compact shop vac

How to Pick the Best Compact Shop Vacuum to Handle Your Mess

Think of vacuuming your car as more than just cleaning, but as an important piece of regular maintenance. Dirt and grime gets tracked into your car with every trip. As it builds up, the debris wears on the fabric fibers, leaving your interior looking sullied and shabby. With a compact shop vacuum (the most popular brand being Shop-Vac®) you can quickly clean your seats and carpet without having to make a trip to the car wash.

Not all shop vacuums are made the same; they range in size, power and features. To pick the Shop-Vac® for you, start by selecting the power and size that matches your needs. From there, narrow your selection down by looking at how easy the vacuum is to use and empty, and deciding what accessories you want for cleaning your vehicle.

What’s Your Level of Grime?

The strength of a shop vacuum is rated as horsepower. Compact units typically range from 2.0 to 6.5 horsepower — the higher the number, the stronger the suction.

If you do most of your driving on city streets and paved highways, a 2.5 to 4.5 horsepower shop vacuum should be strong enough to clean your vehicle. But if you regularly encounter mud or plan off-road adventures, look for a shop vacuum with at least 5.0 horsepower or higher. A unit that’s also rated highly for wet vacuuming can be helpful for handling spills and heavy-duty muck.A clean car interior

Where Will You Keep Your Shop Vacuum?

It’s important to think about your storage space when picking out a shop vacuum. This isn’t much of an issue if you have a large garage or extra room in the shed. But if you live in a city, chances are your storage space is limited. Look for a compact shop vacuum with a small footprint to easily tuck into tight spaces if this is the case.

The capacity of a shop vacuum is measured in gallons, with the most compact units starting at 1.5 gallons. Bulk and weight are also important considerations, particularly if you’ll be hauling your shop vacuum up flights of stairs. For easy moving, a shop vacuum under 5 gallons is large enough for most households. If you plan on vacuuming larger projects, a shop vacuum between 5 and 10 gallons offers a larger capacity while still remaining transportable.

What Accessories Do You Need?

Accessories can have an enormous impact on where you can reach and what you can suck up. With its ability to clean in between seats and pull dirt out of hard-to-reach places, a well-designed crevice tool is a must. Other popular accessories include a stiff brush, which helps loosen pet hair and caked-on mud, extensions to lengthen your hose and different types of filters.

Keeping your interior clean not only makes your ride’s inside sparkle, but will keep your car looking like you just drove it off the lot for years to come.

Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on finding the best compact shop vacuum for you, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

about author

Sarah Shelton

As a freelance automotive writer, I create articles, how-to guides, web content and white papers for online magazine site and automotive companies. I passionately believe that cars and motorcycles should be appreciated for the works of art they are, and fantasize about owning a white Ducati 899 Panigale to display in my living room. I am currently the Corvette expert at About.com, cover alternatively-fueled vehicles and technology at HybridCars.com, and hold the imaginary title of Formula One test driver on the back roads surrounding my Oregon home.

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