Cars can get dirty on the inside just as quickly as mud and dust on the outside. To tackle the problem, you need the best car vacuum you can afford, something that’s just as capable of cleaning up crumbs as sand and general grime.
However, you do not necessarily need a special car vacuum cleaner. While most vacuums are primarily designed for use on indoor floors, many also come with a selection of accessories that you can attach to other surfaces. These are the tools you need to get the most out of a vacuum cleaner in your car.
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Best car vacuum cleaner: at a glance
How to choose the best vacuum cleaner for you and your car
Which type of vacuum cleaner should you choose?
There are all kinds of vacuum cleaners available, from cordless uprights to cordless poles. If you plan on taking your vacuum cleaner to your car regularly, it makes sense to buy a battery-powered cordless model.
Mains powered vacuums tend to be more powerful, but having to drag a cable to your car and then maneuver a clunky hose through your car’s interior is generally more hassle than it’s worth.
What accessories do I need?
When cleaning your car, do not use the standard floor head. Instead, the vacuum cleaner should have the right selection of accessories, which can be clipped onto the nozzle of a handheld or stick vacuum, or connected to the hose of an upright.
Most vacuum cleaners come with a crevice tool. This is a narrow tube that fits into your vacuum on one side and is flattened on the other, so you can easily place it in hard-to-reach places. These are often the places where the most dust, dirt and crumbs are collected.
The tool worth looking out for – and which many don’t come with – is a mini motorized head. This is a smaller version of the motorized floor head found on many cordless vacuums, with a rotating brush that can pick up dirt from fabric and carpets. Often billed as a pet tool, it’s great for car upholstery whether you have a pet or not, and has the bonus of being easier to move around in the tight confines of your car’s interior.
Do you need an extra car kit?
Some vacuums come with optional “car-specific” extras, such as a flexible hose, narrower crevice nozzle and a soft dusting brush for cleaning the dashboard. However, check what tools the basic version of your chosen vacuum cleaner comes with before you start splattering, as you may be doubling slightly other versions of tools already in the box.
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The best car vacuums to buy in 2022
1. Roidmi Nano P1 Pro: The best handheld vacuum to keep in the car
Price: £112 | Buy now from Amazon
This Roidmi Nano P1 Pro handheld vacuum is compact, fits well in the hand and is small enough to keep in the glove compartment of your car. It charges via a USB-C port, so you can charge it in the car with a standard USB-C phone cable.
When you want to use it, flip the lid and the top turns into a small crevice tool so you can pierce it in places that would otherwise be hard to clean. It also includes a retractable brush, which is engaged by pressing a button on the nozzle, to remove loose dust and grime.
Due to its size and small 100ml container, the Nano P1 Pro is at its best at tackling light messes, such as crumbs after a light snack; it’s a little too small for cleaning up bigger messes like muddy footwells or a beach sand vacation. For those jobs, you’re better off with a more powerful vacuum cleaner like the one below.
Read our full Roidmi Nano P1 Pro review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 60x60x275mm; Weight: 0.5kg; Baking capacity: 100ml; Vacuum Type: manually operated; Bagless: Yes; Suction Power – Listed: NS
2. Vax Blade 4 Pet & Car: The cheapest cordless vacuum cleaner for your car
Price: £299 | Buy now from Amazon
With the Vax Blade 4 Pet & Car, you don’t have to worry about buying extra tools to get the best options for cleaning your car, because they come in the box. The unit itself is the same model you’ll find in every Blade 4 pack, but the extra tools included in the price of this version are perfect for deep cleaning car upholstery and reaching problematic corners and crevices.
There are two elements to the car version that really help with this. The first is the powered flexible hose. Most flexible hoses can be used to get attachments such as a crevice tool into hard-to-reach areas. However, the powered flexible hose goes one step further, as it can also supply power to an attachment, such as the included mini motorized “pet tool”.
The motorized pet tool is the second part of the car kit magic. While it will certainly do a great job of removing pet hair from your car seats, if you don’t have a pet, don’t be put off by the name. It is just as effective at removing other types of dust and grime from your car’s interior trim and carpets.
Read our full Vax Blade 4 Pet & Car review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 185 x 240 x 1140mm; Weight: 3.1kg; Baking capacity: 600ml; Vacuum Type: cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Suction Power – Listed: NS
3. Shark Classic Handheld Pet Vacuum: The cheapest handheld vacuum cleaner for your car
Price: £60 | Buy now at Argos
You don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your car clean. Clearly affordable at £60, the Shark Classic Handheld Pet Vacuum (CH950UKT) doesn’t skimp on the tools you need to keep your car’s interior tidy.
Crucially, this pet vacuum comes with a motorized attachment with a rotating brush. While this is aimed at pet owners with pet hair issues, it is also very effective at removing dirt from your car’s carpets and upholstery, whether animal made or not. It also comes with a crevice tool for those hard-to-reach openings and a dusting brush to brighten up your dash.
While it doesn’t have all the features of more expensive models, such as a charging dock or super-powerful suction, Shark’s Handheld has a smart design that’s easy to use and delivers an excellent cleaning standard for the price.
Read our full Shark Classic Handheld Pet Vacuum review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 520 x 95 x 109mm; Weight: 1.39kg; Baking capacity: 450ml; Vacuum Type: manually operated; Bagless: Yes; Suction Power – Listed: Not mentioned
Buy now at Argos
4. Shark Anti Hair Wrap with PowerFins, Powered Lift-Away & TruePet ICZ300UKT with Car Detail Kit: The best cordless stick vacuum for car cleaning
Price: £429 | Buy now from Amazon
Shark’s ICZ300UKT is a decent enough vacuum cleaner for your car as it is. The tray and hose can be lifted clean from the floor and carried to the car where the pet tool and crevice tool can be used to sand the upholstery and get into every nook and cranny.
For a truly professional job, consider investing in Shark’s optional car kit (£22 from Amazon), which fits a variety of Shark vacuum cleaners, including this one.
It comes with a long narrow extension hose, two thinner dusting tools and two narrow crevice tools, one of which can be used at an angle. Between them, they can get into all hard-to-reach places, even those that ordinary vacuum cleaners cannot reach.
Read our full Shark ICZ300UKT review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 260 x 250 x 1080mm (WDH); Weight: 6.2kg; Baking capacity: 600ml; Vacuum Type: Cordless upright; Bagless: Yes; suction power: NS