The best vacuum for auto detailing is one of the first things people look for when getting started. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a detailing business or you just want to keep your personal vehicle neat and tidy, you’re going to need a good vacuum.
Any popular wet/dry vacuum can technically get the job done. There are a few factors that will decide whether a vacuum is really great for auto detailing though. Suction, size, shape, and available accessories are all important to consider. That’s why my pick (and many others) is the Ridgid WD4070.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money or buy a vacuum specifically made for cleaning your car. This Ridgid vacuum can be purchased at many local stores or here online. It’s easy to maneuver, has plenty of power, and won’t break the bank.
Why is the Ridgid WD4070 so popular for auto detailing?
It’s quite possible that you’ll see a mobile detailer pull this vacuum out of their rig when they arrive on site. There’s a good reason for that – it simply works well. This vacuum is priced at an enthusiast level, but can absolutely handle professional use.
The WD4070 has plenty of suction for cleaning vehicles. It’s important to know that no vacuum can handle every aspect of interior cleaning by itself with no technique involved. This isn’t a carpet extractor or a steam cleaner. But with the right technique, I believe you can avoid needing either of those machines for 90% of interior detailing tasks.
As long as you take care of your vehicle, you shouldn’t need more than a vacuum, some brushes, and an all-purpose cleaner. Perhaps I’ll explain those strategies further in a future post. For now, let’s stick to the vacuum itself.
The 4 gallon capacity is more than enough for detailing cars. This isn’t something you need to worry about. As long as you empty it out and clean the filter periodically, you’ll never have an issue.
This vacuum has a 5 peak hp rating. To be honest, I chose it based on its popularity among other people who do what I do. I didn’t spend hours going over and comparing specs. Apparently, there’s a certain level of conspiracy over horsepower ratings on vacuums anyways.
All I can tell you is that this thing sucks. (see what I did there?)
This vacuum takes up very little space whether you’re traveling with it in your vehicle or keeping it in your garage at home. Its small size combined with its large handle and light weight make it very easy to grab and go.
Out of the box, the WD4070 is set up for general use as opposed to car detailing. It’s got a 20 foot long power chord which is really nice. There have been times where I haven’t even needed an extension chord thanks to this. It also has a small storage bin on the end that you can use to hold accessories.
Vacuum accessories for auto detailing
Speaking of accessories, there are a few of them that I highly recommend if you’ll be using it for car detailing. These aren’t absolutely required, but they’ll make your life a lot easier.
First and foremost is a crevice tool like this one. This isn’t included with the vacuum itself and is needed to fit down between car seats and other tight areas. This is cheap to buy and will make all the difference in being able to reach every corner of your interior.
Higher quality hose
Another important accessory is a professional grade hose. My only real complaint about this vacuum is the plastic hose that it comes with. I’d heard other people talk about the downsides of the stock hose, but didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
I was wrong.
After fighting with the original hose like the Crocodile Hunter for a few months, I finally caved and bought the Ridgid VT2570 pro-grade hose. The difference was night and day.
I no longer have to worry about pulling the hose too hard and dragging the vacuum into the side of a vehicle. It flexes and moves much more naturally and completely changes the user experience. Knowing what I know now, I’d recommend skipping the stress and upgrading to this hose right away.
Rubber pet hair brush
If you don’t have any animals, this might not be very important to you. If you do, it will really help to pick up that hair. You can use a pet hair brush like this one to gather the hair into bigger clumps that the vacuum can suck up easier later on. A squeegee or even a rubber glove will also work well depending on the size of the area you’re working on.
Small, soft-bristled detailing brush
I find a small detailing brush like this one comes in really handy for reaching dirt in the cracks of dashboards, center consoles, and gear shifts. These areas are hard to reach with a just a towel, so using a brush in one hand and the vacuum nozzle in the other is a great way to break the dirt loose and suck it up simultaneously.
Warranty for Ridgid vacuums
The final selling point of this vacuum is Ridgid’s lifetime warranty. I love any company that stands confidently behind their product. I don’t have any concerns about the reliability of the WD4070, but it’s nice to know that I’m covered in the event that something does go wrong.
I’ve used this vacuum on some pretty gnarly interiors (or as some customers in the detailing world put it: “not too bad!“) and I’ve never felt like I needed more power. It’s hard to go wrong with this one thanks to its relatively low price and excellent performance. The addition of the accessories I mentioned make this a great choice for auto detailing.
- Great price
- Perfect size
- Lifetime warranty
- Plenty of power
- Long power chord
- Stock hose isn’t great
- Extra accessories needed for optimal use
- I’m not crazy about the orange accents
Tips for vacuuming your car interior:
- Sometimes using a stiff bristled brush to agitate the dirt free from the carpet fibers before vacuuming will save time.
- A small detailing brush in one hand with the vacuum nozzle in the other is a great way to pull dirt out of hard to reach areas.
- For exceptionally dirty interiors, try opening all of the doors and using compressed air to blow as much dirt out of the vehicle before vacuuming. This works really well for getting junk out from under the seats that you might have missed otherwise.
- If you’re using the crevice tool on your seats (and you should be!), always inspect its edges first. If there’s any burrs or rough patches in the plastic, it could potentially rip your seat. You can file down any rough areas easily before using it to avoid any damage.
Tim is the creator of Canadian Gearhead. His experience with auto detailing and working for Toyota shows through all of the articles posted here. He runs the Canadian Gearhead site and YouTube channel full-time now and currently owns a 2007 4runner, 2006 Tacoma, and 1991 MR2. Read more about Tim: