The interiors of cars and other vehicles present their own special set of challenges for vacuum cleaners. The small nooks and crannies between the seats and consoles provide a haven for dust, dirt and debris to collect—often just out of reach of a traditional vacuum cleaner.
Car vacuums are especially designed to navigate these tights spots with ease, sparing you the uncomfortable acts of contortion that other models require to reach this spaces. Usually a car vacuum with feature a long, thin nose or a flexible hose attachment for this task.
Of course, most parking spots are far from the reach of electrical outlets— so they must also address the issue of a power source. The most popular solution is to go cordless, powering it with a rechargeable battery. Other models use a special 12V adapter in lieu of a traditional plug, which draws power from the car battery through the vehicle outlet.
If you’re looking for one that came help keep your car spotless and dust-free, there are a few great options to choose from. We evaluated some of the best models on the market today, evaluating each for performance, function design and accessories/attachments.
We also took a deeper look at all the strengths and weaknesses of our top pick, in order to help you find the model that works best for you and your vehicle.
Check out the winners!
Best Corded Model
Best Cordless Model
Top Quality Pick
Black & Decker PAV1200W
Black & Decker BDH2000P MAX Pivot
Dyson V6 Trigger
Car Vacuum Reviews
Best Corded Model: Black & Decker PAV1200W
Our favorite corded model is the Black & Decker PAV1200W, a 12-volt handheld with a long, thin nose that pivots to reach tight spots all around the interior of your car.
The handheld PAV1200W comes with an array of attachments designed especially for car interiors. First, there’s an extendable crevice tool on the end of the pivot nose for that extra little bit of reach. Black & Decker also includes a separate upholstery tool attachment, as well as hose tool for even more range.
All the attachments can be neatly stored in the included bag, alongside the machine itself. The PAV1200W folds in half and includes a cord wrap for compact and tangle-free storage. The cord itself is 16 feet long, allowing you clean every corner of your vehicle with ease while plugged into your 12V adapter.
This auto-vac is bagless, instead collecting dust and debris in an easy-to-empty canister inside the machine. One the dust canister is full, the lid flips up with the press of a button and the canister can be emptied into the trash.
Black & Decker uses a multi-stage filter system, as well as cyclonic technology that keeps the filter clean for a longer period of time. One neat feature of the PAV1200W is the “filter refresh knob” — a dial on the side that brushes dust of the surface of the filter when twisted. This allows you to clean longer without cleaning or changing the filter.
When it’s finally time to deep-clean the filter, it can be easily removed and washed with water (either by hand or in the dishwasher). Black & Decker protects the PAV1200W with a 2-year warranty. Other vacuums can benefit from this guide on how to clean your vacuums.
The Black & Decker PAV1200W is a great tool for commuters, truckers and road-trippers. Unlike our other two picks, this isn’t limited by a short battery life, and doesn’t require an electrical outlet to recharge. It’s a good choice for drivers who spend long periods of time on the road and lack regular access to the grid.
Between the pivoting nose and the attachments included alongside the PAV1200W, there’s no part of your vehicle that will escape the reach of this machine. The pivoting nose allows users to navigate easily into the narrow spaces and awkward angles throughout the car interior.
Both the extendable crevice tool and flexible hose attachment add even more range from the outlet. Meanwhile, the upholstery tool can be used to dislodge embedded dust and fine debris from the carpet and seats.
The PAV1200W is a fairly low-maintenance machine—both the filter refresh knob and cyclonic technology keep the filter clean for longer than other handheld models. Not only does this help it to maintain its suction over time, but it also prolongs the life of the PAV1200W.
Finally, the included storage bag allows users to wrap up this machine nice and neat. The PAV1200W folds in a half and the cord can be wrapped around the body of the machine. There’s holders for each of the attachments, making for a compact package that can be stored neatly under the seat or in the trunk of your vehicle.
Corded models aren’t limited by the short battery life of cordless models, but (somewhat counterintuitively) they usually have weaker suction than modern cordless models. The reduced suction of corded models is caused by the relatively low voltage of the car outlet—less voltage means less suction power.
Thus, the PAV1200W is good for surface cleaning, but lacks the necessary suction power to truly deep-clean your interior.
Convenience is the greatest strength of the Black & Decker PAV1200W—the pivoting nose, included attachments and long cord allow users to vacuum the entire interior of their vehicles with comfort and ease. The corded design allows for longer, uninterrupted vacuum sessions without the need to recharge, making this a great vacuum for extended trips on the road.
It’s not the most powerful vacuum, but the majority of reviewers on Amazon found the suction perfectly adequate for their needs. With its useful attachments, no-stress maintenance, and an impressive reach, the PAV1200W is a highly useful tool for any vehicle owner to keep on hand.
Best Cordless Model: Black & Decker BDH2000P MAX Pivot
The cordless Black & Decker BDH2000P MAX Pivot has a very similar design to our top corded pick, with a narrow, flat pivoting nose with a built-in extendable crevice tool.
The Max Pivot has a few key distinguishing features, however, that make it well worth consideration (besides the obvious absence of a power cord). Though it’s not marketed as a car vacuum, the MAX Pivot’s lightweight design and pivoting nose make it perfect for cleaning out vehicle interiors.
This cordless vacuum is powered by a 20V lithium ion battery, which gives it substantial suction power that doesn’t fade as the battery loses charge. The 20V of power provides a surprising amount of suction power, allowing users to deep clean seats and carpet. For even more cleaning power, the MAX Pivot also includes an on-board upholstery brush that snaps into place on the nose of the vacuum.
At full charge, the battery of this vacuum can run for about a continuous 10-15 minutes. The MAX Pivot is recharged via the included standing charging dock, which doubles as a low profile storage spot. It takes 2-3 hours to reach full charge.
The Pivot also features a 3-stage filtration system, including cyclonic technology that spins fine dust away from the filter. Similar to the PAV1200W, the MAX Pivot features a “filter flicker” that dislodges some of the dust from the filter for improved suction.
Like our first pick, the MAX Pivot features a thin pivoting nose that makes it perfect for cleaning the tight spaces in car interiors. This also includes the extendable crevice tool for improved reach.
The MAX Pivot packs substantially more power than the PAV1200W, however, due to its lithium ion battery. Reviewers loved the suction behind the MAX Pivot—many found themselves surprised so much pulling power could be generated by the lightweight, compact vacuum.
The lithium ion battery also provides the MAX Pivot with fade-free suction. Older handheld vacuum are usually powered by nickel cadmium batteries, which tend to lose suction as their charge dwindles. But newer lithium battery in the Pivot keeps the suction at a constant strength until the battery is completely drained. Lithium batteries can also hold more charge than their NiCd counterparts.
The cyclonic action in this vacuum also helps keep the suction going strong, pulling finer dust particles away from the filter. The filter flicker can also be used to “refresh” the filter, loosening some of the embedded dust to improve the suction.
Compared to the PAV1200W, the MAX Pivot’s biggest downside is its limited battery life. The cordless design requires users to be economical with power, turning the vacuum on and off to conserve battery charge.
It also doesn’t include the hose tool attachment that accompanies the PAV1200W, which limits the reach of the MAX Pivot.
The Black & Decker MAX Pivot is an impressively powerful handheld vacuum that does a great job on car interiors. Similar to the PAV1200, the long thin nose of the MAX Pivot reaches spots other vacuums can’t within the tight confines of your vehicle.
The lithium ion battery provides a longer lifespan and consistent suction power that’s impressive for a handheld vacuum. With tons of cleaning power, great performance and a vehicle-friendly design, the MAX Pivot is easily one of the best handheld vacuums for cleaning your car interior on the market.
Top Quality Pick: Dyson V6 Trigger
In the vacuuming world, Dyson has built a reputation for creating some of the highest performing models around. Dyson produces futuristic, sleek-looking vacuums that consistently earn the praise of consumers and expert reviewers alike.
Of course, Dyson vacuums have also earned a reputation for their high price tags. If you’re looking for the best of the best from your next car vacuum, however, we recommend the Dyson V6 Trigger.
The V6 Trigger is the cordless, handheld model from Dyson’s popular V6 line—so called because of the powerful V6 motors under the hood of these vacuums. Though more compact in size, the Trigger packs the same power and performance that has made the other V6 models so popular.
The lightweight V6 Trigger weighs about 3 pounds. Like other V6 vacuums, it features a trigger control to turn the vacuum on. This helps preserve the battery life, as the vacuum will only run while the trigger is engaged. The Trigger also has a “power mode” for boosting the vacuum’s suction.
Like the MAX Pivot, the V6 Trigger runs on lithium ion battery, which provides the vacuum with fade-free suction for the duration of the battery life. The fully charged battery provides about 20 minutes of runtime, or 6 minutes in power mode, and it takes about 3 and a half hours to recharge.
Also similar to our other cordless pick, the V6 Trigger features cyclonic action to spin the fine dust away from the filter, keeping the suction running strong for a longer period of time. The filter itself is washable, and will never need replacing.
To empty out the vacuum, the dust canister features a one touch quick button release that ensures you don’t have to get your hands dirty. The V6 Trigger come with a crevice tool and combination attachment tool, which is an upholstery brush with a retractable crevice tool. The Trigger has a two year warranty.
The Dyson V6 Trigger features the most powerful suction of any handheld vacuum on the market—despite its lightweight and powerful build. Most users found that the unboosted normal mode was sufficient for tackling most messes, but the enhanced power mode setting is a particularly useful feature for tackling more stubborn messes.
The suction generated by the V6 Trigger’s powerful motor is perfect for pulling dust from deep within the upholstery, aided by the useful brush on the combination tool attachment. The crevice helps you reach those tough spots. The Trigger does an equally superb job on debris particles both large and small, usually requiring only a single pass over to clean an area.
It’s also a very easy vacuum to use—the lightweight body of the Trigger allows you to vacuum for extended periods of time without leaving you with sore arms. The body of the vacuum feels balanced in the hand, with more of the weight distributed toward the grip.
Meanwhile, the trigger control on this vacuum allows you to conserve battery life, and requires minimal finger strength to hold down. One touch hygienic bin emptying is a nice feature as well, allowing for a quick and clean disposal of dust and debris.
Like the MAX Pivot, the lithium ion in this battery gives it fade-free suction. The Trigger also has the longest battery life of any handheld cordless vacuum that we’ve found, allowing for a thorough vacuuming session in your vehicle with charge leftover.
Of course, the biggest downside of the Dyson V6 Trigger is the price tag, which is many times the cost of our other two picks. Many shoppers may be hesitant to spend Dyson’s asking price on a handheld vacuum.
Some reviewers found the dust container on the Trigger to be a bit small for their liking. You may want to keep a trash bag or bin on hand when vacuuming your car, so you won’t have to be interrupted by frequent trips to empty the canister.
If you have the budget for this vacuum, the Dyson V6 Trigger is well-worth the extra cost. With excellent design and the best cleaning performance on the market, this cordless handheld vacuum may actually make you look forward to cleaning out your car.
Dyson packs the V6 Trigger with lots of useful features that seem made for car vacuuming, including a boosted power mode for tougher messes. With an impressive battery life and fade-free power, the V6 is truly the top performer among handheld vacuums.
Which is the Best Car Vac for You?
Corded vacuums like the Black & Decker PAV1200W provide virtually unlimited run times, allowing you to thoroughly clean the entire breadth of your vehicle interior. This particular model from Black & Decker provides the perfect tools to reach every inch of your car, including a pivoting nose, hose attachment, extra long power cord, and a built-in crevice tool.
The Black & Decker MAX Pivot features a similar design in cord-free form, with the added benefit of stronger suction. Powered by a lithium ion battery, the MAX Pivots offers a powerful, fade-free cleaning power and comes at a reasonable cost.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line vacuum for cleaning your vehicle, we recommend the Dyson V6 Trigger. The V6 Trigger features a powerful V6 motor that provides the best suction of any handheld cordless vacuum on the market. Lightweight, well-designed and powerful, the Trigger offers outstanding cleaning power and ease-of-use.