We all love the feel and smell of a new car and are sad to see it go.
Auto detailing is a process through which we can reclaim that newness and even bring a vehicle up to show quality. But professional car detailing can be expensive and so many of us do it ourselves.
A crucial aspect of detailing is revitalizing your carpets and cloth upholstery. Here is where a car detailing vacuum comes in, and quality can make a big difference in the results and how it takes.
In this article, we will discuss vacuums that keep your car as clean and fresh as possible with a focus on ease of use and total cost of ownership. Our team has not only rigorously reviewed a broad range of products for the car and/or garage but have explored consumer response to these items too.
Our team has ranked the 10 best vacuums for car detailing on the market right now. We have reviewed them, provided context, and we have also written a buyer’s guide in order to help skeptical consumers recognize the context suited to them.
Top Rated Vacuums for Car Detailing Comparison Chart
Want a snapshot of the 10 terrific vacuums for car detailing? This handy chart provides an overview of those products, an easy point of reference and a quick comparison. Click on an individual item for a review that will explore that particular vacuum in much greater detail.
|Best Car Detailing Vacs 2020||Type||Weight||Price|
|VacuMaid GV50PRO Car Detailing Vacuum||Wall Mountable||30 lbs||Check Price|
|Bissell 18P03 Vacuum Blower w/ Auto Tool Kit||Wall Mountable||33.2 lbs||Check Price|
|Bissell 3624 SpotClean Portable Auto Vacuum||Upright||13.2 lbs||Check Price|
|Metrovac Vac N’ Blo 4.0 Peak HP Automotive||Blower/Vacuum||6.99 lbs||Check Price|
|Bissell Lightweight 1985 Cordless Hand Vacuum||Handheld/Cordless||3.9 lbs||Check Price|
|Dewalt DCV581H Wet-Dry Auto Detailing Vacuum||Corded/Cordless||11 lbs||Check Price|
|McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Car Vacuum||Canister Steam Cleaner||10 lbs||Check Price|
|Workshop Wet/Dry WS1600SS Stainless Steel||Close to Canister||37.7 lbs||Check Price|
|Carrand AutoSpa 94005AS Car Detail Vacuum||Handheld||0.5 lbs||Check Price|
|Vacmaster Wet Dry Auto Detailing Vacuum||Blower Vac||24 lbs||Check Price|
Best Car Detailing Vacuums 2020 Reviews (Updated Picks)
Welcome to our review section where we’ve picked our best vacuum for car detailing as well as nine other products that deserve strong consideration. Our team tested many different products and researched customer satisfaction with those items. Since best can be highly subjective based on factors like budget and usage, you will find a range of auto detail vacuums to inspect. We feel confident that just about every kind of consumer looking at car vacuums will find a product here that suits them to a T.
1. VacuMaid GV50PRO Wall Mounted Car Vacuum
- Features an integrated wall mount for ease of use and space conservation.
- The powder-coated galvanized steel canister is constructed to last a lifetime.
- Has 50 feet of hose out of the box as well as telescoping wands and many attachments.
VacuMaid is among the leading names in garage-oriented vacuums. One of the coolest thing is that the brand’s products are at low end of commercial-grade but priced just right for an average consumer, which is a nice balance.
The GV50PRO is a wall-mounted unit, and this configuration tended to win out for us. It does not take up much space you would otherwise use, and the system is highly versatile. You get 50 feet of hose to start. Moreover, there are wands and attachments and you can easily add aftermarket attachments too.
While using VacuMaid GV50PRO, its canister can hold up to 7 gallons. Its system employs HEPA-style bags that you simply discard and replace. Not only this but the canister itself is constructed of galvanized steel and then power-coated. So, rust will not be an issue no matter where you live, and most of the system could certainly last a lifetime with proper care.
The motor itself, of course, will not last a lifetime, however, you have some options in that department. The product we reviewed had a 5.7-inch motor rated for 650 hours. There is a smaller 5.1-inch motor graded for 500 hours as well as a larger 6.6-inch motor estimated for 1500 hours.
Even 650 hours is a long time for the average homeowner. But note that these motors are sold separately and relatively simple to install for do-it-yourselfers or through an appliance service.
Of all our favorite features, the mounting system was among the best we tested for ease of installation and strength. Our one nitpick is that we could do with a bit more airflow. It did not matter so much for auto detailing, but the provided CFM is not that great for picking up scattered dust in an area, which would have been nice.
2. Bissell 18P03 Garage Pro Wet Dry Car Vacuum
- Wall-mounted system is easy to use and preserves valuable space in your garage.
- The 18PO3 features a blower mode, and the vac can switch between wet and dry modes.
- You get a 32-foot hose as well as seven versatile attachments out of the box.
The Bissell 18PO3 is a close runner-up as our top vacuum for car detailing, and we think it is probably a clear-cut winner for consumers who need their car detailing vac to be a wet-dry vacuum too.
What drew us to the VacuMaid was its build quality that would not look out of place in an auto shop. The overall manufacturing quality here is more plastic-y, but this product also costs quite a bit less.
What we really love is the Performance here which is superb. You get a 12-amp wet-dry vacuum with excellent suction. On top of that, the blower proves convenient for those messes that are easier to blow away than suck up.
The dirt tank holds up to 4 gallons, and an LED indicator warns you that emptying is required. This system does not use filter bags, which does reduce costs compared to our top-rated option.
Fortunately, it does have a primary and secondary filter. You can clean them to extend their life considerably, but they will have to be replaced eventually. Also, you have to be careful when pulling out the main filter since it is easy to create a mess all over the floor that you will have to clean once the filter is back in.
One of the downsides of this unit is the build that does feel a bit cheap but it never seemed much of a problem once mounted to a wall. We also found organization of hoses to be a hassle, and many consumers complained that Bissell depicts a hose rack in images that would have been handy but is not actually included with the product.
3. Bissell 3624 SpotClean Portable Auto Detailing Vacuum
- Portable spot cleaner that can be used in your car and in your home.
- Well-designed flex hose eases getting into those hard-to-reach areas for stains.
- Small enough for the trunk and provides 27 inches of reach overall.
This is the second Bissell on our list, and we are only at number three!
This particular model is a spot cleaner, and it is effective at removing stains from carpets and upholstery in both vehicles and homes. You can clean an entire seat with it or a rug section, but it would tend to be on the inconvenient side if you set out to vacuum your entire car each week with this product.
The Bissell 3624 is a great secondary vacuum for auto detailers and offers a strong option for car owners who wants a vacuum for here and there. We know of at least one auto detailing shop that actually uses this specific model to deal with seating that has stains or is particularly grimy.
Part of what makes this product so effective is its suction power, but there is a trade-off here. It can deliver way more suction than your usual portable vac, but it also weighs in at more than 13 pounds. That is quite a bit when moving it around in a small area and can make large jobs tedious, so keep that in mind.
Another aspect that makes this vacuum jack for all trades is its provided attachments, which include several stain tools. These really make disrupting dirt and getting the solution down deep a lot easier.
Our biggest complaint is that we wish hose quality was a bit better. Many online reviewers criticize that duct tape is needed to patch cracks that will inevitably form in the seams.
4. Metrovac Vac N’ Blo 4.0 Peak HP Automotive Car Detailing Vacuum
- Highly usable thanks to a stable cannister design and four wheels.
- Features a handle, wide range of attachments and weighs less than seven pounds.
- Excellent suction as well as blowing, thanks to a motor that creates 95 inches of water lift.
MetroVac is one of the most prestigious brands that makes excellent vacuums and blowers. While the Vac N’ Blo is no exception, it is superb not only as a car detail vacuum but all around the home and yard in general.
For car detailing, we are particularly fond of its design. Even better, it uses a canister design but laid on its side, which makes it super-stable. With help of four wheels, it is easy to move around as you work.
The vacuum also features a well-made and well-placed handle. Better yet, the unit weighs just under seven pounds, so lifting it and carrying it around with you as needed is a practical option.
With Vac N’ Blo, you get plenty of attachments such as a six-foot hose, two extension bars, one large and one small vacuum head and eight other accessories. You even get the attachments that MetroVac ships with its DataVac. These are great for cleaning out your PC and doing fine detail work in your car.
On the downside, the hose is a bit short and its blower could’ve been better. Although, it is good enough for blowing out a PC and some auto detailing, but it comes up short if you want to blow dirt off your garage floor. Also, the smallest brushes can clog easily so work your way down as you clean a particularly dirty area.
5. BISSELL Lightweight 1985 Cordless Hand Vacuum
- Among the most sophisticated cordless implementations we tested.
- Versatile thanks to a built-in extension hose and a range of specialized attachments.
- Motorized brush roller does a great job of agitating dirt for better cleaning.
Surprise! Another Bissell. What can we say? The company makes great products after all.
This lightweight cordless vacuum from Bissell is our favorite hand vacuum that we’ve ever tested so far. Surprisingly, this is the hand vacuum we have at home, in the office and in the car.
Is it the only car detailing vacuum you will ever need? Well, that actually depends on your goals. While it is an incredibly handy vacuum to have around but probably not the total solution for a serious auto detailer.
We love the no-fade tech, which means that this vacuum runs at a consistent level from the moment you squeeze the trigger to the moment the battery runs out of juice and quits.
Moreover, the product comes with a charger and connecting to top the battery off is a cinch. For the money, its 15 minutes of runtime is superb for a handheld vacuum but a bit lackluster from perspective of auto detailing. This is exactly why we consider it more a secondary vacuum than your primary detailer.
We also love all the attachments it comes with. Its default snub-nosed design is great most of the time. With an extension bar, it is much easier to reach those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. On top of all that, it offers a crevice tool and a motorized pet brush that we found to be very effective during auto detailing.
Be mindful that since the motorized attachment adds a motor to the mix, the draw on the battery is greater. You probably reduce battery life by about a third, so keeping it topped off is a must.
6. DEWALT DCV581H Wet-Dry Auto Detailing Vacuum
- Wet-dry vacuum can be used cordless or connected to an AC outlet.
- Features a 2-gallon tank and a HEPA-rated wet-dry filter that is washable.
- Crush-resistant design makes this vacuum practically indestructible.
DeWalt products are known around the world for their superior built quality, and the DCV581H exudes that in spades.
Although wet capabilities are not particularly necessary for auto detailing, but we like having that option because you are likely going to use it not just in the car but around the garage as well.
Best of the best, the CFM is 33.55 and that rating is consistent whether you use on battery or have it plugged in. That is darn good for a handheld vacuum but perhaps a bit underwhelming for a plug-in model.
As with almost all DeWalt products, this vacuum integrates into the DeWalt ecosystem. It supports any DeWalt batteries ranging from 18-volt to 20-volt. This is especially great for those who invested in the ecosystem. For those not invested, a battery is not included. You will need to purchase one separately.
DeWalt does have a starter kit that includes a battery and charger, but that will double your price. We are not thrilled about this for the average consumer, which is why it falls down our list a bit.
That said, it is a great little vacuum. As a handheld, we love the suction. The hose is a bit on the short side at 5 feet, but we found it to work well for car detailing, and a battery lasts about 20 minutes. If you have additional batteries, you can swap a new one in and keep working, which is a nice option.
7. McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Car Detail Cleaner
- 45 minutes of continuous steam cleaning thanks to a 48-ounce water tank.
- Trigger and lock mechanisms make it simple to dictate when and where you steam.
- Includes a selection of 18 attachments that ease cleaning challenging surfaces.
The McCulloch MC1275 is the best steam cleaner we’ve tested.
It makes our list because if you need to steam clean upholstery or carpeting to get rid of a stain, this product works incredibly well with just water. No cleaning agents are needed!
The reason it falls down the list is that it is such a focused tool. It is superb as an option when needed, but if you are shopping for your first car detailing vacuum, this is not that one product.
But what it does, it does exceptionally well. It even includes a fantastic assortment of attachments, and that attachment fit vies with the DeWalt, which is really saying something. There is even an extension wand and a mop head so that you can use it on your kitchen floors and elsewhere.
Its ability to break down grease is really impressive. Our team was even able to clean off that gunk that builds up where the door closes. The MC1275 even has some fine brushes for that kind of detail work.
When using the vacuum, it takes about eight minutes to heat up. The manufacturer advertises 45 minutes of steam. However, it did not last quite that long in our experience, and an eight-minute delay can be an inconvenience for bigger jobs. Although, it would be nice to have the option to top it off as you went, but that is definitely not a deal-breaker.
8. WORKSHOP Wet Dry WS1600SS Stainless Steel Vacuum
- Sticker price plus five-year limited warranty make this product a great long-term value.
- Wet-dry vacuum with tremendous suction that can move about a gallon of water in a minute.
- Cart design with wheels and a storage bag make this unit quite handy while auto detailing.
This WORKSHOP wet-dry vac is truly impressive on a number of fronts and just a couple of manufacturer tweaks away from shooting up near to top of our comparison chart. Being priced as low as it is and backed by a five-year limited warranty puts it among the best shop vacs that we’ve tested.
When using this vacuum, its suction feels excellent, and offers an integrated blower as well. This unit is able to move about 1 gallon of water per minute, which is amazing for a motor of this size under given price bracket.
This vacuum is well-made too having been constructed from 24-guage stainless steel. Furthermore, the product includes a high-quality 7-foot hose with a locking system that ensures the hose does not pull free.
The excellent design of the hose connection makes the attachment fit even more frustrating in comparison. The attachments come loose often while you work, and using one of the four provided attachments is a must, and this is why a vacuum we otherwise loved fell down our rating list.
Another issue is the freedom at which this unit rolls. What feels to you like a slight tug moves this unit enough to yank the cord from the wall. We found many online reviews complaining of this as well.
9. Carrand AutoSpa 94005AS Bagless Car Handheld Vacuum
- Bagless hand vacuum design makes it a great option for your trunk.
- A 560-watt, 120-volt motor delivers better suction than expected from a hand vac.
- Has onboard storage for a blower attachment, crevice tool, 3-foot hose and more.
Carrand has designed the bagless AutoSpa specifically as car-oriented vacuum. That makes the negatives we will get to in a moment even more peculiar. Such odd decisions!
The unit is compact, and it weighs less than a pound, so you can use it a long time without tiring. It is also self-contained. A three-foot hose and a number of attachments all fit onto the unit.
Of all the favorite features, its suction is arguably the best we tested in terms of hand vacs. It even operates as a blower, which is not usual for a hand vac, and there is a blower attachment to focus the air into those tight areas.
The provided hose even attaches to the unit via a no-kink elbow. Working inside a car with a hose can be a hassle at times, and the elbow design was a real time-save in our experience.
We also love the reusable collection basket. Just dump, clean and replace.
What then puts this vacuum at bottom of our list? Well, it is a portable vacuum design that does not give you a cordless option. It has to be plugged in at all times. Furthermore, it does not support DC power, so you will need to plug it into a garage outlet or purchase yourself an adapter for the car, which increases the cost.
10. Vacmaster Wet-dry Car Detailing Vacuum with Detachable Blower
- Shop-style wet-dry vacuum with a 12-gallon drum and a detachable blower.
- Two-stage motor delivers powerful suction and blowing.
- The unit includes onboard storage, 11 accessories and a large drain port for fast emptying.
This wet-dry vacuum from Vacmaster is a shop vac, and we are very impressed with the price. The overall build quality, suction and blowing power are top-notch for a unit that runs less than $100.
Vacmaster has created a solid, well-balanced unit that is easy to move around while you work, thanks to the caster wheels. Its large drain port makes the vacuum simple to clean when you are done.
Almost everything about the unit is well-designed. It features a large, solid handle that makes it easy to move and carry, and the blower just snaps on tight and detaches with ease.
With Vacmaster car detailing vacuum, you also get a large 12-gallon tank. While we tend to like 16 gallons or more for our shop vacs, we are certainly not going to complain too much about a 4-gallon difference at this price point.
So, what are the issues? Well, the onboard storage is great in theory but less so in practice. There is really no place for the hose, for instance, so you will have to keep it in the drum or elsewhere.
Also, the hose is very stiff. Overall, this product screams quality, but this is one aspect where it does not. We doubt the hose will last very long, and a number of online reviews confirmed that suspicion.
A Complete Guide to Car Detailing Vacuums
Our goal is to go beyond just telling you which product is the best vacuum for car detailing. We are highly confident in all of the products we have tested and presented here. But best is subjective and depends on your car, your detailing goals, how often you vacuum and so forth. Towards that end, we have compiled a buying guide that covers important points and frequently asked questions. The information provided here should make clear that which auto detail vacuums are right for you.
14 Key Points to Consider When Selecting the Best Vacuum for Car Detailing
How much do you want to invest? Vacuums for the car and garage can be relatively inexpensive. Of course, the cheaper models have shorter lifespans and are more prone to premature failure. Spending a couple of hundred dollars or more may seem like a lot, but such models can last a decade or more.
How do you plan to use this vacuum? Do you need a unit that can withstand weekly or more frequent usage? Is this just a handheld car vac that you will use when little Timmy drops his animal crackers and clean thick long pet hair? Or do you want a serious workhorse that will not just clean your upholstery but revitalize it?
3. Vacuum Type
There are number of different vacuum types available. Handheld models tend to have less suction but are convenient and can be used around the home as well. Wet-dry vacuums are powerful, versatile and are a great option for your garage too. Wall-mounted vacuums often have wet-dry capabilities as well as operate as a blower, and their reach is limited only by the length of your available hoses.
4. Wall Mount
Certain detailing vacuums are designed to be wall-mounted, in which case the mount is integral. There are also products with optional wall mounts and even aftermarket wall mounts. A great example is a handheld vac that is mounted to a wall but can be easily detached for use and portability.
5. Motor Size and Power
There is unfortunately no one metric that you can use to compare vacuum suction, and companies muddy the waters even more by using marketing terms like horsepower. Wattage combined with airflow, which is measured in CFM, are as close as we have. Not all motors are created equal. Some will be heavier despite similar specifications. Also, be mindful that while 10 or more amps may not be necessary for the suction you need, it does tend to indicate a motor with a longer duty cycle.
6. Corded or Cordless
Corded vacuums tend to have more powerful motors and thus offer more suction. Cordless models are convenient for their portability. But be aware that this is not necessarily an either-or scenario. Hybrid models are available, and many cars now have sockets, which lets you power a corded vacuum.
7. Cord Length
Cord length is more important for corded handhelds where the cord is the only thing providing distance between the vacuum and the socket. In the case of a vacuum with hoses, six feet of cord is generally plenty, and we recommend not considering cord length as a straight-up alternative to hose length.
What do you mean by portable and how much portability do you require? If portability is a point of emphasis, then you will generally want a cordless hand vac that has handle and weighs 5 pounds or less. If you want portability in and around the vehicle, then the focus should be on a car detailer vacuum that supports long hoses as well as various attachments that you can swap out depending on the task.
9. Motorized Brush
A motorized brush or brush roller, which can either be integrated or added as an attachment, is highly recommended for any consumer serious about an auto detailing vacuum. Such action disrupts deeply embedded debris and makes it more susceptible to the suction. If the unit you choose is also a wet vac, that same action will better distribute detergents as well as remove them during the rinse cycle.
10. Hose Length
Length can range from just several feet to 50 or more. Your ideal hose length depends on your vehicle interior somewhat and your cleaning environment. Be mindful that too much hose can be as much an inconvenience as too little. We tend to favor versatility so that we can swap hoses or hose extensions as needed. Note that the more hose you use, the more suction you will require as well.
The more attachments you have at your disposal the better. It is often the case that each time you detail your car, the experience is a bit different. Be mindful that you can purchase attachment kits after the fact, but the attachment system itself, such as how they fit on and lock in place, can never be changed.
If you want to invest in an auto detail vacuum that will last, the motor is an important indication. Is the amperage high enough and is this a motor from a brand known for durable products? Warranty is also a good sign as well since manufacturers do not give long warranties to vacuums that do not last.
Whether weight is an important consideration depends on the vacuum configuration and how you plan to use it. The weight of wet-dry vac is irrelevant if you just roll it around but more important if you carry it. A wall-mounted unit must be light enough, but there are bracketing options also available for heavier models. Handheld vacuums should generally be very light, such as less than five pounds.
If product warranty is more on the manufacturer’s focus, the more you are willing to invest. A one-year limited warranty is common for basic detailing vacuum aimed at the average consumer. For higher-end models, you can expect two or even three years as well as the option for an extended warranty.
Benefits of Using an Auto Detailing Vacuum
Why do we recommend not just buying a vacuum for your car but really investing in one of the dedicated vacuums for car detailing available? Let us answer that question over three points:
- Like-New Appearance – Have you ever noticed how professional vacuuming can really revitalize your upholstery? Basic vacuuming is not enough, and most drivers simply do not vacuum enough basic or otherwise. Investing in a high-end vacuum and using it regularly will do wonders for the appearance of your car. The seating and carpeting will not only look newer over a much longer period, but it will smell newer too.
- Good Health and Hygiene – Indoor air pollution is a serious health concern due to high concentration levels. This applies to your car as well and especially if you drive a lot using conditioned air. It is a driving reason why cabin filters are becoming standard equipment industry-wide. Regular vacuuming ensures that you are breathing a higher quality of air, and it can even protect you from bacteria, viruses, contaminants and so forth.
- Improved Car Value – Vacuuming regularly with a strong vacuum improves the value of your vehicle. It improves it in the short-term but also over the long-term. There is a buildup effect that really cannot be undone once it occurs, and if you avoid that, you can see a marked improvement when it comes time to sell or trade.
Some of the FAQs
Here are four questions we found to be the most prevalent among consumers who are shopping for the best vacuum for car detailing. Note that these deal specifically with vacuuming and not other aspects of detailing.
Q#1. How frequently should I vacuum my car?
The simple answer is as often as it needs it. The truth, however, is that most people make their lives more difficult by not vacuuming enough and not investing in a good enough vacuum. You have to find the right answer for you, and it will vary. A car used as a commuter should be vacuumed weekly, but a vehicle used only on the weekends probably only requires vacuuming once a month or so. Additionally, you should spot vacuum immediately when needed in order to avoid more serious grime buildups.
Q#2. Where should I start when vacuuming my car?
The novice mistake is to begin with the carpets. Always start as a high as necessary depending on your upholstery and work your way down to the floor. Additionally, work in one direction. It does not matter if you work front to rear or vice versa. Just be consistent, and you will avoid duplicating your work.
Q#3. Do I need a car detailer vacuum or will any vacuum do?
Any working vacuum is better than no vacuum at all. But an auto detailing vacuum will certainly make the job easier and more effective. Be sure to target a detailing vacuum based on your specific needs.
Q#4. How often should I empty the vacuum?
You cannot go wrong cleaning it after each use, but it depends. It matters how well-sealed the unit is, whether it uses a bag or canister and where you store the unit. If you keep the vacuum in your vehicle, for instance, then we would recommend cleaning after every use to avoid unnecessary odors.
Well, there you have it. We spent a great deal of time reviewing these best vacuums for car detailing, and we are confident that you will be satisfied with all 10 products if you make those purchases aware of any downsides.
The VacuMaid, which is our top option, really is a fantastic choice for anyone who cleans their vehicles often either in the garage or out on the driveway. As mentioned, a bit more power for around the garage would have been nice, but the durability of this motor just makes it a great overall choice.
If the VacuMaid is a bit more than you want to spend, it is hard to go wrong with the wall-mounted option from Bissell. It offers a wet mode, a blower mode, a long hose and a range of attachments.
Of the portable options we tested, nothing beats the Bissell SpotClean for spot cleaning, but the Bissell Lightweight 1985 is such a great value not just as a car detailing vacuum but for the home and office too.
- Top Rated Vacuums for Car Detailing Comparison Chart
- Best Car Detailing Vacuums 2020 Reviews (Updated Picks)
- 1. VacuMaid GV50PRO Wall Mounted Car Vacuum
- 2. Bissell 18P03 Garage Pro Wet Dry Car Vacuum
- 3. Bissell 3624 SpotClean Portable Auto Detailing Vacuum
- 5. BISSELL Lightweight 1985 Cordless Hand Vacuum
- 6. DEWALT DCV581H Wet-Dry Auto Detailing Vacuum
- 7. McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Car Detail Cleaner
- 8. WORKSHOP Wet Dry WS1600SS Stainless Steel Vacuum
- 9. Carrand AutoSpa 94005AS Bagless Car Handheld Vacuum
- 10. Vacmaster Wet-dry Car Detailing Vacuum with Detachable Blower
- A Complete Guide to Car Detailing Vacuums