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Your guide to the best car vacuum cleaners

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Have you been sitting in crumbs for too long? Has the chip that fell down the side of your seat weeks ago become a permanent member of your morning commute? Sometimes, dragging the household vacuum out, making sure the power cable reaches the car and all the fuss that comes with trying to clean car seats just seems like it belongs in the ‘too hard basket.’ This is where a dedicated car vacuum might come in handy. With so many models on offer, all containing different features and uses, it can be hard to figure out where to start. To help, we have compiled a list of some of the best car-cleaning vacuums and broken down the features, performance, and prices.

What’s a car vacuum?

A car vacuum is essentially a smaller, handheld version of the household vacuum we all know and love. The best part about a car vacuum is that you can keep your car clean without having to drag the big household vacuum outside! Like the regular vacuum, car vacuums use suction to remove particles such as dirt, sand, hair, and crumbs from your car interior, carpet, and upholstery.

Types of car vacuums

There are three main types of car vacuums: corded, cordless, and wet & dry vacuums, each with its own pros and cons.

  • Corded car vacuums: While cordless car vacuums are usually more convenient, as you don’t have to worry about the cord reaching or getting tangled up while trying to manoeuvre tight spaces, they do need charging and only last for so long. Corded vacuums, on the other hand, last as long as you need them to – as long as they’re attached to a power source.
  • Cordless car vacuums: Cordless vacuums, also known as stick vacuums, run on rechargeable batteries and avoid all that faffing around with tangled cords. Whilst they do require charging and often have shorter run times, a car is small enough that you won’t need hours and hours of charge to get the job done.
  • Wet & dry car vacuums: Unlike regular vacuums which are great for cleaning dirt, dust, crumbs, and other debris, wet/dry car vacuums go one step further with the ability can clean both dry and liquid messes, including spills, water, and damp particles. If sticky messes are common in your car, you might consider getting a wet/dry car vacuum.

Best car vacuum cleaners

Here are some of the best car-cleaning vacuums, based on features, performance, and price:

  1. Dick Smith Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner: $46.95 RRP*
  2. Hoover 12V Car Vacuum: $69 RRP*
  3. Black & Decker 27W Lithium-Ion Pivot Dustbuster: $73.18 RRP*
  4. Bosch GAS 18V 1L Vacuum: $129 RRP*
  5. Bissell Multi Cordless Hand Vac: $249 RRP*
  6. Dyson V7 Trigger handheld vacuum: $299 RRP*

Dick Smith Car Vacuum

Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner (Dick Smith) − $46.95*

With its fully cordless design and charging time of about 3.5h the Dick Smith Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner is an absolute steal for $46.95. This vac comes with three interchangeable nozzles: a brush, flat and wide nozzle – designed to reach all those awkward spaces such as in between seats and corners of the car boot. It also has a removable and washable filter that you can clean without having to replace it. The dust bin is translucent, in order for you to see just how much dust and other particles have been picked up, and it can be charged through a mobile power supply such as a laptop or car. With a 120W power output, this model has enough suction to clean up most dry messes and the battery lasts approximately half an hour.

Hoover 12V Car Vacuum − $69*

This cordless Hoover vacuum can be charged by connecting directly to your car socket and is a compact cleaning solution weighing just 0.5kg, which means that car cleaning sessions won’t also count as an arm workout. It connects directly to your car to deliver 12V of power and has numerous attachments to deliver the best clean. The dusting brush, crevice tool, and nozzle extension hose are all included with purchase, and the vacuum has a permanent washable filter with a 0.5L bin capacity and 80W of power output.

Black & Decker Vaccuum

Black & Decker 27Q Lithium-Ion Pivot Dustbuster − $73.18*

Another great option that won’t necessarily break the bank is this Black & Decker 27Q Lithium-Ion Pivot Dustbuster for $73.18. It features a patented nozzle that pivots up to 200°, ideal for reaching awkward spaces from any angle. A full charge (from empty) takes about four hours. This pivot vac can be folded in half to save on storage space and has a 0.44L bin capacity. The integrated crevice tool and flip-out brush make it easy to clean hard-to-reach areas of the car, not requiring any assembly. According to online reviews, this model is powerful enough for thorough car cleans and easy to use, although some consumers aren’t impressed with the fact that the battery can’t be replaced if it fails.

Bosch Vacuum

Bosch GAS 18V 1L Vacuum − $129*

Weighing in at 1.66kg, this cordless vacuum is ergonomic and balanced which makes it ideal for everyday use. It has an impressive runtime of 42 minutes and can hold up to 0.7L in its dust container. The attachments include a floor nozzle, extension tube, crevice nozzle and two suction tubes. This vacuum feature two rotational airflows to prevent clogging and ensure minimal loss of suction power. It also has a quick-release bin emptying function for easy cleaning. Unfortunately, the battery is not included and needs to be purchased separately. Alternatively, if you already have products from the Bosch range, it’s compatible with all Bosch Professional 18V batteries and chargers.

Bissell Vacuun

Bissell Multi Cordless Hand Vac − $249*

The Bissell Multi Cordless Hand Vac has a 20-minute runtime and 0.4L bin capacity. It does have several features that make cleaning easy such as the number of attachments and the dual LED lights which illuminate dust and dirt. The attachments included with the vacuum include a dusting brush, a built-in extension hose, a crevice tool, and a brush roll designed to pick up all that pesky pet hair from carpets and upholstery. The removable dustbin offers flexibility in how you clean and where you empty it for a ‘mess free’ clean after the car is clean. The battery is removable which makes charging more convenient and, unlike some other products, replaceable if need be.

Dyson Vacuum

Dyson V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum − $299*

The Dyson V7 Handheld Vacuum is suitable for cleaning your home, car, boat, or caravan. It offers up to 30 minutes of runtime for 3.5 hours of charge time. This cordless vac weighs just 1.71kg and comes with two additional attachments: a combination tool and a crevice tool. The combination tool is essentially two tools in one for easily switching between surfaces. The crevice tool is designed for precise cleaning around edges and narrow gaps, perfect for cleaning in between car seats and those hard-to-reach places in the car. In addition, this Dyson vacuum has two power modes: MAX, delivering extra-power cleaning for up to six minutes, and Powerful, for longer, everyday cleaning.

What to consider when buying a car vacuum cleaner

  1. Size/weight

Whilst handheld vacuums are lighter than your regular household vacuum, it’s still important to consider the weight and footprint of the vacuum, particularly when it comes to manoeuvring tight spaces in small cars or behind baby seats, for example. It’s also important to consider where you’ll store the vacuum, whether it needs to be compact enough to fit somewhere in your car, or whether you’re just going to keep it in your garage.

  1. Wet & dry capabilities

Do you need a wet/dry vacuum or is a dry-only going to be enough? A combination vacuum allows you to clean up all kinds of messes, but most vacuums are not designed to tackle liquid spills. Obviously, this would depend on how frequently liquids get spilled in the car and how many sticky messes need to be cleaned up, there’s only so far disinfectant wipes can go!

  1. Capacity

Most car vacuum cleaners have a dustbin capacity of about 0.5-1L. Make sure to pick a model with a large enough bin capacity for your household’s cleaning needs or you’ll find yourself making more trips to the bin than you want to. Trying to find the best of both worlds is key and it depends on the purpose intended for the vacuum.

  1. Suction power

Generally, the more suction power a vacuum has, the better it cleans, especially on carpets and other soft surfaces. Strong suction is essential for trying to get crumbs that are deeply embedded in car seats. If you transport furry friends in your car, pet hair is another thing that some vacuums struggle to collect so making sure the vacuum you select is powerful enough to tackle the job will make it feel like less of a chore in the long run.

  1. Attachments & accessories

Common attachments sold with car vacuums include floor nozzles, flexible extension tubes, crevice nozzles, and suction tubes. Each accessory is designed specifically for different cleaning jobs, so the more the better. For example, you wouldn’t be able to get into the gaps in between your seats with a floor attachment, and you wouldn’t want to clean the floor with a crevice nozzle. You get the gist.

  1. Cost

Car vacuums can cost between $40 and $300 and how much you’re comfortable paying will come down to your individual needs and budget. Are you looking for a dedicated vacuum to live in your car or would something like a 2-in-1 stick vacuum suffice? There are some budget-friendly options out there, and selecting the right one for you just depends on how big your car is, and how often you need to clean it (i.e. households with pets, children, etc.).

  1. Corded or cordless?

Whilst cordless vacuums are generally more convenient, they do require extensive charging for limited amounts of battery time. For example, one of the options above requires 3.5 hours of charging for a measly 30 minutes of runtime. That’s long enough to clean basic messes, such as cookie crumbs or sand from the beach, but for a more extensive clean, more time may be required. A corded vacuum, while offering more time to get that clean, also means you have to spend more time trying not to get the cord tangled as you navigate around the vehicle. If a corded option is more appealing, you have to consider how long the cord is and whether or not that would be suitable for the size of your car.

  1. Charging time

Is there anything worse than building up the motivation to finally clean out your car, just to find that your vacuum has no charge? By factoring in a charging time to your purchase decision this situation may be a little more bearable as some of the above options can get to full charge in under four hours.

Are car vacuums worth it?

Car vacuums are worth it especially because they take the guesswork out of cleaning your wheels, which may make the job feel less taxing (mentally and physically) and may even spur you to do it more regularly. They’re also super easy to use, compact enough to store in the boot or under a shelf in the garage, and inexpensive to buy. So, why would you want to clean your car more often? Because a) it helps maintain a healthy environment inside your car and b) it can improve the trade value or resale value of your car. Need we say more?

Compare Stick Vacuums

*Prices taken from respective retailers, correct as of July 2022.

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