is also quite adept at getting into tighter nooks and crannies, too.

The lightweight design is key when you’re using the wand to get into those tight spots. Overall, our tester found it easy to hold in one hand while operating the wand with the other. In terms of effectiveness, one tester noted that the suction was consistent during usage and even picked up hair well.

The tester appreciated the length of the hose, which allowed them to reach nooks and crannies with the attachments they were using. Once you’re finished using this small but mighty car vac, testers noted that the canister opened fully for easy removal. The washable filter is also easy to access and clean but do turn on that faucet full blast to get into the filter’s crevices.

Price at time of publish: $116

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: ‎14.88 x 10.68 x 6.5 inches
  • Bin Capacity: 17 ounces
  • Accessories: Pet brush and washable filter
  • Cord Length: Cordless
  • Battery Life: 8 minutes
  • Weight: 3.2 pounds

Best Budget: ANKO DC 12V 120W High Power Portable Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner

4.3
anko-dc-12v-120w-high-power-portable-handheld-car-vacuum-cleaner

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: The extra-long cord makes it easy to maneuver.

Keep in Mind: The attachments don’t offer the same suction power as the vacuum on its own.

For a less expensive option, the best car vacuum is this pick by Anko. The vacuum took on a tester’s car that had just made the return trip from camping, so dirt and leaves were the main targets. The vacuum was easy to maneuver and the attachments were small enough to get into tight spots under the seats.

The vacuum itself did very well with picking everything up, plus the bin capacity is rather roomy, so you can clean for a while until it’s time to empty. However, as far as the suction power of the vac’s attachments, our tester felt that they were not the most effective. However, they found the Anko to be easy to empty—just make sure the dust cup latches on when you close it.

At under 1.5 pounds, the Anko is lightweight, which makes it super easy to move around your car. If you’re worried about being tethered to a cord, don’t be—our tester noted the Anko’s cord is long enough to reach all over the car so you won’t have any issues.

Price at time of publish: $23

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 14 x 4 x 4 inches
  • Bin Capacity: 0.5 liters
  • Accessories: Carry bag, HEPA filter, brush head, fathead hoses, and extension tube
  • Cord Length: 15 feet
  • Battery Life: Not listed
  • Weight: 1.44 pounds

Best Cordless: 70mai Vacuum Cleaner Swift Handled

4.4
70mai vacuum cleaner swift model with ergonomic handle and two attachments

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: The attachments are easy to use and effective.

Keep in Mind: Be prepared to empty the minuscule dirt cup often.

Our tester was impressed with the suction power of the 70mai. During testing, it was noted that debris came up in one pass until the dust cup was quickly filled. It’s a fair tradeoff—just be prepared to empty soon and often if your car is particularly dirty.

The 70mai’s attachments made it easy to harness that suction power into the car’s tightest spots, and our tester found them to be very easy to add and remove as needed. The vacuum is lightweight and easy to use with just one hand, which is exactly what you want with a car vac. Aside from the dust cup being small, you do have to be careful to align the groves correctly to fit it back on tightly. You might also want to empty it when the cup isn’t quite full as our tester did find it harder to remove when the cup was full.

The tester concluded that the price was ideal the 70mai, which performed just as it was expected to. The design is sleek and dare we say even attractive for a car vac, which is yet another reason why it’s one of the best car vacuums.

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 4.65 x 0.85 x 1.55 inches
  • Bin Capacity: Not listed
  • Accessories: USB type-c charging cable, storage bag, direct-drive cleaner head, and brush cleaner head
  • Cord Length: Not listed
  • Battery Life: 24 minutes on a single charge
  • Weight: 1.32 pounds

Best Corded: Bissell Cleanview Deluxe Corded Handheld Vacuum

4.3
Bissell Cleanview Deluxe Corded Handheld Vacuum

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: It’s got powerful suction and a long cord for easy maneuverability.

Keep in Mind: Testers found that the pet hair attachment isn’t as effective as the other attachments.

Our tester found the Bissell to have “fantastic” suction, making it one of the best car vacuums if you prefer a corded style. It picked up everything easily on just one pass provided you use the correct attachment for the job, that is. The tester noted that the rubber pet hair attachment wasn’t as effective as the other attachments, though, because the hair got stuck on the outside of the attachment.

The Bissell is small enough to easily move around a car wherever you need it to be. The tester liked that the handle sticks out on the top of the car vac, which made it very easy to pick up—most car vacs have the handle built into the unit in some way, which makes it compact but not as easy to hold.

That’s not to say this Bissell isn’t small—our tester praised its small footprint, noting that it would be ideal to leave in the trunk of your car for whenever you might need a quick cleanup. Emptying did prove to be a bit challenging because the canister release is right beneath the handle, and the tester found it difficult to hold the vac while emptying it.

The suction power does make this unit a bit loud—our tester compared it to the noise a shop vac might make. You are using it in the confines of your car, however, so it may not be a dealbreaker.

Price at time of publish: $50

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 10 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Bin Capacity: 0.78 liters
  • Accessories: Crevice tool and nozzle
  • Cord Length: 18 feet
  • Battery Life: Not listed
  • Weight: 4.65 pounds

Best for Pet Hair: Ridgid 18V Cordless Hand Vacuum with Crevice Nozzle Utility Nozzle and Extension Tube

4.3
ridgid-18v-cordless-hand-vacuum-tool-only-with-crevice-nozzle-utility-nozzle-and-extension-tube

Home Depot

Why You Should Get It: It’s got superior suction power and lasts a long time on a single charge.

Keep in Mind: The battery and charger are sold separately.

Those with pets are sure to appreciate this RidGid pick, which is the best car vacuum for pet hair. Our tester was impressed with the powerful suction power of the RidGid, which picked up Cheerios on a single pass, even out of the crevices of the floor mat without the use of an attachment.

As far as cleanup, the tester found the bin easy to get off, though be sure to remove any hair or dirt particles from around the rim before replacing it. The washable filter does need the faucet on full blast to get it clean, and our tester wasn’t able to get the paper part of the filter completely clean.

Our tester has a Great Pyrenees who often rides in the backseat of their car. However, you wouldn’t notice any evidence of pet passengers, thanks to the suction power of the RidGid. This car vac is a bit bulkier and has a wider base, so it’s hard to get into tight spots even with an attachment. However, the tester said that the vacuum is so powerful you didn’t have to be super close to the surface to pick up the pet hair and other debris, so the problem is more or less already solved.

Price at time of publish: $50

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 4.6 x 17.03 x 8.02 inches
  • Bin Capacity: Not listed
  • Accessories: Extension tube, crevice nozzle and clip, and floor nozzle
  • Cord Length: N/A
  • Battery Life: 25+ minutes, per our tester
  • Weight: 3.06 pounds

Best Attachments: DEWALT 20-Volt Max Stick Vacuum

4.4
DEWALT 20-Volt Max Stick Vacuum with five attachments and bag

The Home Depot

Why You Should Get It: It lasts a long time on a single charge.

Keep in Mind: It’s more expensive than other options and the battery is sold separately.

If you’re looking for an option with a variety of attachments, this Dewalt pick is the best car vacuum to consider. The vacuum comes with an extension tube, floor nozzle, flexible hose, crevice nozzle, gulper brush, round brush, belt hook, accessory holder, and HEPA filter. Plus, it lasted a long time on a single charge.

During testing, it took just one pass to remove Cheerios and hair but it took longer to remove sand. In general, the tester found it was easier to use the Dewalt on their car’s hard surfaces, but it was very difficult to get sand and hair from softer surfaces like the seats. The crevice tool was easy to use and quite effective in getting in between and under seats. The large attachment made quick work of cleaning larger areas like the trunk.

The tester found that it did feel heavy after a while, but the attachments made it much easier to maneuver around the car. Emptying it was easy, too, though the tester noted that larger dirt particles (like Cheerios) tended to get stuck in the filter, which could impact future effectiveness.

It was a bit loud, but it’s not surprising given how much power this car vac has. The Dewalt boasts a long battery life—our tester found that it was still going after using it for 15 minutes. Although it’s more expensive than other options, testers found that it was very effective overall and the multiple attachments justified the price point.

Price at time of publish: $148

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 18.3 x 7.8 x 5.2 inches
  • Bin Capacity: 23.6 oz
  • Accessories: Extension tube, floor nozzle, flexible hose, crevice nozzle, gulper brush, round brush, belt hook, accessory holder, and HEPA filter
  • Cord Length: N/A
  • Battery Life: 21 minutes
  • Weight: 2.3 pounds

Best for Families: Dirt Devil Scorpion Plus Corded Handheld Vacuum Cleaner SD30025B

4.2
dirt-devil-scorpion-plus-corded-handheld-vacuum-cleaner-sd30025b

Walmart

Why You Should Get It: It’s got a large dirt bin, so you can keep cleaning for longer.

Keep in Mind: You must use the attachments to get into tight spaces.

If you’ve got family members riding with you more often than not, the best car vacuum is this Dirt Devil pick. The vacuum features a large dirt bin, so you can clean up whatever messes come your way.

The Dirt Devil was great for vacuuming bigger surfaces within the car. The tester found it was lightweight and easy to maneuver enough so that they could hold the vac in one hand while pulling up the car mats with the other.

Our tester was impressed in particular with how well the Dirt Devil picked up Cheerios and even some Goldfish without much hassle. However, they did say that if they were stuck in tighter spots, there wasn’t enough suction to pull them out, so make sure you add the attachments to get into places like cup holders and tighter spots.

The tester noted that it was effective in picking up clumps of hair, but single strands proved to be much trickier. As for sand, take it slow when picking it up—the Dirt Devil is effective, but you might find yourself scattering the sand if you go too fast, according to our tester.

The tester found it easy to remove the canister and filter for emptying once the cleanup was done. Overall, they found that the vacuum was effective and appreciated the price point.

Price at time of publish: $45

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 9 Inches
  • Bin Capacity: 0.45 liters
  • Accessories: Crevice tool and pivoting stair and upholstery tool
  • Cord Length: 15 feet
  • Battery Life: Not listed
  • Weight: 3 pounds

The Bottom Line

Overall, the best car vacuum is the BLACK+DECKER BDH2020FL GEN 2 FLEX VAC because of its superior suction power and long, flexible hose that makes it easy for you to clean even the tightest nooks and crannies in your car. It’s also easy to clean, so just keep it charged so it’s ready to clean when you are.

Our Testing Process

To find the best car vacuums, we put 20 car vacuums to the test at our testing lab in Des Moines, Iowa. Using a pre-determined methodology, ten testers evaluated each vacuum based on seven categories: effectiveness, maneuverability, ease of emptying, portability, noise level, setup, and value. Testers did not know the prices of the units while they tested.

To determine effectiveness, testers vacuumed Cheerios, sand, and hair off of soft and hard surfaces. They took note of how many passes it took with the vacuum to clean up each mess. While testing, maneuverability was also determined based on how easy it was to navigate the vacuum from floors to cushions to cubbies of the car.

After cleaning, ease of emptying was based on how easy it was to remove a dust cup or bag from the unit. If it had a brush roll, however, testers evaluated if there was any hair caught on the rollers. Portability was then evaluated based on the unit’s weight, whether or not the cord was adequate, and whether or not it was challenging to move it from one spot to another.

Noise levels can range anywhere from 56 to 80 dB, so vacuums were evaluated on whether or not they stayed at 65 dB, even at their highest setting. Testers determined if they could comfortably hold a conversation above the noise.

Setup was determined based on whether or not the vacuum arrived assembled and how easy it was to assemble if necessary. They also took note of how clear the included instructions were, as well as if all the attachments could easily store on the vacuum.

After testing, testers were given the retail price of each pick. They then determined the overall value of the product, keeping in mind if the price was appropriate and if they would recommend it.

What to Know About Car Vacuums Before Shopping

Dimensions

Since car vacuums will likely stay in your car and only be used on your vehicle, you don’t want them to be too large. While there’s no magic size when it comes to buying a car vacuum, you do want to make sure it’s compact enough so you can vacuum all surfaces, especially when you add on any attachments.

Bin Capacity

Whether you have pets, small children, or both, you’ll want a bin capacity that suits your specific needs.

“A car vacuum’s features always involve a trade-off of some sort,” says Myers, and this is evident when it comes to bin capacity. “A vacuum with large bin capacity means the vacuum will weigh more but a smaller bin has to be emptied more frequently,” says Myers.

Accessories

When it comes to the best car vacuums, you’ll want to consider how you want to use them and where you need to clean. Whether you’re cleaning the seats or want to get into smaller compartments, attachments will help make the unit the most effective for you.

“It’s best to choose a car vac with accessories that will allow you to reach into the nooks and crannies of your car,” Huang says.

He recommends an extension hose, brushes, and crevice nozzle tools as being some of the more helpful ones. “[It’s a] plus if you can store these accessories in the car vac itself.”

Cord Length

The longer the cord, the more room you have to maneuver the vacuum in the car. Keep your car’s size in mind when purchasing a corded car vac. The best car vacuums for SUVs should have a lengthy cord, but even if you have a smaller car, you might like the extra cord length for ease of movement around seats.

Battery Life

The longer the battery life, the more time you have to vacuum your car. But don’t expect to be able to vacuum for hours.

“The charge of [most] cordless car vacs usually lasts around 12 to 15 minutes,” says Huang. “It may not be enough time to clean your whole car, especially if you have a big vehicle. They are more suitable for spot cleaning if you or your passenger accidentally make a mess in your car.”

Weight

A car vacuum will be a smaller unit than traditional vacuums, though you’ll still want to be mindful of the weight.

“In general, heavier vacuums provide more suction power and greater bin capacity, which is a plus; but if the vacuum is so heavy that you can’t easily maneuver it, the vacuum itself will end up gathering dust,” says Myers.

Other Car Vacuums We Tested

Shark WV401PK WandVac Power Pet Cordless Hand Vacuum

Our tester found the Shark WV401PK WandVac Power Pet Cordless Hand Vacuum to be effective on solid pieces of dirt and debris, but it didn’t fare so well with hair and sand. It also has a small dirt cup, so there’s not much time to work before you have to empty it.

Sun Joe AJV1000 Cordless 8.4-Volt Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

According to one tester, the Sun Joe AJV1000 Cordless 8.4-Volt Handheld Vacuum Cleaner was not effective at picking up debris. It took a number of passes to pick up all the Cheerios, which also took three empties of the tiny dust bin. As far as lighter dirt like sand and hair, it was more effective at blowing it all around the car rather than cleaning it up.

The Hoover ONEPWR Dust Chaser Cordless Handheld Vacuum

Our tester found the Hoover ONEPWR Dust Chaser Cordless Handheld Vacuum easy to maneuver on the car seats and mats, but its long and heavy design made it difficult to clean out the tighter spots. The tester would have tried out the attachments, but the Hoover stopped working after about two minutes of use.

Your Questions, Answered

How do I vacuum my car like a pro?

For starters, find a vacuum that is not too complicated.

“Our vacuums must be easy to use,” says Hoblet. “We make this happen by using lightweight hoses with the right attachments to get between seats, in tight spaces, etc., as well as attachments that can handle surface areas like seats and carpet.”

While Hoblet says even the best car vacuums for home use won’t have hoses as long as the ones the pros use, "You still want to think about the ability to easily maneuver around your vehicle and reach all the places that can accumulate dirt and grime.

How do you deep clean a car interior?

If you want to skip a trip to the car washer, the first thing you should do is grab a garbage bag and remove all large debris, like discarded napkins, paper cups, and any other items that can’t be picked up by a vacuum.

Then, remove the floor mats and hose them off or vacuum thoroughly. Wipe down surfaces with a microfiber cloth to remove dust, and use a soft brush to clean air vents. Use glass cleaner for the windows. Vacuum the floor and seats, using any attachments on your car vac to remove dirt and crumbs that have gotten stuck in tight spots.

“If you want to buckle down to clean your car’s interior, you’ll want a sturdier car vacuum with a bigger bin capacity and a cord,” says Huang. “This will allow you to clean without recharging the batteries or emptying the bin.”

Does more volts or wattage mean better suction?

According to Huang, higher volts and wattage do not necessarily equate to better suction. He notes that volt refers to battery power while wattage refers to electricity consumption while the vacuum is in use.

“A vacuum with more powerful suction will require more electricity (higher wattage) or a more powerful battery, which is why people often think a vacuum with higher wattage has better suction,” he says.

Huang notes that a better indicator of suction power is air watts (AW), which is a measurement used by vacuum manufacturers. Typically, the higher the AW, the better the suction.

“The downside is this is not an internationally defined unit of measurement, so you cannot directly compare one car vac’s AW to another one’s AW,” he says.

Who We Are

Barbara Bellesi Zito is a freelance writer from Staten Island, New York, covering all things home and lifestyle for Better Homes & Gardens. To compile this list of best car vacuums, Barbara analyzed lab insights from our testing site in Des Moines, Iowa, She also consulted Jennifer Myers, director of marketing at Kunes Auto & RV Group, Kevin Huang, founder and CEO of Ambient Home, and Phil Hoblet, vice president of category management at Driven Brands, the parent company of Take 5 Car Wash.

What is BHG Recommends?

Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they're worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn't an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products and we let you know that we got it for free to remain as transparent as possible about our picks.

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