Best car workshop vacuum cleaners 2021

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

If you clean your car’s interior regularly, a quick once over with a cordless vacuum should keep it tidy. But occasionally you might need to give it a more thorough clean, perhaps after a trip to the tip, or maybe a beach holiday.

A corded cleaner will have the power to take on bigger tasks without having to worry about a flat battery or a tiny collector filling up. A proper workshop vac can also be used to suck up liquid spills, and could even be handy for removing excess water from fabrics.

In the workshop, a powerful motor and big tank should mean these vacs can tackle bigger debris, or extract dust if you’re sanding bodywork. But which of our seven contenders will dust its rivals?

How we tested them

We set a series of tasks, timing how long it took to clear rice, sugar and flour from a carpet mat. We then timed each model sucking up 10 litres of water. 

We also checked how easy it was to switch between wet and dry modes, and considered features such as power lead and hose lengths, what accessories were included, and how easy it was to empty liquids and debris.

Finally, we checked the price of the machine and consumables such as filters or bags, if needed.

Verdict

The Nilfisk Multi II 30T is the best all-round machine here for the workshop. It cleans efficiently and makes life easy for you with its thoughtful features. 

If you didn’t want to spend that much, then our usual suggestion would be Nilfisk’s cheaper Buddy. However, the version we tried has lost some features and practicality, so it is relegated to third behind the great-value Titan.  

  1. Nilfisk Multi II 30T 
  2. Titan TTB775VAC 
  3. Nilfisk Buddy II 18

Reviews

Nilfisk Multi II 30T

  • Price: £139.98  
  • Hose: 4m  
  • Power: 1,400W  
  • Capacity: 18l
  • Contact: www.nilfisk.com  
  • Rating: 5 stars

The Multi II is expensive, but we think it’s worth it. Features include washable filters that can be used for both wet and dry cleaning, a switch to vibrate the filter to remove dust without opening the lid and a self-switching power take-off for tools.  

With metal suction tubes and a solid-feeling plastic body, it feels like it’s built to last, and a massive four-metre hose means you won’t be needing to move the cleaner about very much. It’s not perfect, though. Our main gripe is the lack of a drain plug, and the cleaner is also surprisingly noisy.

Buy now from Amazon

Titan TTB775VAC

  • Price: £59.99  
  • Hose: 2.4m  
  • Power: 1,400W  
  • Capacity: 20l
  • Contact: www.screwfix.com  
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

There’s no arguing with the value for money offered by this cleaner, which is made by Screwfix’s own brand Titan. Despite being almost the cheapest here – it’s a penny more than the Draper – it has more power than machines costing twice as much.  

This is reflected in the cleaning performance, with it sucking up our test samples effortlessly. Once the filters were changed it slurped up the water up quickly, too. A long 2.4-metre hose and reasonably-priced dust bags are other point scorers, but there are no fancy features and the accessories feel more like toys than tools.

Buy now from Screwfix

Nilfisk Buddy II 18

  • Price: £62.38  
  • Hose: 1.9m  
  • Power: 1,200W  
  • Capacity: 18l   
  • Contact: www.nilfisk.com  
  • Rating: 4 stars

The Buddy II was the favourite in our last test, but we were sad to see that some features had disappeared on the model we tried – there was no power take-off socket and the hose has shrunk to a measly 1.9 metres. 

A little research showed that another version called the Buddy II 18T still has these features, but it costs a further £20 – if we’d tested this it may well have kept its Best Buy crown. But even without that crucial ‘T’ there is plenty to like about this vac, including a strong cleaning performance and a washable filter that can be used for both wet and dry cleaning.

Buy now from Amazon

Vac King CVAC30SSR

  • Price: £107.98  
  • Hose: 2.5m
  • Power: 1,400W  
  • Capacity: 30l
  • Contact: www.nilfisk.com  
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

If you regularly use dust-creating tools, the big attraction of the Vac King is the power take-off. Plug in your sander or saw to the unit and it will automatically turn on and off when the tool is used. 

There’s also a drain port to easily empty liquids after a flood, which really speeds up big clear ups. But it’s not all good news. The motor is rated at 1,400W, but it didn’t perform as well as less powerful machines when cleaning or sucking up water. It’s also irritatingly noisy, while replacement disposable dust bags cost a whopping £8.59 each. 

Buy now from Machine Mart

Bosch Universal Vac 15

  • Price: £84.99  
  • Hose: 2.2m  
  • Power: 1,000W
  • Capacity: 15l  
  • Contact: www.bosch-diy.com
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

If you like the reassurance of a well known brand, then the Bosch Universal Vac seems like decent value. It’s a neat little machine and, if you’re the sort of DIYer who prefers to keep tools tidy, then the Bosch’s storage on and around the machine will make you happy. 

It’s quiet, too, while the fittings and accessories feel better made than those of cheaper rivals. You don’t need to swap filters to change from wet to dry cleaning, but if you do choose dust bags, then they’re reasonably priced. The cleaning power in our dry debris was fine, but the Bosch struggled in our water test.   

Buy now from Screwfix

Kärcher WD5

  • Price: £149.99  
  • Hose: 2.2m  
  • Power: 1,100W
  • Capacity: 25l  
  • Contact: www.kaercher.com
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

Since Kärcher is best known for its pressure washers, it won’t come as a surprise to find out that the WD5 coped admirably in our water test, with the fastest time of this challenge. It’s a shame that there isn’t a drain plug to get rid of the water once you’re done, though. However, the cleaning power was a little disappointing compared with machines that were substantially cheaper. 

Looking on the bright side, a clever car-like air filter can be used for both wet and dry, and there’s a cleaning button that manually shakes the element without the need to open the entire unit.

Buy now from Amazon

Draper 20L Wet & Dry Vacuum

  • Price: £59.98  
  • Hose: 1.5m  
  • Power: 1,250W
  • Capacity: 20l  
  • Contact: www.toolstation.com
  • Rating: 3 stars

The Draper is the cheapest cleaner here (just), but has a more powerful motor than the Kärcher, which costs nearly three times as much. It’s one of the more compact cleaners here, too, and a stainless steel drum gives a high-quality look. 

The cleaning capability is reasonable, but the hose is just 1.5 metres long – a real irritation if you’re stretching across a car interior or workshop. The tools feel built to a budget, too, and there’s no power take-off or other extras. But the Draper’s main problem is the rival Titan, which is more powerful and practical, yet costs just a penny more. 

Buy now from Toolstation

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