Best Cordless Car Vacuums
Passionate cleaners have a special advantage when it comes to extending the life of their vehicle. Using wipes to clean surfaces is one way to keep muck at bay, but frequent vacuuming of a car’s carpet and upholstery is more effective for preventing a buildup of grime, discoloration and odor. Eliminating these elements will enhance the look of the vehicle’s interior, prolong its life and strengthen its value. Most importantly it will create a more pleasant experience for both the driver and passengers.
To make sanitation nimble and convenient, car owners often opt for a cordless handheld vacuum. Hand-operated vacuums are relatively small and easy to stash as cargo. Without a cord, a vacuum is easily carried throughout a car—reaching door-to-door and floor-to-ceiling. Plus, handhelds are usually lightweight, which can particularly aid those with arthritis, back pain or other physical ailments.
Our testing focused specifically on cordless handheld vacuums, which are mobile and convenient but don’t offer the deep cleaning power of a full canister or professional vacuum (think shop vac). But where they lack in vigorous suction they make up for in compact size, flexibility and ease of stoage. Plus, modern cordless vacuums have stronger re-chargeable batteries compared with models of yesteryear and they are strong enough to effectively clean the small cracks, creases and cravasees where dirt, dust and other debris can get trapped. The products also feature a range of special characteristics from LED lights to nozzles that pivot. These are our top six choices.
Best Cordless Vacuum for Extensive Cleaning Duration: Dreamiracle Hand Vacuum Cleaner
Why We Picked It:
This light-duty handheld vacuum operates for 45 minutes in low mode and recharges via a USB plug in a few hours. The certified High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter is washable and traps 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns: the dust, pollen, mold and bacteria that most easily escapes air filters. The hairbrush tool sweeps up pet and human strands, the long nozzle reaches cramped spots around seats and the standard nozzle captures food debris. It also has compact dimension, measuring 14-by-4.7-by-4 inches and weighing less than 1.3 pounds.
- Low noise level of less than 70 decibels
- Doubles as an inflator with an extension pipe and nozzles
- Five-volt battery lasts 25 minutes when operating in high mode
- Does not provide the powerful suction of a utility vacuum
- Cannot capture extremely coarse pet hair
Best Illumination for Hard-to-See Crevasses: VacLife Handheld Vacuum
Why We Picked It:
The VacLife Handheld Vacuum features two bright LED lights along the sides to illuminate dark spaces around your vehicle’s seats or center console. The easy-to-handle, lightweight 12-volt vacuum is 17-by-5.5-by-5 inches and weighs under 3 pounds. A brush and long nozzle attachment are both included. The device features a washable double-layer nylon and HEPA filter to collect dust particles. One full charge (3 to 4 hours) provides at least 25 minutes of work.
- LEDs illuminte dark spaces and help with night cleaning
- Fairly quiet while in use
- Comes with a variety of attachments for flexible cleaning
- Clasp that secures the vacuum bin could be stronger
- Not on par with a utility vacuum’s extreme suction
- Only offers one power setting
Best for Capturing Outdoor Debris: Bissell AeroSlim Cordless Handheld Vacuum
Why We Picked It:
This sleek, contemporary handheld will easily fit inside a spacious door panel (like the inside a Nissan Titan PRO-4X full-size pickup). We were surprised with the vacuum’s power—despite being 7.2 volts—to swoop pine needles, dirt and pebbles. It’s compact size reaches nooks and crannies, especially with the slender crevice tool or brush. The oblong handle is comfortable to hold. It’s diminutive dimensions are 2.8-by-12.6-by-3.6 inches. It’s also 2 pound machine stows upright via a stand, which doubles as a holder for the attachments. Though it’s cordless power is limited to 12 minutes, it will recharge or work while plugged into your car’s USB ports.
- Easy to store and charge inside the vehicle
- Good for cleaning up remants of hard core outdoor activity
- Washable filter
- Short battery life
- Limited to one power setting
- Requires several hours to charge
Best for Hard-to-Reach Cleanups: Honiture Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Why We Picked It:
This 1.9-pound vacuum measures 14-by-6-by-5.6 inches and features a classic crevice and brush tools plus an extension tube tool with a long nozzle that enables high-up reach that would be useful in a trailer or an adventuremobile (think the curtains on a van), or, on the flip side, for reaching tight spaces in a compact two-seater. In addition to dust, dirt, crumbs and light hair, this lightweight device is designed to safely suck up 1 ounce of liquid. The 12-volt vacuum runs for 30 minutes on a full charge, which requires 4 to 5 hours. The handheld also features a LED light for cleaning dark spaces like beneath the car seats.
- Two power levels
- Compact size
- Effective suction power
- Can only handle small wet spills
- Does not include a carrier to store attachments
- Not as powerful as a utility vacuum cleaner
Best for Orderly Storage: GNG Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner
Why We Picked It:
This handheld vacuum is designed to tackle spilled liquids or crumbs. The battery power lasts at least 17 minutes following a 2.5-hour charge. It comes with two charging cables: one for a standard wall outlet and another that stretches more than 16 feet and has a 12-volt adapter for car cleaning. The vacuum and cords are easily stored in a tidy zippered bag along with a hose, dust brush and crevice tool. At 1.7 pounds and dimensions of 15-by-5.3-by-5 inches, the design is comfortable, lightweight and easy to use. The vacuum features a HEPA filter and the dirt-collection cup has a .5-liter capacity.
- Includes storage bag
- Handles wet spills
- Easily picks up food crumbs left behind by young kids and pets
- Battery lasts less than 20 minutes on full charge
- Suction power is not as tenacious as an industrial vacuum cleaner
- Does not pick up thick pet or human hair
Best for Powerful Suction: Black + Decker Dustbuster Pivot Vac Cordless Hand Vacuum
Why We Picked It:
This powerful handheld reaches a high degree of suction compared with other top-rated cordless vacuums because it has a large 20-volt lithium-ion battery. It’s 15-ounce dustbowl also provides fair space to collect chunkier crud. The vacuum’s design includes a nozzle that will pivot up to 200 degrees so the angle can be adapted for easier reach. A 4-hour charge provides 10 to 20 minutes of drive. The vacuum is not the most streamlined but still only 3 pounds and 18-by-7-by-7 inches.
- Provides upper-tier suction power
- Washable dirt bowl and filter
- Includes crevice tool and brush
- Bulkier shape
- Not the most durable
To determine the best cordless car vacuum for your vehicle, Forbes Wheels objectively considered six of the highest-selling and quality products on the market. The roundup includes designs from a spectrum of manufacturers and each rechargeable unit is fully operable without a cord. The products were scored by weight, capability, ergonomics and ease of use for a spectrum of physical abilities. The products were also rated for overall quality, attachments and accessories, recharge time and multiple power modes. Furthermore, we considered a full range of end-user ratings and in-house evaluations by multiple testers.
How much horsepower do car wash vacuums have?
Car wash stations generally have either a central vacuum system—meaning, multiple hoses stem from one powerful motor—or single-unit vacuums with independent motors. The former usually delivers a range of 15 to 25 horsepower. The latter typically offers 1.6 horsepower per motor.
How do I choose a car vacuum?
Choose a car vacuum based off your vehicle’s size (which will affect cleaning duration) and the debris that you typically need to clean (dirt, rocks and sand or crumbs, crayons and hair). The majority of cordless handheld vacuums pickup dust, pebbles, strands of hair and crumbs. Handheld vacuums are not heavy-duty for sucking up mud or thick tufts of hair. Most operate for 12 to 45 minutes on a single charge. Some cordless handhelds swoop small amounts of liquid though are not as effective as specialized wet vacuums.
What vacuum do car detailers use?
Professional car detailers use heavy-duty vacuums and upholstery tools from an array of manufacturers such as Mytee and Daimer Industries. Bigger vacuums have wheels for portability and are power-cord operated. These robust designs are generally pricier and higher power—around 100 cubic-feet per minute—than household vacuums. The machines typically have three-stage motors and multi-gallon tanks for water, some of which are heated and reach more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
What products do professional car detailers use?
Car detailers use durable, powerful vacuums made for small, medium, or large vehicle cleanups. The designs usually have tanks for cold or hot water capabilities that can extract grease, dirt, and stains. The machines are able to process a variety of chemicals: concentrated fabric and carpet cleaners for muck extraction, high-foaming carpet and upholstery shampoo, and stain removers. Automotive cleaning specialists also hook up the cord-operated vacuum to various specialized upholstery tools.
Which handheld vacuum has the strongest suction?
The best handheld cordless vacuums with the upper-tier strongest suction are those with solid batteries that provide 15 to 20 volts of power, which equals 35 air watts. On the weaker end, a 12-volt machine provides around 11 air watts of strength.