Car detailing is all about making a car look the best it can. That includes both the inside and the outside, and usually a whole host of different products are used in pursuit of perfection.
While it is still a relatively new activity, car detailing has taken off in a big way in certain places, and there are more and more brands dedicated to the craft. There are even competitions to enter and exhibitions where people show off their newly-detailed cars.
Many people take their cars to a specialist detailing shop so they can get the full professional detailing treatment. Others detail their own cars as a hobby, because it gives them a sense of achievement to give their car a spotless, polished appearance.
Whether you're outsourcing the work or doing it yourself, there are plenty of products available to help in the process. These range from simple shampoos and waxes to high-end ceramic coatings and hydrophobic solutions.
While many of the above-mentioned products focus on the exterior of the car, you will also need to consider the interior very carefully. You can get special coatings for your leather or other fabric, as well as the dashboard trim.
Another large part of inside detailing involves making the floors and surfaces tidy, i.e. getting rid of any unwanted bits that might be lying around.
Since a car is very different from a household carpet, it's not recommended just to use your regular vacuum cleaner on it. There are certain vacuums that work particularly well for this purpose, and we'd like to share them with you below.
OUR TOP PICK
One look at the price of this vacuum cleaner might be enough to put you off for good. However, while it is certainly expensive, it is the best overall vacuum cleaner we have found - you won't be ripped off if you do go for it.
Boasting twice as much suction power as other cordless vacuum cleaners, it will make light work of anything you throw at it, and it should last you long enough that you can use it for many years.
Not only does the Dyson V11 function exceptionally well, it also looks great.
The main colors are blue and silver, and the stem down the middle is slimline and compact. It's a far cry from those bulky vacuums you might have been used to in the past.
The appearance is simply more attractive than the majority of others we've tried and tested, which is one of the main things that drew us to it in the first place.
It's not essential for amazing performance, but it's certainly a factor that might help when you're making your final decision.
Something that really makes this vacuum cleaner stand out from the crowd is the LCD screen in the top: this tells you all sorts of useful information about your vacuuming, including a timer display to let you know how long you've been going for in any session.
The smart sensor adjusts the power and suction mode to the type of floor you're on, optimizing your cleaning.
You can also activate the battery saver, which will let you use the vacuum for longer before you need to recharge it.
- LCD display tells you all about your run time and other useful info
- Optimizes power for different floor types
- Up to 2x the suction power of other cordless vacuums
- Easy to maneuver around tight spaces
- Very expensive compared to other vacuum cleaners, but worth it if you have the money
- Dust compartment could be bigger as it gets full quickly
Here is a more affordable option that doesn't have quite the same level of functionality, but still works exceptionally well to cover all your car vacuuming needs.
It is not cordless like many other car-friendly vacuum cleaners, but the cord is a generous 30 feet long and will be able to stretch across your drive with ease.
The slinky hose attachment is also long at 5 feet, allowing you to reach into awkward corners without issues.
It has an interesting retro look that we quite like; it's not as bulky or heavy as the design suggests at first glance.
In fact, the whole thing weighs only 5 pounds, making it highly portable and easy to hold for ages whether you're doing just one car or many.
The colors are understated - just a black case with red writing and a red cable, showing that it's a tool that really means business.
The rear exhaust filter and 1.25 quart bag make for a simple cleaning process that will save you precious time.
Although we are recommending it specifically for cars here, the vacuum works well on any floor or upholstery type.
It comes with a whole host of accessories to help you achieve the perfect clean, from a dusting brush to separate upholstery and crevice tools; you can even keep these all in the handy accessory caddy that attaches and detaches to suit your needs.
You also needn't worry about having the wrong fitting, as there is a universal adaptor included that can take all kinds of attachments.
- Extra long cable can stretch up to 30 feet
- Especially great for upholstery and other fabrics as well as floors
- Lightweight so you can hold it easily without getting tired
- Not cordless, so the cable can get in the way at times or cause restrictions
- Narrower than usual slinky hose which can get clogged easily
Vacuum cleaners that are made specifically for cars can have extra features that make your life easier, but they also often have less power than regular vacuum cleaners, which can mean they aren't as effective at picking stuff up.
This Varsk model uses 12V of power to provide 5.5 kilopascals of strong cyclone suction, so you can pick up any debris that might be lying around with ease. If you clean the filter after every use, you shouldn't encounter any problems with low suction.
The 4-in-1 aspect is interesting - it functions not only as a car vacuum, but also as a tire inflator.
This means that you can carry out two separate jobs that car detailing involves with just one device, and possible save yourself some time.
It is easy to swap between the two, as there is a single switch to operate both controls.
Since the vacuum is portable, you can even keep it in your car to carry out such tasks on the go. Aside from these functions, it has an LCD display and LED light so you can see what you're doing.
As per manufacturer policy, each model undergoes rigorous quality control checks before it is released from the factory. The inspection includes 50 different assessment points, ensuring that every single part is up to standard.
This makes it very rare to receive a dud product, as the quality should be high across the board. All safety features are also taken into account, so you can have peace of mind whenever you use your car vacuum cleaner.
- Works as both a vacuum cleaner and a tire inflator, so you can kill two birds with one stone
- Low-level noise at less than 75 decibels
- The handy light lets you see the area around you - perfect for vacuuming in the dark
- The power cable is only 15 feet, but it does attach to the cigarette lighter in your car so you shouldn't need a longer one
- Requires your car engine to be on for it to function
Time for a different kind of vacuum cleaner - this is a wet/dry vacuum, so it cleans up both wet and dry mess.
Such functioning is particularly useful when you're detailing a car, because there may be some persistent wet patches that prevent your car from looking spotless, even after you've dry vacuumed it.
It is the only wet/dry vacuum on our list, so it's good to compare with the others and see what additional performance it can offer you.
The body of the vacuum is quite large - there's a reason it's part of the Beast Series this manufacturer produces. However, it is still very portable and weighs in at a reasonable 13.5 pounds.
The sizable tank has a storage capacity of 5 gallons to hold enough water for all your cleaning needs.
Plus, you can carry any accessories with you in the on-board storage space - perfect for keeping everything to hand and making your job easier.
This Vacmaster is not a cordless vacuum, but it does have an 18 foot long hose that you can use to stretch it around to your car. It also has an additional 7 feet of reach, due to the 7 foot long hose attachment.
If you're still unsure whether this will be a good option for all of your detailing needs, simply consider the name - something that has 'professional' in the title will surely be able to handle any tasks with ease.
- High tank capacity can hold a lot of water at one time
- Works on both wet and dry mess
- Good price for the level of functionality it offers
- Somewhat bulky design compared to other similar car detailing vacuums
- The plastic joints are quite slippery so the attachments may come apart more easily than expected
Best Vacuum For Car Detailing Buying Guide
If you've only just begun your journey into car detailing, or you've been there for a while but are disappointed by your experiences with sub-par vacuums, it can be difficult to know what to look for in your next purchase.
That's why we've broken this process down into the bare essentials, so you can quickly recognize the features that make an ideal vacuum cleaner for car detailing.
It may sound obvious, but the price of a vacuum cleaner will have a significant impact on its quality. You definitely get what you pay for with a vacuum cleaner, more so than many other items.
You may think you have got a great deal on a cheaper vacuum that works well at the start, only to discover that it loses its suction power after a couple months or even weeks. This is not a good way to go, as you will only end up buying a replacement one all the sooner.
We are not saying that you need to go out and buy the most expensive vacuum cleaner you can find.
However, you should certainly try and avoid the cheapest ones; even if you feel these work fine for household vacuuming, they probably won't be able to cope with the tougher demands of a car.
The pile is thinner on car carpets, but more dirt is likely to get trapped within it that you need to get out. Dirt from the bottom of shoes gets trampled in more easily, since you are always wearing shoes when you're in a car.
It is also concentrated in a smaller area than it would be in a house, because you sit in the same place for long periods of time rather than wandering around distributing particles across a larger surface area.
The main thing you'll need to think about when it comes to your car detailing vacuum cleaner is the suction power it offers. Ideally, you will want something that has enough power to pick up everything you need it to, but it also shouldn't be so strong that it hinders your progress.
This can happen because some parts of the car that need vacuuming aren't attached to the main body, for example the feet mats.
You may find it easier to take these out of the car to shake down and vacuum, then return them to their place, rather than vacuuming them in situ.
However, it will still be tricky if you have a vacuum cleaner that has too much suction, as it will end up clinging to certain parts while you're trying to go over the whole thing.
We recommend that you choose a vacuum with a suction power somewhere between 100 air watts and 185 air watts.
Wet/Dry Vs Dry
There are two types of general vacuum cleaner that are designed to do different things. Regular dry vacuum cleaners (which you are likely most familiar with) only pick up dry messes such as hair and crumbs.
Wet/dry vacuum cleaners can also deal with wet messes that have stained the insides, as well as doing everything else a normal dry vacuum does.
Wet/dry vacuums are more expensive than dry ones because they have more functionality, but it may be worth spending the extra money if you have a lot of spillages in your car.
Children and pets are the two things that tend to cause most spillages, with things like overturned drinks, vomit or even animal urine.
A wet/dry vacuum would be able to take away unsightly stains that can help get your car back to looking as good as new.
However, be aware that it won't be able to remove all stains, as some will be much tougher and more embedded into the material.
You may need to purchase some upholstery cleaner as well, and scrub at them for a while before you can see an improvement.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Vacuum My Car?
Well, it is of course up to you how often you want to vacuum your car. It also depends on how high your usage of the car is - some people will use their car daily for all their regular commuting, while others might have a car that they only keep aside for special occasions.
In the latter instances, you can usually go for far longer in between vacuumings, since there won't have been much chance for anything to get stuck on the fabric.
On the other hand, a car in constant use is more likely to collect particles from things like shoes and snacks.
We would recommend giving your car a quick vacuum every time you wash it, so you can keep both the inside and the outside in great condition.
A good place to start would be once a month, although you may find that you would rather do this every two weeks.
See what works for you; it will definitely help having a good-quality vacuum that does its job without a fuss.
Can I Just Use my Regular Vacuum Instead Of Buying A Separate One?
We've briefly touched on the fact that regular vacuums aren't the best for using on cars, but would it work if you didn't have another option?
It's true that some people use their household vacuum for their car anyway, and the results are usually fine.
There just isn't usually the same ease of access with household vacuum cleaners, because many are bulky and more difficult to maneuver around tight spaces.
They may also have a short cable, which isn't ideal when your plug socket is inside and needs to stretch all the way across the driveway.
Using a regular vacuum cleaner may suit you just fine, but the ones we've listed here are more likely to produce the best results.
Why Do I Need To Vacuum My Car?
If you're detailing your car or someone else's, it should be obvious that vacuuming it would be one of the steps involved with that - there's no point making the outside look shiny and clean but neglecting the inside.
Besides, vacuuming is often the first step that you need to take when it comes to detailing the interior of the car. After all, you can't put protective coatings on your seat fabrics if there are bits of rubbish all over them.
Vacuuming gets rid of the small particles that you can't pick up with just your hands, and it can really make a huge difference to the overall appearance of the car.