Vacuuming the cars can really be a problem - hard to reach surfaces, various types of surfaces and dirt, cleaning emergencies etc. represent different challenges for vacuum cleaner. In certain situations small cordless handheld vacuum cleaner will do the job fast and thoroughly, but in certain situations even large and powerful industrial drum vacuum cleaner will struggle to the job properly.
Vacuum Cleaner Type
Vacuums come in various types and sizes. Classic upright vacuums are great for flat surfaces, but for cleaning cars are not so good - it is rather hard for them to reach corners and gaps between surfaces. On the other hand, canister vacuums with their hoses represent good choice for main car vacuum cleaner for several reasons: they are powerful and have great suction, hose can reach different areas easily using crevice tools and if required, cleaning can be done using only hose itself, providing strongest suction possible.
So, if you prefer upright vacuum cleaners, but also have need to vacuum your car, consider buying second smaller and cheaper vacuum cleaner that can be used for cleaning a car and house and/or buy upright vacuum cleaner that has cleaning hose as an option.
Handheld vacuums are popular car vacuums for several reasons - they are lightweight and generally small in size and with cleaning hose or crevice or similar tools can reach tight places. Such vacuums can be used at home, in the car, on the boat etc for regular cleaning of smaller areas and when required, in emergencies. Suction strength of handhelds and other vacuums varies greatly and in most cases, it depends on power source.
Vacuum Cleaner Strength and Power Source
Car vacuums can be powered by batteries, using cigaret lighter adapter or using mains power. Rarely, cars can be vacuumed using industrial vacuums powered by compressed air.
Battery operated car vacuums are handheld vacuums that are excellent in emergencies, have decent suction and decent air filtration - performances depend on price. Cheaper cordless vacuums cost below 30 dollars/euros and are powered by NiCd batteries and have simple mechanical filters, while more expensive cordless vacuums can cost more than 100 dollars/euros (even much more!), but are powered by lithium ion or lithium polymer batteries and are equipped with several filters, washable HEPA filters included.
Battery operated vacuums can be used without power source present in the form of mains outlet or cigaret lighter socket and adapter, giving them freedom to operate wherever and whenever. Battery strength and capacity limit their operating time and suction strength. Cheap NiCd vacuums can clean smaller spills and smaller areas, but they can have issues with cleaning entire car, especially when batteries are older. Vacuums that are operated using lithium batteries usually can vacuum several cars and be fully recharged in few hours. But they cost more ...
Car vacuums that use cigaret lighter socket adapter use car battery as power source. Since such sockets have 10 Amps fuses, these vacuums are usually limited to 120W max - this is decent power for smaller handheld vacuums. Such vacuums often comes with various tools for cleaning tight and hard to reach places like onboard hoses, crevice tools, cleaning brushes and similar. One of their limitations is the length of the power cord and most of these vacuums can clean entire car, but some can have issues in reaching car trunks - please, read the labels and manuals of the vacuums if you have larger SUV, caravan or sedan cars.
Note: under heaviest load, these vacuums can draw max 10 Amps and if they operate for 30 minutes, they will discharge about 5Ah from car battery. These days, most car batteries are above 60Ah, so this 5Ah represents less than 10% of battery capacity. Even Yugo 45 has battery that can withstand such discharging. I think ... :)
Personally, I never vacuumed my car for longer than 10 minutes ...
Mains powered car vacuums can have several kW motors and can operate for long period of time. They have the strongest suction of all car vacuums, largest capacities of dirt bins, largest possible selection of cleaning heads and tools, but they require - mains outlets and power cords of sufficient length to reach the car. If you live in the house and have a garage, this should not be a problem.
Also, such vacuums have very good air filters and can do the job easily and faster than other vacuums.
Note that they are rather hard to be used in emergencies - very important for people with kids and pets.
Steam vacuum cleaners and steam mops can be used to clean and sanitize surfaces that tolerate steam cleaning - such cleaners operate using mains power, so be sure that you have mains socket and long enough power cords near your car.
Vacuum Cleaner Air Filtration
Air filtration is very important for car vacuums, since various allergens can easily get inside of the car - just open the window while driving around. Car vacuum cleaner with good air filtration will remove such particles from the car and trap them inside the dirt bin, dirt bag (reusable or not) or filter (washable or not)!
People having health issues related to allergens, mites and similar should thoroughly clean their cars on regular basis, AND should regularly clean/replace their car cabin filter(s) - driving around during spring with windows down can be quite relaxing for most of the people, but also a nightmare to others ...
Top 5 Car Vacuums Reviews And Recommendations
Here is a list of top 5 car vacuum cleaners according to our opinions. You may agree with us or not, however, these 5 vacuums will clean your car thoroughly. They do have their strengths and weaknesses and before purchasing any of them (or any other vacuum cleaner or home appliance), be sure to check if that device really suits your needs.
On this list there are no large vacuum cleaners (upright vacuums, cylinder vacuums, drum vacuums etc) that can be found in any home as a main vacuum cleaner - if you do have such vacuum cleaner, it can be used as a good car vacuum cleaner, but its main purpose is not car vacuuming.
And, here is the list:
1. Eureka Hand-Held Vacuum 71B
Eureka Hand-Held Vacuum 71B is small, but powerful corded vacuum cleaner. With two motors, one for vacuum suction, second for brush roll and with other product features, this handheld vacuum cleaner is great choice for anybody needing small and compact handheld vacuum cleaner.
This vacuum cleaner is little bit bigger (and heavier) than most common cordless operated hand-held vacuum cleaners, but it is much stronger - great suction power is combined with revolving brush that helps clean even the hardest dirt.
For cleaning hard to reach places, it has onboard hose.
Read more about Eureka Handheld Vacuum 71B.
2. Black & Decker PAV1200W 12-Volt Cyclonic-Action Automotive Pivoting-Nose Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Black & Decker PAV1200W 12-Volt Cyclonic-Action Automotive Pivoting-Nose Handheld Vacuum Cleaner is small, lightweight, but powerful vacuum cleaner, powered using car lighter adapter. It comes at affordable price.
It doesn't have batteries, but being powered by car battery, it can operate for long period of time, without power loss. Also, it is a bagless design with cyclonic filtration - no suction loss when dirt cup is filled. Dirt capacity is around 11.8 oz.
This vacuum cleaner is rated at around 11 air watts.
Read more about Black & Decker PAV1200W.
3. BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum, Corded, 33A1
BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum, Corded, 33A1 model is small, yet very powerful corded handheld vacuum cleaner. It doesn't feature 'fancy' things like rotating brush, but nonetheless, it gets job done easily.
This is very powerful and lightweight handheld vacuum cleaner - when switched on, one feels torque from motor starting. This vacuum cleaner sucks plenty of air and creates strong suction for cleaning the dirt - problem can be exhaust air that sometimes can interfere with the cleaning surface and blow away the dirt. However, this can be easily avoided with careful handling of the vacuum cleaner.
Power cord is 16 feet (5.5m) long and for cleaning the car it could be little bit longer.
Read more about BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum.
4. Black & Decker CHV1510 Dustbuster 15.6-Volt Cordless Cyclonic Hand Vacuum
Black & Decker CHV1510 Dustbuster 15.6-Volt Cordless Cyclonic Hand Vacuum is reliable and affordable cordless vacuum cleaner with generally good suction and good air filtering packed in rather small and lightweight product.
Unlike many new cordless vacuum cleaners which are powered with NiMH or Lithium batteries, B&D CHV1510 Dustbuster is powered with NiCd batteries offering great suction power, low price and somewhat lower capacity.
CHV1510 uses removable and washable filters and 3 stage air filtration. Cyclonic separation spins dust and dirt away from the filter so suction power stays strong even when dirt bin is almost full.
Read more about Black & Decker CHV1510 Dustbuster.
5. Black & Decker FHV1200 Flex Vac Cordless Ultra-Compact Vacuum Cleaner
Black & Decker FHV1200 Flex Vac Cordless Ultra-Compact Vacuum Cleaner is cheap and versatile compact, handheld, cordless vacuum cleaner. It is larger and stronger than average cordless vacuum cleaner, but little bit weaker than standard compact corded vacuum cleaner - but those vacuums don't have freedom and autonomy of corded vacuum cleaners.
It comes with 4-foot flexible hose, long crevice tool, nozzle/brush tool, and pet-hair cleaning tool - various accessories for improved and reliable cleaning of many surfaces, not only in the car. Also, it has a 3-stage filtration system for cleaning air exhaust, providing very good filtration which is great for everyone having problems with allergies and asthma.
Read more about Black & Decker FHV1200 Flex Vac.
Of course, there are other great vacuum that aren't on our list - for example:
These vacuums are more 2-in-1 or all-in-1 types of vacuums that can be used as second home vacuums (even as main vacuum cleaner in smaller homes), as an emergency vacuum cleaner and, of course, as a car vacuum cleaner.
Which one will you use depends on your individual preferences and needs - in most cases, I clean my car with my main vacuum cleaner, but when going on a longer trips with kids, I have a cheap cordless around. Better safe than sorry :)