best shop vac for car detailing

The Best Shop Vac For Car Detailing and best vacuum cleaner for car model is basically a more powerful version of the regular vacuum cleaners used in homes, featuring a high-powered motor and other enhanced features. Most people associate this tool with cleaning up construction and woodworking sites, but it can also be a good car cleaner.

With its powerful suction force, this tool can get rid of dirt and debris that is hidden deep in your car’s interior crevices, and some can also pick up liquids, leaving the interior sparkling clean.

However, since there are several types of shop vacs, it is important that you get the right one that is perfect for car cleaning. To help you with this, the review below looks at the best shop vac for auto detailing, showing the features that make car cleaning a breeze.

best vacuum cleaner for car

best shop vac for car detailing

1. Vacmaster VWM510 – Quiet Shop Vacuum Cleaner for Car

Vacmaster Shop Vacuum with Remote Control

Photo: Vacmaster

  • Power: 5 horsepower
  • Tank Capacity: 5 gallons
  • Weight: 25.1 pounds

This product is the top-rated vacuum for cars because of its powerful dual-turbo industrial 2-stage motor that delivers a powerful suction force, all while operating very quietly because a noise diffuser is built in to cancel out most of its noise, leaving only 74 decibels output.

A remote on/off switch is included in the pack for convenience and easy use, and other accessories include a 10-foot flex hose for getting to all the corners of your car, 11-foot standard hose, 20-foot power cord, 2 extension wands and a crevice tool among many others.  

Functioning as both a wet and dry vacuum, it is easy to switch between the two by simply attaching a cartridge filter for dry vacuuming then switch to a foam filter for wet vacuuming. This makes it one of the best wet dry vacuums for cars.

However, the cleaner is quite heavy and a fine dust filter is not included in the package,  must be bought separately in order to pick up fine dust or ash.


  • Powerful industrial stage motor
  • Runs very quietly
  • Remote control on/off switch
  • Long 10-foot flex hose and 20-foot power cord for extended reach
  • Can be used for both wet and dry vacuuming


  • Quite heavy
  • Fine dust filter not included

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2. ArmorAll AA255 – Best Budget Shop Vacuum for Car

ArmorAll Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

Photo: ArmorAll

  • Power: 2 horsepower
  • Tank Capacity: 2.5 gallons
  • Weight: 7 pounds

Affordable and lightweight are just a few words to describe this ArmorAll utility shop vac. Though it is equipped with quite a small 2.5-gallon polypropylene tank, this results in a compact design that is also very lightweight for easy portability.

The wet and dry vac unit has a 2.0 peak horsepower motor that has ample suction power and can be easily converted into a blower. A built-in noise diffuser ensures that the motor’s operation is shushed for efficient and quiet running.

For an even more efficient running, this appliance is equipped with an auto shut-off function, which detects if the tank is full, then proceeds to power off to prevent overflow and power wastage.

Other features include a short 6-foot hose, 10-foot power cord, crevice tool, blower nozzle, 2-in-1 utility nozzle, and a reusable cloth filter and foam sleeve for dry and dry vacuuming respectively.


  • Affordable
  • Small, compact and lightweight
  • Can be converted between a shop vac and blower
  • Auto shut-off function
  • Noise diffuser


  • Short hose
  • Relatively small tank

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3. VacuMaid GV50PRO – Large Tank Shop Vac for Car

VacuMaid GV50PRO Shop Vacuum

Photo: VacuMaid

  • Tank Capacity: 7 gallons
  • Weight: 30 pounds

VacuMaid’s GV50PRO has a durable galvanized steel construction that is powder coated for corrosion-resistant lifetime use. However, what stands out most is its large, 7-gallon tank, which gives you an extended use without continuous emptying.

Like other shop vacs, this one comes with several attachments and they include a long 50-foot flex hose for extended reach, a wall mounting bracket, hanger, storage caddy, telescopic and curved wands, dusting brush, floor, and upholstery tools.

The unit also uses sealed HEPA style bags that do not mess up the cans or eliminate the process of filter cleaning.

Another benefit with this product is its wall mounting capability, which is easily done using a hanger bracket. This keeps the entire cleaner away from the floor, saving on space and eliminating clutter or untidiness in your garage.  

Cost and weight are the only limiting factors as this unit is very expensive and weighs 30 pounds. However, it has the features to show for it.


  • Strong, durable, corrosion-resistant construction
  • Large 7-gallon tank gives you extended use
  • Long 50-foot flex hose gives you extended reach
  • Sealed HEPA style bags for mess-free use
  • Can be wall mounted for convenience


  • Costly
  • Large and heavy

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4. DeWalt DCV581H – Best Portable Shop Vacuum for Cars

DeWalt DCV581H Wet/Dry Vacuum

Photo: DeWalt

  • Tank Capacity: 2 gallons
  • Weight: 10.8 pounds

If portability is a big factor, then this DCV581H from DeWalt should be on your radar. This is because it can operate using an 18 volt or 20-volt max battery, enabling you to move practically anywhere as you do the cleaning.

You can also hook it up to the mains as it has an AC option and this makes it one of the most flexible and portable shop vacuums for cars. However, the battery and charger are not included and must be bought separately.

HEPA rated filter traps are used for dust trapping (with a 99.97% efficiency) while a washable and reusable HEPA rated wet/dry filter makes it a versatile wet and dry shop vac.

Other features include a heavy-duty crush-resistant, fully integrated 5-foot hose, a small 2-gallon tank, crevice tool, wide nozzle tool, onboard storage for easy transport and blower conversion.


  • Portable
  • Can use battery power or AC
  • Washable and reusable HEPA rated wet/dry filter for wet and dry vacuuming
  • Heavy-duty, fully integrated hose
  • Onboard storage keeps attachments within close reach


  • Small tank capacity
  • Battery and charger are sold separately

 Check Price on Amazon!

5. Ridgid VAC4010 – Best Heavy-duty Shop Vacuum for Car

Ridgid VAC4010 Wet Dry Vacuum

Photo: Ridgid

  • Power: 6 horsepower
  • Tank Capacity: 4 gallons
  • Weight: 21.1 pounds

Considering suction power, Ridgid’s VAC 4010 outperforms the rest because it is equipped with a powerful 6 horsepower motor, making it the most powerful and consequently, the best heavy duty unit in this review.

The power of this motor can be used for wet/dry vacuuming or be converted into a blower, giving it a high versatility factor for multifunctional use.

For movement, large wheels are attached at the rear to give it some portability and this is a big plus considering that the unit is quite heavy.

Maintenance is simplified by the use of a Qwik-lock filter, which installs and removes easily by snapping on and off. This makes filter changes a breeze as no tools are required.

Other features include utility and car nozzles, two extension wands, a storage caddy and an 8-foot pro hose, which is relatively short, but very durable and locks securely to the vacuum. 


  • Powerful 6 horsepower motor
  • Inbuilt storage caddy
  • Large rear wheels for movement
  • Detachable blower
  • Qwik-lock filter simplifies the maintenance process


  • Relatively short hose
  • Quite heavy

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6. Stanley SL18129 – Highly Maneuverable Wet Dry Vacuum

Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum

Photo: Stanley

  • Power: 4 horsepower
  • Tank Capacity: 4 gallons
  • Weight: 8 pounds

Stanley’s wet/dry vacuum has a lightweight, compact design, with 4 swivel casters that make the whole unit easily maneuverable in all directions. A carrying handle is also built in for easy portability.  

Apart from this, the unit has a 10-foot cord and a 5-foot hose, which, when combined, extend its reach, although the hose is quite short.

However, the long power cord compensates for this deficit and after use, a cord wrap design makes it easy to organize the cleaner for storage.

Accessories included are 3 extension wands, a crevice nozzle, utility nozzle, floor brush, reusable dry filter and foam filter. However, no remote control is included.


  • Lightweight and portable
  • 4 swivel casters for maneuverability
  • Long 10-foot power cord
  • Cord wrap design for organized storage
  • Comes with 3 extension wands for extended reach


  • No remote control
  • Short hose

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7. Shop-Vac 5989300 – Sturdily Built Shop Vac for Cars

Shop-Vac 5989300 Wet Dry Vacuum

Photo: Shop-Vac

  • Power: 4.5 horsepower
  • Tank Capacity: 5 gallons
  • Weight: 14.75 pounds

With a tough and durable stainless-steel tank forming a huge chunks of its entire structure, this 5989300 from Shop-Vac has a high durability factor because it can easily withstand multiple collisions without failure.

Aside from this, the unit has top and side carrying handles for easy portability by making it easy to carry while a secure latch system ensures the tank and lid are fused together, preventing any mishaps when moving or operating it.

A rear blower port is built in for converting the motor into a blower, which is ideal for pushing out dirt from crevices and other hard to reach in your car’s interior. Combined, these features make it the best professional shop vacuum cleaner.  

Other features include a 7-foot hose and 3 extension wands for reaching out, a crevice tool, floor nozzle, gulper nozzle, cartridge filter, foam sleeve and a 5 to 8-gallon disposable filter bag, all being part of the shop vac as accessories.


  • Strong and durable stainless-steel tank
  • Portable and maneuverable
  • Top and side carrying handles for easy carrying
  • Secure latch system keeps the tank and lid fused together


  • The hose is a bit short

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How to Buy the Best shop vac for car detailing

How to Buy the Best Shop Vacuum for Cars

Photo: ArmorAll

1. Power

A shop vac’s power, often measured in horsepower for corded units or volts for battery-powered units, is important as it gives you a measure of its suction power. As such, you should go for the highest horsepower or voltage rating that fits your budget as it will clean more efficiently.

Be careful though not use choose a model that is too powerful to clean certain soft surfaces in the car as it might destroy them as you clean

2. Power Source

The manner in which your vacuum is powered affects its maneuverability. If you don’t want to worry about recharging, consider vacuums that come with a cord. However, if you want better portability, it would be good to purchase one with batteries.

For the corded cleaners, it is always best to have a long power cable as well as a long flex hose so as to improve on the reach.

On the other hand, for battery-powered units, check on the battery life and battery level indicator. It is quite annoying to be interrupted in the middle of your work for a recharge.

3. Tank Capacity

Generally, large tank shop vacuums are better because they afford you an extended use with minimal tank-emptying interruptions. However, the larger the tank, the bulkier, heavier and also, the more expensive the product.

Cleaners with small tanks have the benefit of being more affordable, compact, lightweight and highly portable, but they fill up very quickly and thus, require frequent emptying.

Buying Guide: for commercial use, a large tank is recommended so as to accommodate the large quantity of dirt. However, for domestic home use, a small-tanked cleaner will do.

4. Noise Level

This is a no brainer. The quietest shop vacuum for cars is the best to use because no one likes loud noises as they are irritating, and especially if they come from such a machine.

Measured in decibels, the noise level should not exceed 70 dB, otherwise, it will be very annoying. Features to check for include noise diffusers, which help in canceling out the excess noise.  

5. Attachment

The attachments that shop vacs come with are important to consider because they impact the performance and usability of the product in one way or the other.

For instance, since cars have different surfaces (soft and hard surfaces), look for a multi-surface vacuum that comes with multiple brushes, crevice tools, and wide nozzles so as to clean the vehicle in its entirety.

6. Ease of Use

In the case of shop vacuums for cars, the ease of use factor usually entails a number of things such as high portability for easy movement around the garage as you clean or long flexible hoses for easy reach throughout the entire car as the appliance is stationed at one point.

Other things such as a long power cord also extend the reach for ease of use while easily disposable or reusable dirtbag filters simplify the task of getting rid of the collected waste while also being more hygienic to use.

All in all, ensure that the product has all the convenience features that make it easier for you to use.

Things to Consider When Buying a Vacuum Cleaner

Things to Consider When Buying a Vacuum Cleaner

The old vacuum cleaner has “bitten the dust” and you need a replacement.  One quick look online is all it takes to realize that choosing a new machine might be more challenging than you thought. It’s easy to get caught up in the “latest and greatest” when perusing vacuums online or in magazines and end up with a machine that is either too much or not enough, or just doesn’t fit your needs.

We’ve put together a few questions for consideration to help focus your search efforts before purchasing that new vacuum cleaner. Maybe you’ve already thought about some of these, so please use the following list to quickly navigate to the concerns most important to you.

What Flooring Types Do I Have?

Upright and Canister Vacuums on Multi-floorsProbably the most obvious consideration is whether you have mainly carpeting, hard floors, or a fairly even combination of both. Generally speaking, for homes with a lot of carpeting, especially in large areas, an upright vacuum cleaner is a good choice. However, if your personal preference tends toward canister style vacuums, there are quite a few excellent choices available. You will want to be sure that it has a floor nozzle with a motorized brushroll and height adjustment options for various pile carpets.

If you love hardwood or tile flooring with a few rugs here and there, or enjoy low-pile carpeting, a canister style vacuum is a great option. Using a specialized floor brush, these are usually very maneuverable for working quickly around and underneath furniture. Some are equipped with combination floor tools that easily switch to effectively clean scatter rugs. For true canister vacuum lovers, there are machines that feature high quality motorized floor nozzles that can effectively handle deep-pile carpets.

Most people have a combination of both carpeting and hard floors. At this point, style preference will be your guide. However, be sure to check for convenience features such as on/off brushroll control, height adjustment, and suction control. Be sure to note whether the brushroll is air-powered or electrically powered as this affects the effectiveness of deep-pile carpet cleaning.

Do I Need to Control Allergens?

This is a key question to consider since we spend, on average, about 90% of our time indoors where pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. This is especially important to ponder if you or someone in your family has asthma or allergies. A vacuum cleaner that provides HEPA filtration can be an important contributor to improving your indoor air quality. HEPA filters capture particulate matter down to 0.3 microns so that the exhausted air is actually cleaner than what was sucked into the vacuum. There are also machines that include some level of charcoal filtration to help control odors—great for pet owners.

An additional consideration is a vacuum that not only uses HEPA filters but does so in a completely sealed system. This means that there is virtually no leakage of air through the housing or fittings of the machine and all air (along with pollutants) is forced through the filtration system, leaving your indoor air allergen free. See this article for more information about allergies and vacuums.

How Often Do I Vacuum?

Robotic Vacuum Being ProgrammedSomething you may not have thought about, the frequency of your cleaning schedule can be impacted by the ease or difficulty of storing and accessing your vacuum. For those folks who shed their shoes the minute they hit the door, walking on floors that quickly accumulate pet fur, crumbs, and tracked-in dirt or sand, daily vacuuming is standard operating procedure. In that case, a vacuum that is difficult to access and use quickly can make this routine a real chore. Consider a robotic vacuum that can be scheduled to clean while you’re at work or running errands so you return to grit-free floors, really nice if you frequently bring home company.

If your debris tends to concentrate in specific areas, a stick vacuum is a champ at quickly taking care of daily messes whether on hard floors or carpets, as well as effectively handling more extensive weekly cleaning. There are also light-weight uprights and compact canisters with parking features that make them easy to store and use at a moment’s notice.

How Many Levels are in My Home?

Stick Vacuum Being Carried UpstairsIn other words, how many stairs do you have to carry your vacuum up and down? There are many maneuverable, light-weight cordless vacuums that have great suction power and long run times that can handle multiple floor types. There are also lightweight vacuums in both upright and canister styles that make transporting them between floors easy.

An additional thought is the type of flooring on each level. While it sounds crazy, sometimes more than one vacuum is a very good idea. If you have a main floor that really benefits from a machine that can handle a variety of floor types, your upper floor may only require a vacuum best for carpets or hard floors. Or, the reverse may be true. In either case, consider purchasing a smaller stick vacuum for the space best suited for it, and save yourself grueling trips up and down stairs with your larger machine.

What Additional Surfaces will I be Cleaning?

Vacuum Cleaner Tool AssortmentIf you like vacuuming away all the accumulated dust from furniture, curtains, moldings, and baseboards instead of dusting, you’ll want a vacuum that includes a variety of accessory tools. Most include at least a combination brush and crevice tool, while others have additional floor nozzles, an upholstery tool, and specialized accessories for specific types of cleaning. If you own pets, or have a lot of stairs, consider a vacuum that includes a mini-motorized tool for easy cleaning. Some offer an even wider variety of specialized tools and extension wands which you can purchase separately as you need them.

How Much Noise Can I Stand?

Given the technology, if you will, of vacuums, there is a certain amount of expected sound generated during use. Typically, the larger and more heavy-duty the machine for the job, the louder it is. For homes, and for office spaces where a quieter sound level is desired, there are vacuums that have been designed with insulated motor housings as well as newer low-noise motors for quieter operation. Some can run as lows as 47 dB at maximum power while still delivering 120 CFM. Vacuum manufacturers such as NaceCareMiele, and Sebo have recently redesigned some of their machines for quieter operation. Check specifications for your selection before buying.

How Much Maintenance is Required?

This is a question that really depends on your definition of “a lot” and how tedious different kinds of maintenance are for you. Bagless vacuums don’t have bags that need to be changed, but dust bins still need to be emptied and washed periodically, especially if your home includes allergy-sufferers. Any vacuum with a HEPA filter will need that filter to be replaced when necessary, depending on individual home environments. The same is true for any other type of filter unless it is specified as a washable filter.

Vacuum Cleaner Maintenance

Brushrolls will collect pet fur, hair, threads and other debris and will need to be cleaned to maintain top operating capabilities. Ease of access to it should be a consideration. For quality vacuums that last for years, sometimes accessory tools like dusting brushes may need to be replaced. Check to see if these are available for purchase either at retail or from the manufacturer.

The Main Vacuum Types

There are five primary shapes of vacuum cleaners, each performing a slightly different function, although some combine those forms in order to provide more bang for your buck. Being aware of the expectations you have of your vacuum cleaner can help you more intelligently and decisively pick one of the following.

1. Handheld

Handheld vacuums are perfect for getting those painfully hard-to-reach areas that desperately need a cleaning. The most common example for use is in vacuuming cars, since, as the name suggests, this model can be held in only one hand. Its versatility makes it a dream for suctioning up dirt and debris in a variety of tight places, but it would not serve well for general flooring cleaning, which would take a long time to clean with a handheld. This type of vacuum cleaner comes in all sorts of different forms with equally different price tags.

2. Canister

Canister vacuum cleaners are a happy medium between the upright model and the stick model. They are powerful like the upright cleaners, but feature a slender frame, like the stick cleaners. In this case, a separate canister is attached to a long wand which can be used to maintain not only carpeted areas but also bare flooring as well. This style of vacuum cleaner tends to be one of the most expensive options, given its technologically-forward and multi-functional design.

3. Upright

These cleaners are perhaps the most popular and sought-after forms of vacuum cleaners. When you imagine a vacuum cleaner or see one advertised in media, the image you picture is probably that of an upright machine. These models provide the most powerful clean-up for your house, and offer the comforting benefit of usually easy-to-understand functions and accessories, since most people have used an upright vacuum cleaner at least once in their lifetime. Most models provide settings that allow these vacuum cleaners to be used not only on carpeted surfaces but also bare floors.

4. Stick

While perhaps the least powerful of the vacuum models, stick vacuums have a knack for getting into narrow places and doing a tremendous job on hardwood floors, area rugs and light carpeting. This type of vacuum features a long stick-like handle and a slender construction. The slimness of this model makes it a perfect addition to any closet space, as it tucks neatly into most corners after its purpose has been served.

5. Autonomous / Robot

Robot vacuum cleaners have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, mainly due to the fact that they require little effort on your end. These vacuums are able to roam freely around your home, sucking up any small mess in its way. They not only save you time, but they are also able to reach places that larger vacuums wouldn’t be able to, such as under the couch. One main drawback of robot vacuums is that they typically come at a steep price.

Vacuum Cleaners

Location, Location, Location

Do you have primarily hardwood floors throughout your house? Are these floors covered with area rugs, or are they bare? Is your home filled with wall-to-wall carpeting? These are considerations you must make before taking the leap and purchasing your very own vacuum cleaner.

Bare Floors:

If you have bare floors, you’re better off with models that provide a number of attachments and which don’t have quite as much heft as some of the others. Using a regular upright vacuum on flooring like hardwood poses a number of problems, which includes scratching your smooth and coveted floors and being counterproductive by scattering debris across their surfaces. Some upright vacuums do provide settings that function better on non-carpeted areas, but for the most part your best bet would be with a model like the canister vacuum, which can also take care of your area rugs if you have any. These vacuums usually come with a bare-floor brush, which makes keeping your floors squeaky clean and scratch-free a piece of cake.


On the other hand, if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s definitely worth considering a model with different advantages than a vacuum cleaner suited for hardwood flooring and tiling. You won’t need to worry about scratching the surface of your carpet, and in fact, you’ll want something powerful that pulls up all the lingering debris from the carpet strands. In this instance, an upright cleaner is a great way to go. There are all sorts of extra conveniences that upright vacuums have recently come out with, including a dirt sensor which makes sure you get that last speck of grime.

Know the layout of your flooring and what sorts of surfaces you’ll be dealing with to ensure your needs will be met with your new vacuum cleaner.

To Bag or Not To Bag

The general consensus is that, whether you have a bagged vacuum or a bagless vacuum, your house will be clean either way (as long as you keep using it). However, there are a few small differences that may make or break your decision to buy one or the other.


If you or any of your family members are sensitive to allergens or have asthma, the bagged vacuum is probably more for you. Dust exposure is minimized when the bag is emptied and most bags are guaranteed to trap all but .03% of the dust and pollen in your carpeting. You do have to replace the bags on a regular basis, although these are typically available at most supermarkets.


If you are environmentally-minded and prefer to not have to deal with replacing bags, the bagless vacuum is more for you. These vacuums usually have a see-through canister which gives you perfect access to seeing how full the vacuum is, which can help you determine when you need to empty it out.


To finalize, the convenience provided by shop vacuums in cleaning cars is unmatched. These products are very handy tools and as you can see above, most of them can dry vacuum and wet vacuum the car’s interior, making them very versatile.

However, since every person has different needs, this shop vacuum for cars review outlines the defining features of each product and at the end, you should be able to easily select the best shop vacuum for cars that is suitable for you after carefully reading through. 

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