A dirty cabin can ruin the driving experience, whether it’s crumbs on seats or dusty mats. A handheld vac is a quick and easy way of smartening up an interior without the bother of dragging out a home or workshop cleaner.
There are three types: cordless rechargeable, 12V portable or compact 230V mains. But which is best for you? We pick from 12.
Handhelds are designed to be easier to use than larger domestic or garage vacs, so length, weight balance and bulk were all key here. We also focused on attachments, as you’ll need a crevice tool to get into hard-to-reach places, plus wider heads for carpets.
To test suction, we laid out lines of crushed biscuits and sugar on a floor mat, and then measured how much each vacuum cleared in one pass. When it came to cordless cleaners, we wanted them to have a usable battery life. And we measured power cables on the 12V and 230V cleaners, looking for them to be able to reach the boot from the cigarette socket.
We also rated each of the contenders’ ease of emptying. Finally, we factored in price.
If you have only on-street parking your choice is between a cordless or 12V model, but if you have access to the mains you’ll want the extra power it brings. For those on a budget, go for our Halfords 12Volt winner – it is perfect for a quick clean-up and costs less than £20. Got more money to spend? Then the Dyson DC31 Animal cordless is a mighty machine, but you do pay for the extra grunt. Got access to mains power and simply need a scaled-down vacuum, or don’t want to drag your house cleaner outside? Our choice is the Electrolux Workzone Stair and Car Vac.