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Cleaning out a car is a hassle if you don’t have the best tools at your disposal. This is especially true for auto dealerships, where you have to take care of many vehicles.
Using a professional car vacuum for detailing can make a world of difference not just in terms of how clean the car will be but also in how much time and effort it takes to properly detail an entire car.
On this page, we have reviewed dozens of best-selling automotive vacuums and found the best vacuum for car detailing. Let’s check out some of the options and help you decide on which vacuum type and brand is best for you.
Best Vacuum for Car Detailing Buyer’s Guide
When you start shopping for vacuums specifically to use when you detail your car, there are many things that you want to look for to ensure you make a good choice. We’ve rounded up the biggest buying considerations below.
1. Cord Length
The cord length is very important because this will impact how much of your car you can detail without having to stop, unplug it, plug it into another outlet, and resume the process. The cord length can vary from a few feet up to 20 feet or more, so check and see how long you need. Also, take a look and see what it plugs into because some cords use a standard outlet while others use a cigarette lighter port.
2. Motor Strength
The motor strength will dictate what size debris your vacuum can pick up out of your car, and this is important because there are a lot of ground-in items that can be difficult to get out. It should pick up wet messes, dry messes, dirt, dust, pet hair, and anything else to get your seats and carpets looking like new each time you use it.
Your vacuum should be very portable to help you easily move around your vehicle, and this factor includes the vacuum’s weight, size, and shape. It should be compact and easy to carry, and it should have a solid build that won’t break in different environments. The handle should be very ergonomic and comfortable to help prevent user fatigue with extended detailing sessions. Some canister vacuums work very well for this.
4. HEPA Filter
You can take a look at the filtration system that your potential vacuum has, and you want to see one that has a HEPA filter. This type of filter is extremely dense, and this helps it trap and lock in pet dander, dust, and even mold spores that could be floating around your car. HEPA filters are more expensive, but they are well worth it if you have allergies or a respiratory condition.
5. Corded or Cordless
Some detailing vacuums run on traditional cords that plug into your outlets or cigarette ports, but other vacuums run on battery packs. Corded models will run much longer than cordless ones, but the cord can hinder your movement and maneuverability. If you have a smaller car, a cordless design may be easier to handle because you won’t have to worry about it running for hours at a time.
The warranty on your vacuum is important for protecting you against defects or damage, and the warranty period can range from a few months to a few years. Look for a long warranty, and you want a full warranty over a limited warranty. A full one will cover you from more issues than part failure, and they’re usually less strict than limited ones.
You’ll have to have a place to store your dust and debris as you collect them, and the dust bin should have a larger capacity. If it doesn’t, you could find yourself stopping several times during the detailing process to empty it before starting cleaning again. However, a bigger dust collection bin will also make the vacuum larger, so you have to decide which is more important to you. Do you want a more compact vacuum, or do you want to go longer between emptying it?
8. Wet & Dry Versatility
Make sure to note whether or not the vacuum you are considering is a strictly dry vacuum that utilizes agitation and suction only or if it is a wet vacuum that uses water or cleaner solutions in combination with agitation and suction to more thoroughly clean particularly messy vehicles.
Many professional car detailers will have multiple vacuums for various levels of detailing. Wet-dry vacuums for example make cleaning cloth upholstery, floor mats and carpet surfaces much easier than just dry-vacuums alone, which are better for sucking up loose debris, dust and dirt particles.
You should choose a brand that is very well-known because they usually put more time and effort into their vacuums, and these brands also use higher-quality materials that won’t fail or break down as quickly. Also, it’s usually easier to get in touch with their customer support if something happens, and they typically offer more comprehensive warranties.
THISWORX TWC-01 Car Vacuum
- Has a cord but also runs on batteries
- HEPA filter is washable and reusable
- Cleans wet & dry dirt and pet hair
- Lightweight and good design
- 16 feet cord length
- Switching the filter is a bit challenging
Our pick for the best vacuum for car cleaning and auto detailing is the Vapamore MR-50 vacuum because this is a portable device that is perfect for everyone except professional dealerships. This handy vacuum easily cleans wet and dry dirt and pet hairs. You can use it cordless or corded depending on your preferences. The Vapamore MR-50 is the first and only portable wet / dry vacuum and steam cleaner hybrid of its kind on the market today.
We like that it comes with a transparent design, so you can see how full the debris container is. The compact size makes it easy to store in your car between uses, so it’s always on-hand when you need it.
Other Products We Considered
The Steam Cleaner Master editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.