Looking for a good solution for vacuuming up crumbs or spills in your car this year? You’ve come to the right place.
Don’t get me wrong, there are Shop Vacs and other commercial car vacs that will offer better suction and reliability, but it’s really about convenience and maintenance.
I personally hate paying for vacuums at has stations, and put together a basic list of my favorites. I’m a firm believer in buying something high-quality that performs well and lasts, but I included a couple of cheaper options under $50 that actually perform quite well.
With that said, here are 7 of the best portable handheld car vacuums I’ve found on the market today.
1. ThisWorx Cordless Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner with LED Light
If you want something pretty inexpensive and ultra-portable, check out this unit by ThisWorx. This one is great if you just need something to keep under the backseat just to vacuum crumbs and larger particles.
It does have a crevice tool which is nice, but just isn’t the same quality as some of the other models with multiple attachments and better filters that I’ll mention later. It’s got an LED light on it which is cool if you’re vacuuming out the trunk.
For right around 50 bucks here on Amazon it’s a low to medium grade vac, but has great reviews.
This one is meant to be left in the vehicle, connects to the power outlet, and is ideal for tidying up on roadtrips as opposed to regular use.
- 3 attachments
- 110W motor and LED light
- Filter cleaning brush
- Top-of-the-line HEPA filter
2. Black and Decker cordless handheld car vacuum
The Black and Decker cordless dustbuster vacuum is a fan favorite and my personal favorite for what you get. The form factor is great, but it’s the easy-to-remove filter and suction power that really impressed me. This model is actually the #1 best seller here on Amazon in this category and ideal for vacuuming in tight spaces.
- 2 year warranty
- 15.2 watts of suction power
- Washable dirt bowl & filter
- Flip-up brush and crevice tool
- 16 Volt Lithium-ion battery with charger
3. DeWalt 18/20 volt wet-dry toolbox vac
Okay, so while this one still technically is handheld and cordless, it really is probably the most durable and bulky option to consider. If you own a truck like I do and just need something you can leave in your toolbox to use when needed, look no further than this DeWalt Wet Dry Vac. The awesome thing about this vac is that it accepts those 20 volt DeWalt MAX batteries that you can swap in and out on handheld drills or saws.
With a 2-gallon tank and filter, it’s really a more compact version of a Shop-Vac you should have no trouble fitting in your trunk or keeping in a toolbox. For me, it’s nice to have something that you can store out of the way, and take out at the gas station from time to time to clean up a little.
Handhelds are meant to suck up dry materials, but if you need the option to suck up some water, this is it.
- Reusable filter
- Accepts 18 or 20 Volt Lithium Ion Batteries (not included)
This one is one of my favorites, and has pretty good reviews on Amazon.
4. Bissell Pet Hair eEraser lithium-Ion vacuum
This vac by Bissell is one of my favorites for cleaning carpets, since it has a flat head that’s ideal for cleaning flat surfaces like mats or carpets. If you have a dog that sheds, this is a great vacuum to keep in the trunk and even includes a crevice and upholstery tool.
Pet hair can be difficult to remove as it is, especially with some of the weaker handheld units that only have crevice tools and nothing that stays flush with the carpet like this one.
Bissell is a great vac brand as well, and this cordless unit on Amazon is one of the highest rated vacs I’ve seen for less than 70 bucks. Even for auto detailers, this tool is great for trunks for some cars, and much more portable in tight spaces.
- 14 Volt Lithium ion battery with charger
- 3 tools: brush, crevice tool, and upholstery
- 17-minute runtime
- 3-layer filter
5. Shark Cordless UltraCyclone Handheld Vacuum
Many people love this Shark model due to its suction power and ability to pick up pet hair vs the Black & Decker handheld line. Both are good choices, but Shark really is a premium vac brand and this little device really is designed to suck up a lot of pet hair.
It holds a charge well, and some people even use it on their sofas.
This Shark CH951 pictured above you can find here on Amazon the last time I checked and comes with a washable filter.
- Easy dirt ejecting mechanism
- Crevice tool
- Detachable brush
- Charger and Lithium-ion battery included
6. Black and Decker 20V max handheld car vacuum
This Black and Decker handheld is another great choice with a pivoting nozzle and wide availability of replacement filters if you need them.
This one makes it easy to vacuum in between seats since it comes with a crevice tool. Keep in mind that this is a dustbuster, and not a replacement for full-sized commercial vac. If you’re traveling, these handheld devices are great to tidy up every couple of days.
You can check this one out here on Amazon; reviewers say it provides greater suction than you may initially think from a handheld.
- Motorized brush head
- Long crevice tool and bristle brush
- Dual-action filter
- 14.8 Volt Lithium-ion battery
- 12-month warranty for refund or replacement
7. Dyson V7 cordless handheld vacuum
Finally, the top-of-the-line vacuum that we recommend combines power and accessories, design and function, and the convenience of a cordless tool.
The Dyson V7 car and boat handheld vacuum cleaner is state of the art compared to others and claims to be the most powerful handheld vacuum on the market. It’s got a trigger unlike most handheld vacs and an awesome design that’s worth the money if you’re looking for the best.
It also comes with a full warranty as you might expect from Dyson
This Dyson you can find here on Amazon, and makes a great ShopVac alternative for regular non-wet vacuuming.
- Car charger and extension hose
- Powerful Dyson V7 motor
- 2-year warranty
- Dirt ejector
The car battery charger is an especially nice feature because it allows you to charge the battery from your vehicle, so you can keep this vacuum stored in your trunk for access any time you need it. The battery powers a Dyson V7 digital motor, which should give you up to a half hour of continuous fade-free suction.
The dirt ejector is a very innovative feature as well. It hygienically drives out dirt and dust in a single hands-free action that keeps you from ever having to touch it and get your hands dirty.
What to know about handheld car vacs
Before buying, understand there are many options available when it comes to vacuums, but it really comes down to what your needs are and your budget.
Name brands and warranties
Typically manufacturers like Bissell or Dyson will have pretty great warranties and support due to the higher overall cost. They also usually can send you parts as well. If you pick up a cheap Chinese knock-off, you may have problems with reliability and generally, they don’t have the technology that companies like Dyson have spent years perfecting.
Models that cost more than around $50-60 generally include better warranties.
Removing crumbs and debris vs deep cleaning
Most cordless handheld vacs are simply designed to suck up popcorn, food, and paper, while others (Dyson, Shark, or Bissell) will do a better job of sucking up pet hair and embedded sand and particles. Look for a flat head attachment if you want to clean your mats like you would with a traditional vac.
If you just need to clean in between seats or suck up larger particles, crevice tools may be all you need.
If you are on the go, these handheld vacs are handy due to the fact that they can operate without cords or being plugged into a cigarette lighter.
Based on my experience, the corded handheld vacs that plug into a wall outlet offer more suction but just isn’t practical if you are on the go. They also tend to drain your battery when plugged into an A/C outlet.
These aren’t meant to replace Shop-Vacs or steamers, but rather just to prevent your mats from getting so dirty you need to deep clean them.
Let me know what works for you, and what you like about the one you decide to go with!
To go with your handheld vac, consider picking up one of these 7 detailing carts I recently reviewed. They make juggling bottles and brushes a thing of the past!