For busy working professionals, having a nice handheld vac just to keep your car a little cleaner is a great idea. For me personally, it’s pretty easy to accumulate crumbs, bits of paper, and other small bits of debris on the carpet, console, and other areas.
Don’t get me wrong, there are Shop Vacs and other commercial car vacs that will offer better suction and reliability, but the it’s really about convenience and maintenance. You just want to keep your vehicle as clean as possible at all times without having to lug around a huge vacuum, hose, and cord. 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 in mind, here are 7 of the best portable handheld car vacuums I’ve found on the market today (in order).
7. Homasy Cordless Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner with LED Light
If you want something pretty inexpensive and ultra-portable, check out this Homasy unit. 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 under 40 bucks here on Amazon this Homasy vac is one is a pretty standard low to medium grade vac, but has great reviews.
I also like the fact that you don’t have to plug this unit into a cigarette lighter, which many other similar vacuums under $40 require.
- 36 month warranty
- 2 washable filters
- Crevice and rubber nozzle
- 11.1 Volt Lithium-ion battery with charger
6. Black+Decker Cordless Handheld Car Vacuum
The Black and Decker cordless dustbuster vacuum is a fan favorite in terms of what you get for the money. 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 batter with charger
5. 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 Eraser Lithium Ion
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.
- 14 Volt Lithium ion battery with charger
- 3 tools: brush, crevice tool, and upholstery
- 17-minute runtime
- 3-layer filter
3. Shark Cordless Pet-Perfect 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 LV801 pictured above was on sale here on Amazon the last time I checked.
- Motorized pet brush attachment
- Crevice tool
- Twister-suction technology
- Charger and Lithium-ion battery included
2. Dibea Cordless Handheld Vac with Motorized Brush
This Dibea handheld is another great choice that is pretty versatile since it’s great for tight areas and flat surfaces. It has a motorized attachment for pet hair as well as an array of brushes and attachments. This one is great for deep cleaning if you plan to vacuum once a month vs every few weeks.
It’s super lightweight and based on it’s reviews here on Amazon 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
1. 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. and of course the product comes with a full warranty. It’s compact, cord-free, and hassle free.
This Dyson you can view here on Amazon, and was actually less than $200 the last time I checked.
- 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!