The best car vacuum 2024: lightweight vacs to keep your car spotless

Best car vacuum: quick menu

The best car vacuums are the most convenient tools for keeping the interior of your car spick and span. While it's generally not too hard to use one of the best vacuum cleaners if your car's within reach of your house, they're not necessarily designed for cars and the majority of the best upright vacuums aren't cordless. Most of are picks are cordless, and they're a lot quieter and easier to use than standard vacuums, too.

A good car vacuum is a must if you have kids or pets, but it's a useful accessory for most drivers. It'll take care of dust, dirt and grit that'll build up on your car's upholstery and work its way into little creases and crevices, and make your car's interior look good as new in a few minutes. And while car vacuums used to be poor imitations of regular machines, modern options benefit from improved battery and motor technology, enabling you to get the job done in no time.

Of course, if you're short of space or cash and need to stick with just one vacuum for everything, we'd recommend one of the best cordless vacuums: if you shop around you can find models that convert to pretty small handhelds, although they're not quite as small as a dedicated car vac. We've included some of those cleaners in this guide so you can see what's the best option for you.

The best car vacuum: quick list

The best car vacuums in 2024

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The best car vacuum overall

best car vacuum Dyson V8 against a white background

(Image credit: Dyson)
Best multi-use car vacuum with unrivalled suction


Type: Cordless
Bin size: 540ml
Battery life: 40 mins on standard/7 mins on max
Weight: 2.56kg

Reasons to buy

Versatile design
Good battery life

Reasons to avoid

Expensive for a car vac
Small bin
A bit heavy

Many will recognize the Dyson V8 as a household vacuum, but its form factor and included tools make it easy to turn into a car vacuum too. We’ve included it because it’s one of the lower-priced models in Dyson’s range ($449 / £249 / AU$499), should someone be buying more primarily as a car vacuum, though of course pretty much any of Dyson’s V-series vacuum cleaners would do the job here.

As a car vacuum, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the V8 outperforms most of its competition. The power and suction here are pretty much unrivaled when compared with smaller, more portable handheld vacs, but then you’d hope so when you consider the price difference.

Battery life is good on standard suction mode, although the seven minutes in Max mode is a touch short. Thankfully we found it could pick up most debris on the lower setting with an occasional blast on the higher setting doing a good job of collecting anything left over.

The size of the handheld unit can be a bit of a downfall when trying to get in more awkward spots, even when using the crevice tool, and the added weight means it can get a bit tiring to hold too. But if you need the power and performance, you won’t find much better than this.

Read more: Dyson V8 review

The best budget car vacuum

best car vacuum Black and Decker Dustbuster Flexi Auto

(Image credit: Black and Decker)
Best budget car vacuum for 'little and often' clean-ups


Type: Corded
Bin size: 500ml
Battery life: n/a
Weight: 1.49kg

Reasons to buy

Lightweight in use
Good range of included tools

Reasons to avoid

Low suction means hit and miss performance
Some poor design decisions
Corded won't suit everyone

The Black and Decker 12V Auto Flexi Vacuum is the only car vacuum in our list that runs via a 12V corded connection. It uses your car’s accessory power outlet, or the old “cigarette lighter” socket, for power.

It has a far more traditional vacuum style than most other car vacuums in our list, in that it has a larger main body for collecting debris, and a 1.5m-long hose for moving around. This is convenient for those who may find the weight of an all-in-one or stick vacuum a struggle, as the hose is very lightweight in use.

There’s a single level of suction and a large 19 fl oz/560ml dust canister. Despite feeling relatively soft on suction, it can provide an acceptable clean of both large and small debris, with perseverance. It will require several passovers to get a good finish though and take longer than using something more powerful. It can’t tackle ground-in dirt and pet hair either, it simply doesn’t have the power to handle it.

The design could be better in some places. For example, the door for emptying the bin sits on the side of the vacuum’s main body so isn’t the easiest to ditch the dirt cleanly.

Overall, this is a handy car vac for those who need something that’s both budget and lightweight to use and who clean little and often. If you need something more heavy duty you should look elsewhere.

Read more: Black and Decker Dustbuster Flexi Auto review

The best car vacuum for pet hair

best car vacuum Shark Ultracyclone Pet Pro Plus

(Image credit: Shark)
Best car vacuum for pet hair and most other tasks


Type: Cordless
Bin size: 450ml
Battery life: 10 mins
Weight: 1.39kg

Reasons to buy

Great performance
Good battery life
Versatile tools

Reasons to avoid

No swappable battery
Only one power setting

The Shark CH950UKT / Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is one of the better handheld vacuums we’ve tested, so it’s easy to understand why it’s a bestseller. Its size, shape and weight make it perfect for cleaning your car, with its range of useful tools also helping to ensure it’s always best suited for the task at hand.

During our testing, the standout attachments for car cleaning were most definitely the motorized pet hair tool and the crevice tool. The latter was particularly helpful, as, despite the vacuum's compact size, its all-in-one design still makes getting into the harder-to-reach areas such as behind foot pedals or inside door bins tricky.

However, the motorized tool is a great size for more widespread clear-ups on carpets and upholstery. It also makes quick work of both smaller and larger debris in our standard tests.

Its one power setting means one pass may not be enough for really set-in dirt - and it can struggle with the most stubborn of pet hair too - but overall the single power setting copes well with most tasks. We found you’ll get around 15 minutes of battery life, 50% more than its quoted 10 minutes and more than enough to do a good clean of your whole car. 

Considering its low price, this Shark handheld offers tremendous value and is perfect for busy families. That's not to mention a great option if you're dealing with pet hair daily.

Read more: Shark Ultracyclone Pet Plus Pro review

The best car vacuum to leave in the car

best car vacuum Eufy H20

(Image credit: Eufy)
Best car vacuum to leave and also charge in the car


Type: Cordless
Bin size: Not stated
Battery life: 20 minutes
Weight: 654g

Reasons to buy

Easy to use
Quick to charge
Compact and easy to store

Reasons to avoid

No good for larger debris
Charging plug isn't included
Loud for such a small device 

If you're looking for something small and simple, the eufy Clean HomeVac H20 could be the car vac for you. This cordless, handheld vacuum cleaner comes with an array of attachments that make it well-suited for car cleaning. Each component feels sturdy, and when switching between the attachments, a satisfying “click” delivers reassurance that all is in place and secure.

The HomeVac H20 offers two suction modes – Eco and Max – that you select by pushing a button on the main unit, beneath the power button, and there's also a battery indicator light. Best of all, we liked that the HomeVac H20 could be charged using an in-car charger; we made use of this handy feature on a few occasions, and it's a real boon for larger cars, for which its 20-minute battery life wouldn't necessarily suffice.

The attachments and in-car charger make the eufy Clean HomeVac H20 a good option to have in the car at all times. It's not as powerful as some rivals but it's handy to have for quick cleanups.

Read more: Eufy Clean HomeVac H20 review

How to choose the best car vacuum

If you’re in the market for a car vacuum, there are a few things you should think about. One of the first questions could be – do you actually need one? If you own something like the Dyson V8, it can shapeshift into a form factor that can work very well to clean cars with and comes with all the power, bin size and additional tools of a fully-fledged vacuum cleaner for great performance. Of course, this comes at a considerably higher cost than a dedicated car vacuum and can be heavier too.

If you decide you do need something more dedicated, there are several things to bear in mind. One of the first is whether you want corded or cordless. Most car vacs these days do run on a rechargeable battery, so do consider the battery life in these situations. Be sure to check whether it has more than one suction level to understand what the battery life figure refers to.

If you are going for corded, make sure the cord is long enough to allow you to do the full car.

Next up, think about form factor, including weight and how comfortable it looks to hold. Can you imagine cleaning a whole car with it, and does it come with the necessary tools for your situation? Crevice tools are particularly useful for cleaning cars, but pet owners will want to look out for specific tools to tackle pet hair if possible.

You might also want to consider the bin size, to be sure it has a decent capacity for a full car clean — if the bin is too small you might have to stop to empty it halfway through. Speaking of which, consider how the bin opens on the car vac and if it looks like it can be emptied cleanly. There’s nothing worse than losing half of your bin’s contents onto the floor — or worse, on you — as you try to transfer to the bin.

How we test car vacuums

To find the best car vacuum you can buy, we test how well each model can clean up a range of dirt and debris from different areas of a car. We use the same kind of things you'll be cleaning too: crushed digestive biscuits for our finer dirt test, and oats for the larger one.

We then section off a testing area of 20cm x 20cm in the boot so that we can test carpet pick up, and we do the same on the driver’s seat for the upholstery test. This allows us to assess the performance of each in a controlled environment, while also carrying out “real-world” testing over a period of time too. This includes general car clean-ups, observing the handling of pet hair, and finding out how well they can get into tight spaces, like door bins.

As well as evaluating each vacuum's cleaning performance, we also consider the other things that would be important when making a buying decision, including how long the battery lasts compared to the manufacturer’s claims (or how long the wire is, in the case of corded vacs), how loud it is in use and the usefulness of any included tools for different jobs.

We also consider the weight and ergonomics, to understand if people are going to be able to use it comfortably to clean the whole car and if the bin capacity it has will make that possible.

Lastly, we rate based on how easy it is to empty the vacuum cleanly, and how easy it is to keep clean, as well as general feedback on ease of use.

Verity Burns

Verity is a freelance technology journalist, with previous on-staff roles at What Hi-Fi?, Stuff, Pocket-lint and MSN. 

Having chalked up more than 15 years in the industry, she has covered the highs and lows across the breadth of consumer tech, sometimes travelling to the other side of the world to do so. With a specialism in audio and TV, however, it means she's managed to spend a lot of time watching films and listening to music in the name of "work".

You'll occasionally catch her on BBC Radio commenting on the latest tech news stories, and always find her in the living room, tweaking terrible TV settings at parties.

With contributions from