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5 Best Handheld Car Vacuums for Anyone in 2024

Looking for a good portable car vac for crumbs or spills? You’re in the right place.

Don’t get me wrong, Shop Vacs and commercial vacs offer better suction and durability for normal interior detailing, but sometimes you need something portable to keep with you for spills.

I personally hate paying for coin-operated vacuums, so today I’ll share a few of the best portable car vacs on the market. Keep in mind, ‘best’ is a relative term depending on who you ask…so I’ve compiled a few of my favorites based on portability, budget, and quality.

1. Black and Decker Handheld Car Vacuum

🏆 Our Budget Pick

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Best handheld car vacuum - Black and Decker 16V

This Black and Decker cordless vacuum is a well-made fan favorite—perfect for removing debris without unraveling a cord or hose.

You can empty it easily, and also wash the filter which is nice. The rotating nozzle and attachments separate this unit from others in the category with only a fixed nozzle. While not top of the line, I’ve found the Black & Decker brand a good value over the years, so it’s not surprising this thing is a #1 best seller on Amazon.

Includes

  • 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

2. DeWalt Wet/Dry Toolbox Cordless Vac

🏆 Our Multipurpose Pick

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DEWALT 18 20 Volt Wet-Dry Portable Toolbox Vac

Even though this unit is unlike the rest, it’s my personal favorite because it’s still easy to carry, portable, and has a cordless option. If you have a truck toolbox or decent-sized trunk, it will store easily.

This model accepts 20-volt DeWalt MAX batteries (sold separately) if you already have a few of these laying around.

With a 2-gallon tank and filter, crush-resistant cord, and attachments, it’s ideal for in-car use in my opinion. Unlike the Shop Vac, it’s not as bulky and won’t roll away when in use.

This unit can handle small spills as a wet/dry vac which is nice, even though it’s no replacement for a spot cleaner that sprays and sucks up water.

Includes:

  • Reusable HEPA-rated filter
  • Crevice tool and wide nozzle attachments

3. Bissell Pet Hair Vacuum

🏆 Our Pet Owner Pick

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Bissell Lithium Ion pet hair car handheld vacuum

This vac by Bissell is one of my favorites for pet hair because it has a flat vacuum head, ideal for flat surfaces like car mats. 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.

If you have a pet that sheds, check out our post on How to Remove Pet Hair for Beginners to learn a few tricks of the trade.

Bissell is a quality vac brand as well, and this cordless unit is one of the highest-rated vacs I’ve seen for under $100.

Includes

  • 14 Volt Lithium-ion battery with charger
  • 3 tools: brush, crevice tool, and upholstery
  • 17-minute runtime
  • 3-layer filter

4. Shark UltraCyclone Cordless Handheld Vacuum

🏆 Our Premium Pick

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Many people love this Shark model due to its suction power compared to the Black & Decker handheld line. Both are good choices, but Shark really is a premium vac brand designed to suck up a lot of pet hair.

You can use this handheld vac on flat surfaces (using the PetPower attachment) or switch to the crevice or wide-angle attachment if needed.

Includes

  • Self-cleaning brush roll
  • Crevice tool
  • 3 different attachments
  • Charger and Lithium-ion battery

5. Dyson V8 Cordless Handheld Vacuum

🏆 Our Luxury Pick

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Dyson V8 Cordless Handheld Vacuum

Let me preface this recommendation by saying Dyson’s are not cheap, and this unit probably makes sense to use in your car AND your home. However, if you own a camper or are in the market for a cordless vacuum, this one really can’t be beat. It’s lightweight and transforms into a handheld vac in case you were wondering!

The folks at Dyson claim it’s the most powerful handheld vacuum on the market.  The base model has a runtime of nearly an hour and includes a lifetime warranty from Dyson.

This unit makes a great garage floor vac if you’re working on your detailing garage setup. I personally hate bending over to use a Shop Vac (for just dust).

Includes

  • Powerful Dyson V8 motor
  • 2-year warranty
  • Lightweight—less than 6 pounds
  • Two cleaning modes for more runtime or power

Factors to consider

You can certainly find a bunch of cheap handheld vacs, but you do get what you pay for. Here are a few factors to consider.

Name brands and warranties

Typically manufacturers like Bissell or Dyson offer great warranties and support; while they cost a bit more, parts are easier to get if anything breaks. If you purchase a cheap knock-off, you don’t expect long term reliability; cheaper units under $30 often don’t use technology that companies like Dyson have spent years perfecting.

Suction and cleaning power

Handheld vacs are not made for deep cleaning but they do help keep trash off the floor after a full interior detail job.

Many brands like Dyson give you plenty of suction to remove pet hair, while cheaper models can only handle loose debris.

Included accessories

Some battery packs and chargers are included with handheld vacs,  but not always. Most devices include crevice tools for cleaning in-between seats, but always check if this functionality matters to you. Charging times and the size of the battery are also important to evaluate.

Time to deep clean your carpet?

Even after you vacuum, mats and carpets often still look filthy.

Check out our tutorial on How to Clean Car Carpet for Beginners if you have odors or stains a car vac can’t remove.

All you need are a few basic products to clean carpets like a pro. You’ll notice a huge difference once you learn the tricks of the trade!

Ready to improve your washing and detailing skills?

This video course unpacks the fundamentals of washing and detailing. From exterior cleaning and blemish removal…you’ll learn the secrets that will give you spotless pro-level results!

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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