Car Detailing Advice: Best Small Vacuum?

I need a portable vacuum to clean my car, but I have not been pleased with the smaller vacuums I have owned in the past. Does anyone own a small, portable vacuum they can recommend for cleaning car interior? carpet? Thanks!

Of all the small vacuum cleaners I have owned, I have not been truly happy with any of them. I suppose of all of them, the Dirt Devil was probably the least mediocre. I find the best vacuum for cleaning my car is a canister (wet/dry shop-vac type) vacuum cleaner with a long hose. That way, you don’t have to handle the weight of even a small vacuum cleaner because the weight stays on the ground. Also, if there is any dust that doesn’t get caught by the vacuum cleaner bag, it is pumped outside instead of being recirculated inside the car.

I really don’t think there is such an animal. Either buy a shop-vac…or use the ones at the car washes.

Okay, Shop-Vac it is. What horsepower?

More is better. Get the most you can reasonably afford and find. They usually range between 2 HP and 4 HP. I would shoot for about 3.5 HP. Home Depot and Lowes have a nice selection of them.

Sears also has a good selection…and they are all made by the same manufacturer. So get the one with the highest hp and the cheapest price.

I use the house vacuum. There are uppholstery attachments that make it easy to vacuum the floors and seats in a car. You might want to use detailing brushes to clean leather seats instead of the vacuum. The plastic attachments would scratch the leather.

The $500 (and least expensive) solution: We happen to own a Miele White Star home vacuum (about $400), which is a sensational machine (very light, very high power, near zero particulate emissions) and I came across a Meile car kit on ebay about 5 years ago and bought it ($100). It includes a hose, turbo head, regular head, detailing head, and probably a few other things.

Result: a very high power machine perfectly mated to car applications.

The $500 solution seems price-prohibitive unless you’re Jay, from Jay Leno’s Garage, but it is not be when consideration is given to:

  1. The Meile vacuum may be the last one you’ll every buy (rather than trash a $200 vac every 2 years) and so may be less expensive than the “less expensive” brands.
  2. Your home will be cleaner and easier to clean due to power and light weight.
  3. There will be far fewer particulates blown into the air (much better for your health since most particulates are skin flakes, insect poop, insect bits,and tracked-in sidewalk particles of unmentionable character.
  4. Your home will be quieter… not by a little, by a lot. Note that many lower tier manufactures design-in more noise to make you think their machine is powerful… it really just hurts your ears. You can comfortably watch TV or read while the room is being vacuumed by a Meile.
  5. You can stop buying small crappyola vacuums with crappyola motors that just don’t
    work very well and don’t last very long.

My Theorum of Consumerism is this: Any good, functional, reliable item can and will be made by another firm into a worthless, disfunctional, unreliable item, and sold at half-price, and we will buy it because it looks sorta like the good item.

Theorum of the Aging Consumer: After buying a succession of an item that looks kinda like the good stuff and spending perhaps twice what a good one would have cost in the first place, the aged and wise consumer will finally buy a good one.
Total cost, about 3X what I should have spent.

Theorum of Universiality of Consumer Goods Theorums: This applies to all things.

Disclaimer: I have no stock options, relationships or retirement ties to Meile. I am just another Aging Consumer.