Car detailing is more than just taking out your floor mats and giving them a once over with your regular vacuum. A proper detailing vacuum requires certain specifications, attachments, and power that your Roomba or Dyson just cannot provide.
Detailing a car is hard work, particularly when it comes to smaller vehicles. If you want to achieve a professional level of clean for your car, then purchasing the right vacuum is critical.
Detailing requires a piece of equipment that can withstand tight spaces and physical abuse while maintaining sucking power for wet or dry conditions.
This guide will outline the best vacuums for detailing, whether you are on a budget or looking for a top-of-the-line vacuum.
What to Look for In a Car Detailing Vacuum
There are several points to consider when purchasing a car detailing vacuum:
- Power – usually measured in amps, the number of amps in the vacuum motor indicates what sort of suction you can expect.
- Size – several top-end, car detailing vacuums affix to the wall. Depending on the size of your car and where you are detailing, you may need more portability than affixed units offer.
- Cord/Cordless – many smaller detailing vacuums operate with a battery. These are typically less powerful, but more portable.
- Price – the best vacuums can run close to a thousand dollars. Consider the frequency and degree of detailing you need before buying a premium unit.
Options for car detailing vacuums are numerous, which is a good thing for the consumer. Whether you have a small car and are detailing once or twice a year, or you have a car detailing business, there is a vacuum to fit all levels of use.
How to Find the Best Car Detailing Vacuum
When it comes to choosing the “best” vacuum, we’ve looked at a couple of criteria that all car detailing vacuums share: power, accessories, and versatility.
The power of a car detailing vacuum is probably the best indicator of how well it will perform under basic conditions. If the floor of your vehicle is full of sand or dirt, a powerful vacuum will pick up most, if not all, of that material. While power is not the only measure of performance, it directly correlates to how much dry material the vacuum can suck at one time.
Most car detailing vacuums come with an array of accessories to better facilitate car cleaning. Attachments such as corner suction pieces, crevice tools, brushes, and adaptors for additional hoses make detailing hassle-free. A vacuum with quality accessories will rate higher than a good vacuum without accessories.
Versatile vacuums can extend extra-far into the inner reaches of your car, pick up wet and dry material, use a battery instead of a cord, and don’t weigh a ton. Some vacuums fall into the small, corded kind as found in this guide.
Car detailing vacuums need power, but they also need flexibility. Cars are not easy to clean, particularly when you are on all fours vacuuming year-old cereal underneath the back seat. Our guide emphasizes vacuums that have many different features because no two users are alike.
Top 5 Picks for the Best Car Detailing Vacuum
The Bissell Garage Pro is not just for the car, but intended for general garage use. With that in mind, the unit we are reviewing comes with the auto tool kit. Mounted on the wall, this vacuum has the power, at 4 amps, and the length, 32 ft., to detail the dirtiest and largest vehicles.
Despite being a wall mounted vacuum, the length of the hose negates any issue with accessibility. You can also remove the unit and use it as a regular vacuum, as it stands on its own and has a 6-foot cord. When wall mounted, emptying the canister beneath the unit is simple. The 4-gallon canister is also translucent, which allows users to easily determine when they need to empty the bucket.
Power is no issue with this Bissell. At 12 amps, this is about as powerful as vacuums get. Since the power is available, it makes cleaning up wet messes easier. Besides suction power, this vacuum also offers a blowing function. For dirt and grime in console crevices, the blower function works wonders loosening the grime.
Car detailing with the auto tool kit offers you tons of options. With 7 pieces, the kit offers every kind of attachment you will need such as crevice, brush, upholstery, and carpet tools. There are also several hard attachment extenders, perfect for getting hard to reach places in larger vehicles.
- 12 amp motor gives the vacuum premium power
- The extra-long, 32-foot hose allows maximum reach
- The auto kit offers essential accessories, giving vacuum access to any area of the car
- Offers dry and wet suction, as the unit does not require a bag
- Mobility is an issue with a larger unit like this Bissell. While it can detach from the wall, it is not ideal for those without a garage or an outdoor outlet
- The 6-foot power cord may be too short for some spaces
Metrovac delivers performance and portability, all in one little unit made in the USA. One of the main features of this vacuum is that it offers tremendous power without mounting on the wall. Wheels affixed to the bottom of the canister allows the vacuum to move through the garage as you detail your vehicle.
While the Metrovac advertises “peak” HP, the true measure of vacuum power is amps. This vacuum checks in at just over 11 amps, which is still very powerful.
Offering a suction and blowing feature, Vac N’ Blo also makes a good garage vacuum. This Metrovac still uses bags, so suctioning liquids is not an option. While Metrovac does not disclose the overall capacity of this vacuum, it is not large. Considering the size of the bag it uses, capacity is somewhere around .5 gallons.
Vac N’ Blo features one of the most impressive arrays of car detailing accessories. Three of the pieces alone feature tiny nozzles of varying shape that enable you to get into the most difficult crevices in your console, dashboard, and car floor. It also comes with a traditional brush, crevice, and upholstery tools.
At only 7 pounds this unit is light, even though it has a steel body. While the hose is only 6 feet, the mobility of the vacuum makes it easy to move around your vehicle as you detail. Optionally, you can mount this Metrovac on the wall, similar to the Bissel. It comes with mounting hardware for easy wall installation.
- Powerful 11.25 amp motor provides more than enough power
- Lightweight design and wheels allow maximum portability
- Detailing accessory kit offers a broad array of tools to clean every part of your vehicle
- Blowing feature allows for an extra level of car detailing
- Bags within the canister do not allow for suction of liquid or saturated material
- The 6-foot hose may not be long enough for some vehicles.
3. HOTOR Corded Car Vacuum Cleaner High Power for Quick Car Cleaning, DC 12V Portable Auto Vacuum Cleaner
For those who want to detail their vehicle regardless of location, a portable car detailing vacuum is the only option. You could lug your Metrovac along with you, but then where would you put your luggage? The HOTOR car vacuum is the answer to versatile car detailing.
Despite its size, the HOTOR is not a cordless unit. This vacuum plugs into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter. While that may seem like a disadvantage, it isn’t. For one, this vacuum comes with a massive 16-foot cord. Unless you drive a school bus, this size cord will allow you to easily access all parts of your vehicle.
The cord allows you to achieve nearly 9 amps of power. While you are still only drawing from 12 volts, over 100 watts of power is enough to pick up any sort of debris that accumulates during your road trip. HOTOR also comes with a stainless steel HEPA filter, which is perfect for pet hair.
Several attachments come with the HOTOR, particularly a flexible narrow nozzle that gets into all those hard to reach crevices in the front console area of your vehicle. An LED light mounted atop the unit also makes night time cleaning possible.
- Small size and weight – 2 lbs. – make it ideal for travel use
- Nearly 9 amp power gives it enough power to pick up a typical vehicle mess
- 16-foot cord makes this HOTOR practical for any vehicle
- Attachments offer a wide variety of cleaning options
- Stainless steel filter is durable and re-usable
- Lacks a traditional power cord, limiting it to vehicle-use only
- Does not offer wet suction, and lacks power compared to full-sized vacuums
Another compact car detailing vacuum, ThisWorx is similar to HOTOR in terms of what it offers. One of the most important features of the TWC-01 is the quality of the parts. For instance, this unit has a metal turbine powering the suction. Typical handheld vacuums are predominantly plastic, including the turbine. ThisWorx is more durable as a result.
When the TWC-01 begins to fill up with material, you can easily see through the transparent container and determine when it is time to empty. The canister shuts when it is not in use, which ensures rubbish does not fall through the suction opening.
The motor is powerful at just over 8 amps and offers a 16-foot power cord, making it possible to vacuum most types of vehicle with ease. Each TWC-01 comes with an additional HEPA filter, as well as a filter brush for easy cleaning. Filters are of the paper variety, which makes them disposable. On the other hand, you will have to replace the filters more frequently than the HOTOR.
Designed for wet and dry use, this is one of the most versatile and portable car detailing vacuums available.
- Metal internal components ensure the durability of the vacuum
- Attachments come in a variety of sizes and use for efficient detailing
- Each vacuum comes with an additional HEPA filter
- The power cord is 16-feet long, enabling cleaning in all areas of the vehicle
- Lacks an LED light makes cleaning in dark places or night time more difficult
- The paper filter requires more frequent replacement and cleaning
RIDGID is known for producing quality tools with a lifetime warranty. This vacuum supports the RIDGID reputation for durability, at a reasonable price. The unit itself is a traditional shop vac, with a large canister on wheels. While not made specifically for detailing cars, this model comes with an extensive detailing kit.
At 11 amps, the RIDGID has plenty of power. With the kid, you also get an additional, more flexible 10-foot hose to go along with the standard 7-foot hose. Mobility is not an issue with this unit, and the extra hose makes detailing larger vehicles easy.
Attachments range from crevice and upholstery pieces to various small-nozzle pieces designed specifically for small nooks in-vehicle consoles, air vents, and carpet.
At 14-gallons, this vacuum can hold a large amount of wet or dry material before having to empty. Conveniently, there is a drain at the bottom of the canister, which allows for quick removal of wet waste. A top handle enables you to easily move the entire vacuum from one part of the garage to the other.
- Large canister allows for more vacuuming and less emptying
- Detailing accessory kit is extensive, with an extra 10-foot, flexible hose
- RIDGID’s Scroll Noise Reduction technology makes operation extremely quiet
- 3 Layer dust filter traps particulate of all sizes
- The 10-foot hose might not be long enough for all applications
- The bulky size makes it difficult to move in compact spaces
Comparing the Options
|Power (amps)||Capacity (gal.)||Weight (lbs.)||Hose Length (ft.)||Price|
|Bissell Garage Pro||12A||4||25||32||$$|
|Metrovac Vac N’ Blo||11.25A||1/2||12||6||$$$|
|HOTOR Corded Vac||8.8A||1/8||2.5||16 (power cord)||$|
|ThisWorx TWC-01||8.25A||1/8||2.55||16 (power cord)||$|
|RIDGID 14-Gal Wet/Dry Vac||11A||14||28||10||$$|
Choosing the best overall car detailing vacuum depends on how you want to use it. Considering all the options, the Bissell wins. Car detailing is a physical task, forcing you to get into a variety of small and cramped positions to get every last grain of sand. The 32-foot hose is perfectly suited for the task.
With the power to suck, the Bissell has the best coverage.
If you can only afford a handheld version, the HOTOR is likely your best bet. While the HOTOR and ThisWorx are similar, the HOTOR comes with a stainless-steel filter and an LED light. While detailing, light can make a huge difference in hard to reach places. Even during the day, there are many parts of the car that are hard to see. The light alleviates any of those issues.
If you are on a budget but want something more powerful than a hand-held vacuum, then the RIDGID is your best option. The RIDGID provides wet and dry sucking, particularly important for cold weather areas that see lots of snow. With a 14-gallon capacity, you could detail your car frequently without having to empty it. Like most shop vacs, the RIDGID offers suck and blow capabilities.
When choosing a car detailing vacuum, make sure you take into consideration where you are going to do the detailing and the size of your car.
If you have a small sports car and no garage, then a handheld vacuum is your best bet. The cord will allow you to reach every nook of the car – even the trunk – while allowing you to store the vacuum safely away in your home.
If you have a Suburban and a large garage, the Bissell is the clear winner. The 32-foot hose will allow you to reach the entirety of the truck, with room to spare. A garage lets you mount the unit, making it easy to keep your garage clean and tidy.
Regardless of what you buy, think about what sort of mess you will most frequently be cleaning up in your car. If you have young kids and live in Northern Maine, then you are going to need a heavy-duty wet/dry vac. If you live in Phoenix and have a pristine 69’ Camaro, then a small handheld is all you need.