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Which car vacuum cleaner should you buy? Corded or cordless we pick the best from Black & Decker, Vax, Dyson & more
There’s nothing quite like jumping in the car, buckling up, and hitting the open road. Whether alone, with friends, or family, it’s the kind of trip that creates a lifetime’s worth of memories.
What’s this? You haven’t vacuumed your car before you leave? You might not be the kind of person that scatters rubbish all over the floor, but that doesn’t mean your car is clean. Pet hair and dirt from your shoes can get mushed into the seats and carpet.
Don’t forget that friend who always leaves crumbs because they insist on eating in your car. We also can’t ignore the unfriendly smell of the car carpets
Frustrating is definitely a word to describe it, but we have the perfect solution for road trip prepping. All you need is a handy car vacuum. With a swoop of the hose, all that grime will be gone in seconds. Sounds great, right?
We analysed nearly 100 car vacuums and based on customer reviews, expert opinion and our own in-house testing we shortlisted the following models that have made up our best car vacuum cleaner picks.
Best Car Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
Black & Decker PV1200AV-XJ
Best Budget Car Vacuum
- Price Range: Up to £45
- Power: 1 V lithium
- Run Time: 10 Mins
- Charge Time: 4 Hrs
- Weight: 1.53kg
- Dust Capacity: 0.7L
- Noise: 60 DB
- Great for asthma and allergy sufferers
- Good at picking up on carpet and hard floor
- Fast charge time
- Easy to empty canister
- Easy to empty canister
- Lightweight and compact
- Could be more powerful
- The cord is a little short
- Small bin capacity
If you have a budget that you need to stick to, this could be just what you need. Made to be affordable as well as reliable, your car is sure to benefit.
Black and Decker have got some fantastic vacuum cleaners out there, and this budget handheld model ticks pretty much every box. It’s a flexible and reliable piece of kit, that promises to help keep your car in top shape.
It comes with great features and added extras to make life easier for you, and even though it has a few flaws it remains a great choice for any household. You can read about this model in more detail below.
This Flexi handheld vacuum cleaner from Black and Decker uses cyclonic technology to ensure optimum suction at all times. This makes it a more powerful machine, and one that won’t lose suction as the canister fills up.
This is due to the direction of the airflow, as well as the way it directs dirt and debris away from the filter to prevent blockages.
It can pick up pretty much everything in your car. Whether it is a collection of crumbs and debris or pet hair that has become wedged between the seats. The hose is also 1.5m long, which is fantastic for achieving a wider car cleaning radius; especially in larger cars.
Of course, it doesn’t quite have the power achieved by a full-size machine, but it’s good for a handheld model.
It is a little bit chunky for a handheld vacuum cleaner, but it still remains exceptionally lightweight and easy to carry around. The Vax Gator might be the better choice for those who want something smaller.
The hose actually wraps around the machine and is held in place, which makes storing and using it a lot simpler.
The cable is only 5m long, which is quite short for something you will be using in the car, so you may need an extension cable. The handling is good as well, and because it is rather sturdy you can set it down to clean so that you have more flexibility when vacuuming the interior of the car.
Everything clips in and out of place effortlessly, so there is very little stress and hassle.
It does come with some nifty accessories. One of the best is the crevice tool, which can be used to reach right down into cracks and crevices within the car so that no areas are missed. In addition to this, there is also a flip-down brush that can be used for cleaning delicate areas.
This is handy for the upholstery and places like the dashboard that you don’t want to scratch. The hose itself is flexible as well, which makes reaching every inch of your car an easy task.
Capacity and Filtration
This Black and Decker machine does have a small capacity, but this is normal for handheld machines. Coming in at 0.4L, it’s actually quite good for such a portable model.
The canister itself is very easy to remove and empty, with little risk of the dust and dirt blowing back into your face and all over the ground when you’re holding it over the bin.
The filtration system is very good, and this does make it suitable for those who have allergies and asthma. It traps the vast majority of dust and allergens, so if you have pets and are picking up people who are allergic to them, you don’t need to worry about the dander being pushed back out of the machine.
Q: How many hours of charging is needed for the first time using this PD1820L-GB model after opening the box?
A: Vacuum arrives with approximately 20% charge in the battery. Needs about 4 to 5 hours for the first charge – after that about 3 to 4 hours will do to get it back to fully charged.
Q: Can you use this car cleaner without unwinding the hose or does the hose have to be extended?
A: Good versatile product. You can use it with or without extending the hose.
BLACK+DECKER PD1820L-GB 18v
Best Cordless Car Vacuum Cleaner
- Price Range: Up to £40
- Power: 10.8 V lithium
- Run Time: 15 Mins
- Charge Time: 12 Hrs
- Weight: 1.24 kgs
- Dust Capacity: 0.3L
- Noise: 70 DB
- Fantastic suction
- Compact design
- Can be handheld or upright
- 25mins hoover time
- Great charge and running time
- Does leave some fine dust behind
- Not great with pet hair
The price is a little high for a handheld
Cordless but still powerful enough to make an impact; it’s a handheld vacuum, and so much more than that.
Another Black and Decker model, this time we review you one of their snazzy cordless handheld vacuum cleaners. With a crisp and modern look, it certainly stands out.
However, you can rest assured that this isn’t a case of style over substance because it does an amazing job of keeping your car (and even your home) clean. Of course, there are a couple of things that could be seen as holding this machine back, but the advantages far outweigh these little setbacks.
Suction and Power
It has great suction power, especially for a handheld model, making it quite an impressive machine. This is partly due to the fade-free suction feature, which means that even when the dust canister is filling up it will keep sucking up debris at the same rate.
Despite being a cordless vacuum cleaner, its suction can reach right down into the crevices of your car.
In addition to the benefits of being a cordless model, and therefore unrestricted by cables, it comes with a 1.5m hose. This actually clips onto the machine and wraps around it in order to make it more compact and portable, and it really helps make it easier to handle and manoeuvre.
Running and Charge Time
At first glance, a running time of 15 minutes seems shocking in the worst possible way. However, we have to remember that we are looking at a handheld model and it far surpasses the usual 8-10 minutes found on similar machines.
15 minutes is more than enough time to get all the debris up from your car, and it can even be used for small messes around the house.
The charging period is decent as well, clocking in at four hours. This is normal for most cordless batteries, and there are even some models that take as long as five or six hours.
So, for a vacuum cleaner that offers such an impressive runtime in a small model, you’re getting a pretty good deal on the charge time.
This Black and Decker model does come with a couple of handy attachments to help you achieve the ultimate level of car clean. The crevice tool is there to ensure that you can collect all that dirt and grime, as well as access the tight corners of your car.
There is also a dusting brush that flips down, which is handy for delicate areas of the car that you don’t want to damage. We recommend using it on the seats as well if they are made from a material such as leather.
Capacity and Filter
The canister is an excellent size for a handheld model, and it will have no trouble collecting all of the mess in your car. Alongside the great size, it is also really easy to remove the bin and empty it.
The quick-release system means that you can tip out all the contents without touching them, and the cyclonic technology ensures that debris is kept away from the filter which, by the way, is exceptionally good at trapping allergens.
Q: How long does the Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator hold the charge when disconnected?
A: Depends how much it is used on what type of mess. If it is a nice easy carpet to clean up some dust this wont use much suction and wont fill up the hoover. In general it will last around 15 minutes, which is plenty of time to blits your stairs or clean up those crumbs on your carpet.
G-tech Multi MK2
Great Multi-Purpose Car Vacuum & Kit
- Price Range: Aprox £150
- Power: 22 V lithium
- Run Time: 20 Mins
- Charge Time: 4 Hrs
- Weight: 1.5 kgs
- Dust Capacity: 0.8L
- Noise: 68 DB
- Perfect for small spaces
- Offers amazing results
- Comes with three powerful accessories
- Brush is gentle enough for electronics
- Crevice tool is incredibly flexible
- Multifunctional upholstery tool
- Fits perfectly onto GTECH Multi
- Comes with a protective case
- Two-year guarantee
- Not great with pet hair (unless you get the K9)
- High price for a handheld vacuum
- The kit has to be bought separately
GTECH has always provided us with funky cleaning tech. However, their car cleaning vacuum and little kit could be the best yet.
GTECH is a robust and reliable brand, and the Multi MK2 certainly lives up to the standards that this company has set. It’s probably one of the best car vacuums on the market, and the kit that you can buy with it brings a lot more to the table than most of the other brands.
There is also the MK2 K9 available for those who have pets It’s certainly not the most affordable handheld model on the market, but in many ways, it is just like having a very small cordless handheld vacuum cleaner. It certainly has a lot going for it.
The quality of the suction on this vacuum cleaner is quite extraordinary for a handheld model. The power means that it is able to pick up large and small pieces of debris with minimal effort.
Alone, it is not fantastic with pet hair, but you can go for the K9 version instead if your pets like to go in the car. That way, you can suck up all the hair effortlessly.
The Vax H86-GA-P Gator in this guide is also a great choice for pet hair, as it was designed to deal with it.
It’s powerful, and you almost feel as though you are using a standard vacuum cleaner when you switch it on. The main vacuum cleaner can actually be used in both the home and the car without issue, because the attachments are gentle enough to be used on the interior of your vehicle.
Battery Life and Charging
It has one of the best batteries on a car vacuum cleaner from the ones we reviewed, and with a 20-minute running time, you are unlikely to find yourself stuck while hoovering the car interior. This is great when you want to do a quick job, as well as a longer one.
The charge time is four hours, and while this may seem a little long, it is actually the average for a cordless machine. You do have the option for a quick boost of power after an hour of charge for emergencies.
The Car Vacuum Kit
This kit works with the Multi and the Multi K9, so no need to worry about which you have. As a side note, it is also compatible with the Pro, Pro K9, Power Floor, and Power Floor K9. It comes at a reasonable price, with three tools and a neat little case to keep everything safe.
The flexible crevice tool is the star of the show because it can bend and twist into every little space no matter how deep or far away.
Capacity and Emptying
It has a great capacity at 0.4L, which means you will have more than enough space for all of the dirt and debris to be collected. It has the same cylindrical build as a standard vacuum cleaner, so clipping it off and on is really simple. Emptying it is much the same, as you just need to flip the lid and everything will fall out.
To read the full review of Gtech Multi MK2 Review then click here.
Black & Decker Lithium 18V
Eco Friendly Car Vacuum
- Price Range: Up to £70
- Power: 18 V lithium
- Run Time: 10 Mins
- Charge Time: 4 Hrs
- Weight: 1.93 kgs
- Dust Capacity: 0.44L
- Noise: 70 DB
- Longer run time on each charge
- Equipped with a lithium battery
- 18 volts of power
- Lightweight and portable design
- Foldable so easy to put away
- Not great with pet hair
- Not suitable for allergies and asthma
Short running time
Car seats and dashboards alike can benefit from this thorough yet gentle car vacuum. An absolute must for a quick clean.
Also known as the Pivot, this car vacuum has more than just style; it has a whole lot of substance. It does a good job on the whole, sucking up debris and ensuring that your seats remain pristine.
If you have allergies or pets, it likely won’t be the model you’re looking for, you’ll want the GTECH Multi K9 or the Black and Decker Flexi that we also reviewed in this article, but it will certainly do the job for a standard vacuuming session.
The suction is excellent, with fine dust and debris being no challenge for this little car vacuum cleaner. The 18v battery gives an excellent boost, sucking up large crumbs and fine dust alike. Even as the battery runs down, this machine doesn’t give up.
The suction remains constant and doesn’t fade at any point; giving you all the juice you need until the battery dies.
The same goes for the canister; as it fills up, the suction will not be reduced. This is part of what makes it so reliable. It’s not amazing with pet hair and not suitable for people with allergies or asthma, but you can see our recommended models for these circumstances in the intro section above.
Battery and Charging
Coming in at 10 minutes, the battery life for this car vacuum cleaner is average but not the greatest. The best we have found in terms of charge is the GTECH Multi, which has a running time of 20 minutes.
Still, 10 minutes is more than enough for a quick once-over, and will give you plenty of time to get the interior looking good. The charging time is also quite low for a car vacuum as it takes less than four hours for it to get back to full charge; a great bonus.
As a fun addition, the docking station can be mounted to the wall for an out of the way charging area.
It’s pretty lightweight, and the fact that it folds up into a compact little package makes it exceptionally portable. You could even throw it in the boot for emergencies. The nozzle will pivot 200-degrees, offering you full flexibility when reaching the corners with minimal effort.
The nozzle itself is shaped like a crevice tool so you can get into tight spaces. It even comes with a flip-out dusting brush that can be used on delicate surfaces without causing any damage.
We were pleased with the large capacity that this model has. The dust canister can hold 0.5L of debris, which is more than enough space for even those really messy jobs.
Emptying it is quite simple as well, with the canister simply sliding out and the contents falling into the bin. This means you don’t need to touch anything, and it all gets done quickly. The only thing you have to watch out for is the filter, it’s not great and therefore not suitable for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Q: Can I vary the suction on the Black and Decker Lithium?
A: No, unfortunely it`s at full power when you switch it on, so you cant change the suction for different surfaces. If you are worried about damaging where you are hoovering then you can apply the brush for a softer end, this is always attached and simply folds out the way when not in use.
Vax H85-GA-B10 Gator
Best Cheap Car Vacuum
- Price Range: Up to £80
- Power: 18 V lithium
- Run Time: 18 Mins
- Charge Time: 4 Hrs
- Weight: 1.8 kgs
- Dust Capacity: 0.5L
- Noise levels: 20 DB
- Cord Length: 5m
- Suitable for Allergies: Yes
- Flexible enough to maneuver and clean hard to reach spaces
- Battery powered, meaning it is cordless
- Easier to empty
- Great on hard surfaces and carpets
- Not suitable for pet hair
- The handle is not particularly comfortable
- Poor filtration system
A brand known and loved by many, this model is no exception. It gets your car looking great for a fraction of the price.
The Vax Gator is just like any other Vax cleaner; a brilliant piece of technology. It takes a little design and turns it into a powerhouse that fits in two hands. It’s one of the best car vacuum cleaners because it can collect all of the debris within a matter of minutes, and that’s all that really counts.
It does struggle with things like pet hair, but crumbs and general dirt have no chance of standing against this cordless vacuum cleaner.
Power and Suction
One of the things we love about the Vax Gator is that it has such a minimalist design, and yet the suction really packs a lot of punch. Frankly, the amount of power that it delivers for its size is surprising, and you may find yourself wondering why you didn’t get one sooner.
The kind of suction provided is just what you need in order to get rid of all those forgotten food crumbs and the dirt brought into your car by guests.
It can cope with any surface, and debris of all sizes, which makes it surprisingly versatile. This also means that if you want to use it in your home for quick cleaning, it is more than suitable for both carpets and hard floors.
However, it is not great with pet hair and other fine fibres, so if you have any animals you might want to try the Vax H86-GA-P Gator which have also covered in a review here instead, as this one is perfect for pets.
Running and Charge Time
It has a really good running time, and one of the best for a handheld vacuum cleaner. Coming in strong at 16 minutes, there is more than enough time to get the car clean. The battery doesn’t even look or feel particularly large, which makes this feat all the more impressive.
As for the charging period, this is quite typical at just under four hours. It’s normal for all cordless vacuum cleaners to have this length of time in order to fully charge so that you can keep them at their best.
Of course, you can take it off earlier if you need it for a quick emergency clean. The lack of a power cord allows for more flexibility while you are inside the car and trying to reach every nook and cranny.
Accessories and Handling
It doesn’t come with much on the accessory side of things, but that’s not necessarily bad. After all, do you really need much for cleaning out the car?
There is a crevice tool nozzle, and this means you can slide between the seats as well as reach hidden corners of the car to get it looking brand new again. If tools are your thing, we recommend the GTECH Multi as it has a whole kit that you can use.
As for the handling, it’s a really lightweight machine so you’ll hardly feel it in your hands. The handle can be a little uncomfortable, but you won’t be using it for too long so it’s not too much of an issue.
Otherwise, the whole vacuuming process is exceptionally smooth, and the car will be back to a pristine state in no time at all. Plus, the crevice tool is super easy to use.
Bin Capacity and Filter
The capacity is alright, and at only 0.3L it won’t hold a massive amount. Although, if you have more dirt than that in your car you might want to consider using a full-size vacuum cleaner instead.
Most handheld models have a small capacity, but the redeeming feature for this little Vax is how easy it is to empty.
Just click open the bin and all the contents will pour out. One thing we will note is that the filter is quite basic, and while it does collect some particles it is not quite good enough for those who have allergies and asthma.
Black & Decker Pad 1200 AV-XJ
Best Car Vacuum for Deep Cleaning
- Price Range: Up to £40
- Power: 12 V lithium
- Run Time: DC Cigarette Port
- Charge Time: N/A
- Weight: 1,5 kgs
- Dust Capacity: 0.3L
- Noise: 10 DB
- Perfect built quality
- Great Price
- Flexible, light and portable
- Has a long cord
- Lower Power
Sometimes the car needs a really thorough clean, and this car vacuum has the power to provide you with one.
Another from Black and Decker, this car vacuum cleaner sports their exclusive design and a whole lot of power. It’s suited to even the messiest cars, promising to suck up every scrap of debris in record time.
At first glance, it may seem to be a little bulky, but it’s actually exceptionally compact for ease of use. Of course, there are some cons that separate it from the other Black and Decker machines we have reviewed in this guide, but nothing in this world is perfect.
The first thing we want to mention about this model is the cyclonic technology that has been incorporated. This means that the suction won’t fade as the canister fills up, and it also spins any dirt, dust, and general debris away from the filter. It’s a lot of good tech that has been packed into a small machine.
While not explicitly recommended as a vacuum for pets, it actually does a good job on hair and fine dust, so if you have animals or allergies, this could actually be a great choice.
While the overall suction is great, the Dyson DC34 is the ultimate choice if you want a really powerful machine.
Everything clips into place and packs up tight, which makes storing ad carrying this car vacuum quite easy. The hose wraps around the machine and is secured in place, so you don’t run the risk of everything falling out.
Even the tools are stored on the vacuum, which means that while you are cleaning the car you can switch them out quickly to save time. The 5m cord is stored internally for your ease, and while it is a little short, this is the norm for a Black and Decker.
Despite being a little heavier than some of the other car vacuums out there, we recommend the Vax Gator for something really light, it remains easy to handle.
You can reach high, low, and right between the seats with this machine, and the flexible hose plays a big part in its versatility.
Using its patented technology, this Black and Decker has the motor in the filter for a machine that is more compact than ever. With the flexible hose and crevice tool, no dirt is safe in your car.
Capacity and Filter
The capacity is quite small, and while 0.3L is usually more thane enough to clean most cars there are bigger canisters out there.
A good example of this would be the BLACK+DECKER PD1820L-GB, which has a capacity of 0.5L and also comes from the same brand if you would prefer to stick with B&D.
However, this car vacuum cleaner also has an excellent filtration system for those with asthma and allergies; making it a superb choice for anyone.
CAR VACUUM BUYER’S GUIDE
Before you go ahead and buy your car vacuum, you need a clear idea of what it is you’re looking for. This quick buyer’s guide will take you through everything you should know, allowing you to make the right choice.
Car Vacuums vs Handheld Vacuums: What’s the Difference?
So, what’s the same with car vacs and handheld vacuums ? Both of them are portable, and that’s pretty much where it ends. Yes, they can both be used in the car and the home, but the design is where they separate. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between them.
Car vacuums have been specially designed for tight spaces.
Car vacuums have special attachments that prevent scratching and can clean vents. Car vacuums are more powerful so that they can pick up more dirt and debris.
Handheld vacuums are still fantastic, but they are made for the home and not with your vehicle in mind.
Why Do You Need a Car Vacuum?
As stated above, a car vacuum was made to deal with the car. It reaches into more corners, it has more power, and it is actually gentle on the surfaces and seats.
You can even use a car vacuum cleaner in the house because of their excellent design and superior suction, but we wouldn’t recommend a handheld vacuum being used for the interior of your car.
How Much Does a Car Vacuum Cost?
The price varies for a car vacuum, but the average you will likely spend is around £50. There are much cheaper models out there that only come in at £20, and there are more expensive models that have a £150+ price tag attached to them.
Corded or Cordless?
This is probably one of the biggest questions, because there are so many positive and negative points for each. Here are some of the advantages of going with a corded model:
- No limit on the amount of time you can use it for
- No loss of suction due to battery life
- Usually a little cheaper than cordless models
- Can use it any time as it does not need to charge
Here are some of the advantages of choosing a cordless model instead:
No cord to tether you in place, which means more cleaning freedom
Tend to have a good battery life so that you can clean the whole car
More compact than their corded counterparts
Features to Look Out For
You need a machine that has a fair amount of power, otherwise, you’re going to be dragging it over the same spot constantly just to get those embedded crumbs from out of your seats.
There are different ways to measure this level of power. Some companies will use watts or amps, and others will use air watts.
All of these are valid forms of suction estimation, but they may not all be listed in the tech specs because they don’t always use the same measurement forms.
Wet and Dry Capabilities
These are quite useful to have. You can’t suck up any wet messes with a standard vacuum cleaner because it will end up shorting the machine and causing permanent damage or breakdowns. They are really handy to have, especially with kids that end up opening juice or drinks in the back. We’ve all been there.
Battery and Cord Length
For a cordless car vacuum, the average battery life is 10-15 minutes, although a rare few go up to 20. This is actually plenty of time to clean your car, but you need to take the size of your cleaning area into account first.
For corded models, you just need to look at the length of the cable. Longer is better so that you don’t need to stretch it too far from the house and into the car.
With portable vacuum cleaners, you’re never going to have a massive capacity. However, some have larger canisters than others, and this will dictate how often you need to empty it while cleaning. 0.5L is about as high as you will get with a car vacuum, but it is an excellent capacity to have.
It’s unlikely that you will find a heavy car vacuum because they are all relatively small and portable. You’ll find that all of the models we have chosen for this guide are lightweight and easy to use – because the handling is just as important as the weight of the machine.
Our heaviest pieces are around the 1.5kg mark, and this is usually due to the battery size.
These are essential for a good and thorough clean. After all, you need to be able to reach right down into every corner and crevice of your car. Not every car vacuum comes with a load of accessories, but they all tend to at least have a basic crevice tool and dusting brush.
Most will come with a warranty that spans a year, and some companies will allow you to extend that up to five years if you register the vacuum.
It seems to be such a very easy choice to make but in reality, because there are so many models around, choosing the best car vacuum could be quite challenging.
However, it is still best to follow the advice listed in the reviews above and consider all the important points and features a model has to have before making your purchase.
You can go cheap at first but if it gives up on you too soon or if its power won’t even be enough to get rid of most of the dirt and dust in your car’s interior, then you will just be spending more money to get a replacement.
The list we provided includes car vacuums that are tried and tested by many satisfied consumers and we hope that you too will be one very satisfied customer.
For more enquiries or if you wish to add any detail we may have missed, drop a comment on the section below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.