Deep cleaning your car detailing can feel like an uphill battle. With so much dirt and debris hiding in little nooks and crannies, the task can feel overwhelming.
Luckily, some vacuums have attachments and features that make cleaning your car’s interior easy. These auto detailing vacuums are designed to reach tight spaces, like between your car seats, to capture all the dirt.
With strong suction power and a more compact vacuum nozzle, detail cleaning can be a breeze with a car vacuum cleaner.
In this article, we’ll explore the best vacuums for car detailing. We’ll also show you the best vacuum features to look out for to find the right option for your cleaning.
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What to Look For in a Car Detailing Vacuum
Here are the key features you should consider when you’re buying a vacuum cleaner for car detailing.
Handheld vacuums are convenient cleaning tools. Although they tend to have less suction power than other models, they’re great for cleaning small messes and spills.
A handheld car vacuum is perfect for cleaning hard-to-reach areas, like in between car seats and consoles. For example, see this Odeer car detailing vacuum.
Some handheld vacuums also have extra features, such as steamer functions to achieve the same results as professional car detailers.
For instance, this Vapamore MR-50 vacuum cleaner is a steamer vacuum combo.
Shop-Vac or Wet Dry Vacuum
A shop vacuum can clean both dry and wet messes and small or large debris. They are powerful cleaning machines with long, flexible hoses for reaching into the remote areas of your car’s interior.
Shop-vacuums also often come with longer crevice tools for cleaning in tight spaces. These are helpful when you’re cleaning between your car seats or other compact areas.
However, shop-vacs aren’t very portable. So they are best thought of as all-rounders when it comes to cleaning.
For example, see this DEWALT Wet/Dry vacuum cleaner.
Many shop-vacs are also wall-mounted models. So this is something to consider when you’re looking at a shop vacuum to clean your car detailing.
Consider your cleaning needs to find the best vacuum type for you. For example, if you want a car vacuum that offers a lot of portability, you should consider a handheld vacuum.
But, if you want a powerful vacuum to clean liquid car messes, a shop car detailing vacuum may be a better option for you.
Corded or Cordless
Corded car vacuums tend to provide the most power because they’re plugged into wall outlets. But, make sure you consider the cord length on these models.
Thankfully, most car vacuums have long cords that are around 20-feet long. For example, this CherylonCar portable vacuum cleaner has a 16.4-foot long power cord.
Cordless car vacuums run on battery power. So they offer a lot of portability for car cleaning.
This is ideal for cleaning hard-to-reach areas and tight spaces like cupholders or underneath your car seats.
Cordless vacuums offer less power and a limited run time. But, they’re lighter models, which makes them ideal for small cleaning jobs such as cleaning your car.
When it comes to car vacuums, suction is usually expressed in amps on corded models by manufacturers. Or in volts on cordless models.
However, it’s important to note that amps and volts have nothing to do with the actual level of suction. Rather, they are units of electrical potential.
But, these measures can indicate better suction when you’re comparing models.
For a cordless vacuum, you want a model with at least 15-20 volts for efficient suction. With corded car vacuums, you should aim for a minimum of 5-7 amps.
The best car vacuum for car detailing will have HEPA filters. A HEPA filter traps 99.97% of all airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns.
So this is the best option if you suffer from allergies or asthma. HEPA filters can reduce health effects from dust, mold spores, allergens, or pollen in the air (1).
However, make sure to check if it’s a true HEPA filter and not a HEPA-like filter. A true HEPA filter has a certification number you can look for.
You should also check if the filter is washable. This can save you the cost of needing to replace the filter too often.
When you’re looking for a vacuum to clean a car, you want it to be lightweight and easy to transport. So a cordless or handheld model will be a better option than a bulky regular vacuum.
Shop-vacs operate on wheels and usually come with long hoses. So the weight isn’t as big of a factor if you’re looking at a shop car detailing vacuum.
Another thing to consider about the weight of your vacuum is how powerful you want it to be. Lightweight models may not offer enough power if you’re cleaning a large amount of dirt and debris.
In this case, you might want to consider a heavier, and therefore more powerful, cleaner. So a shop-vacuum might be more suitable.
A bigger capacity will need less emptying while you’re vacuuming. And this can save you a lot of time during cleaning.
So make sure you consider the size of the space you’ll be cleaning to determine the best capacity for you.
Because a car is generally a small area to clean, you likely won’t need an overly large capacity. For example, this Bissell Multi Auto Cordless Hand Vacuum cleaner(View on Walmart) has a small tank capacity of 0.4 liters.
However, if you have a big car, you might want to consider a vacuum cleaner with a bigger capacity. That way, you can concentrate on your cleaning instead of needing to empty your vacuum too often.
A vacuum cleaner with a capacity of 2 to 6 gallons is generally a suitable size for cleaning cars.
But, make sure you consider what your requirements are so you don’t purchase unnecessary attachments. For example, you won’t need attachments for cleaning shag carpet fibers or wood floors when you’re cleaning car detailing.
If you often have pets in your car, you should consider vacuums with a special nozzle or pet tool. For example, a mini-motorized brush will help pet owners deep clean stubborn pet hair or pet accidents.
An upholstery tool can also be helpful to clean car seats without damaging the fabric. Plus, a crevice tool can be handy for cleaning along or down the sides of car seats.
Lastly, extension hose attachments can give you a lot of flexibility for cleaning your car. They provide more freedom than traditional vacuum cleaners offer for car cleaning.
The Best Vacuums for Auto Detailing of 2023
We’ve spent hours researching the best car vacuums for auto detailing on the market. We looked at honest reviews, expert advice, features, and technical specs to find the top 6 car vacuums for detailing.
Here are our picks.
1. Bissell Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum
Best Overall Vacuum for Car DetailingView on AmazonView on Walmart
It’s a wall-mounted vacuum cleaner that you can attach securely to your garage wall for easy convenience. So you can drive your car up to it, open your doors, and get started on the cleaning straight away.
Wall-mounted vacuums are great for auto detailing shops and busy garages. Not only does this free up floor space, but it also eliminates the need for lugging around a bulky vacuum.
The extra-long 32-foot hose also makes it easy to reach around your car. This long hose provides a lot of freedom for cleaning cupholders and under your car seats.
What We Like
Easy MaintenanceThis wet/dry Bissell car vacuum has a semi-translucent 4-gallon dirt tank. This means you can see when the vacuum tank needs emptying before it gets too full.
Suitable for Wet and Dry SpillsAs a wet/dry vacuum, you can clean dry messes and liquid spills with this vac. So if you spill water or have other wet messes in your car, you can easily clean it up with this car vacuum.
Versatile AttachmentsThanks to the seven helpful car detailing attachments, you get a lot of versatility with this car vacuum cleaner. It comes with a crevice tool, extension wand, pet-hair brush, and more.
These tools make it easy to clean all the nooks and crannies in your car, as well as your car seat fabric.
What We Don’t Like
Fragile HoseAccording to reviews, the hose on this wall-mounted vacuum can be hard to use. It can easily kink, which interrupts the suction while you’re vacuuming.
A kinking hose can be frustrating, especially when you’re cleaning in tight spaces in your car.
|Dimensions||11 x 11 x 26-inches|
|Cord length||5 feet|
2. Beyond By BLACK+DECKER 20V Cordless Flex Car Vacuum
Best Cordless Vacuum for Car DetailingView on AmazonView on Walmart
The cordless design makes it easy to carry and transport around the interior of your car. You won’t have to worry about a cord trailing behind you or needing to reach a power outlet.
For a cordless car vacuum cleaner, this model still packs a lot of power. With 20 volts of energy, you can easily lift every speck of dirt in your car without any trouble.
Plus, it has a flip-up brush and crevice tool for cleaning the delicate areas of your car. So you can efficiently clean in between the air vents and around your dashboard without scratching the surface.
What We Like
Extendable HoseThe extendable 4-foot hose is ideal for cleaning underneath your car seats or between the cushions. You can attach it to the vacuum for added reach while you’re vacuuming.
It’s also great for cleaning your car mats and the floor of your car.
Easy StorageIt comes with a handy storage accessory bag that you can use when it’s not in use. But it also has a convenient charging base with onboard storage for the accessories.
So you can keep everything in one place without losing any parts when you’re not using your car vacuum.
Easy To EmptyThe dust-bin has a release button that opens the bin for hands-free emptying. So you can quickly empty it into your trash and continue vacuuming without too much interruption to your cleaning session.
What We Don’t Like
Short Battery LifeWhile it offers a lot of power for a cordless car vacuum, this comes at the cost of shorter battery life. This vacuum cleaner provides only 15 minutes of run time, according to reviews.
So it might not be the best vacuum for car detailing if you have a big car to clean.
|Dimensions||14.76 x 10.47 x 6.46-inches|
3. Armor All Utility Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
Best Shop Vac for Car DetailingView on AmazonView on Walmart
It has a lightweight and portable design and an easy carry handle with an ergonomic design. This makes it convenient to hold and carry while you’re vacuuming.
It’s also easy to transport around your car when cleaning different sections. Plus, it has a 2 horsepower motor that provides decent suction power for deep cleaning your car’s interior.
But what stands out with this wet/dry model is the versatility. The six foot flexible hose is great for cleaning your car carpets as well as leather seats or plastic consoles.
But, you can also use the six-foot hose on this wet vacuum to clean wet and dry messes on your garage floor. So it’s perfect for almost any cleaning task.
What We Like
On-Board StorageThanks to the complete onboard storage, you won’t ever lose an attachment on this wet/dry vacuum. You can securely attach them to the vacuum unit for easy access when you need them.
Bult-In Noise DiffuserThis vacuum for car detailing has a built-in noise diffuser that muffles sound while it’s operating. This makes it a perfect vacuum if you have close neighbors or children around while you’re cleaning.
Converts To Leaf BlowerReviewers love that this wet/dry vacuum converts into a blower when you need it. You can use the blower nozzle and compressed air to remove leaves or debris from around your car.
Reviewers also use the blower port to conveniently dry their car carpet after cleaning up wet messes.
What We Don’t Like
Narrow Cleaning HeadAlthough it has a narrow cleaning head that’s great for cleaning hard-to-reach spaces, it does cause this vacuum to clog easily. Because it’s small, debris can get stuck in the connection and cause the vacuum to stop suctioning.
Many reviewers found this annoying as it kept interrupting their cleaning.
|Dimensions||10.6 x 14.2 x 14.4-inches|
|Cord length||10 feet|
4. ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner
Best Portable Car Detailing VacuumView on AmazonView on Walmart
Read Full Review: THISWORX Car Vacuum Cleaner Review
Portability is key when you’re cleaning any part of your car, especially the detailing. Luckily, this wet/dry car vacuum offers powerful suction in a small, portable vacuum cleaner unit.
This handheld car vacuum weighs only 2.64 lbs, so it won’t strain your hand or wrist during big cleans.
Plus, the sleek flat bottom design makes it easy to reach into tight spaces such as around car seats. It will easily slide across any surface of your car.
Unlike most handheld car vacuums, this compact vacuum doesn’t compromise on power. Boasting an impressive 9.17 amps of powerful suction, you can power through tough debris and mess with this option.
Plus, this handheld model can handle both wet and dry spills. So it’s ideal for spot-cleaning liquid spills or car messes.
What We Like
Built-In LED LightThis handheld wet/dry vacuum has a built-in LED light to illuminate hidden dust and debris in dark spaces. This is especially helpful when you’re cleaning underneath your car seats or in the small nooks of your car.
So you won’t have to worry about missing a single speck of dirt with this handheld vac.
HEPA FilterWith two HEPA filters, this vacuum efficiently traps dust and allergens in your car. Not only does this improve the air quality inside your car’s interior, but it helps to remove bad smells, too.
Lighter Port CordThe power cord plugs straight into your cigarette lighter socket. So you get 16-feet of range in your car interior, which is plenty of reach for cleaning your entire car.
This also means you can clean your car from anywhere. You won’t need access to a power cord to use this vacuum.
So, you can just plug it straight into your car and start cleaning for mobile detailing wherever you are.
What We Don’t Like
Flimsy HoseSome reviewers mentioned that the extension hose is flimsy. It’s made from cheap plastic that tends to bend easily.
This can cause a bit of hassle if you’re using it to clean hard-to-reach spaces.
|Dimensions||16.5 x 4.5 x 4.7-inches|
|Cord length||16 feet|
5. Vacmaster Shampoo Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner
Best Shampoo Car VacuumView on AmazonView on Walmart
This high-quality vacuum boasts a 5.5 HP motor for powerful suction performance on your car surfaces. You can suction up every speck of dirt with a single cleaning pass.
But it’s also a 3-in-1 tool. This vacuum offers wet and dry cleaning as well as upholstery shampooing. So you can use it to get rid of stains on your car carpet or seat fabrics.
Plus, it has 45-feet of cleaning reach with the hose and power cord. This means you’ll be able to reach every inch of your car with this vac.
It also comes with large rear wheels and front casters for easy mobility during cleaning. This makes it easy to maneuver around your car to reach different areas.
What We Like
Multi-Layer FiltrationThis vacuum offers excellent filtration with a washable cartridge filter and a HEPA-material exhaust filter. It also comes with a foam filter for cleaning wet spills.
So you can say goodbye to dust particles, pet dander, and allergens in your car with this efficient filter system.
Large TankThe large-capacity 8-gallon tank allows you to clean for longer. You won’t have to interrupt your cleaning to empty the tank too often.
Easy ControlsThis vacuum and shampoo cleaner comes with a remote control handle that allows you to easily switch between vacuuming and shampooing. So you’re always in control with this vacuum.
What We Don’t Like
Hard To AssembleAccording to reviews, this vacuum has a difficult and in-depth assembly process. And the instructions are confusing and hard to understand.
So you may have difficulty setting this vacuum cleaner up before you can use it.
|Dimensions||18.8 x 15.2 x 25.8-inches|
6. RIDGID Auto Detailing Vacuum Accessory Kit
If you already own a shop-vac and don’t want to purchase another machine, this accessory kit is the pick for you. This RIGID Auto Detailing Vacuum Accessory kit has everything you need to turn your shop vac into the best car vacuum.
This kit is advertised for RIGID wet/dry vacuums. However, it comes with a hose extension adapter that can connect to most shop vacuum hoses.
The kit comes with 6 tools to make car detail cleaning a breeze. This includes a dual-layer hose, crevice tool, soft bristle dusting brush, a scrubbing brush, hose adapter, and claw nozzle.
What We Like
Extra ReachThe hose-to-hose adapter allows you to connect additional hoses to your vacuum unit. This gives you a lot of extra reach for cleaning your car’s interior.
Delicate CleaningThanks to the soft bristle brush attachment, you can easily clean delicate surfaces in your car without a hassle. This is perfect for cleaning your front console, as well as around your steering wheel.
Scrubbing PowerThe stiff bristle brush provides a lot of scrubbing power for cleaning your car mats or flooring. This is especially great if you have muddy footprints or ground-in dirt on your car floor.
What We Don’t Like
Adapter Is Hard To AttachAccording to reviews, the hose adapter can be hard to use. You have to make sure it’s securely fitted to ensure proper suction power while you’re cleaning.
|Dimensions||1 x 1 x 1-inches|
Car Detailing Vacuum Comparison Chart
|Product||HEPA Filter||Capacity||Weight||Cord length||Dimensions||Our Rating|
|Bissell Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum||4 gallons||33.2 lbs||5 feet||11 x 11 x 26-inches||N/A|
|Beyond By BLACK+DECKER 20V||N/A||5.06 lbs||Cordless||14.76 x 10.47 x 6.46-inches||N/A|
|Armor All Utility Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum||2.5 gallons||7 lbs||10 feet||10.6 x 14.2 x 14.4-inches||N/A|
|ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum||N/A||2.64 lbs||16 feet||16.5 x 4.5 x 4.7-inches|
|Vacmaster Shampoo Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner||8 gallon||2.64 lbs||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|RIDGID Auto Detailing Vacuum Accessory Kit||N/A||3.5 lbs||N/A||1 x 1 x 1-inches||N/A|
Tips For Vacuuming Your Car Interior
Follow these tips for the best professional car vacuum results when you’re cleaning your car’s interior.
- You should always start with cleaning the ceiling. This is because dust and debris often fall to the floor when you’re vacuuming the top of your car. So, cleaning this first will prevent you from needing to re-vacuum the floor if anything falls during the process.
- To efficiently remove ground-in dust, pet hair, and debris, clean along your seat surface with a slim attachment. Using a slim nozzle will help you reach into the crevices and tight spaces in your car seats.
- Make sure you vacuum in all directions for the best vacuum cleaning results. Use a brush attachment to clean the center of your car’s carpet and work your way towards the doors. Doing this in all directions will ensure you completely remove all dirt and debris.
- A fine bristle or dusting brush can help to lift dust and dirt from the folds in your car seats. This can also help clean panel seams and other tight spaces in your car.
- To prevent scuffing, place a soft cloth or towel over the door jams while you’re cleaning. Powerful suction will cause the vacuum hose to recoil, which may leave marks or scratches if you’re not careful. So using a towel will prevent the vacuum hose from scratching the paint.