The Best Handheld Vacuums for Cars and Trucks

Vacuuming your car, truck, or SUV can be a major pain, not to mention suck up as much time as dirt.  The biggest issue, of course, is the space itself.  Even the largest vehicles are tough to maneuver around in.  Additionally, your vehicle has several different types of surfaces that need attention.  Leather, flatweave, or plush seats; higher or lower pile carpet on a floor that rises and dips; and dashboards and consoles all collect dust, dirt, and the kids’ dropped snacks.  Lugging your regular household vacuum cleaner out to the garage is a chore and still might not give you the range you need without constantly moving the machine around.  If  your regular vacuum doesn’t have a flexible hose and appropriate attachments, the job is just impossible.  If you have a regular vacuum with a hose and attachments, getting to the car in a garage or driveway might be doable, but what if your parking space is on the street or in a parking lot?  All in all, investing in a quality handheld vacuum is the best way to clean the inside of your vehicle without driving to a car wash and dropping a bunch of quarters to use a machine that still isn’t capable of handling smaller crevices, nooks, and crannies.

If you decide to buy a vacuum cleaner for the car, there are many different models at many different price points to consider.  Understanding your needs and available features should be the first step on the road to finding the right fit for you.


Know your surfaces

Leather seats are usually easier to clean, but are also easier to damage.  If you have leather seats, you want to look for a model with a smooth plastic or soft-bristled attachment or main head.  Flatweave seats need a brush head that can help loosen ground-in dirt.  Plush seats should be treated like carpet and will benefit from a roller brush model that really gets to dirt below the surface.

Corded versus cordless

Corded vacuums generally cost a bit less than their rechargeable counterparts and give you unlimited cleaning time.  With corded models, though, you need to be sure that the cord is long enough to reach from the nearest outlet to the farthest corner of your vehicle.  If you opt for or require a cordless version, be aware of how long a charge lasts and whether your model maintains full power until the battery runs out or slowly loses airflow and suction as the battery weakens.


Many handheld vacuums come with hoses and other attachments to make the job easier.  In addition to understanding what type of brush your seats and carpet need, keep in mind how deep the spaces between your seats and consoles are and how far a reach it is to clean under the seats.  Smaller brushes and crevice tools can also help clean instrument panels and door pockets.

Other considerations

In addition to handheld models, there are a few high-quality hybrid stick models that can go from the house to the car with a quick conversion.  These tend to cost a bit  more than handhelds, but can be a great option if you’re looking for a machine that can handle both jobs.  Keep in mind, too, that having a handheld in addition to a regular household vacuum can make easier work of spot cleaning areas between full cleanings.  If your regular vacuum has a tough time with stairs, a handheld can be a great solution.   Washable filters and detachable canisters are great features that provide added convenience.  The overall weight of the machine should be taken into consideration if carrying heavier weights is a problem.  Lastly, making sure you understand your budget limitations can help with your search, too.  You can spend as little as $30 or so for the most basic corded handheld or as much as $400 or so for a higher-end hybrid stick model.

For reviews and comparisons of several models of handheld vacs as well as other lightweight vacuum cleaners, home cleaning services tackles several of the most popular brands.

Visit best handheld vacuum for car to get head-to-head comparisons, including pros and cons, of some of the top models available.