Ten Best Portable Car Vacuums Rated and Reviewed
Road trips can really do a number on your vehicle- on the outside and on the inside. All those stops at fast food restaurants and eating while driving can build on up the upholstery. The addition of kids and family pets can also build up on the interior. You undoubtedly spent a lot of money on your vehicle, so it is only natural that you would want to keep it nice and tidy. Traditional shop vacs that you keep in your garage have an insane amount of power, but they often sound like a jet engine, and they aren’t very portable. For travelers who want to keep up with all of the mess without any hassle, investing in an effective lightweight vacuum will help ensure that your vehicle stays squeaky clean.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Holds a charge nicely
Easy to transport
Top Ten Portable Car Vacuums
Holds a charge nicely
Easy to transport
Some users find it difficult to remove bin to empty
Unlike the LOLLDEAL design, this model is charged on a traditional outlet (rather than the cigarette lighter on the dashboard) and is used wirelessly on the interior of your vehicle. Some wireless designs can lose a little bit of power- but this model might even have more power than some of the wired versions.Read more
When the lithium battery is sufficiently charged, this product can suck up just about anything you could spill on the interior of your vehicle. It is a 14.8 volt- which is a smidge higher than most of the other units out there on the market. When in operation, it emits approximately 78 decibels- which is a little bit louder than the sweeper that you use for the inside of your house. It is even powerful enough to suck up liquids that don’t exceed 100 mL.
Ease of Use
To use, place the unit on the base charger and wait for the unit to become fully charged- this typically only takes about 4 hours. Once it is sufficiently charged, just turn the power to on and get to work. It comes with a variety of different attachments that are perfect for a wide array of surfaces. The long nozzle is great for getting into light placed and crevices like in between seats, and the rubber nozzle is great for picking up liquids. Once you are finished, just pop it back onto the charger.
When it’s time to empty, simply press the release button and empty the contents in the clear plastic chamber into the trash can. There is no need for the use of bags with this model.
This model will run you a little bit more than some of the other units out there, but its powerful suction, sleek design, and ease of use make it well worth the slightly padded price tag.
Travelers who are looking for something a little more powerful to keep their vehicles clean while out and about on adventures and are willing to spend a little bit more money on a little bit more power- this is an excellent choice.
Could have better suction
Vacplus offers another great option for keeping your vehicle looking like new, no matter how messy your family can get on those long and monotonous road trips. It offers a compact and sleek design, excellent suction, and a long cable so you can reach all sections of your SUV.Read more
No surprise here- this wired model offers 12V of power. Vacplus claims that their suction is so powerful that it is able to suck up 3 smartphones. One of the best features of this design is that it doesn’t have the output of noise that some of the others have. Many past users have found that the level of noise that is output but this design is very nice and tolerable.
Ease of Use
To get ready to bust some dust- simply plug the very long power cord into the cigarette outlet on your dashboard and press the power button. This model comes with a myriad of attachments such as a long extender nozzle, an angled nozzle to reach into crevices, and a brush to help remove stubborn pet hair. When you are finished using, simply unplug, roll up the cord and place it into its compact carrying case to store in your trunk or under the seats.
One downside to this design is that while a glossy black finish might look sleek- it’s actually a little impractical. There is no way of knowing when you should empty it because it doesn’t have a clear container. When you do find that it is time to empty it, simply unlock the bin and empty it into the trash can. It has a stainless steel HEPA filter that can be cleaned with water and will not need to be replaced like some of the other designs on the market.
The price of this unit runs pretty par for the course in termed of wired units. Considering how easy it is to use, and how well it can suck up most debris that collects in your vehicle- it is actually offered at a really great price point. Plus, if anything breaks within the first year of use, Vacplus will offer you a full refund.
Easy to empty
Sharp design that comes with a carrying case
Does not work great on stubborn pet hair
This design is probably one of the best models to really clean your vehicle because it has all of the special attachments and nozzle designs that were made specifically for all of the little cracks where crumbs and dust collect on the interior of your automobile.Read more
This unit offers 12 volts of power, which is pretty standard for most products of this type. Powerful units sometimes run the risk of creating too much noise. LOLLDEAL states that this model emits approximately under 65 decibels while in use. To put that into perspective, the humming of a refrigerator is approximately 40 decibels, and a normal conversation is about 60 decibels. Therefore, the noise emitted from this unit is slightly louder than a normal conversation.
Ease of Use
This model comes in its own carrying case while not in use- making it really simple to store under the seat or in the trunk while not in use while also not running the risk of misplacing any wires. Simply plug it into the power source, and it will have a long enough cord to even reach into the back seat. The nozzle is tapered at the end so it will be easy to really dig into all of those little hard to reach places where crumbs and dust can gather. Various attachments that are provided make very specific and difficult debris- such as pet hair- easier to remove.
When you are done using it and want to empty out the bin- there are no flimsy bags to deal with. All of the things that it sucks up is stored in a plastic bin that passes through a paper filter. When it is ready to be emptied, simply dump its contents into a trash can and shake out the filter. Over time, the filter will need to be replaced, and replacements are offered at a low price from LOLLDEAL.
The cost of this product will barely set you back the amount it took you to fill up your tank with gas this weekend. Considering how effective and sleek the design is, the price of this unit is a really great deal.
If you are tired of using up all of your coins at the shop vac machine and want something that will keep the interior of your vehicle clean without wasting too much of your time or money- this is a fantastic option.
Easy to clean
Long lasting battery
Some find it is not very powerful
For that don’t want to be held back by wires, LIBERRWAY offers a great alternative cordless model. It has a sharp design, is so easy to use you can make your kids do it, and is really able to suck it up.Read more
It has a 2600 mAh battery that is able to provide a full 30 minutes of continuous use before losing suction- which is plenty of time to clean out the interior of your vehicle before placing it back onto the charger. One of the best features of this model is that isn’t very loud, and it’s not going to hurt your ears. While running, it makes just about as much noise as your hair dryer makes.
Ease of Use
Simply charge it up on a cradle that plugs into a traditional wall outlet. If you are using this for your vehicle, you could even plug it into an outlet in the garage and pack it away before you leave on the big trip. When you are done, just pop it right back on the cradle to charge up for the next time you need it.
When it is time to empty it out, you will know it by the clean bin that collects all of the debris. Simply unlatch it and dump it all into the trash can. What makes this model great is that the stainless steel filter can be rinsed with water over 500 times before it needs to be replaced with a new one.
This cost is a little shocking, as it has a slightly higher price point that even the Black+Decker cordless model. However, if you want something that is lightweight, effective, and easy to use, the slightly padded price tag will be worth it to you.
If you were looking for a wireless method of keeping your vehicle looking like new- this is an excellent option that is both easy to use and reliable.
Easy to clean
Some users wish that the cord was longer
This product from RYTEK looks like one of James Bond’s gadgets. It is easy to use, easy to clean and comes in a stylish package. Don’t worry about it being all sizzle and no steak- it is able to raise up 12.7 ounces worth of suction.Read more
This model has a 12V motor that is really designed to suck up just about everything. RYTEK claims that this model is powerful enough to suck up 3 iPhones- so all of those space french fries and potato chip crumbs from your last road trip to do not stand a chance with this design.
Ease of Use
It does need a power source to operate- so it is not wireless. Simply plug it into the cigarette lighter on your dashboard, turn on the on the switch, and you are ready to rock and roll. As far as sound is concerned- it runs about the middle of the road. It isn’t the quietest design on the market, but it is far from being the loudest. It also comes with a lot of different attachments so you can get just about anywhere.
To empty, simply press the button that detaches the main compartment from the motor and dump the contents into the trash can. What makes this model really great is that you can rinse both the canister and the filter under the sink with warm water to clean them. There is no need to purchase additional filters or bags with this design.
This comes in at able half of the cost of some of the wireless versions such as the design brought to you be Black+Decker. Offered at such a great price, you should be able to have enough money to buy one for yourself, and give one as a gift to anyone you know that likes to keep their vehicles clean.
If you want something that will really be able to pack a punch, plugs into your cigarette lighter, and has a sleek black and orange carrying case for easy storage in the trunk- this is a great choice with an even greater price tag.
6. BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L
It wouldn’t be a sweeper party if Black+Decker didn’t make an appearance. Founded in 1910, they have been in the business of making household power tools that are effective and easy to use, and that is exactly what they did with this design.Read more
Black+Decker upped their game with this model, making it an impressive 16V cyclone engine that can really pick up even some of the toughest of things such as pet hair. While it does have a lot of power- it comes at the cost of volume. This is one of the louder models on this list and is just a tad louder than the upright sweeper that you use in your home.
Ease of Use
The wireless capability makes it a snap to use just about anywhere- even on your giant 3 row SUV. Simply charge it up on its base, and you are ready to go. The instructions claim that it will take a full 24 hours for it to fully charge, but many users claim that they were able to get a full charge in just 5-6 hours. After you take it off of the charger it can be used just about anywhere and has a lot of additional attachments that are perfect for getting into all of those little tight spaces in your vehicle.
There are no wasteful bags that you will have to contend with, only a plastic compartment has to be to emptied with each use. What makes this model special is that not only is the bin able to be removed and washed, but you can also remove the filter and wash that too. That means that you won’t have to worry about replacing filters every so often.
While it does cost a little bit more than some of the other wireless models to make this list, it comes with a 2-year limited warranty if you find there is anything wrong with your unit and comes with the comfort of knowing that is it a Black+Decker product.
If you are looking for a product that has the impact of a recognizable brand and offers a lot of power to really get down into the crevices of your seats, this is an excellent option if you are willing to spend just a little bit more than many of the other options out there.
Stainless steel filter
Easy to clean
Some users do not want to be bothered with complicated cords that can become easily tangled, which is why products like this exist. The WELIKERA model is a cordless design that is able to hold a charge long enough to really get all of the crumbs and gunk out from in between your seats and has an impressive filtration system.Read more
Out of the box, it will only take about 4 hours to change and will last approximately 20 to 25 minutes before needing to be charged again. At this point, the unit will need to charge for over 5 hours before it can be used again.
Ease of Use
Simply pop it off the charger, turn on the power button and you are ready to go. What makes this unit unique is that has the addition of an LED light on the front, so you can see into those hard to reach places. Sometimes you don’t know if you have got everything from under your seat, and the addition of the light will help with that. Once you are done using it, simply place it back on the charger and the indicator light will tell you when it has become fully charged again.
When it is time to empty your unit, you will know if from the clean bin place at the nose of the model. Simply flip the switch to release the bin, and empty it into a trash can. The stainless steel HEPA filter is great because it can be rinsed under the sink when it needs to be cleaned rather than needing to spend extra money on replacement filters.
The cost of this unit will run you a little bit more than the Black+Decker model- but not by much. Considering how easy it is to use and clean if you have the money to spend on this you will be very glad that you did.
If you are in the market for a wireless model that is lightweight and easy to use, and most importantly will keep your vehicle looking like the day that you drove it off of the lot- this is certainly worth the slightly padded price tag.
Easy to clean
The plug fits loosely in the socket
This is just another great wired model that does a really great job of keeping your vehicle clean without requiring that much power and creating a lot of noise. It comes in a sharp carrying case that is perfect for storing under a seat or in the trunk.Read more
As with all of the other wired designs, this is offered with 12V of power. What’s great about this model is that while it generally provides the same level of suction as many of the other brands, it isn’t as loud and might just be a little louder than an average hairdryer.
Ease of Use
Simply plug this unit into the cigarette outlet that is located somewhere on your dashboard and hit the power switch and you are ready to rock and roll. It comes with the addition of an attachment that has a brush on the end to help sweep up stubborn pet hair, and it also has attachments that will help you get into all of the little cracks and crevices in your seats and on your dashboard.
Just like any other model, simply open up the front of the unit using the release button and dump all of the contents into the trash can. The HEPA filter is able to be rinsed out over the sink, so you don’t have the need to be buying extra filters as frequently as you would with some of the other designs out there.
What makes this model great is that it is offered at a very affordable price point- and it one of the least expensive units to make this list. At a price as low as this, you can afford to buy one for yourself and one for a family member who loves their vehicle almost as much as you love yours.
If you are looking for something simple, quiet and easy to use- that won’t put any extra strain on your pocketbook, this is a really great option to ensure that your new vehicle can withstand long trips with the family without looking like it did.
Comes with carrying case
This is another great wired design that is great for keeping in your trunk or under the seats for when you need it. It comes in a sharp carrying case, is really easy to use, and it is powerful enough to pick up all of the things that your kids and your pets leave behind on long road trips to the beach.Read more
Just like a lot of wired units you will find out there, this one is also a 12V. Suction is slightly tougher than some of the other models- it is able to pick up an impressive 16 ounces, which is significantly more than some of the other wired designs. Of course, when you increase horsepower, you also increase noise. While this won’t burst your eardrums the way that a tradition shop vac can, it will most likely send your dog booking it in the opposite direction.
Ease of Use
To get to work, simply plug in the unit to the cigarette outlet on the dashboard and turn on the power switch. It comes with a myriad of attachments to ensure that you can really dig into every crack and crevice where crumbs and ashes love to gather. One of the attachments also has synthetic bristles to help get stubborn pet hair off that even the vacs at the gas station struggle with.
The top of the unit is made from a clear tinted plastic that stores all of the debris that you suck up so that it is easy to tell when it is time to empty. All you need to do to empty the chamber is top open it up with the flick up a button and empty the contents into the trash can.
It is a little bit more expensive than some of the other wired models, but it isn’t nearly as expensive as the wireless versions. The slightly padded price tag is due partially in part because it offers a little bit more power than some of the other units.
If you want something powerful that is able to pick up whatever your latest road trip can throw at is, and you are will to pay just a little bit more- this is an excellent option to keep in your trunk to maintain your vehicles brand new look.
Easy to clean
No need for replacement filters
Powerful enough to pick up an iPad mini
Not great for picking up pet hair
The PUMPKIN unit is a great wired option for travelers that want something that is simple to use and easy to clean. It is powerful enough to lift up some of the toughest items such as pet hair, and can even soak up a limited amount of liquids.Read more
Just like with any other wired unit, this one clocks in at 12V. It is capable of not only picking up dust and ashes, but it can also pick up loose cereal or french fries that went rogue. It emits approximately 72 decibels of noise, which is the equivalent to a toilet flushing or the noise your household sweeper emits.
Ease of Use
To use this product, simply plug it into the cigarette outlet on the dashboard of your vehicle. What makes this product great is that it comes with more attachments than some of the other models. It has a long flexible tube to really dig under seats and along flat attachments that can be used to clear more of the floor. The long narrow attachment is perfect for picking up dust that has fallen in between the seats.
It is easy to tell when you need to empty it because it has a clean bin along the front. When it becomes full, just unlock the latch and dump the contents of the bin into the garbage. The addition of a stainless steel filter means that you won’t have to waste your time or money buying additional filters. It can be washed by holding it over a running tap, and then placed back into the unit.
This is one of the more expensive wired units out there, but it is also one of the toughest out there. If you have a little extra money to spend- this is definitely worth the price.
If you are in the market for something that will keep your vehicle clean while driving to the beach this summer with your family, you will be very thankful you spend the money to bring this product along for the ride.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
This is a no-brainer. When we did our research about what makes a vac really suck (in a good way), we made sure to listen to what all of the past users had to say about the product. While companies can make claims that their products are capable of suctioning a laptop or an iPhone, the real test is always what the consumer says. Many users even go so far as to upload videos of the products in action- and those videos are where we really made our decisions as to which model works best.
Ease of Use
When something is portable, you most likely want it to be able to a snap to use. We kept an eye on products that were able to be plugged in and simply turned on so you can clean your interior and get back to all of the fun things that you had planned for the day. An easy-to-use design is also great because it means that you can put your road trip passengers in the back seat to work while you make your way to your destination. Another thing that we gravitated towards was the addition of attachments. There are various spaces in your vehicle where dust and crumbs can hide, and the standard nozzle can’t get to most of them. Products that came with a nozzle that had a brush on the end were great at sucking up pet hair, and nozzles that were long and tapered at the end were better for hard to reach surfaces like in between seats.
Just like your vacuum at home, no one likes a car vac that is difficult to empty. We tried to avoid models that still used messy bags because they are difficult to remove and they can also cost you more money in the long run. Some claim that bagged versions have better suction- but we just felt the benefits of bin compared to bag were just too great not to select the bin versions. Also, we kept an eye on the filtration systems. Some units have a filter that is made from a paper substance and cannot be washed- it can only be replaced. We didn’t like this idea and made an effort to avoid these designs. Instead, we selected designs that offered stainless steel filters. These types of filters are not only easier to remove, but they can be rinsed under the sink for up to 500 uses. Users typically will not go the extra mile to replace the filters on their products (and instead use the dirty one over and over again), so we solved that problem by selecting products that don’t need replacement filters.
We tried to keep these products within the realm of reason. While there aren’t a whole lot out there that are going to break the bank, some of the cordless options can really come with quite the hefty price tag. We tried to steer clear of the more expensive units because portable options can only have so much power and if the price tag is high enough, you would be better off just buying a full 5-gallon shop vac.
It’s important to keep in mind that these products aren’t designed to be as powerful as the full-size 5-gallon shop vacs or the coin operation versions at the gas station. They aren’t made to pick up an excess of water or exceptionally dirty vehicles. It’s important to temper your expectations when it comes to these products. They are designed to be used to upkeep cleanliness as it happens. If you have any terrible messes that you need to clean up- it might be in your best interest to gather up some coins and head down to the local gas station.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
We are going to assume that the quest you took to find the perfect vehicle for you took a very long time. A new vehicle is quite an important purchase- because is the vessel that will escort you and your family or your friends to new adventures. There is nothing better than that new car smell, and it really stings when that smell begins to fade because someone in your family eats their road burgers a bit too enthusiastically. By investing in a portable car vacuum, you could keep that smell of new upholstery a little bit longer while still going on lots of adventures.
Other Factors to Consider
That’s the thing about power: it’s noisy. While you want to make sure that this unit is going to do the trick in clearing your flooring and upholstery, you also don’t want it to have the same noise level as some of the coin-operated options at the gas station. The noise level of these units is described in decibels. One of the lowest decibel ratings we saw in our research was approximately 60 decibels- which is roughly the same level as a normal conversation. On the higher end of the spectrum were models that hit around 72-75 decibels, which is roughly the same volume as a toilet flushing or a normal household sweeper. To give you more of a frame of reference, typical shop vacs have around 80-90 decibels.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Which is better: corded or cordless?
Like with everything- each design has its specific advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of the corded design are that it will never run out of steam. If you really want to take your time to ensure that you get to every time nook and cranny- there is no ticking clock of a corded design. Of course, with cords also comes with the risk that it may be too short and won’t reach the back of your SUV. The cordless features allow you to reach every part of your car, but they typically run time on these designs is about 30 minutes, even with the utilization of lithium batteries.
Once the battery is dead, it typically takes about 5 hours before it will be fully charged and ready to work again. When selecting which type is right for you- think about what is more important. If you are historically bad at remembering to charge things when you are done using the- then cordless will probably not be that much of a help to you if it is constantly dead. However, if you want something that you can use in places other than automobiles- the cordless version might be perfect for your needs.
q: Is 12V considered to be powerful?
110V is the voltage of many of the vacs at gas stations or the full-sized models that you use in your garage and in your lawn. In comparison to the coin-operated vacs- they aren’t considered to be very powerful. If you were hoping to buy one to serve the same purpose as more powerful models, you may end up disappointed. These products are made to clean up loose crumbs and ashes in the vehicle on road trips (or while you are sitting in traffic) to maintain the look of a brand new car no matter how much time that you spend in it. If you wanted to really deep clean your interior- you might want to dig up some coins and use the one at your gas station.
q: How noisy are they?
We’ve got to be honest, none of these products can be considered quiet. If you were thinking about making a purchase because you think that they may be a lot quieter than the full models, you would be slightly mistaken. That isn’t to say that they aren’t at least a little bit more quiet, however. The quietest model to make our list clocked in at about 60 decibels. To put that into perspective, that is about the same volume of a normal conversation. The loudest model to make out list clocked in at around 72 decibels, which is getting pretty loud considering that full-size 5-gallon shop vacs are typically about 80-90 decibels.
q: Will it pick up other things other than dust?
That all depends on the power it produces. Most of the models found on this list can pick up dust, cigarette ashes, and dead leaves, but they can also handle stray french fries and cereal. Some are even powerful enough to pick up coins- but don’t be that person that doesn’t save their spare change. It can really add up over time!
q: What types of attachments are best for automobiles?
When it comes to cleaning the inside of your vehicle, there are tons of places that dust and ashes can hide and make it smell stale. Using an attachment with a long nozzle that is tapered at the end is perfect for cleaning the dashboard, and in between the seats. Attachments that are long and flat are perfect for cleaning under seats and on the floorboards. The attachment that has the bristles like a hairbrush is used to kick up stubborn pet hair before sucking it up. Luckily, most of the attachments noted are sold with the products on this list so you can make sure you get every inch of your car clean and tidy.
q: Can they pick up liquids?
The full industrial shop vacs are incredibly handy because they can also pick up liquids, but what about portable versions? While yes, some models can pick up liquids, they usually only cap out at around 100 mL before needing to be emptied. If you accidentally left your roof open during a thunderstorm- you are probably going to need to head down to the coin-operated vac at the gas station to get rid of all of that excess water because the smaller version just won’t do the trick. However, if you accidentally tip over your water bottle after getting back from a trail run- one of these products is perfect for sopping up all of the excess water before it stains your interior.