There’s nothing like going on a drive to enjoy the great outdoors… if only it would stay outdoors! Cars take a lot of dirty shoes, crumbs, and spills, and if your vacuum cleaner’s too awkward to get in all those narrow spaces, then a dedicated car vacuum cleaner is sure to make your life easier.
After a professional car wash, your family and pets seem to have a magical ability to quickly spoil that freshly vacuumed clean atmosphere. It’s only natural to want to keep your car looking at its professional best, especially if you have clients, customers, or Uber passengers.
A car vacuum can stay in the car, waiting for that fast job to make it seem like that messy snack time never happened. The best cordless car vacuums cleaners are purpose-built to stay tucked away in your boot, and designed to get into all those awkward areas that house vacuums struggle to reach.
On the other hand, if you want to widen the versatility, you may want a handheld vacuum to keep around for odd jobs you wouldn’t want to lug out your big barrel vacuum for. A good handheld “dustbuster” is small, versatile, has a decent Li-ion battery, and sits on charge somewhere out of the way when not in use.
Of course, you may be looking for an excuse to finally bite the bullet and get a stick vacuum, many of which these days can quickly convert to handheld mode for ducking out to the car for five minutes. It’s probably too expensive for dedicated car-only use, but that higher price will offer more suction power than you’re likely to ever need for your car.
Here’s our list of the currently available best car vacuum cleaners in Australia, from mini vacuum cleaners for cars specifically, to more general house vacuums that maintain an emphasis on car cleaning ability.
1. Black+Decker 18V Lithium-ion Dustbuster Pivot Hand Vacuum
High-powered little transformer that folds out to any angle over 200 degrees
This neat little transforming vacuum is perfectly designed to unfold and pivot into all sorts of angles to get in all awkward crevices and narrow spaces, which is what makes it the best handheld vacuum for cars specifically.
The nozzle is designed to pivot up to 200 degrees, and folds back down for very compact storage in a convenient packable shape.
One excellent innovation of this vacuum is that rather than include a bunch of attachments that will clutter up your drawer and be inconvenient to find when you need them, the nozzle itself extends into a crevice tool as necessary. A brush flips over and snaps to the nozzle to become a brush tool for pet hair and dried dirt.
A large trap door bottoms out to release the dirt for easy cleaning, and the dust bowl is even removable if you want to rinse it under the tap. This same simplicity is applied to cleaning the internal filter, and being easy to clean keeps the machine more hygienic and longer-lasting.
best for sand
2. Black+Decker 18V Lithium-ion Dustbuster Flexi Hand Vacuum
Super suction with a long flexible tube that gets everywhere
The high powered motor, light-as-a-kitten weight and awesome manoeuvrability makes this neat little vac the best portable car vacuum cleaner for deeper, ground-in cleaning. This is the one you want for sandy cars that visit the beach or get camping dirt and leaves in the most awkward places.
At only 1.5 kilograms, this super light machine surely wouldn’t have one of the highest power motors seen in a handheld vacuum – or would it? The unique design of this machine has the motor and filtration system together as one in the core, cutting down on weight and using the shape of the chamber to the motor’s best advantage.
Cyclonic vacuum action whips your dirt and debris through the filter and around this core safely, to provide maximum performance at this super light weight. The one drawback of this design is there’s no way to manually clean or replace the filter. The filter does clean itself while vacuuming, but after months of dust, there may be some buildup that may marginally impact performance.
Another unique feature in this featherweight hard hitter is the hose attachment for up to 1.5 metres extra flexible reach to get under car seats and behind infant attachments. Most handheld don’t have nearly enough suction to pull dirt through 1.5 metres of tubing, so if you’re looking for this flexibility, this is a rare find.
An 18V Li-Ion battery will run the machine up to a whopping 30 minutes without fading for years. Charging to full is as simple as placing it on its charge pad for a few hours, letting the machine turn itself off when the battery is full. It is quite a luxury at this price point, to have features like this that extend the life of the vacuum, as most companies will sink the extra expense into more performance aspects than longevity to encourage repeat purchases.
best for pets
3. Bissell SpotClean Professional 4720P
For cars with the deepest and grossest stains you need to bring in the professionals
Getting a car vacuum is a no-brainer for people with babies and fur-babies in the back seat, but sometimes for serious stains, a vacuum just isn’t the right tool for the job. For those unhygienic messes and smells that sink deep into the upholstery, a portable carpet cleaner is the best for pets.
Enter the Bissell SpotClean range, a nifty mini carpet cleaner that’s small enough and portable enough to get into the cracks and crevices of your car.
Use the accompanying large and small nozzle tools to quickly clean up messes and spills, or the “stain trapper” tool to spray and grind into those deep stains, sucking out filth with the upholstery cleaner without leaving the seats wet.
Liquids sucked out of upholstery and carpets are collected in a separate container, which is removed with an easy twist, so you can simply pour out and restore. This is far and away the most hygienic method of dealing with accidents made by nervous puppies and toddlers.
Smart HeatWave technology in the machine keeps the water temperature constant while you wash. For stains that need warm water, you won’t need to keep going to the tap to add more hot water as you work.
The design of the unit is to sit up, slim enough to sit on a stair, with all the weight centred right at the soft-grip handle, making it very portable and easy to carry even when full.
For this reason, the hose is quite short to avoid jostling the machine; a carpet spot-cleaner needs to stay put in the area you’re cleaning without being prone to being tipped over. Unfortunately, that makes it a little awkward in the car, because the unit will have to sit on the seats while you clean the carpet, and sit on the carpet while you clean the seats.
Still, despite prioritising carpets and stairs, this inexpensive and highly effective machine is one of the only carpet cleaning machines tiny and portable enough to do a fantastic job in your car.
4. ThisWorx Car Vacuum
The wet and dry vacuum that plugs into your car
For those that never want to have to remember to bring the vacuum in and out of the house for charging, this is the best portable car vacuum cleaner that will plug straight into your car’s cigarette lighter. Keep the vacuum in its small carry case in the boot and whip it out anytime you need a touch up, whether you’re down the road or across the country.
You can see this company has really thought out all the issues you might ever run into when trying to vacuum your car. The powerful yet tiny machine sucks up all spills, wet or dry, into a transparent easy-to-empty chamber. The power cord reaches 5 metres, more than long enough to reach the boot with plenty of slack.
Careful thought has also been put into the attachments and casing. This vacuum comes as a set with a flathead hose, extension tube, and brush head, all attachments thoughtfully designed specifically to get into car cushions and carpets.
Also impressive is the inclusion of a HEPA filter (with a spare filter included!), not something you always see in car vacuum cleaners, but will make a big difference to passengers with allergies or asthma. A special brush to clean the filter is also included, extending the longevity of the vacuum.
All these parts fit neatly into the pack it arrives in without testing your patience or Tetris skills. The pack will sit unobtrusively down the side of the boot or under the seats, but unfortunately, there is where it will live forever. Because it plugs into your car jack, this car vacuum will never see any use outside your car.
5. Shop Vac Micro
Great value corded super sucker that neatly affixes to your garage wall after use
This mini vacuum cleaner is almost like a barrel wet and dry vac in miniature, a godsend of a mini-cleaner for those with a workshop-and-car combination garage. Excellent corded suction will make short work of liquids and dry dirt, on the tiny footprint of an A4 sheet of paper.
Despite being a corded machine, for the size and price of this unit, this kind of suction is unprecedented. If your workshop ends up with a lot of sawdust it’s usually very difficult to pick up tiny splinters with such a small vacuum, so that’s been made the clear priority in the design of this machine.
The wet vac, on the other hand, is something you didn’t even know you needed until you had it. Basement flooding, pools of water in the garage after a particularly rainy day, and spills in your workshop are all things you dread mopping up until you have a wet vacuum.
But onto your car, this kind of power laughs at other car vacuums. A spilt slushie, your puppy’s backseat accident, or weeks of muddy shoes traipsing in and out of the backseat is nothing for this little super sucker.
A 5.7 metre cord allows you plenty of slack to get in and around the car while it’s in your garage, and the vacuum cleaner is on wheels, swinging easily around your space as you need it.
This model comes with extension tubes, crevice tool, narrow head, and wide head attachments that slot neatly into the back of the machine when not in use. These attachments are nothing fancy, just durable plastic, and no brush tool, presumably due to the kind of wet dirt that Shop Vac is envisioning you cleaning up.
Disposable paper collection bags turn its wet 4 litre capacity into a canister for contained dry pickup, and going without the collection bag may regurgitate some dust back into the car through the back vents. The collection bags are very reasonably priced and widely available online, but be aware this will be an ongoing cost.
The included bracket fixes to the wall of your garage, where the shop-vac can hang unobtrusively between cleans. However, this is a corded vacuum cleaner that plugs into the wall. If your garage doesn’t have a power point, this is unfortunately just not the machine for you.
6. Kambrook Captive 11V
This sophisticated tiny dustbuster will look right at home in the company car
The super compact 1.2 kilogram hand vac is the tiniest and sleekest mini vacuum cleaner for cars on our list. Don’t expect massive suction from a unit this small, but do keep your expectations high for this battery. This classy little tool will last weeks between charges and be attractively available for touch-ups between clients.
The compact and ergonomic design of the Kambrook Captive 11V will keep the strain off your wrists, with a comfortable ergonomic handle that’s easy on smaller hands.
Two power settings let you control the suction of dirt flying into the dust canister, which keeps dirt hidden from view in the internal chamber. The dust canister and filter are easy to remove, wash, and replace.
Choose between wall-mounted charging or standalone charging to fill the 11V Li-ion battery, a long-lasting modern battery that will keep your machine in the car rather than on the charger.
In terms of drawbacks, the tiny size of this vacuum does of course pull its punches somewhat in the suction department. This is a car vacuum for a quick-sandwich-before-the-meeting cleanup, not so much for picking up your son from his muddy soccer matches.
Despite the lower suction, the battery and portability will keep this cutie useful for years to come.
7. Bosch UniversalVac 18
A no-frills vac that does a great job for those looking to add to their toolset
This little vacuum cleaner is simplicity itself. A powerful cordless vacuum cleaner that can pick up even quite heavy materials despite a light 1.5 kilogram body.
For this multipurpose stick/handheld/car vacuum, being a jack-of-all-trades comes with a priority on versatile utility and an excellent motor. All the guts and working power are all humming under your hand as you vacuum.
This is robust, high-powered simplicity at a much lower price, but don’t be fooled, there’s something else to buy. Like all the home and gardening tools in Bosch’s Universal 18 range, it does not come with the necessary 18V battery.
In a marketing move we’ve never seen before, Bosch’s battery for all Universal 18 products is sold separately, for twice the price of the vacuum. While this seems convoluted, the battery is fantastic, an 18V Lithium-Ion battery with automatic shutdown and electronic cell protection. If these are the sort of tools you’ll use, the versatility to power multiple home and garden tools will halve the cost of future tool purchases if you go with Bosch.
With the charger set, this battery will charge lightning fast, in under an hour, and last a decent 20 minutes in the vacuum. The filter is a flexible flat-pleated filter that easily comes off with the prefilter for cleaning. Just flex the filter, brush it down, and click it back to the unit.
8. Dyson V8
For those that want a high-end stick vacuum, but car cleaning is a must
The Dyson V8 has really been a major competitor in all areas of the vacuum world. It’s great at pet hair, maintains epic suction with a turbo motor, and can be used with a variety of purpose-made tools and lengths.
The V8s are a little on the older side now and are often selling for half the price of the recent V11, despite still maintaining a decent motor and excellent 40 minute battery. The sub-models Animal Pro (best for pets), Absolute, and Absolute Pro (best for hard floors) all seem to be coming with extra attachments and tools these days too.
While the direct-drive motorhead is going to work beautifully on the seats and carpets, it’s not going to get into all those corners. The crevice tool and multi-tool are going to give that better manoeuvrability for those hard to reach places.
Considering price versus performance, the V8 is the best value pick if you need a stick vacuum that’s also going to make short work of your car. What can we say? If it can reach all those awkward areas, the best cordless vacuum is the best cordless car vacuum too!
9. Bosch Readyy’y
A stick vacuum that gives excellent performance for handheld use
If you’re amenable to the idea of a stick vacuum but are unwilling to break open the piggy for a high-end Dyson, this Bosch 2-in-1 cordless stick-and-handheld combo could be the perfect middle ground between performance, utility, and price.
Bosch is back with their excellent batteries for wide-utility appliances, this time with a 20V Li-ion battery that will last a long time without losing charge capacity. The battery will run this machine for up to an impressive 40 minutes on standard after 5 hours on charge.
A motorised power brush in the head of the cleaner will agitate and lift dirt to be immediately sucked up by the vacuum, and is large and heavy enough to let the vacuum stand by itself in a corner when not in use, no dock required.
The handheld mode for this model is achieved by clicking in a button with one hand, while simultaneously pulling awkwardly away and down from your body with the other hand, sometimes requiring a little jiggle to come loose. This is to keep the heaviest parts of the vacuum in the centre of the body for balance and for upright storage, but it does make it quite fiddly for regular swapping between cleaning cars and floors.
Although all handsticks are becoming easier to clean these days, this one really wins the award for easiest dismantling, with a roller brush that can easily be pulled out and pushed into the machine without having to open it up.
Pro tip: This feature means you can simply cut through the hair once, and then turn on the vacuum to suck it all away without picking the dusty hair out by hand!
10. Devanti Handstick Vacuum Cleaner
A thin, light, manoeuvrable stick vacuum for all small nooks and crannies
If what you really need is a handheld vacuum with stick functionality, rather than a stick vacuum with a handheld option, the Devanti Handstick is a unique 2-in-1 cleaner that prioritises the small jobs over the home floors.
This little guy is handsome and stylish, only 2.5 kilograms for some pretty decent suction around the bedroom and living areas, and of course, your car.
Switching between handheld and stick mode is as simple as clicking the stick on or off, making it easy to store and charge, and comes with a brush nozzle and crevice tool especially for getting at that dirt wedged between car cushions.
Another simple click will eject the contents of the dirt container into the bin, where the majority of dust collects. The rest of the finer dust will be caught in the HEPA filter, trapping pollen and dander from pet hair and dust, an important priority for those with allergies.
This light stick vacuum is only 20 x 37cm in handheld mode, and even in stick mode it can easily wedge into small spaces that large home vacs can’t access. The battery lasts 25 minutes on standard, and charges in 5 hours. Overall, a nifty and convenient small machine for odd jobs.