Is a car vacuum cleaner worth it?
Using a car vacuum saves you the time and effort of lugging around a large shop vacuum or forcing your home vacuum into a small space it wasn’t designed to clean. Car vacuums are fast, compact and usually come with attachments that allow you to get into tight spaces, like under the seats or around the dashboard. If you clean your car regularly, yes, it is worth it.
Can I use a regular vacuum cleaner to clean my car?
In theory, yes. However, your conventional home vacuum probably has an electrical cord that will limit its mobility (and yours). Also, it may not have the access or connections to fit properly into all the nooks and crannies of your vehicle. Additionally, many household vacs have large and unwieldy heads. Good luck cleaning your floorboards with that attached vacuum cleaner.
How much does a car vacuum cost?
We tested a wide range of vacuums with prices all over the map. In our findings, we didn’t really see an obvious correlation between price and performance. In other words, the cheapest vacuum we tested didn’t perform well at all, but the more expensive vacuum didn’t massively 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 – for us it’s power, performance and versatility – and the price will reflect that.
If you already own and use power tools with a proprietary rechargeable battery system, such as a Milwaukee or DeWalt, we recommend purchasing the vacuum in your system. These units work almost as well in vehicles as any car-specific vacuum, but the added cost of a battery and charger (if you don’t already have them) can really add to the overall price.
Are stick vacuums good for cars?
Most stick vacuums, such as the Dyson V8 and Shark Ultralight, detach from the main unit so will work in cars. However, the head unit often increases the suction power and effectiveness of stick vacuums, so performance may be compromised by removing it.
If you own an RV or motorhome, a stick vacuum may be the way to go. They are great for these because of their versatility and are portable enough to pack.
While you’ll likely never use the floor stick and/or attachment when cleaning your car, a vacuum cleaner that cleans your home and car comes in handy.
How often should I vacuum my car?
A good rule of thumb is once a month, but it depends on how you use your vehicle. To prevent build-up, it may be wise to perform a simple vacuum every week or two, which will save you from running into dirty drains caused by neglect over time. This approach can justify buying an inexpensive and easy-to-carry vacuum, as well as a larger garage unit or shop vacuum.
Why do you trust us?
Car and Driver and its sister brands at Hearst Autos represent three of the world’s most influential automotive publications. With the legacies of AutoWeek, Car and Driver, AND Road & Track Behind us, the Hearst Autos Gear team doesn’t need to worry about getting clicks or filling our coffers. The gear team’s picks and recommendations are based on testing and knowledge, not advertising.
For consistency, this test was performed in an environment that provided equal testing procedures for each product: Car and Driver garage. We tested car vacuums for sound, suction, weight, ease of emptying, battery life on a full charge, and the floor challenge to see how well they picked up different debris. After all the data was collected, we determined which car vacuums were best for different scenarios.
After compiling our findings, we agreed that our test was fair, legitimate, and provided the most complete information for us to recommend our choices to our readers.
Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.