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The wet dry vac is an extremely versatile tool that’s only growing in popularity. Dirty vac, Shop-vac, Wet dry vac, these are just a few of the names they have garnered over the years of being released into the masses. This article is guaranteed to help you find the best wet dry vac for car cleaning.

If you’re a detailer, a vacuum is definitely one of your most essential tools. A car interior seems to be exceptionally good at garnering and collecting dirt, dust and all types of debris, so a vacuum with all types of accessories meant for many different types of cleaning and getting into tight crevices and spots is more than helpful. It’s a good thing a wet dry vac is perfect for car cleanups and detailing work.

If you’re planning on cleaning upholstery and carpets you’ll definitely need to vacuum them beforehand if you truly care about the cleanliness of your car. This is also why it’s important to have a solid, good quality vacuum that does the job well and without making you waste more of your time than necessary.

Our recommended vacuum is the RIDGID VAC4010 WET DRY VAC, since in our humble opinion, it does a solid job of compromising convenience, reliability, sound, and suction for the best, most enjoyable overall product. It’s great for people looking for a solid tool that will help them keep their car squeaky clean as well as for profession detailers needing professional equipment.

A Chart Of The Best Wet Dry Vacs and for Car Cleaning and Detailing:

RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC4010 2-in-1…

Craftsman Four-gallon Five-peak Hp…

Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP…

Vacmaster 5 Gallon , 5 Peak H.P,

RIDGID VT2534 6-Piece Auto Detailing…

Why should I buy a wet dry vac for car detailing?

Well, if you’ve got a car the answer to this question shouldn’t be too hard to answer but we’ll gladly name a few examples:

Messy children, wet + dirty shoes, spilled drinks or dropped food, we could keep going forever. The point is, cars get dirty and should be cleaned regularly, just like your home, which a lot of people seem to ignore, and end up with germ-infested, stinky vehicles that even a hitchhiker wouldn’t want to get in.

A quality wet/dry vac will help make the task of keeping your car clean much easier and faster than it normally would be.

What should I look Out for When Purchasing A Wet Dry Vac?

Generally speaking, you should look out for these 5 features:

Reliability, Convenience, Suction power, Noise, And Warranty Support.

The reason we don’t mention Peak HP is that this statistic is nothing more than a gimmick invented for fooling unknowing buyers.

The reasoning behind us calling it a gimmick is because peak HP is a rating based on the power spike of a motor when it’s just been powered on, plus this measurement can be easily manipulated and tinkered with.

It’s funny since some of the Peak HP levels shown on these vacuums to lure in customers are so ludicrous that they would blow out the breaker if it pulled that much power continuously. Yes, Seriously.

There is almost no correlation between the actual performance of a vacuum and the Peak HP. We recommend you look at vacuum pull and CFM (airspeed) statistics to compare the power of vacuums. Sadly many manufacturers don’t even list these actually worthwhile stats so you might have to resort to looking at reviews or just trying them out and hoping for the best.

Best Wet Dry Vac for Car Cleaning – Ridgid Model VAC4010 (WD4081)

Important Specs:

Filter Type: Cartridge
Cord Length (ft.): 20
Product Weight (lb.): 18.75 lb
Vacuum Capacity (Gallons): 4
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
Amperage (amps): 10
Air Volume (CFM): 120
Built-In Drain: No
Built-In Accessory Storage: Yes
Voltage (volts): 120
Peak Horsepower: 6.0

The Pros
  • Easy to move around
  • Powerful
  • Reliable
  • Has a lifetime warranty
  • Accepts automotive-specific accessories
  • Affordable
The Cons
  • The hose included is a bit too large for cleaning up a car

Pretty much, this model is like a better version of WD4070, a pretty known and used vac in the vehicle cleanup and detailing industry, community. If you can say it about the WD4070, then it probably also goes for the VAC4010, just most likely newer and improved.

Here’s some things we appreciate in the vac.


The reliability of this unit is remarkable, which is to be expected since there’s a damn lifetime warranty on the thing regarding any and all manufacturer defects that may cause your machine to break or cause any problems. These days, It’s not an easy task finding a company actually ready to put a lifetime warranty on its products, which says a lot.

Vacuuming Power

The suction power of this unit more than you’ll likely ever need for vacuuming most debris like dust and dirt that you might find in your vehicle. Even more so if you’re using the device properly, with the correct filter for each task, like using the brush attachment for loosening dirt stuck in crevices and cracks + fluffing and raking the fibers of the car’s carpet.


The vacuum comes with a high quality, flexible hose, which is a lot more important than it might seem at first.

Imagine having to battle against a stiff hose every time you’re trying to clean your car. An unwieldy hose can potentially even scratch your car’s paint and the interior as well. It sounds bad because it is, so the fact that the hose is flexible and easy to work with is a definite plus.

You can purchase a solid car clean-up accessory kit for an extra 30$, Wet Dry Vac Car Cleaning - Accessorieswhich comes with upholstery brushes, a crevice tool, and a quality hose, which is a pretty good deal, and a necessary one if you’re a detailing professional. You would be stunned by how much dirt is trapped in your carpets, and that’s where the upholstery brushes come in useful, with these you’ll get most if not all the trapped dirt out of your carpets and make them feel brand new. The crevice tool does wonders for getting under and between the seats, along with getting to all the dirt-filled nooks and crannies you’ve long given up on cleaning.


The unit has wheels, so you’re not forced to carry it around all the time, and it’s compact enough for maneuvering in your car. These are important features, especially if you’re gonna be vacuuming you car at least somewhat often, which you should be doing, by the way. Especially important if you’re working in a cleaning, detailing shop.

Plus, the cord is nice and lengthy as well, so much so that you, in most cases, should be able to move around freely without having to worry about it unplugging or getting stuck all the time.


The bucket’s got a capacity of 4 gallons, which is much more than you’ll be needing when cleaning up most cars unless you’re cleaning the car of a goo monster of some sort. Actually, it should be enough space for cleaning up many, very dirty cars and it should still not be full. This makes it an extra great vac for car cleaning and detailing.


Lots of pro vehicle detailers use exactly this unit and almost everyone seems to be completely satisfied. When professionals are using it, it says a lot about the product, since unhappy customers are bad for business, which should signal to the fact that this vac does a good job.

Detachable Motor

It’s possible to detach the motor and use it like a blower. Though it doesn’t have the power of a leaf blower it does a decent job of blowing out water and dirt out of places hard to reach.

What Others Have Said:

“This relatively tiny 4-gallon vac is a monster, don’t let the size deceive you. It vacuums dust and dirt out of my car’s interior easily. Fantastic for cleaning car, workshop and garage.” – Home Depot Reviewer

Watch this Video To see It In Action:


Craftsman 4 Gallon 5 Peak HP Portable Household Wet-Dry Vac

Important Specs:

Product Weight (lb.): 17.7 lb
Air Volume (CFM): 120
Voltage (volts): 120
Vacuum Capacity (Gallons): 4
Filter Type: Cartridge
Hose Length (ft.): 7
Cord Length (ft.): 15
Built-In Accessory Storage: Yes
Built-In Drain: No
Amperage (amps): 10
Warranty: 1 year
Casters: Yes
Peak Horsepower: 5.0

The Pros
  • Has storage for accessories
  • Mobile
  • Powerful
  • Has a retractable cord
The Cons
  • Short 1-year warranty
  • Louder than the name implies

There’s not a lot to say about this vacuum that we already didn’t mention about the previous one, but if orange isn’t your thing, this unit is a good choice too.

It comes along with accessories that should be more than enough for cleaning up most vehicles, but there’s no car cleanup specific kit to be bought with this model. The cord of this model is automatically retractable, which is a cool feature that most wet dry vacs actually don’t have and the hose parking station is convenient and useful.

Our biggest issue with this unit is that even though the name implies otherwise, this vacuum makes a lot of noise. It’s not louder than most vacs, but definitely not particularly silent either.

Unlike the Ridgid, you can’t use this model as a blower, which is slightly disappointing. The warranty is only 1 year as well, which I see as a warning sign of sorts.

Best Budget Wet Dry Vac for Car Cleaning – Armor All 2.5 Gallon Utility Vac

Important Specs:

6-foot hose
10-foot cord
2 horsepower motor
Auto shut-off
2.5 gallon storage tank

The Pros
  • Very good suction
  • Good variety of attachments
  • Small and light
  • Hose snaps in around the body
  • Tools all can be attached to the body
  • Easy to store
  • The top easily releases to dump the canister and cleans the filter
  • Not uncomfortably loud
The Cons
  • The 10′ power cord is slightly short

Since there’s usually better offers for the price we don’t recommend too many products made by armor all, but this one is an exception. For its Best Wet Dry Vac For Car Cleaning - Armor All AA225cost and size, this tiny vacuum is actually a commendably decent wet/dry vac, comfy for car cleaning.

It’s light enough for carrying to and from your vehicle and compact enough for moving around easily when doing work in your car.

You’ll 100% need an extension cord though since this model cord is laughably short. It’d be hard to clean your car without getting a bit mad even if you were doing it while parked in your garage.

For regular housework, this vacuum’s not what you’re looking for, but for cleaning up your car it’s definitely not a bad choice.


Mobility, Power, Accessories, like upholstery brushes and crevice tools – keep these things in mind and consider them before you purchase your wet/dry vac so you don’t end up disappointed with your purchase.

You can use a vacuum for more than cleaning your car, of course, so you should consider spending a bit more and getting a good quality model that will last and work for more than just your car. The Rigid VAC4010 is great for house, garage, and car use + it won’t leave too big of a hole in your pocket.

No matter what you end up going for, remember the importance of using accessories, they’re there for a reason. They’ll make your life easier and save you a lot of time, a lot more than you’ll use swapping between them. 100%. Also, remember to clean your car thoroughly, or otherwise what’s the point?

Thanks for reading, and happy cleaning!

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