Last Updated 18 September 2023

Keep your van clean with these portable & storable car vacuum cleaners

Check out the Destiny River Round-up

by Rebecca Wills

Suck It Up: vans get dirty, quickly - those under-the-seat secret digestives mix with the dried mud on shoes in no time - are these vacuums better performing than a faithful dustpan and brush?

Greetings, fellow vanlifers, digital nomads and crumb conquerors of the car world. Rebecca Wills here, armed with web codes, caffeine-fuelled energy and my latest tech obsession – portable car vacuum cleaners. As a tech enthusiast and veteran vanlifer who’s no stranger to a stray crumb (or five), I certainly understand the need for a lean, mean, cleaning machine in our mobile domains. Let me take you on a journey through the land of 'suck it and see', featuring three laudable dust devils: the 'ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner', the 'Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ 12V Flexi Car Vacuum Cleaner', and the 'Black + Decker ADV1200 auto portable vacuum cleaner'. Rest assured, I've left no stone unturned, no crevice unexplored and no crumbs behind in putting these contraptions to the test. Hold onto your vac bags, darlings, and venture forth to find out which device sucks the most – in the best possible way, of course.

Editors Choice
Image of ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner Carry Case - 12V, 4.8m Cord - Car Cleaning

​ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner Carry Case - 12V, 4.8m Cord - Car Cleaning

Powerful, good design and good value - the one to buy for occasional use and light dirt

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Power Output106 watts
Weight0.8 kgs
Dimensions4.04 x 10.16 x 10.92 cm
Overall
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Runner Up
Image of Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ  12V Flexi Car Vacuum Cleaner Dustbuster

​Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ 12V Flexi Car Vacuum Cleaner Dustbuster

A little noisy and seems low power at first, but with the various attachments and a bit of perseverance this does a good job!

Read our Full Destiny River Review
Power Output12.5 watts
Weight1.49 kgs
Dimensions5.91 x 10.63 x 11.81 cm
Overall
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​Worthy Alternative
Image of Black + Decker ADV1200 auto portable vacuum cleaner

​Black + Decker ADV1200 auto portable vacuum cleaner

Good build quality, but not quite powerful enough. Look for a product with a higher wattage.

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Power Output11 watts
Weight1.3 kgs
Dimensions27 x 23 x 20 cm
Overall
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​#1 Product Recommendation

ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner Carry Case - 12V, 4.8m Cord - Car Cleaning

Powerful, good design and good value - the one to buy for occasional use and light dirt

Power Output106 watts
Weight0.8 kgs
Dimensions4.04 x 10.16 x 10.92 cm
Overall
Image of ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner Carry Case - 12V, 4.8m Cord - Car Cleaning

Overview

In summary, the ThisWork Car Vacuum Cleaner demonstrates superb performance, providing a convenient, time-saving solution for maintaining a pristine campervan interior despite its few limitations. With its inclusive design, it tackles day-to-day mess with commendable ease, efficiently handling common motorhome nuisances such as crumbs, debris, and pet hair. The ease of use and value additions like an air freshener and maintenance accessories truly increase its worth.

Nonetheless, it is not without its shortcomings. Its dependency on a cord restricts movement, and its suction power, although satisfactory, falls short of truly phenomenal. This vacuum requires a bit of human intervention, especially with stubborn debris embedded in the carpet fibres.

However, the overall ingenuity of its design combined with solid performance aspects makes it a compelling choice, especially for motorhome enthusiasts. It is well-primed for light, casual cleanups, and its compact, portable nature brands it a reliable travel companion. While the occasional deep cleaning might need a heavier-duty vacuum, the ThisWorx vacuum's reliability and simplicity make it a trustworthy companion for those quick, necessary clean-ups on the go.

Weighing the pros and cons, it offers good value for its price-point, and I'd certainly recommend it for all motorhome travelers who consider cleanliness an essential part of their travel adventure. It might not turn heads with record-breaking power, but for tackling those pesky, everyday messes, it's a winner. Overall, a good buy for occasional, light use. After all, if a journey is best measured in friends rather than miles, shouldn't it be the same for cleanliness?

Read our Full Destiny River Review

​Our #2 Recommendation

Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ 12V Flexi Car Vacuum Cleaner Dustbuster

A little noisy and seems low power at first, but with the various attachments and a bit of perseverance this does a good job!

Power Output12.5 watts
Weight1.49 kgs
Dimensions5.91 x 10.63 x 11.81 cm
Overall
Image of Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ  12V Flexi Car Vacuum Cleaner Dustbuster

Overview

Drawing upon my extensive experience touring the UK and Europe in my campervan, I can conclude Black & Decker’s PD1200AV-XJ 12V Flexi Car Vacuum Cleaner Dustbuster is a handy companion for any motorhome enthusiast. Its 12V power source, combined with a lengthy 5-metre cable, enables one to carry out comprehensive cleaning tasks with considerable ease. Its unique flexible suction hose surmounts the challenges of reaching difficult areas, turning routine cleaning into a walk in the park. Emptying the unit is mess-free thanks to the Dirt Trap, and despite needing a little more effort on coarser dirt, the tool's Cyclonic Action Filtration System manages to deliver a satisfactory cleaning result. Meanwhile, the accessories included are thoughtfully designed, augmenting the usability of the vacuum.

However, it’s worth noting that the vacuum comes across as slightly underpowered, especially when dealing with larger debris, and falters in comparison to a standard home vacuum cleaner. Additionally, the brush attachment is not ideal for carpets, which limits the vacuum's utility to some extent.

Despite a few minor quirks, when measured against the overall convenience and array of features it provides, the Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ 12V Flexi Car Vacuum Cleaner emerges as a solid investment. So, for those who value cleanliness in their mobile homes, this appliance's benefits surpass its minor shortcomings. Therefore, I recommend it as a worthwhile purchase.

Read our Full Destiny River Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Which vacuum cleaner has the highest power output?
The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner has the highest power output at 106 watts.
Which of the three vacuum cleaners is the lightest?
The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is the lightest, weighing only 0.8 kgs.
Which vacuum cleaner has the longest cord?
The Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ has the longest cord at 5 meters.
Which vacuum cleaner comes with the most accessories?
The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner comes with the most accessories, including 3 interchangeable nozzles, a carry bag, a spare filter, and a special filter cleaning brush.
Which vacuum cleaner has the most compact dimensions?
The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner has the most compact dimensions at 4.04 x 10.16 x 10.92 cm.
Which vacuum cleaner has a unique flexible suction hose?
The Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ has a unique flexible suction hose that is 1.2 meters long.
Which vacuum cleaner is best for handling wet pet hair, mud, and sand?
The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is designed to handle wet pet hair, mud, and sand, making it ideal for post-hike, dog walk, or beach trip cleanups.
Which vacuum cleaner is best for reaching hard-to-reach places?
The Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ, with its unique flexible suction hose, is best for reaching hard-to-reach places.
Which vacuum cleaner is best for cleaning car interiors?
The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is specifically designed for car interiors, with precision nozzles and a strong suction power.
Which vacuum cleaner has a cyclonic action filtration system?
The Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ has a cyclonic action filtration system with a 3-stage filtration system for high dirt absorption and suction power.
Which vacuum cleaner is the most portable?
The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner is the most portable due to its lightweight and compact design.
Which vacuum cleaner is designed for coarser dirt?
The Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ is recommended for coarser dirt.

​Conclusion

In conclusion, both the 'ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner Carry Case - 12V, 4.8m Cord - Car Cleaning' and 'Black & Decker PD1200AV-XJ 12V Flexi Car Vacuum Cleaner Dustbuster' offer solid value. They are adept at cleaning the difficult corners of the car and come with extra tools that make cleaning a breeze. However, 'ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner' edges ahead with its impressive suction power and complete cleaning kit. That said, 'Black&Decker PD1200AV-XJ' provides a longer cable and a unique flexible suction hose that makes reaching difficult areas easier. Last but not least, 'Black + Decker ADV1200 auto portable vacuum cleaner' is considerably light, but its information lacks detail. Before making a choice, check the current prices as deals and discounts often crop up, and at times, the cheapest option could provide the best value.

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Rebecca Wills
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Self-professed vanlifer, digital nomad, blogger and freelance web developer. My van in the UK and my mobile home in the US aren't just places I live, they're my roving offices allowing me to work whilst giving me access to spaces that inspire me and feed my sense of adventure.

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Buyer's Guide: Making sure your car vacuum doesn't suck!

1. Portability

One of the primary considerations when purchasing a vacuum cleaner for your car is its portability. Car vacuums should be compact enough to fit in tight spaces and easy to handle. The convenience of storing it in the car's trunk or glove compartment can be an added advantage. Look for models that are lightweight, have ergonomic designs, and perhaps even a cord management system to avoid tangles, ensuring ease of use and storage.

2. Cost

Just as with any other purchase, budget constraints play a significant role. Car vacuum cleaners come in various price ranges, from budget-friendly options to more premium models. It's essential to strike a balance between cost and quality. While it's tempting to go for the cheapest model available, it may not always provide the best value in the long run. Always consider durability, warranty, and performance along with price to ensure you're making a sound investment.

3. Cleaning Power

Not all car vacuum cleaners are created equal when it comes to suction power. Cleaning power is determined by a combination of the vacuum's motor strength and its design. Given that these cleaners are powered by a car's 12V cigarette lighter socket, understanding how efficiently they convert that power into suction is crucial. Check for reviews or specifications that discuss how well the vacuum picks up dirt, debris, and even pet hair from car upholstery and carpets.

4. Attachments

The versatility of a car vacuum often lies in the attachments it comes with. Look for models that include a variety of tools like crevice nozzles, brush attachments, and extendable hoses. These accessories can significantly enhance the cleaning experience by allowing you to reach tight spaces, vents, or sensitive areas like the dashboard. The more versatile the vacuum, the more comprehensive the cleaning will be.

5. Motor Strength

Motor strength directly influences the cleaning power of a vacuum cleaner. A stronger motor typically results in better suction, enabling the device to pick up more substantial debris and deep-seated dirt. However, a more robust motor might also mean a noisier operation. When considering motor strength, it's also essential to look into the device's noise level to ensure it won't be disruptive during use.

6. Conclusion

Choosing the right vacuum cleaner for your car involves considering a balance of portability, cost, cleaning power, and versatility. By assessing your specific needs, budget, and the features highlighted in this guide, you can invest in a vacuum cleaner that will ensure your car remains spotless, enhancing your driving experience and preserving your vehicle's interior for years to come.

Our Editor's Recommendation

ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner Carry Case - 12V, 4.8m Cord - Car Cleaning

Powerful, good design and good value - the one to buy for occasional use and light dirt

Check Latest Price
Image of ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner Carry Case - 12V, 4.8m Cord - Car Cleaning