Best car vacuum 2018: keep your car crumb-free and immaculate

Tired of dog hair, boiled sweet wrappers and general road trip rubbish in your footwell and boot? Suck it up with our list of the best car vacuums

TODO alt text

Do you still bother to vacuum clean the inside of your own vehicle? Then we salute you, and we have the best tools for that job. Some plug in to a 12V socket, others are gloriously cordless, but either way, the best car vacuum cleaners suck dust and debris from your car's interior like a champ. 

As a nation, we've become a bunch of lazy slobs willing to hand over excessive amounts of cash in order for someone else to carry out what was once a fine Sunday ritual. Where's the commitment? Where's the pride? Where's the feeling of satisfaction from knowing every single dog hair has been removed from the back seats? Exactly.

A lot of these can be used in settings other than four-wheeled ones. And if you check out our Best cordless vacuum chart you'll find a number of other suitable candidates. However, these are the very best vacs for car cleaning duties specifically. 

What is the best car vac?

The clue’s in the name when it comes to the best car vacuum: the Dyson V6 Car & Boat. It's a powerful but manoeuvrable handheld vac designed specifically for cleaning your car interior (and, er, your boat interior). While Dyson's similar but more powerful V8 and the recent, chunkier V10 may boast considerably more suction, the more compact size and lower price of the V6 Car & Boat make it a narrow winner from the Dyson stable.  

Dyson dislikers might prefer the Philips SpeedPro Max – an absolutely fantastic Dyson V10 clone – but we also love the much more affordable and compact Gtech Multi MKII. We found this was perfect for in-car dust busting, especially with the £25 car kit added to the package.

How to buy the best vacuum for car maintenance

This is essentially going to come down to budget but be warned: some of the cheaper models simply don't pack the wattage or suction power to be of much use, unless you are so fastidious that all you ever need to suck up is dust.

That said, if it's simply a mild cleanse that's required, it might be worth considering some of the smaller models that plug into a vehicle’s 12V cigarette lighter. These tend to be lighter, smaller and easier to squeeze into tight spaces, while the corded power supply means it doesn't matter if the clean takes a little longer than expected – you're not going to run out of juice.

Those with pets kids and a love of outdoor pursuits should definitely shell out more for a powerful cordless from the likes of Philips, Gtech and Dyson (or one of the other Best high-end cordless vacs. They are designed to lift pet hair and suck away awkward spills, and will happily serve as a vacuum for using around the house as well.

The best vacuum cleaners for the car, in order

The best car vacuum: Dyson V6 Car & Boat

1. Dyson V6 Car & Boat

The best car vacuum overall and also a boon on boats

Specifications
Cordless: Yes
Weight: 1.57kg
Battery life: 20 minutes
Capacity: 0.4L
In car charger: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Powerful V6 motor +Great set of car-specific tools+Very affordable for a Dyson
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks the power of newer Dysons (and Dyson rivals)

You can’t really go wrong with cordless Dysons from the V6 onwards. The fact that this one says ‘car’ in the name actually doesn't make a huge amount of difference to the actual vac, but what you do get is a wealth of car-specific accessories, most notably a handy extension hose and a motorised brush for removing pet hair and a stiff, 'stubborn dirt brush' for ground-in muck and oomska.

Dyson V6 Car & Boat accessory set

As you can see from this handy infographic, Dyson has thought this one through

In terms of suction power, the V6 lags behind the newer V8 and V10 but it is much more manoeuvrable than the V10 and cheaper than the V8, even with all the bonus goodies provided. It is also still powerful enough for most in-car cleaning tasks and can also happily turn its hand to cleaning up minor spills and dust outbreaks in your home too. Oh, and your boat, of course.

Our only quibble with the V6 is that the bin is not that easy to fully empty – you'll need a chopstick or similar to get stubborn clots of dirt out.

  • Also consider
  • It's somewhat pricier than the V6 and lacks the extension hose and stubborn dirt brush  but the Dyson V8 is more powerful and easier to empty, despite being pretty much the same size and shape. It will also do a better job around your home as a whole. The only question is whether you want a pricier all-rounder or a cheaper car specialist.
  • And then there's this thing…

Dyson V10: great for both car and home

2. Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute

Best for bigger vehicles and for use throughout the entire home

Specifications
Power: 28AW-125AW
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.68kg
Accessories: Yes
Battery: Lithium-ion
Maximum run time: About 20-60 mins depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Has the power of a corded vac+But the convenience of cordless
Reasons to avoid
-Bulkier than the V6 Car & Boat-…And pricier, of course

The thing about most car-specific vacs is they are designed to be cheaper, able to put up with getting mucky, but they often just aren't all that powerful. That is not the case with Dyson's V10. It's expensive but also by far the quickest way to clean a car interior.

The updated V10 is not only more powerful than its predecessor the V8 (grunt from the motor is up 40 per cent), it also boasts three separate power modes to help increase battery life. Of almost equal importance in the long term, the bin is not only bigger but also much easier to empty.

It is more than capable of lifting stubborn pet hair on the lowest two power settings and we found that the 30 minutes or so battery life was easily long enough to complete even a large car interior.

It doesn't have all the car-specific tools of the V6 Car and Boat, but it does have the key ones – the crevice and mini motorised pet hair sucker – and with this much power, who cares anyway?

It is considerably bulkier and more expensive than the V6 Car & Boat, so if you're looking for a vac specifically for your car, perhaps that is a better option.

Philips Speed Pro Max

3. Philips Speed Pro Max

This Dyson rival's Turbo Brush attachment is perfect for tough in-car cleaning

Specifications
Power: 25V
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 2.73kg
Accessories: Yes
Battery: Lithium-ion
Maximum run time: About 21-65 mins depending on power setting
Reasons to buy
+Strong suction +Great accessories for car work
Reasons to avoid
-Similar price to the V10 -Small-ish dust chamber

Again, while this is designed primarily with households in mind, the latest and greatest vac offering from Philips is too good to pass up as a vehicle-vacuuming device thanks to its considerable power and some excellent attachments.

The aptly-called Turbo Brush features its own powerful motors that rotate a cleaning bar for effortless pet hair and dried mud removal, while a small built-in crevice brush is perfect for getting down the back of seats and other awkward spots.

We found claimed the run time to be very accurate and the lower powered eco mode enough to get the worst of the dirt off, with the top-whack turbo mode only required for really stubborn bits.

For some reason, this lacks a soft brush head of the type Dyson supplies but in your car, the attachments that are provided more than compensate.

Gtech Multi MK2

4. Gtech Multi Mk2

Affordable Dyson alternative

Specifications
Power: 22V
Power boost: No
Weight: 1.5kg
Accessories: Yes
Battery: Lithium-ion
Maximum run time: Up to 20 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Comes with a range of tools +You can add a handy car tool kit too +Really light, yet generally powerful enough

Small, light and easy to lug around, this model from Gtech is only really let down by the fact that it's very much like the V6 Car & Boat in terms of performance and price, but not quite as good, as well balanced, or as aesthetically pleasing. So you end up thinking, "I might as well just get the Dyson, then."

The 20-minute run time is similar to the Dyson, but because it's slightly less powerful, everything takes slightly longer and hence 20 minutes is sometimes not enough for more challenging jobs. Although the Gtech's clear dust compartment is slightly easier to empty once full. The battery takes an additional half an hour to charge, but on the plus side it is removable, unlike Dyson's. That means you can charge it more easily and also gives the option of buying a spare battery for £70.  

The additional Car Kit (£25) includes a plethora of attachments that are great for getting into those hard to reach places – most notably the flexible crevice tool. Even without the extra kit, you get a mini motorised tool and an extending tube and non-flexible crevice tool for getting into nooks and crannies.

All in all, this is a clever, well-designed car vac and a solid alternative to the Dyson.

Vax Blade 32V Pro TBT3V1P1

5. Vax Blade 32V Pro TBT3V1P1

Another great cheap Dyson rival for your car

Specifications
Power: 32v
Power boost: Yes
Weight: 3kgs
Accessories: Yes
Battery: Lithium-ion
Run time: 45 mins
Reasons to buy
+Easy to manoeuvre+Good run time+Generally pretty competent
Reasons to avoid
-A bit uncomfortable and heavy-You need to keep it on the higher suction settings, really

This is another cordless vac that has Dyson in its sights. Although primarily aimed at the home cleaning crew, it's perhaps a little underpowered for that, but it's very affordable, and doubles up brilliantly as a car-cleaning device.

The Cordless Pro Kit contains a number of brush heads and extension nozzles that are particularly good at getting into tough spots, while the main multi-surface cleaning head can removed from the extension stick and used to get rid of pet hair and muck.

This is undoubtedly a little uncomfortable to use, as the grip handle doesn't seem to have been ergonomically designed, while the vacuum itself is heavy compared to rivals. There is also a 24V version, which is cheaper, but has a shorter run time. However, for whatever reason, this one is only £20 or so more expensive, and that is well worth it as you will spend a lot of time using the Boost mode and powered brush bar during use.

Karcher WV5

6. Karcher WV5

Make sure your windows get some love, too

Specifications
Cordless: Yes
Weight: 0.6kg
Battery life: 35 minutes
Capacity: 0.1L
In car charger: No
Reasons to buy
+ Smear-free finish + 35-minute charge time 

One for the car and for the house, this Karcher window vacuum will revolutionise the way you clean windows. Coming with a spray bottle and microfibre cloth, the vacuum is famed for its streak-free finish.

Offering up to 35 minutes of charge, there’s plenty of time to work your way round the car and a bit of the house, too. It’s super lightweight and you can use it to suck up spillages, great if your household is a clumsy one.  

Black & Decker PD1820LGB

7. Black & Decker PD1820LGB

Solid, good-value car valeting unit from the power tool specialist

Specifications
Power: 18v/22AW
Power boost: No
Weight: 1.5kg
Accessories: Yes
Battery: Lithium-ion
Run time: 15 mins
Reasons to buy
+ Large capacity + Powerful cyclone technology 
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life

A cheap and cheerful vac with 1.5m, coiled hose and nozzle permanently attached, this is a solid choice for a quick whizz around more lightly soiled vehicles. The cyclonic action and triple action filtration mean it has no trouble sucking up lighter debris, but unlike some vacs in this price range, it will also make an impact on pet hairs and more stubborns stains.

The hose gives enough length to get to those hard to reach places, while the flip-up soft brush on the head is handy for dusting hard surfaces.  Obviously, you can't expect miracles from a sub-£100 vac but this Black & Decker won't let you down. We don't recommend the even cheaper, lower voltage versions of this, unless you are after a really quick vac-around of your motor.

8. Vonhaus CarVacuum 12V Wet & Dry

Best 'old-school' 12v car vac

Specifications
Power: 12V/100W
Power boost: No
Weight: 1.3kg
Accessories: Yes
Battery: 12V corded
Maximum run time: Constant
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Cheap+Long run time
Reasons to avoid
-Underpowered-Small dust bin

If it's merely a quick clean you're after then there is little point in parting with hundreds of pounds for one of the powerful household rivals.

This VonHaus model plugs into the 12V cigarette lighter of any car or commercial vehicle and offers a lightweight clean for simple crumb removal and light dirt extraction. 

It is not powerful enough for a proper deep clean but then you expect that at this price point.

The 12V cord is around 3.5m, so plenty long enough to reach most areas of the car and we found the provided brushes were particularly good at scrubbing off the more stubborn dirt before sucking it up.

Also, it is sold as a 'wet & dry' model, meaning it can suck up some minor spillages. It's no lie, but we did find that any subsequent dust it captures gets stuck to the bin, which requires washing out to prevent blockages.