Best Vacuums for Cars of 2017: Reviews of the Top Handheld, Cordless, & Corded Cleaners

With the wrong vacuum, cleaning out your car can be a real pain. Many vacuums won’t fit inside a car to begin with, let alone with enough room for you to move around. If you’re stuck with a short attachment hose, it’s hard to reach all the nooks and crannies of a car.

A good vacuum can help you clean out your car in no time. The best car vacuums are maneuverable, versatile, and powerful enough to lift dirt, hair, and other debris from all the different surfaces in your automobile.

We’ve gone on a quest to find the absolute best car vacuums on the market. We’ve found a few fantastic options to recommend to you!

You’ll find models that you can use just for the car, and some that you can use for the rest of your house, as well.

After our reviews, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you figure out what to look for in your new car vacuum.

We’ve written our own in-depth reviews of all three of these great models. We’ll take you through everything you need to know about them, and give you a sense of which one is the best option for you.

Let’s get started by taking a quick look at all three options:

Best on a Budget

Eureka RapidClean

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Best Seller

Black & Decker MAX Lithium

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Best Quality

Dyson V6

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Car Vacuum Reviews

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The Eureka RapidClean is the updated version of one of the most popular hand vacuums on the market. It’s a powerful, versatile model that we love for cleaning seat upholstery and carpeting in vehicles.

This one is great because it’s basically a miniature version of a full-sized machine: it has a powered brush head, extension hose, and attachments. And above all else, it’s affordable!

Pros:

This is one of the only hand vacuums on the market to feature a powered brush head. It’s a roller brush like you’d find on a full-sized upright or canister model. We love it for cleaning seat cushions, and carpeted surfaces around the seat-wells in your vehicles.

It’s the perfect tool for people who have pets that ride with them. It’s also a handy tool to have for fabric and carpeted surfaces around the house. We love it for pet climbing furniture, as well as stairs with vertical carpeting

The suction head is convertible for cleaning hard surfaces, too. You can flip a switch to shut off the roller brush, and flip down a dusting brush over the carpet head. It has thick, soft bristles for loosening surface dirt without scratching or scuffing the finish on hardwoods or tile. We especially love the little roller wheels, which let you glide the head along hard surfaces without having to hold it up or worry about scratching from plastic.

This one has an extension hose for reaching tighter spaces. It’s particularly handy, given that the normal suction head is so wide. You can use the hose on its own, or with a crevice tool. It gives you an extra 3-feet of reach for cleaning tricky spots. The best part is, it wraps around the vacuum when you’re not using it.

The dust compartment has been enlarged over the previous generation. It’s easy to clean out, because the whole thing detaches from the vacuum for emptying. The internal filter lifts out, and you can run it under the tap to clean it off.

It’s corded, so you’ll never run out of power. We love the extra long 25-foot cord on the Eureka, which gives you plenty of range. It wraps around the handle for easy storage. You can also unwind as much as you need, without having to drag the rest behind you.

It’s covered by a 1-year warranty. We also found that this Eureka has an excellent reputation for durability, especially compared to other handheld models.

Cons:

It’s heavy. This one weighs about 6 pounds, which can be a strain for people with arthritis or other wrist issues.

The dust compartment might be bigger than the old model, but it’s still pretty small. If you’re cleaning out your whole car, you might need to empty it more than once.

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This powerful cordless handheld from Black & Decker is a super maneuverable solution for car cleaning. A cyclonic suction system gives you plenty of sucking power, and new lithium ion batteries mean it doesn’t lose power as you lose charge.

We love this one for cars with leather seats, as well as quick cleanups around the house!

Pros:

It’s cordless. That makes it the most convenient choice for people who don’t park near an outlet. The Black & Decker uses a lithium ion battery pack to give you fade-free suction wherever you need it. We like lithium ion batteries because they provide more constant power than older technologies. Nickel cadmium batteries and other older standards fade steadily as you wear out each charge. Lithium ion systems give you full blast up until the last second! They also have a longer lifespan overall. Nickel cadmium batteries won’t hold as much charge after a year or so, while lithium ion systems last a lot longer.

It’s powerful. This model uses a cyclonic suction system to give you all the power you need to clean your car quickly and effectively. We like cyclonic suction because it keeps fine dust and dirt away from the motor filters. That keeps the filters cleaner longer, giving you more constant suction and making cleaning less of a regular chore. We’re particularly impressed by cyclonic suction on a model at this price, given that it’s basically the same technology you’ll get on a $200 Dyson.

The wide, narrow nozzle is extremely maneuverable. It fits easily in between seat cushions, in pockets, and in other nooks and crannies. And because it’s so wide, it helps you cover ground more quickly than your average crevice tool. The big feature on this mode is the pivoting function. You can pivot the nozzle to nearly any angle, for vacuuming awkward places. We love than Black & Decker has really thought this feature through, and included an internal flap to stop captured debris from falling back out of the vacuum when it’s at odd angles.

There are two attachments, a dusting brush and a crevice tool. We love that they’re stored right on the nozzle, so they’re always at the ready for when you need them. The crevice tool slides out from the nozzle, and the dusting brush folds down into action. The dusting brush is good for cleaning off your instrument panel, while the crevice tool is your new friend for cleaning out vents.

The dust chamber pops out for easy emptying. You can rinse it out in the sink, and all the filters are washable and removable as well.

The charging base doubles as a stand. We like the Black & Decker’s port because it allows you to stand the vacuum on end, rather than laying it on its side. That saves a lot of counter or shelf space. The base will also shut off automatically when the battery’s charged. That protects the battery system, and means you can safely leave the vacuum docked for days at a time without any risk.

Cons:

It’s not great for carpets. While the brush attachment will help you out somewhat, the lack of a powered brush or upholstery tool means that this one isn’t the best choice for cleaning plush seat covers.

Like many other cordless handhelds, this one doesn’t have a great record for reliability. We found a few reports from previous buyers of motors overheating or burning out. You’ll want to be careful to keep your filters clean, to prevent this from happening. The latch on the dust compartment is also a weak point. Previous buyers warned that it’s delicate, so you’ll want to be careful when you’re emptying this one.

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If you’re looking for a vacuum that’s maneuverable enough to tackle your car, but powerful enough to handle the rest of your house, look no further!

This Dyson is a powerful cordless crossover model which works as a stick vacuum, a handheld vacuum, and a half-length hybrid for all those awkward in-between spaces.

It has cyclonic suction, and comes with two separate powered brush heads, for your carpets and upholstery alike. We think it’s a great choice for people with small houses or apartments who want one vacuum that’ll do absolutely any task.

Pros:

It’s very powerful. The Dyson uses a cyclonic suction system like the Black & Decker. While the cheaper model uses one cyclone, this one takes things to a whole new level. There are several tiers of layered cyclones, all working in sequence to create a vortex inside the vacuum chamber. Even more than the Black & Decker, this one keeps even the finest dirt and debris away from the filter assembly. Dyson has lab-tested this model to be both the most powerful handheld and stick vacuum on the market in terms of sheer suction!

It’s cordless. The Dyson uses a lithium ion battery system, which gives you around 20 minutes of cleaning time per charge. Like the Black & Decker, the Dyson’s lithium ion system provides full suction power up to the very last drop of juice.

For cleaning your floors, there’s a fully-motorized brush head with two types of bristles. There are stiff nylon bristles for digging into carpet fibers, and long carbon filaments for loosening up surface dirt on hard floors without scratching the finish. It’ll work on anything from hardwoods to deep, wall-to-wall carpets.

We love the Dyson’s brush head because it’s a direct drive system. That means there’s no belt, which eliminates the most finicky part on most vacuums. Plus, the belt-less design results in an attachment that’s 75% more powerful than belted models. That means it’ll get stuck less easily, and won’t get bogged down in shaggy carpeting.

This model also comes with a secondary turbo brush attachment. It’s a smaller, scrubbing tool for cleaning hair and dirt from upholstery, fabrics, or smaller areas of carpeting. It’s much more maneuverable than the floor head, and you can use it in handheld mode for cleaning around the car. We’ve found that it really comes in handy for plush car seats, floor mats, and carpeted trunks. This one will be a lifesaver for people who travel with pets on a regular basis.

There’s also a crevice tool and dusting brush thrown in. These are pretty standard attachments, but Dyson’s stand out because they’re integrated into the nozzle of the vacuum. That means there’s nothing to store separately, and no need to run and get attachments while you’re cleaning. They’re ready as soon as you need them.

The dust bin is easy to empty. You don’t even have to detach it from the vacuum. You simply hold the hand unit over the trash, and press a button to release the trapdoor.

It’s covered by a 2-year warranty.

Cons:

20 minutes isn’t a huge amount of cleaning time. While this model is versatile enough to handle both your car and your house, you won’t be able to do both in one cleaning session. On MAX mode, your battery life is even shorter — 6 minutes.

It’s expensive. The Dyson costs about the same as a full-sized vacuum. While it’s as powerful as many of the bigger options, this might seem like a lot of money to pay for a light stick vacuum.

It’s quite loud. Between the power of the digital motor and the light plastic construction, the V6 makes a high-pitched whine when you’re running it. It’s definitely not on the quieter side, but the noise level isn’t out of the ordinary in terms of other stick or handheld vacuums.

The V6 handheld unit at the core of this package was designed as a hand vacuum. As such, it has a pretty small dust compartment. While it’ll probably get you through your whole car, you may have to empty it more than once when you’re vacuuming your floors.

Which is the Best Car Vac for You?

The Eureka is the best choice for people who are shopping on a budget.

It’s ideal for people with a lot of fabric surfaces in their vehicle. Plus, the versatility of this model means you’re sure to find lots of extra projects for it around your house!

While you’ll have to plug it in, you’ll still have a nearly 30-foot range. The big advantage with this model is that it won’t run out of power. That can be a big plus if you have a larger vehicle, like an SUV or minivan.

The Black & Decker, like the Eureka, is a fantastic choice for people who already have a good primary vacuum, and want a separate model for their car.

It’s much less bulky than the Eureka, and gives you the added freedom of cordless power. We love the cyclonic suction, which gives this one much more oomph than other handhelds.

The sleek, pivoting nozzle design also makes this as maneuverable as any vacuum. It’s the better choice for cars with leather seats, as well as flat-weave upholstery. On the downside, it’s not much good at carpets or plush fabrics.

The Dyson has the carpet and fabric cleaning power of the Eureka, with the power and range of the Black & Decker.

It’s also the only one of our recommendations that can handle full floor cleaning as well as vehicle maintenance. We highly recommend it for people who want a vacuum to do both on a regular basis.

However, the limited cleaning time means that this might not be the best primary vacuum for people who live in larger houses. It’s a better choice for apartment or condo dwellers, or people who like to clean in phases.

It’s also expensive. This one will cost you as much as an average full-sized vacuum.

How to Choose the Best Car Vacuum Cleaner

Think about your car seats:

You’ll want to think about the type of car seats you have before you buy your vacuum. If you have leather seats, your work is pretty easy. Dirt falls off leather, so you just need a vacuum with powerful suction to suck it all up.

The one thing to be aware of is the nozzle — stiff brushes can scuff up leather seats. You’ll want either a smooth plastic nozzle, or soft brushes that won’t scratch the surface of the leather.

If you have flatweave seats, with pretty smooth upholstery, we’d recommend either a smooth nozzle or some sort of light upholstery brush. You might need to loosen up some caked-on mud or dirt, so having brush power can’t hurt.

For plush seats, as well as the carpeting you’ll find in trunks or seatwells, you’ll want a vacuum with a powered brush attachment. You need those spinning bristles to loosen up ground-in dirt and hair from thicker fabrics. Without a brush, you’re only cleaning the surface.

Think about range:

When you’re shopping for a car vacuum, maneuverability is your biggest concern. Think about two key things: how you’ll get to your car, and how you’ll get around inside your car.

If you park near an outlet, or have a good extension cord, you can get away with a corded vacuum. If you park in a shared lot, or far away from an outlet at home, you’ll probably want to clean your car with a cordless model.

In terms of moving around your car, you want to make sure your power cord will let you get to all the places of your car that you need to clean. Measure from the nearest outlet to the far side of your car, to make sure you’ll be able to get everywhere you need to go.

Will this be your primary vacuum, or just a car vacuum?

If you’re looking to buy one vacuum for both your car and your house, you’ll probably want to look at a hybrid stick model. There are few options on the market for stick vacuums that can vacuum all your floors, then break down to hand vacuums for cleaning around your vehicle.

If you’re just looking for a car vacuum, we’d advise buying a handheld model. They’re much cheaper than hybrid stick options, and can handle all the vacuuming in your car.

Plus, chances are you’ll find lots of other projects for a hand vacuum around your house. They’re a great supplementary tool to have, even if you have a great full-size vacuum. A hand vacuum is less of a hassle to get out, and less bulky to use.

Decide on your budget:

If you’re on a tighter budget, you’ll probably want to look at corded vacuums. They’re much cheaper than cordless models on the whole, and they provide pretty comparable performance.

If you can spend a bit more, we’d advise going for a cordless model. They give you infinitely more range, and are better choices for those awkward places in your car where cords can get in the way.

Corded vacuums generally cost between $30 for a budget handheld to $200 for a convertible stick model. Cordless vacuums range from $50 for older handhelds to $400 for some hybrid stick models.

The more you spend, the more likely you are to find powered brush attachments for dealing with carpets and upholstery. More expensive models also have cyclonic suction, boost settings, and other features to help you handle the tricky spots. High-end models also have better reliability ratings and longer warranty periods.

What’s Next?

Want to compare more terrific car vacuums? Check out the best sellers on Amazon or you could check go back to our  guide on the Best Vacuum Cleaners Review for more!