Best car vacuum cleaners for 2022, tested – car and driver

Best car vacuum cleaners for 2022, tested - car and driver

Are car vacuums worth it?

Using a car vacuum will save you the time and effort of hauling a large vacuum cleaner or forcing your home vacuum into a small space that is not designed to clean. Car vacuums are fast, compact and usually come with attachments that can get you into tight spaces, such as under seats or around the dashboard. If you clean your car regularly, yes they are worth it.

Can I use my regular vacuum cleaner to clean my car?

In theory yes. However, your conventional home vacuum probably has a power cord that limits its (and your) mobility. It may also not have the reach or attachments to get into every nook and cranny of your vehicle. In addition, many home vacuums have large, bulky heads. Good luck cleaning your floor with that suction cup attached.

How much does a car vacuum cleaner cost?

We’ve tested a wide variety of vacuum cleaners with prices across the map. In our findings, we didn’t really see a significant correlation between price and performance. In other words, the cheapest vacuum cleaner we tested didn’t perform well at all, but the most expensive vacuum cleaner didn’t outperform the rest.

Prices ranged from $40 to $450, and the sweet spot seems to be around $100. It all depends on what you want from a car vacuum cleaner – for us it’s power, performance and versatility – and the price will reflect that.

If you already own and use power tools with their own rechargeable battery system, such as at Milwaukee or DeWalt, we recommend purchasing the vacuum cleaner in your system. These units work almost as well in vehicles as any vehicle-specific vacuum cleaner, but the extra cost of a battery and charger (if you don’t already have one) can really drive up the overall price.

Are stick vacuums good for cars?

Most stick vacuums, such as the Dyson V8 and Shark Ultralight, disconnect from the main unit so they work in cars. However, the head unit often improves the suction and effectiveness of stick vacuums, so performance can be compromised if removed.

If you have a motorhome or motorhome, a stick vacuum may be the way to go. They’re great for this one because of their versatility, and they’re portable enough to pack.

While you will probably never use the stick and/or floor attachments when cleaning your car, a vacuum cleaner that cleans both home and car is useful.

How often should I vacuum my car?

A good rule is once a month, but it depends on how much use your vehicle gets. To avoid build-up, it can be smart to do a simple touch-up every week or two so that over time you don’t end up in the dirty ditches caused by neglect. This approach can justify purchasing both an inexpensive, lightweight vacuum to keep in your car and a larger garage or shop vacuum.

Why trust us?

Car and driver and its sister brands at Hearst Autos represent three of the most influential automotive publications in the world. With the legacies of Car Week, Car and Driver, and Road & Rail behind us, the Hearst Autos Gear Team doesn’t have to worry about getting clicks or filling our coffers. Gear Team choices and recommendations are based on testing and knowledge, not hype.

For consistency, this test was performed in an environment that offered equal testing procedures for each product: the Car and driver garage. We tested the car vacuums for noise, suction power, weight, ease of dirt removal, battery life on a full charge and a floor mat challenge to see how well they pick up different types of dirt. After all the data was collected, we determined which car vacuum cleaners were best for different scenarios.

After summing up our findings, we agreed that our test was fair, legit, and provided the most complete information for us to recommend our picks to our readers.

Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.