Best Vacuum For Cars

Using a vacuum cleaner on your car can be a fairly arduous task. It’s not as if you can get the old upright and set away. Even if you’ve got an extension on it, it’s still not exactly ideal.

Best Vacuum For Cars

The best vacuum for cars are ones that are versatile and work great on a series of surface types. It’s never an easy task getting into all the nooks and crannies, which means that manoeuvrability is of the essence with these products.

That being said, ideally, we can get a product that works both for the car and in the home. Below I’ve listed the Best Vacuum For Cars that can also be used around the house if needed.

Black & Decker 18V Cordless Dustbuster

black and decker cordless dust busterBlack & Decker’s mid-price range Dustbuster gives you high performance with the confidence of a well established and reliable brand. It’s a bagless cleaner which is fairly standard nowadays and the translucent dustbowl makes it easy for you to see when the vac needs to be emptied. With 560ml of dust storage, you shouldn’t have to empty the vacuum mid-clean which can be a real pain.

This cordless dustbuster gives you 18v of power which translates into good suction and a faster clean. The downside of this extra power is that the battery only gives you 15 minutes of runtime. However, this should be enough to vacuum even a large size SUV and have time to make a cup of tea.

The Black & Decker car vac has a 5-foot long hose giving you excellent reach and manoeuvrability. This makes things easy for cleaning under seats and getting into poky areas. The 18V dust buster also comes with a selection of handy accessories for different cleaning tasks.

black and decker cordless dustbuster

Black & Decker’s 18V car vac is built to last. The lithium battery doesn’t have to be completely run down before you recharge it and the filters can be washed so you won’t have to replace them for years (if ever). You can also rinse out the dustbowl after use to keep the unit looking clean.

It takes four hours to charge the battery from empty but you’ll generally only be topping up the battery rather than fully charging it. You can then store the unit on its wall-mountable charging station and leave it plugged in all the time. The basic model comes with a square nozzle and a brush attachment.

I find the Black & Decker 18 V cordless car vac does a great job in removing crumbs, dust and general debris around the car but neither the machine nor the accessories are really equipped for pet hair. This car vac is a great choice for many people but if you regularly have dogs or other pets in your car, you may want to read on and find something a little more specialised.

Black & Decker’s 18V Cordless Dustbuster is competitively priced and sold with free UK delivery on Amazon.

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Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ 12V Flexi Auto Dustbuster

The Flexi Auto Dustbuster is a great economical car vac choice. This 12.5V model isn’t as powerful as the Cordless dust buster but it’s less than half the price and still provides a very respectable performance.

A convenient feature of this vac is that you can plug it into any 12 DC outlet like the cigarette lighter outlet in your car. This means that you don’t need to worry about recharging it and without a battery, the unit is compact and light.

Like the cordless 18V model, the Flexi Auto Dustbuster has a 5-foot flexible hose and this is really helpful for cleaning the dash, down the sides of seats and other hard-to-reach places. The vac comes with a flip-out upholstery brush for your seats and a crevice nozzle for awkward areas.

My one complaint about this product is the upholstery brush which kept folding back in when I used it on my seats. Otherwise, I was really impressed with this little vacuum, especially with the crevice nozzle which is perfect for around the dashboard, air vents and around switches.

black and deckerThe dustbowl has a window so you can see when it needs to be empty and doing so is really easy. You can also rinse out the dustbowl and filters which will extend the life of the machine.

The vacuum and accessories come with a storage bag so you can keep everything together in the boot of your car. I have a nice big boot in my car and this doesn’t take up much space. It’s handy to just be able to leave it in the car when it’s not in use and there’s enough clutter in my house!

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Dyson 330 V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson 330 V7

Dyson’s latest handheld vac is a powerful and lightweight device that gives you up to 30 minutes of continuous run-time. A premium price product, the Dyson really needs to perform for the substantial investment that you are making. Luckily it doesn’t disappoint and at 21.6 volts, it provides the most powerful suction of any handheld vac that I’ve tried.

The V7 is also very lightweight weighing only 3lbs. This vac handles crumbs, pet hair, dust and debris with ease and the large dustbowl will hold more than half a litre and can be emptied with the touch of a button. It takes 3.5 hours to fully charge the V7 Trigger.

It all sounds perfect and I was excited at the results I was getting at full power when to my great disappointment, I discovered that Dyson’s 30 minutes runtime promise only applies when it is on its lowest setting. At the full-on boost mode for stubborn dirt, the V7 only gives you 6 minutes runtime.

Granted, I could have easily done my car with far less power and you can probably do a whole car in six minutes anyway but I still felt slightly cheated. Always read the fine print folks! Also, there was no warning before the machine suddenly went dead. It would be good to have some indication of how long is left on the battery.

Dyson 330 V7

These are my only complaints about the performance of the V7 though. In all other aspects, it really earns its reputation. It did an outstanding job, removing all pet hair, crumbs and even dried on mud that had survived several other vacuums. Although there’s no hose on the vacuum, the unit is small and lightweight enough to be manoeuvred into most spaces and it really does a great job. The big issue here is whether or not you can afford it.

The Dyson 330 V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum Cleaner is currently available on Amazon and shipping is free with Amazon Prime.

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Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

Bissell’s mid-range cordless rechargeable hand vac is designed specifically for pet hair removal. The unit uses a clever rolling brush which gives you extra cleaning power, picking up more hair and debris. The manufacturer states that the 14.4V NiMH battery runs for up to 15 minutes of continuous cleaning, but when I tried it I got 20. It is possible that this might diminish as NiMH batteries can use 10 – 15% of power over time.

Another feature I like about this unit is that it’s easy to see when dustbowl needs to be emptied. The Bissell car vac has a dual action filtration system which prevents clogging and can even handle thick damp dog hair. It’s also great for removing cat hair from cushions and upholstery indoors.

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

The Bissell takes approximately 5 hours to recharge from empty and since the NiMH battery doesn’t have any memory effect, you don’t need to drain it completely before recharging. There is no charging station or wall mounted stand for this unit. You just plug it into the mains with a normal plug. This can look a bit messy so I would have liked if the unit came with a wall bracket to hang it up neatly.

Another negative for the Bissell is the fact that there is no vacuum hose. As such, it is difficult to get into tight spaces and corners in your car. You won’t be able to do the door pockets or to really get into the grooves of your dashboard. I found it very tricky to vacuum around the handbrake and gear stick in particular. That said, Bissell does a great job of picking up pet hair and although it’s not perfect, at its price point, it’s a great product.

Bissell’s pet hair eraser is currently available on Amazon with free UK delivery.

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Car Vacuum Buyers’ Guide

Keeping your car clean can be a real challenge, particularly if long car journeys, pets and kids are part of your life. Eating on-the-go, trips to the beach and school runs all take their toll on car seats and carpets and regular vacuuming is a necessity for most car owners. Choosing the best vacuum for your car can be confusing with hundreds of different makes and models all promising the highest performance.

I’ve put together a guide to help you make the best choice for your particular lifestyle. Here are the things to consider when purchasing a car vacuum:

Cordless v Corded

Have you ever noticed that when you get your car valeted, the car detailers never use cordless vacs? There are several reasons for this.

First off, these guys are doing this all day so batteries would quickly be depleted and they would need to be constantly recharging devices. But there’s another reason. Corded devices generally have more power than rechargeable ones. I’m sure you’ve noticed this around the house with all kinds of tools.

Another point to consider is that the rechargeable batteries of many cordless devices eventually will give up the ghost. It will take longer to charge them and the battery will progressively hold a charge for shorter and shorter times until eventually you won’t be able to charge them and you’ll either have to replace the battery or the entire machine.

That said, for many people, using a corded car vacuum just isn’t feasible. Maybe you need to park your car on the street or in an underground carpark. Even if you have a driveway close enough to run an extension lead into your house you won’t be able to use a corded vacuum on your car if it’s raining or snowing.

If you are lucky enough to have a garage or a sheltered carport with a power supply then a corded vacuum is ideal. This kind of device won’t lose power, has a longer life expectancy and generally has a bigger capacity so you won’t have to empty it as frequently.

Battery Life & Charge Time

Depending on the model, cordless vacuums can run for anything from 10 minutes to half an hour. The power setting that you’re running the machine on can influence this as well. (See my review of the Dyson Trigger above!) As well as the length of time that your vac will run for, you should also take note of the time it will take to recharge your machine. Most vacs take between 3 and 5 hours to fully charge.


For a handheld vacuum to do anything, the absolute minimum power you will need is 12V. In general, the higher the voltage the better the power. However, you do also need to take the design of the unit into consideration. Bissell’s pet eraser, for example, has a lower voltage than the Black & Decker 18V Cordless Dustbuster, but because of the design of the product, it does a better job of picking up pet hair.

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Final Thoughts

I was impressed with all four of the car vacuums reviewed here but two products excelled in my view. The Dyson was hands down the best performer here. I was disappointed when the motor went dead after six minutes but the machine was on boost mode and when used on a normal setting, you’ll still get high performance for at least twenty minutes. BUT (and it’s a big but) this machine is so expensive.

If you can afford the Dyson and you have a genuine need for a high powered car vac, then go for it. By that, I mean that you regularly transport mucky dogs, kids who spill food everywhere and you wear muddy boots on a daily basis.

If not, I’m going to go all the way to the bottom of the price scale and recommend the Black and Decker 12V Flexi Auto Dustbuster which really is a bit of a bargain. Sure, you don’t have the power of the Dyson, but you also don’t have to worry about charging a battery and I find it so convenient to plug into the cigarette lighter and store the unit in the boot. On top of that, I know you can live without it but I do find it useful to have a hose for getting into those tricky, hard to reach corners and down the side of the car seats.

I hope I’ve given you some good advice and this article has helped you decide which is the best car vacuum for your particular needs. Best of luck and happy vacuuming 🙂 Enjoy!

Claire has been in the cleaning industry for over 15 years. She's worked numerous jobs including both domestic and industrial cleaning. Her most recent role has been head of product testing for a major cleaning supplier. Following the birth of her second child, Layla, Claire has set up Cleaning Mentor to help people become better at cleaning, saving time and money.

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