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Best car vacuum cleaners 2023

We put car and workshop vacuum cleaners to the test - which of these heavy-duty cleaners picks up the win?

Although the cordless vacuum cleaner you use around the house will be enough for a quick clean of your car’s interior, a proper valet will need something with a bit more grunt. And that’s going to mean a mains-powered machine that won’t run out of charge halfway through the job, and will have enough capacity for the sweet wrappers, leaves and car park tickets that seem to accumulate in every footwell.

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A tougher corded cleaner can also make itself useful in the workshop by sucking up debris from around the garage and even extracting dust while you’re sanding paint and filler. Most workshop cleaners can also be used for wet jobs, sucking up floods and spills or helping to clean seats and carpets.

Unlike battery-powered cleaners, these workshop vacuums are also surprisingly good value, with some costing less than £100. We put seven to the test to see which cleaned up.

How we tested them

We examined each cleaner’s hose and cable lengths, plus any accessories and adaptors that are included. Machines which were stable and less likely to fall over gained points, as did those that made packing up easier, thanks to storage for the cable, hose and attachments.

The vacs’ cleaning power was tested on a car’s carpet mat by timing how long it took to suck up lines of rice, sugar and flour. We then switched the cleaners to wet mode and timed how long they took to ingest 10 litres of water. 

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Finally, we considered the machines’ value by looking for the best prices online for not just the cleaners, but also consumables, such as filters and bags.

Reviews

Vacmaster Multi 20

  • Price: Around £80
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Hose: 2.5m  
  • Power: 1,250W
  • Capacity: 20 litres 
  • Website: cleva-uk.com
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Compare this Vacmaster unit to some rivals and you’ll soon spot various similarities and shared components. However, the Multi 20 scores better for overall value because of its specification. The list includes a power take-off socket for connecting other tools and a blow function, which is often useful for clearing dust or leaves out of a larger area. 

The Vacmaster also has an extra brush tool compared with the similar Vac King, but has to make do with flimsier plastic tubes. Against expectations, it performed better in the suction tests than rivals blessed with beefier motors. There’s no arguing with its good value either, so it ends up taking the overall win here.

Buy now from Cleva

Nilfisk Multi II 30T

  • Price: Around £162
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Hose: 4m  
  • Power: 1,400W
  • Capacity: 30 litres
  • Website: nilfisk.com

The Multi II is by far the most expensive cleaner here and its price has risen by £22 since we last tried it. But we think it’s a price worth paying if you want a serious machine for more regular or semi-professional use. 

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A huge 4m-long hose and 5m cable mean you don’t need to move the machine itself to reach all the way through a car, and the bigger tank means less frequent emptying is needed. There’s also a self-switching socket for other power tools and a nifty button to clean the filter.

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But the real benefit is the suction it offers; the Multi II came top in all our cleaning tests by some margin.

Buy now from Clean Store

Draper 10L Wet & Dry Vacuum

  • Price: Around £63
  • Rating: 4.5 stars  
  • Hose: 1.5m  
  • Power: 1,000W
  • Capacity: 10 litres
  • Website: drapertools.com

The Draper’s shortage of power meant it came last in the suction tests and would wilt at hardcore tasks such as clearing rubble. But if we just wanted a vacuum to do a quick clean on the inside of a car, this is the one we’d be reaching for.

Compared with the other cleaners here, it’s tiny and weighs just 1.5kg. However, that means you don’t really worry about the lack of wheels or the short hose, because it’s easy to carry around. Overall, the Draper’s real advantage is the huge array of attachments. There are nozzles and brushes that will clean everything from huge areas of carpet down to the tiniest gap under a seat.

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Buy now from FFX

Nilfisk Buddy II 18 T

  • Price: Around £113 
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Hose: 4m  
  • Power: 1,200W
  • Capacity: 18 litres
  • Website: nilfisk.com

The Buddy II has been a favourite of ours in previous tests, but is now being phased out and replaced by this model that includes a power take-off socket. It also answers one of our criticisms from the last test by doubling the length of the hose, which makes it far easier to clean car interiors.

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As before, the Buddy II has a strong cleaning performance too, as well as a washable filter, which can be used for both wet and dry jobs. But we can’t ignore the price, which has leapt £50 since our last test. That seems too much for the addition of a socket and longer hose.

Buy now from Amazon

Vac King CVAC2PR2

  • Price: Around £88
  • Rating: 3.5 stars 
  • Hose: 2.0m  
  • Power: 1,400W
  • Capacity: 20 litres 
  • Website: machinemart.co.uk

There are plenty of reasons to like the Vac King, not least the reasonable price of the unit itself and the consumables. It’s also much lighter than most of the other full-size rivals here, and we really like the telescopic chrome tube. 

This version also has a power take-off socket. However, you can buy a vac without this feature, saving you £12. On the downside, this model lacks hose storage and only came mid-table in the cleaning and water tests, despite the promise of a 1,400W motor. It was also the noisiest in our tests.

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Buy now from Machine Mart

Titan TTB992VAC-M

  • Price: Around £130
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Hose: 3.2m  
  • Power: 1,400W
  • Capacity: 20 litres
  • Website: screwfix.com

Looking at the specifications, it’s hard to see why Titan’s TTB992VAC-M costs twice as much as its TTB775VAC, which was recommended in our last test. It has slower airflow, a 50cm shorter cable, a smaller tank capacity, and the warranty is a year less too.

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In the TTB992VAC-M’s defence, the hose is longer, but the main difference is an official ‘M’ rating for fine dust protection. This is a legal requirement in many workplaces and will be essential in areas where air quality is vital, such as if you are painting. But if you don’t need that protection, the cheaper model will do a better job for much less.

Buy now from Screwfix

Wessex 20L

  • Price: Around £64 
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Hose: 1.5m  
  • Power: 1,300W
  • Capacity: 20 litres
  • Website: toolstation.com

The specification list of the Wessex initially made us think it had winning potential. Despite being the second cheapest in this test, it has a generous 5m-long cable, a stainless steel body, a blower function, and reasonably priced filter bags. 

The suction performance in the tests was impressive too, matching the Vacmaster. But the Wessex is let down by some cost-cutting features. The hose is just 1.5m long, so you have to constantly move the machine around as you clean a car’s interior. And the tube is narrower than rivals’ too, causing blockages. The winning Vacmaster is better specified for only a few quid more.

Buy now from Toolstation

Verdict

If money were no object, we’d have the Nilfisk Multi II 30T. It’s unbeatable in the suction tests, and the long hose makes it ideal for workshops and car interiors alike. But the price is so high that we can’t give it the top spot again.

That goes to the Vacmaster Multi 20, while the Draper earns third place for its portability, value and car-focused accessories. It takes up less space, too.

  1. Vacmaster Multi 20
  2. Nilfisk Multi II 30T
  3. Draper 10L Wet & Dry Vacuum

Need storage solutions for your tools? Read our reviews on some of the best toolboxes currently on the market…

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