Your home on wheels typically gets dirty much more quickly than your house. Unless in the case of extreme temperatures, most campers would want to keep the windows and doors open so that the interior feels more airy and less claustrophobic. This will welcome dust, pollen and small tree branches, not to mention the many pairs of muddy feet coming in and out all the time, plus pet hair.
While a broom and dustpan will not sweep everything out, the fastest, most effective and convenient way to always keep your home on wheels clean is to invest in the best RV vacuum cleaner that is small and lightweight but powerful enough.
The market for compact vacuum cleaners for RV use is quite vast and diverse, with several different types, each with hundreds of models. And while it’s easy to judge how small and lightweight a certain unit is, not all of them deliver when it comes to cleaning power and durability.
But worry not, as we – RVingTrends.com – have narrowed down on those with the most well-rounded features and best reviews, and tested them to handpick the best performers. This list of the 10 best RV vacuum cleaners includes all types of RV vacuum, with something for every wallet and camping setting or need: corded, cordless, handheld, built-in central vacuum, extra mobile, extra powerful, and those specifically designed for cleaning pet hair and wet messes.
You will also find all the crucial information in order to make a worthy investment for your motorhome, including a comparison of different types of RV vacuum cleaners, buying criteria, and answers to frequently asked questions.
If you’re in a hurry, take a look at this quick list of our top picks for the best RV vacuum or continue scrolling to check on our full list with in-depth reviews.
|No||Top Rated RV Vacuums||Prices||Our Ratings|
|1||BLACK+DECKER BDH2000PL Max||$$||*****|
|2||Shark HV302 Rocket Pet Corded||$$$||*****|
|3||HP Products 9880 Dirt Devil Central Vacuum System||$$$||*****|
|4||Shark ION F80 Lightweight Cordless||$$$$||****|
|5||Bissell Crosswave 2306A Pet Pro||$$$||****|
|6||Eureka Blaze NES210||$||***|
|7||Shark WV201 WANDVAC||$$||****|
|8||Bissell 2033 Featherweight||$||****|
|9||Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal Lightweight Cordless||$$$$$||*****|
|10||BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L dustbuster AdvancedClean||$||****|
RV Vacuum Cleaners: Why You Need One?
What It Is
In addition to the bulky, heavy and powerful carpet vacuum cleaners that many households own, you might be aware of the tiny and lightweight portable vacuum cleaners that you can comfortably hold in one hand to clean the interior of your car.
Being designed for easy maneuvering within the limited space typical of recreational vehicles and also for easy storage, vacuum cleaners for RV use are typically portable. They include, but not limited to, the latter type of handheld units often used for cleaning the inside of your cars.
An RV is a hybrid between your regular family commuter and your home, and can come in a wide range of sizes, so you can expect to see a variety of vacuum cleaners for RV in terms of size, weight, power and other properties.
Each type offers a unique set of pros and cons, so the best vacuum for RV in your case really depends on the size of your travel trailer, how quickly it gets dirty, your preference with regards to storage and more.
Further down below, you’ll see a comparison of the different types of RV vacuum with regards to the crucial properties to compare and device for yourself which type would be most suitable for your circumstances.
Why You Need One
Instant on-demand cleanup: While an RV typically gets dirty very quickly, having a compact and portable vacuum cleaner stored in an easy-to-grab place will help you instantly clean up whenever a mess is made or whenever you see a dirty spot. This can prompt you to keep the state of your home on wheels in check more regularly, instead of only cleaning on schedule and having to live in a dirty rig in between.
Maintaining a livable home on wheels: Part of fully enjoying the RV life and indulging in the magnificent outdoors involves a lot of dirt and mud and other particles of nature, but returning to a messy, dirty rig after a day out can be mood-dampening. A home on wheels is the same as your home; you need to regularly maintain it to enjoy a clean, healthy and comfortable living environment.
Avoid respiratory problems and seasonal allergies: Breathing in dusty air can aggravate respiratory problems in many people. Furthermore, not only dust but pollen can also easily find their way into your motorhome, triggering seasonal allergies. Having the best RV vacuum cleaner around for fuss-free quick cleaning sessions will make sure you breathe in fresh, uncontaminated air and this will keep you healthier.
Versatile use in different settings: You will get a lot of use out of your RV vacuum cleaner, especially if you get the most compact and lightweight unit that can be easily stored and maneuverable in a tight space. For instance, with a small handheld vacuum cleaner, you can conveniently use it to clean the interior of your family car. In the off season, when you’re not using it in your rig, you can use it for the tight corners in your home or high-traffic areas that need constant tidying up, like in the kitchen.
How RV Vacuum Cleaners Work
The principle behind an RV vacuum cleaner’s operating mechanism is negative air pressure. It’s in essence similar to the way you take a sip of drink through a straw.
The action of sucking the straw creates a negative air pressure inside the straw, or in other words, the air pressure inside the straw is lower than the pressure of the ambient air, allowing the drink to be sucked up the straw.
A vacuum cleaner uses the same principle of producing negative air pressure inside a tube to suck up dust and other debris.
A vacuum cleaner of any type would have an electric motor, which spins a fan to create negative pressure inside a tube or passageway. This sucks in air and anything that is caught up in it, including dust, hair and any small and lightweight particles or objects. Everything that comes in must come out.
The air and all contaminants exit out the other side of the tube and into a canister or bag, which you must empty regularly, ideally after every cleaning session to ensure optimal suction power.
Such a canister or bag can only hold a fixed amount of air at any given time. This means a vacuum cleaner must have an exhaust port to push the air out the other side so that the motor can operate without interruptions.
Since the dust-collecting compartment cannot trap 100% of the sucked up contaminants, there must be other means to trap as much dust and trash as possible so that only clean air is vented out. Otherwise, you will be breathing in concentrated dusty air as you’re vacuuming away, and your RV will never be clean as part of the dust is always released back out. To ensure this, the air is passed through at least one fine filter and often one High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filter before reaching the dust-collecting compartment or bag.
The best RV vacuum cleaner units often boast more filters and high performance, durable ones at that. The non-HEPA filters can be very gently and quickly rinsed with soap and water periodically, but not indefinitely. Based on an average cleaning schedule, a regular fine filter can last anywhere between 2 years and 3 years. Meanwhile, a HEPA filter should not get wet at all, and requires more frequent replacement than non-HEPA filters. You can use an old toothbrush to clean your vacuum filters whenever they have heavy clumps of dirt upon inspection.
10 Best RV Vacuum Cleaners: In-Depth Reviews
If you are familiar with the many types of vacuum cleaners for RVs, or if you have a basic understanding of the types used in residential homes, you might dive right into this review of the 10 best vacuum cleaner for RV and pick out the one that best suits your wallet and needs.
Otherwise, to make an informed decision with minimal confusion, you really should head to the next section to learn the unique pros and cons of the various types of RV vacuums. You will see that there is more than one way to categorize this device, and the implications that come with each type means that the best RV vacuum for you directly depends on many factors, including how big your RV is, how quickly it gets dirty, and how and how often you want to carry on your cleaning sessions.
1. Best Handheld Vac: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Handheld Vacuum BDH2000PL
At a glance:
- Suction Power: 35 AW
- Cleaning path width: 6.8 inches
- Battery life: 15 minutes
- Battery: Lithium ion
- Dust collecting capacity: 15 ounces
- Replacement Filters: PFV110, washable
- Accessories: broad brush, extendable crevice tool
- Specified for: Hard floor, carpets, upholstery
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Notable features: 200° pivoting nozzle, high-performance motor, 20V MAX* lithium ion battery, cyclonic action, upright charging station
- Warranty: 2 year limited warranty
Why we love it:
When I saw this unit’s 4.5 stars overall rating from almost 21,000 buyers on Amazon, I just had to check it out. And I agree with the reviews. If you already have an upright or stick model as the primary vacuum for cleaning the floor, this compact yet powerful handheld vacuum would be the perfect secondary/maintenance unit for high-traffic areas in your RV.
The first thing I like about this model is that it has a larger cleaning path than the majority of handheld vacuums I’ve seen. Also, the foldable, 200° pivoting nozzle adjusts to clean hard-to-reach places like the tops of shelves or under couches, which I find is also quite rare for vacuums of this category. It offers 35 air watts of suction, and it really delivers impressive power for its size with the cyclonic 3-stage filtration system coupling with the small intake port. Unless you’re trying to clean really fine dust, this little machine is super efficient in picking up dry messes. Weighing only 3 pounds, anyone can comfortably maneuver it in one hand.
This unit comes with an advanced 20-volt lithium ion battery which means it’ll last longer and hold its charge better. The battery will last you around 15 minutes, which is quite long when you’re talking about the handheld type, and I haven’t noticed any shortening in battery life over time. Buyers who have owned this vacuum for at least 3 years also noticed minimal degradation in this regard. The upright charging base provides convenient, compact wall or tabletop charging and accessory storage. I also noticed minimal power fade throughout the charge cycle; the unit still performs well even when it’s close to needing a charge.
The 15-oz dirt canister features a side door for easy disposal and the washable filter are easily removable for quick rinsing right in the sink. Another notable and thoughtful feature is a rubber flap that keeps dirt from falling back out from the bin, which is an improvement from the previous design. Black + Decker is a prestigious brand that listens to its customers to continuously improve its products, and this is proof.
There’s nothing that I don’t like about this handheld vacuum. Overall, it is small but substantial and solid, easy to hold and maneuver, easy to clean, store and maintain, and is pleasantly powerful for its size. Perhaps the only negative is that it does not come with any accessories for picking up pet hair, but that’s not a job you should expect any handheld vacuum to handle anyway. If you’re looking for a fuss-free maintenance vacuum for quick cleaning jobs in high-traffic areas like the kitchen and hard-to-reach corners in your small rig, this Black + Decker is definitely the best RV vacuum for the money.
2. Best Stick Vac: Shark HV302 Rocket Pet Corded Stick Vacuum
At a glance:
- Motor rating: 600W
- Cleaning path width: 8.5 inches
- Dirt collecting capacity: 38 ounces
- Replacement Filters: HEPA
- Cord length: 30 feet
- Accessories: precision duster, pet multi-tool, 12” crevice tool, home and car detail kit
- Specified for: hard floor, carpet, stairs, furniture and upholstery, above floor surfaces
- Weight: 8.2 pounds
- Notable features: Swivel steering, conversion to handheld vacuum, LED headlights
- Warranty: 5 year limited warranty, 60-day money back guarantee
Why we love it:
This is one of the best selling stick vacuum on Amazon, having amassed a 4.6 stars rating from almost 11,000 buyers with raving reviews. Overall, this unit is functional in every aspect, and when it comes to suction, it is by far the most powerful model I have ever tried in the stick category. In action, the suction is no joke. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much this unassuming vacuum can pick up with just one roll. The manufacturer does not specify the Air Watt rating, but the motor rating is 600W, which is massive, and the more powerful the motor is, the stronger its suction. Ample reviewers have been using this model as their only primary vacuum for cleaning floors in their rigs for years, so this is another piece of evidence that this compact vacuum is powerful enough.
In terms of cleaning performance, this unit also delivers beyond expectation when it comes to picking up stubborn embedded pet hair on all surfaces and in hard-to-reach areas. Fingertip controls allow you to easily switch from Hard Floor to Carpet mode. Hands down the best RV vacuum cleaners in the stick category, and especially so if you travel with your four-legged friends. This model is true to its name. The 38-ounce dustbin allows you to finish cleaning the whole RV before having to empty.
Shark is a leading innovator in the industry of RV vacuums. It’s clear a lot of thoughts went into the design of the Rocket Pet. First is the wivel cleaning head for excellent control and a low-profile design for under-furniture reach. Next, which is very rare, is the powerful LED lights on the handheld vacuum and nozzle that reveal hidden debris and pet hair around your rig.
Usually, a stick vacuum this powerful should be bulkier and heavier, but this Rocket Pet is very compact, easy to handle and weighs only 8.2lbs. This weight allows this corded stick vacuum to convert to a cordless handheld vacuum to take your cleaning above the floor, stairs, furniture and upholstery, as well as to access hard-to-reach and high above areas. When plugged in, the 30-feet cord allows you to change rooms without having to disconnect.
Included in the kit are Home & Car Detail Kit Micro, 12” crevice tool and precision duster to clean the tiniest of spaces, plus a specialized pet multi-tool designed to capture embedded pet hair on all surfaces. You have two storage options: easily hang the handheld vacuum from the hook on the bottom of the wand or attach it to its dedicated wall mount.
3. Best Central Vac System: HP Products 9880 Dirt Devil Central Vacuum System
At a glance:
- Suction Power: 501 AW
- Dust collecting capacity: 1 gallon
- Replacement filters: HEPA
- Accessories: 7′ to 35′ expandable length hose, 10″ rug/floor tool, upholstery tool, dusting brush, crevice tools and mesh tool bag
- Specified for: Hard floor, carpet, upholstery
- Weight: 14 pounds
- Warranty: 5 year limited warranty
Why we love it:
If you don’t like the prospect of pulling out a bulky vacuum from its storage space and putting it back every now and then, a central vacuum system can be the perfect solution. And this Dirt Devil central vacuum from HP Products is perfect in every way. It’s rare to find an RV vacuum with an almost perfect 4.8 stars rating on Amazon. And in action, it has proven to be a solidly built and thoughtfully engineered vacuum made for the road.
Its price is comparable with the best upright or stick vacuums out there, while its suction power is absolutely unmatched by any other model. Weighing only 14 pounds and having a compact design (dimensions 6.25″ x 7″ x 14.5″), it is by far the most powerful vacuum you can fit in a small RV.
Its rated 501 Air Watts is a steal for its price. Buyers who have owned these models for 3 years and more have not noticed any loss in power, which is also my case, and the manufacturer’s 5 years warranty should speak volume about this vacuum’s reliable performance. The more durable all-metal construction is built to withstand the beatings of off-road travel. When you decide to sell your RV, this central vacuum will add to your resale value.
The all-in-one package has everything you need for installation and the most efficient cleaning on different surfaces, including a 10″ rug/floor tool, an upholstery tool, a dusting brush and crevice tools. All you have to have is an electrical outlet to plug it into. The 7-feet hose can be expanded to 35 feet, which is even long enough to reach outside to vacuum your towing vehicle.
4. Best Cordless: Shark ION F80 Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum IF281
At a glance:
- Battery life: 80 minutes
- Battery: lithium ion batteries (two)
- Cleaning path: 8.6 inches
- Dust collecting capacity: 9.6 ounces
- Accessories: crevice tool
- Notable features: 2 removable batteries, Multiflex cleaning head, Duoclean technology with two brushrolls, LED lights on nozzles
- Specified for: Hard floors, carpet
- Weight: 8.5 pounds
- Warranty: 7 year limited warranty
Why we love it:
At almost $400, this Shark ION Lightweight MultiFLEX vacuum is one of the most expensive portable vacuums, especially in the cordless category. However, it is a great deal considering its well-rounded performance, and the fact that you’re getting the mobility of a cordless handheld vacuum while being able to clean the floor without bending down. This is the best RV vacuum cleaner if you prioritize versatility and a fuss-free cleaning experience.
Furthermore, this is a tried and true model in terms of reliability and lifespan, so if you divide the investment over the years, it’s actually not that pricey. Buyers who regularly use it in 5 years and more swear on its capacity to maintain its impressive suction power with negligible loss over time. It’s unmatched 7 year warranty should give you more assurance in this regard. Such is an extra long service life for a cordless vacuum, which is known to last much shorter than the conventional corded type.
This Shark ION incorporates many innovative features developed by Shark. What’s impressive about this model is its two removable lithium ion batteries, which means when both of them are fully charged, you get a total run time of 80 minutes, which is unheard of in the cordless vacuum arena. A notable feature that comes with this unit is the Duoclean technology with two brushrolls. Coupled with a decent-sized 8.6-inch cleaning path, this Duoclean powerhead is designed to pick up from large debris to very fine dust most efficiently without you having to go back and forth.
Like the Pet Rocket model above, this ION also transforms into a handheld vacuum at the push of a button so you can take your cleaning above the floor to countertops, cabinet tops, stairs and furniture. In addition, the MultiFLEX technology gives you the ability to bend the wand to easily clean hard-to-reach areas like under furniture. Overall, if you’re willing to pay, you will get good use out of this convenient cordless stick vacuum.
5. Best For Pet Hair: Bissell Crosswave 2306A Pet Pro All in One Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner and Mop
At a glance:
- Cleaning path: 12 inches
- Accessories: Two tangle-free brush rolls, two 8-oz Pet Multi-Surface with Febreze formulas, docking tray
- Cord length: 25 feet
- Warranty: 3 year limited warranty
- Specified for: tile, wood floors, carpet, laminate
- Weight: 17 pounds
Why we love it:
If you travel with pets, or if you’re tired of vacuuming and then mopping the floor, this Bissell Crosswave will be your best bet. You can trust nearly 20,000 Amazon buyers on this one. This wet and dry vacuum can clean up both wet and dry messes, including dust and other dry particles, spills, pet hair and fluids. In the wet mode, it will vacuum and wash your floor and carpet at the same time, using a tank containing water and an anti-odor cleaning solution. Anyone who has a pet knows how hard it is to scrub off pet messes, including dry waste, fluids and drools, and how bad your living space will smell if you didn’t clean it thoroughly.
This is definitely the best RV vacuum for picking up hair. Tested with hair length up to 8 inches, this vacuum is designed to minimize pet hair from wrapping around the brush roll and getting tangled while cleaning. Another thoughtful feature is the pet hair strainer that separates pet hair and other large debris from liquid to make emptying easier and avoid clogging your sink. This unit has a sizable cleaning path of 12 inches, allowing you to get more done faster.
The special Rinse and Clean Out Storage Tray helps you easily clean the machine out after use and store the brush rolls for next time. The kit includes two 8-oz Pet Multi-Surface with Febreze formulas that effectively eliminate pet odors. A few buyers complain about this solution leaving marks on their laminate floor, but this is only a rare case and it generally works perfectly on most surfaces.
6. Best For Cleaning Large Particles: Eureka Blaze NES210 Stick Vacuum Cleaner
At a glance:
- Cleaning path: 9.44 inches
- Motor rating: 2 amps
- Replacement filters: HEPA
- Specified for: hard floors, area rugs, low pile carpets
- Weight: 3.97 pounds
- Warranty: 1 year limited warranty
Why we love it:
This corded stick vacuum from Eureka is the best RV vacuum cleaner when it comes to picking up large dry particles. Eureka’s Capture nozzle picks up larger debris with ease unlike many other stick vacuums that snowplow them across the room. Available for $34, it is also one of the best deals out there. Weighing only 4 pounds, the Blaze is a super lightweight and easily maneuverable stick vacuum that allows you to comfortably vacuum the floor while standing upright. The nozzle and stick can also be detached from the unit, so that you can use it as a cordless handheld vacuum to clean above-floor surfaces and furniture.
In addition to small and large dry particles, this model is also highly effective in picking up pet hair. It delivers some decent suction power, and with the decently sized cleaning path of 9.44 inches, this might also make one of the best RV vacuum cleaners if you’re looking for something affordable but can do the job as the primary vacuum for your rig.
7. Best Lightweight Handheld Vac: Shark WV201 WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum
At a glance:
- Notable features: Charging base with onboard accessories storage
- Accessories: crevice tool, nozzle
- Warranty: 2 year warranty
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
Why we love it:
With more than 10,000 raving reviews on Amazon, the WV201 WANDVAC is another strong contender in the handheld vacuum category. If you own a small rig and want something extra compact and lightweight as a maintenance vacuum for quick cleanups, this unit will be the best RV vacuum for you. And I vow that this is hands down the sleekest looking handheld vacuum out there ever!
Normally you would want to store your vacuum out of sight, but both the unit itself and the charging dock are so modern and aesthetically pleasing you can store it anywhere close for grabs. The sleek charging dock with dual onboard accessories storage allows for quick access and fast charging, and you can conveniently store it on your kitchen countertop. It is sleek and ergonomic, and at only 1.4 pounds, it cannot get any easier maneuvering this vacuum around even in the tightest corners.
Although the price tag of $130 is certainly a bit expensive for a handheld vacuum, this unit delivers pretty impressive power for its size and weight. And buyers who have used this little vacuum for over 2 years generally have noticed minimal loss in suction power over time, so you get what you pay for. The kit comes with a nozzle and crevice tool for more versatility. Maintenance is simple with a detachable dust cup and easily removable filter housing.
8. Best Lightweight + Affordable Stick Vac: Bissell 2033 Featherweight Vacuum
At a glance:
- Dust collecting capacity: 22.6 ounces
- Accessories: crevice tool
- Weight: 5.8 pounds
- Specified for: Hard floors, stairs, carpets, furniture and upholstery
- Warranty: 1 year limited warranty
Why we love it:
This best seller from renowned maker Bissell no doubt offers the best value for money if you’re looking to spend less than $50 for a super lightweight stick vacuum. With an upright design, a featherlight weight, decent suction power and the included nozzle and crevice tool, this will be the ideal choice for the budget camper who needs a primary vacuum that can clean it all: the floor, carpets, stairs and above-floor surfaces and furniture.
9. Best Cordless Stick Vac: Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
At a glance:
- Battery life: 60 minutes
- Dust collecting capacity: 25.6 ounces
- Accessories: crevice tool, combination tool, mini motorized tool, mini soft dusting Brush
- Warranty: year limited warranty
- Weight: 5.86 pounds
Why we love it:
Usually, the more expensive a product is, the higher the expectations. In other words, buyers will tend to be more critical with pricey products, and the harder it is for a pricey product to get really good reviews. That is why it’s so impressive that this $600 vacuum, perhaps the most expensive cordless stick vacuum ever, has amassed a 4.5 stars rating from almost 5,000 buyers on Amazon.
And in action, it really is the best RV vacuum in all front, price aside: suction power that is effective in picking up even the finest dust, light weight for maneuverability the mobility of a cordless unit, the upright floor cleaning capacity of a stick unit, the versatility of a handheld unit, the 3 cleaning modes coupled with several accessories for different cleaning jobs, and a long battery life so that you can finish cleaning your extra large luxury rig in one go.
Dyson’s known for its Advanced Whole Machine Filtration that claims to capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. This Cyclone V10 really lives up to expectations, with the ability to pick up fine dust on hard surfaces and dig deep into carpet to remove ground-in dirt. The kit comes with 4 attachments for different cleaning jobs, including the mini-motorized tool for removing pet hair and dirt from carpet and upholstery. Another thoughtful design is that this vacuum drops into the wall-mounted dock, which keeps it off the ground and tucked away but still easily accessible.
10. BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L dustbuster AdvancedClean Cordless Handheld Vacuum
At a glance:
- Notable features: 180° rotating slim nozzle, flip-up brush
- Battery: lithium ion
- Filter replacement: washable cloth filters
- Accessories: crevice tool, brush tool
- Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Warranty: 2 year limited warranty
Why we love it:
BLACK + DECKER nails another best selling handheld vacuum with this dustbuster AdvancedClean, which has amassed raving reviews from over 70,000 buyers on Amazon alone. This is one of the best RV vacuum cleaners for the budget campers with a small rig. At only 2.6 pounds, this vacuum is easily maneuverable, and although it’s small, it packs a punch in terms of suction power. Plus, it’s designed to take on multiple cleaning tasks: the 180° rotating slim nozzle allows you to get to all the nooks and crannies in your rig, while the flip-up brush is effective in picking up pet hair and in cleaning upholstery.
The lithium ion battery delivers decent run time and fast charging time, and it can hold a charge for up to 18 hours. When it’s low on battery, you do lose a bit of suction power, but you can get at least 12 hours of use for sure. There are only two things to complain about this functional unit. One is that I find it noisier than the other handheld units in this list. Second is that this vacuum does not come with the better HEPA filters but cloth filters. That said, washing the filters is easy, and replacement is cheap.
Types of Vacuum for RV
There is more than one way to categorize RV vacuum cleaners. On the highest level, RV vacuum cleaners can be classified into either a permanent central system or a portable unit. The portable category is much more common, and encompasses several types. Portable units can either be corded or cordless, and each of this category includes quite a few sub-types.
Each type of RV vacuum cleaners can be ideal for certain cleaning jobs and preferences. As there are an increasing number of increasingly affordable but functional models on the market, it’s very common for an RVer to own more than one portable vacuum cleaner to clean their home on wheels as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
RV Central Vacuum System vs Portable Vacuum Cleaner
Central vacuum systems: There are actually quite many models of luxury motorhomes that come standard with a central vacuum system. These systems are built permanently into your rig, and have one outlet to connect the vacuum hose, which means you won’t be dealing with a heavy and bulky vacuum when cleaning your large-sized motorhomes. Central vacuum systems are used in residential homes and sail boats, and you can find plenty of models specifically designed for recreational vehicles. Such a system will have a long enough hose to reach the entire length of your trailer, plus every nook and cranny.
For extra long RVs, you can easily purchase extensions, alongside with other attachments and accessories to stretch the entire length of your interior. That said, this means that despite being neat and out of the way, you might need storage space for the bulky attachments that come with your chosen central vacuum system.
Central vacuum systems use bags to collect dust. To make sure your central vacuum always maintains optimal suction power, you will need to replace these bags regularly due to their limited capacity. However, this principle is the same for every type of vacuum cleaner.
Portable vacuum cleaners: A central vacuum system is built permanently, and this means you won’t be able to bring it to your next RV, or keep it when you sell your RV or use it in your home, garage or car in the off season. Furthermore, when it comes to repairs and replacement, you might need professional help; it’s not as easy as buying another portable vacuum cleaner. For this reason, in most cases, where the best RV vacuum cleaners are concerned, you’ll be talking about portable units. Being either corded or cordless, these units can be moved around, can be used to clean your car and other spaces, can be easily inspected and replaced, plus you can keep them.
A portable vacuum cleaner is either plugged in with cords or runs on battery, thus cordless and thus more flexible. This distinction comes with unique pros and cons for both types, and which one is the best RV vacuum cleaner for you really depends on how big your rig is, the design of the interior, whether it comes with a lot of carpets, how often you clean and the way you want to carry out your cleaning sessions.
Whether it’s in your home or your home on wheels, it’s very common to own one corded unit plus one cordless unit to handle different cleaning jobs most efficiently, which is true in my case. Below is a comparison of corded and cordless units, and I will also assess the pros and cons of the various subtypes of each.
Corded vs Cordless Vacuum Cleaners
|Corded Vacuum||Cordless Vacuum|
|Ideal for||Large RVs with carpets, or those that get dirty quickly (e.g. with pets and kids)||Smaller RVs, or those that require constant quick cleanups in certain areas|
|Mobility||Larger, heavier, harder to maneuver, limited by cord length and locations of power outlets||Compact and lightweight, can carry around anywhere|
|Power||More powerful||Less powerful|
|Battery life||Plugged in, not limited by battery life||Range anywhere from 7 to 40 minutes|
|Dust collecting capacity||About 2 liters to 3 liters||Less than 1 liter|
Corded Vacuum Cleaners
What it’s best for: Despite losing to their cordless counterparts in terms of mobility, corded units no doubt triumph when it comes to suction power. If you own a large motorhome with lots of carpets that needs thorough cleanings, or if you travel with pets, kids and many companions so that your RV gets very dirty quickly, the best RV vacuum cleaner in this case would be a corded model. As noted, you might need an extra cordless unit to quickly and constantly clean up dry messes in the kitchen, for instance.
Mobility: Corded models need to be plugged in. This comes with several implications, one of which is you might need to unplug and replug it into different outlets as you go over the entire length of your RV. You’ll need to keep the cord out of the way, and the cord will get dirty after a while. Since this type of RV vacuum cleaners are designed for maximum power, it’s understandable that they tend to be bulky and heavy, unlike the cordless type, so maneuvering such a unit is only feasible inside the more spacious RVs. A corded unit typically weighs at least 12kg or 26lbs. Therefore, pulling such a heavy vacuum out of its storage place cannot be said to be a piece of cake. All these mean that they are meant for scheduled thorough cleaning sessions instead of quick cleaning up of, say, kitchen messes.
Power: The fact that a corded unit is plugged into a power outlet means that this type is more powerful than its cordless counterparts. Corded units are the best RV vacuum cleaners when you have a large space that gets dirty easily and thus each cleaning session needs to be thorough, like in the case of large luxury RVs with carpets, especially those with kids and pets around.
Battery life: Being plugged in means you’re not limited by the battery life of your unit and can vacuum away for as long as you need to. This makes them ideal for large motorhomes that take a longer time to really deep clean.
Dust collecting capacity: Designed for larger spaces, corded vacuum cleaners typically have larger dust collecting canisters to allow for longer cleaning sessions. They usually hold about 2 liters to 3 liters in their canisters, thus you will be emptying them less often than with a compact cordless model.
Types of Cordless Vacuum Cleaners
Upright or canister vacuums: This is the most common type of corded vacuum cleaners. They are commonly used in residential homes as well as large luxury RVs due to their superior suction power and their bulky, heavy body. They feature an upright large canister for collecting dust, hence the name, although in most cases the body of the vacuum can be released from this upright position for easy maneuvering around the space.
Most upright vacuum cleaners weigh more than 15kg or 30lbs. Pulling such a big and heavy vacuum cleaner around a large rig might not be a pleasant chore for a frail arm, but their bigger size also means that they typically have a wider cleaning path than the more compact cordless models. In short, you will clean more efficiently, albeit the strain on your arm and wrist.
The “upright” in the name also comes from the fact that this type of vacuum cleaner is designed to allow you to do your chore without bending down. Another plus is superior suction power. On the downside, an upright vacuum cleaner is both big and tall, so it might take up a half to two thirds of your full-length closet in case you want to store them out of sight.
Wet and dry vacuums: This is a variation of the upright vacuum above, as it also comes with a design that allows you to clean while standing upright when cleaning the floor. What’s special about them is that in addition to dry contaminants like dust and hair, they can also pick up wet messes like liquid spills or your pet’s unwanted fluids.
Stick vacuums: Stick vacuum can either be corded or cordless, but cordless stick models are becoming more popular, due to the need for something between the most powerful but least mobile corded upright vacuum and the least powerful but most mobile cordless handheld type. This type also allows you to vacuum the floor while standing upright, but it is much lighter and more compact than a conventional upright vacuum. More on this later in the cordless vacuums section.
Steam vacuums: A steam vacuum is much less common in an RV setting and more likely found in the homes, but many campers who are extra hygiene-conscious do own them for use in both their homes and their rigs. They produce hot steam and couple it with soap to deep clean carpet, sofas and chairs with fabric upholstery and curtains. Using a steam vacuum is much more convenient than having your carpet or curtains washed in a shop, and since it uses boiling hot steam, whatever is steamed will dry pretty quickly.
Cordless Vacuum Cleaners
What it’s best for: While a corded vacuum cleaner sacrifices mobility for power, it’s the opposite for cordless models. They are more portable and maneuverable, thus they make the best RV vacuum for small rigs without carpet and kids or any four-legged buddy, which does not require as much cleaning.
Mobility: As cordless models run on battery, you won’t have to mind the length of the cable or keeping the cable from getting tangled with the furniture or having to disconnect and reconnect every time you clean a different room.
Furthermore, a cordless vacuum cleaner for RV is super compact and lightweight, with many models designed to be used comfortably with one hand only. While the average weight being only around 3kg or 7lbs, you can find many handheld models weighing around only 1.5kg or 3.3lbs, so you can easily use one hand to vacuum the tightest nooks and crannies in your rig. The most compact and lightweight cordless vacuum cleaners are ideal for quick spot clean like spilled cereals in the kitchen or quick maintenance clean before the guests arrive, as well as for use in your passenger car.
Power: Cordless vacuum cleaners cannot compare with the corded type when it comes to power. That said, I find the cordless models in this list are all surprisingly powerful for their size. One downside in this regard is most cordless units on the market will start to lose suction power over time. While corded models maintain their suction power for much longer, the lifespan of a cordless model is limited; sometimes a model might become noticeably weaker after only a year or two. So there is a tradeoff: a corded unit might be a few times more expensive but will last a few times longer than a cordless unit.
Battery life: Cordless vacuums for RV are powered by batteries. The battery life is typically limited to anywhere from 7 to 35 minutes, and this type of vacuum can take anywhere from 2 to 15 hours to reach full charge.
This means you won’t be able to finish cleaning a large motorhome with a cordless unit without having to stop midway to charge the battery. The best RV vacuum of this type should come with two removable batteries, so that you can keep one charged while using your vacuum. Two removable batteries also allow you to use your unit on short boondocking trips when both batteries are fully charged.
This means that an important consideration when looking for the best RV vacuum of this type is long battery life and fast charging time. Look for those that use lower voltage batteries or ideally high voltage lithium ion batteries, which should deliver a longer run time so you can vacuum for longer. The best cordless vacuums usually have a regular mode and an extra powerful turbo mode, which naturally use up more battery power.
Dust collecting capacity: Cordless vacuums typically come with an extra compact canister for collecting dust. The average capacity is about 0.5 to 0.6 liter, so they typically need to be emptied after each cleaning session for optimal suction power. In addition, you need to unclog the filters regularly for maximum performance and minimal noise.
Types of Cordless Vacuum Cleaners
The most common types of cordless vacuum cleaners these days are stick and handheld units, but robotic vacuums have been gaining popularity, primarily as a backup vacuum for maintenance cleaning. You will need a more powerful vacuum for thorough deep cleaning, say, once a week, but a tiny robotic vacuum like the famous Roomba can be conveniently programmed to keep your rig clean in between your deep cleaning sessions without you having to lift a finger.
It’s not uncommon to see an upright vacuum plus a handheld vacuum and a robotic vacuum in an extra large luxury motorhome. Robotic vacuums are immensely popular with campers who travel with pets and kids who need more time tending to their more clumsy companions.
In terms of compactness and mobility as well as versatility, the best small vacuum for RV is agreed to be handheld vacuum. This type is also commonly used to clean the inside of family cars as well as the most high-traffic areas of a home, like the kitchen. These models are so small, short and lightweight that they often can be comfortably held in one hand to maneuver around tight corners and hard-to-reach places.
However, as with every small-sized equipements, this type of vacuum must sacrifice suction power for mobility. Handheld vacuums are effective in cleaning up bigger messes like dirt and hair/lint clumps and cereal spills, but they do not perform as well when it comes to fine dust and hair.
Realistically, handheld vacuums cannot be used to clean up a whole room or clean the floor. They are not powerful enough, plus they are too short, even with attachments, to allow you to clean the floor without bending or kneeling down.
However, they are perfect for instant quick cleanups, as they can be easily stored away in a discreet corner and easily be taken out, without you having to worry about dragging a power cord around and keeping it from tangling with the legs of furniture. This is why campers often own a handheld unit as a secondary maintenance-cleaning unit, in addition to a more powerful unit that will allow them to vacuum the floor while standing upright.
Handheld vacuums typically come with an internal canister that collects dust, which is extremely easy to open, usually by twisting the canister open or opening a door on the side or bottom of the unit.
A cordless stick vacuum cleaner is somewhere between a cordless handheld unit and a corded upright unit. While it is more compact, lightweight and mobile than an upright vacuum, it comes with a long wand and a cleaning head with a larger cleaning path than that of a handheld unit (this cleaning head resembles that of a corded unit).
This means you can vacuum the floor without having to bend or kneel down or having to go back and forth too many times. While a stick vacuum is not as powerful as a corded unit for sure, it is in most cases sufficient to clean up a whole RV.
A stick vacuum cleaner has been closing the performance gap with the powerful corded upright type. That said, it is not the best RV vacuum for extra large motorhomes with lots of carpets and the presence of pets who shed hair and young children who are quick to make a mess.
Choosing The Best RV Vacuums: Buying Criteria
After assessing your cleaning needs and preference or habits, you can start looking for the best RV vacuum cleaners while keeping in mind certain crucial factors below.
In the case of RV vacuum cleaners, it’s basically a trade off between cleaning power and mobility, and usually cleaning power goes hand in hand with lifespan, as the most powerful vacuum cleaners are often designed to last longer.
The most crucial aspect that determines the practical value of a vacuum is its suction power. That said, as we’re talking about the best RV vacuum, this needs to be put into context with regards to size and mobility as well. In any case though, the best RV vacuum cleaner would be one that is powerful enough so that it can pick up dust and particles efficiently without requiring multiple passes.
Air watts: A vacuum cleaner’s suction power is measured in air watts, or AW. Air watts is the amount of power used to suck a unit of air through the intake port. The higher the air watts, the higher the suction power of a unit.
Motor rating: You can also assess suction power based on motor rating: the higher the rating, generally the more powerful a vacuum is. However, it is very important that you dive deep into the reviews of any model to check if it really delivers what it promises in terms of power, and whether the unit can maintain that optimal suction after years of service. It’s natural for any type of vacuum cleaner to lose power over time, and there’s little you can do about it.
Intake port: The power of a vacuum is also affected by the size of the intake port, although this is often overlooked. The intake port is the part where dust and particles get sucked up, and the rule of thumb is with everything else being equal, a smaller intake port would create a stronger suction. This is because if the same amount of air is sucked in through a narrower entryway, it must move faster. This means that if you’re looking at two models with comparable motor rating, whichever has the smaller intake port will have a more powerful suction.
Size and Mobility
The most powerful vacuums are always the biggest and heaviest. Therefore, larger, more powerful units are ideal for large motorhomes that get more dirty, while more compact and maneuverable units are the best RV vacuum cleaners for smaller rigs.
In addition to maneuverability, you’ll need to think of where you can store your vacuum out of sight, since you would most likely thoroughly clean your rig once a week at most. You can have a corded unit tucked away for deep cleaning once a week, plus a stick, handheld or robotic vacuum for quick maintenance cleaning in between cleanups.
Handheld and robotic vacuums can be neatly tucked away anywhere, while stick vacuums take up a bit more space, and corded units will likely require a cabinet or full-length closet for storage. Meanwhile, central vacuum systems will need a dedicated space for permanent installation, plus an extra storage space to keep the many accessories and attachments that come with it.
Another reason why size is a crucial consideration is because larger units directly means a larger cleaning path, that is the width where the intake port touches the floor. A larger cleaning path means you get more done in the same amount of time, as you will need to go back and forth less in order to clean the entire floor in your motorhome.
Swivel head: The best RV vacuum cleaners with the most functional, thoughtful designs often feature a swivel head to easily reach every nook and corner in your rig as well as avoiding the legs of your furniture. A swivel head can be said to be an essential feature in a good vacuum cleaner for RVs.
Long wand: If you want a vacuum cleaner that will allow you to clean up small messes on the floor or clean the whole floor without ever bending down, make sure you read the product description and customer reviews to better make sure the wand of your chosen model is long enough for your height. The length of the wand will not vary too widely between models of the same type, but there are many models with extra long wands to choose from. A long wand will also enable you to clean spider webs up high, the top of tall cupboards and cabinets as well as cleaning curtains.
Attachments for versatility: Certain models come with extra attachments designed for different cleaning jobs. For instance, a handheld vacuum with an extra long wand attachment will help you reach under furniture, overhead surfaces and in tight corners, while those with a crevice tool and a dusting brush attachment will be the most effective in picking up various types of dry spills, from cereal to hair to spider webs. You will want a model with enough attachments to effectively clean hard surfaces and fabric upholstery or carpets alike, as well as vertical surfaces, the ceilings and baseboards.
Removable batteries: The battery life of cordless RV vacuum cleaners is generally shorter than desired, so sometimes you need to charge them right after a thorough cleaning session. There are units with removable batteries, which can be charged while the unit is being stored away.
Dust Collecting Capacity
Even the best RV vacuum cleaners would require regular emptying of the internal dust collecting canister or bags. Some do not mind emptying the canister every now and then, even once or twice during each cleaning session, but others might prefer to be able to finish vacuuming and then emptying the canister only once right after.
A vacuum’s collection capacity is usually measured in quarts, ounces, or gallons in the case of the large corded units. Of course, dust collecting capacity comes hand in hand with size, which must be traded off for mobility.
In general, RV central vacuum systems have the largest dust collecting capacity since they use bags, which only needs emptying once every few cleaning jobs. Meanwhile, the smallest stick and handheld vacuums might need to be emptied more than once during each cleaning session if you don’t want to lose suction power or having the unit automatically shut off. Robotic vacuums also have the smallest dust collecting capacity. That said, handheld and robotic models allow for the easiest emptying, often just by opening some doors or at the touch of a button or some twisting of parts.
If you like to go on boondocking trips without a solar system in place, you will need to keep in mind another factor in case your vacuum is a corded unit: power draw. This is because a corded unit needs to be plugged into the power outlet to stay powered instead of relying on battery like cordless models.
The average power draw of a typical corded vacuum is about 1.44 kWh. It is among the most power-hungry appliances in your RV, and it has a pretty high power draw upon starting (starting wattage). Of course, if you typically stay overnight at RV parks and campgrounds with hookups to shore power or if you have solar panels on your roof, this factor is less relevant.
Every vacuum cleaner on the market makes noise in use. Do note that in general, the more powerful a unit is, the stronger its motor is, and the louder this motor will be. This is something that you can only assess after spending some time diving deep into the reviews.
If this is a deal breaker for you but you don’t want to sacrifice power, look for units that claim to use special noise-reduction materials to minimize the noise level.
Also, remember to empty your dust collecting canister after every cleaning session as well as regularly unclog and replace your filters for both optimal power and minimal noise.
RV Vacuum Cleaner: FAQs
1. How long does an RV vacuum last?
Vacuum cleaners for RV can last anywhere between two and five years, with the very best RV vacuum units particularly in the corded category lasting up to eight years when properly used and cared for. When we talk about the lifespan of a vacuum cleaner, in most cases a unit meets the end of its life not when it is completely dead and nonfunctional but when it loses its suction power to the point that it makes more sense to replace it.
Another note is that while lifespan certainly varies among brands and models, how you maintain your unit plays a crucial role, including regular emptying of the dust collecting canister and regular cleaning or replacement of filters.
In general, corded vacuums usually last from 5 to 7 years, while cordless vacuums last from 3 to 5 years before you need to repair or replace an expensive part like the battery or cleaning head. The smallest handheld vacuums have the shortest lifespan, ranging from 2 to 3 years, but they are the cheapest to replace. In case the repair or replacement of a part costs more than half the price of a comparable new model, you’re much better off buying a whole new vacuum cleaner.
2. What are the best RV vacuum cleaner brands?
The market for residential and RV vacuums is ever expanding in size, design, features and technology. There are constantly new players as well as new models from established players.
The biggest names with the longest track record for producing the best RV vacuum cleaners of various types are no doubt Shark, BLACK+DECKER, BISSELL, Dyson, Miele, and Kenmore. Younger brands who have widely and firmly established their own footings in the industry include MOOSOO, ThisWorx, Vacmaster, EUREKA, ORFELD, Dirt Devil, HP Products, VonHaus, Makita, and more (these names are those whose vacuums I’m familiar with, and I’ve noticed many more with great ratings on Amazon that I haven’t had the chance to check out).
As for robotic vacuums, the most renowned makers are definitely Roomba, iRobot and Roborock.
Going with an esteemed maker is always a safe choice, as you will likely get the best customer service and warranty and you will have more reviews to base your decision on.
That said, particularly for cordless vacuums, as they are affordable, buyers are more willing to try out lesser known brands, and there are many models like that out there that receive ample positive reviews in terms of value for money. If the reviews are good, warranty is offered and all your criteria are met, feel free to pick a unit that’s not from a big brand.
3. Why is my RV vacuum cleaner losing power?
When your vacuum cleaner is losing power and if you notice that it’s also running with more noise, the most likely reason is that the filters have become clogged with dirt and other contaminants. When this happens, the vacuum has to work harder to create suction. This is a natural occurrence to all types of vacuum cleaners.
To avoid loss of power and noises, remember to unclog the filters regularly with a brush, then you can quickly and gently rinse it with soap and water.
Let it dry completely before putting it back. If doing so does not help and if you’ve owned your vacuum for a while, it might be time to replace your filter.