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If you’re like most people, you opted to buy an RV because you wanted the freedom that the open road could provide. So why are you stuck doing the same chores you had to do back at home? Unfortunately, vacuuming is right up there with death and taxes as an inescapable fact of life. That doesn’t mean that it has to be complete drudgery, though, and there are several RV vacuums on the market today that make cleaning up your living space less of a slog.
We compared 23 different vacuums to see which ones were suitable for use in an RV; after all, just because a vacuum works well in your home doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for life on the road. When comparing these different RV vacuums, we looked at factors like size, convenience, suction ability, and more.
We settled on 5 units that are up to the task. Our favorite was the Bissell Featherweight, but it’s far from the only choice out there. We can’t promise that any of the models on this list will make vacuuming fun, but they can hopefully make the chore suck a little less (or more, depending on how you look at it).
This affordable stick vacuum can do a little bit of everything, and it packs a surprising amount of wallop for such a lightweight machine
The Bissell Featherweight is our favorite vacuum for a variety of reasons; it’s simply a fantastic vacuum, regardless of whether you’re using it at home or your home on the road.
At under 3 pounds, it definitely lives up to its “featherweight” label, and you can lug it around without throwing your back out. Despite that, it’s surprisingly powerful; it can pick up pet hair, crumbs, and even digs in deep on thick carpet.
It’s equally well-suited for use on a variety of other surfaces. It can get cobwebs out of window sills, dirt off steps, and Cheetos dust off upholstery (don’t ask how it got there).
Transitioning between those different locations is a snap as well. The thing quickly converts from a stick to a hand vacuum, allowing you to get into nooks, crannies, and crevices with ease.
The RV vacuum is very quiet while in operation, and while we wouldn’t use it while your family’s asleep, it won’t blow your eardrums out either. You can use it with the TV on, for example.
The most surprising thing about this is that it does all this at an incredibly low price. It’s one of the most affordable stick RV vacuums on the market, and it just so happens to be the best we found.
That’s not to say it’s perfect, of course. The cord is frustratingly short, so you’ll have to stop and move from outlet to outlet periodically. It may also get snagged on all sorts of things if you have a cramped RV. Buying replacement filters can also be a challenge, as many stores don’t carry them, although they should be readily available at larger online retailers.
What I Liked
- Extremely lightweight at under 3 pounds
- Powerful enough to pick up pet hair
- Transitions to a hand vacuum in seconds
- Quiet while in use
- Extremely affordable
- Works well on a variety of surfaces
What I Didn’t Like
- Cord is annoyingly short
- Tracking down replacement filters can be challenging
This little machine comes in handy when cleaning up spills or other messes, although it’s not ideal for vehicles with lots of carpeting
If you don’t want to sacrifice a ton of space in your RV to a vacuum, this little dustbuster from BLACK+DECKER can do a lot of what a larger vacuum can do without ever getting in your way.
Make no mistake — if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, this thing isn’t going to be up to the task. However, for cleaning up little messes and taking care of small rugs, it’s hard to beat.
It works especially well on surfaces like tile or hardwood floors. It can get into thick shag carpeting as well, but again, don’t expect it to match what an upright can do.
One thing you’re going to have to make peace with, though, is the fact that the broad nozzle doesn’t get into crevices very well. It really needs some sort of attachment with a thinner head.
There’s a lithium-ion battery inside that holds a charge for up to 18 hours, so it will still work even if you forget to plug it in after every use. The effectiveness does die off a bit towards the end, but you can definitely get 12+ hours out of it, no problem.
When you do need to charge it, all you have to do is set it on the small little base, and it should be juiced up in around 4 hours or so. The batteries aren’t replaceable, though, so once it stops holding a charge, you’ll have to throw the entire thing out.
Maintenance isn’t an issue, either. The tip pops off when the canister is full, and all you have to do is dump it out in the nearest trash can. If dirt and debris starts to accumulate, the dirt bowl can be washed out in the sink.
It has a cloth filter, and you can just rinse it off if it gets especially filthy. If the dirt and grime are truly out of hand, though, replacing it is cheap and easy.
What I Liked
- Space-saving handheld model
- Holds a charge for up to 18 hours
- Recharges quickly
- Lid pops off for easy dumping
- Dirt bowl is washable
- Cloth filter can be rinsed off if needed
What I Didn’t Like
- Struggles to get into tight crevices
- Battery isn’t replaceable
This canister is a good option for someone who wants a more traditional vacuuming experience
The Eureka 3670M is a nice compromise for anyone who wants the power of a larger vacuum in a package small enough that it won’t dominate your entire vehicle.
The vacuum is on wheels, so it can move around without much effort on your part. At nearly 9 pounds, it’s bulkier than the other options on this list, but still lightweight compared to an upright model.
The suction is fantastic. It’s great at picking up pet hair, so things like dirt and crumbs don’t stand a chance. You’ll need to make sure that all your valuables are picked up before you get started, because this thing won’t hesitate to suck up earrings, your curtains, and even your little Chihuahua (kidding about the Chihuahua — we think).
The power cord is 20 feet long, so you should be able to vacuum your entire rig without ever having to stop and reposition the machine. It also comes with a pair of extension wands to give you a ton of flexibility, so you may not have to really move the canister at all.
It comes with your basic brush and crevice attachment, but the real star of the show is the blower port. When activated, it basically turns the machine into a leaf blower, allowing you to clean out big messes in a hurry. It makes tidying up the garage or cleaning up a messy campsite quick and easy.
As you might expect from a canister vacuum, it’s not bagless, which some users may like and others may hate. Emptying the bag is fairly painless, though, as is replacing it when the time comes.
While the Eureka was one of the most powerful RV vacuums we tried, it had some serious flaws as well. The attachments don’t always “click” into place, and so they come off with annoying frequency.
Also, just about every part of this thing is made of flimsy plastic. If you’re rough on equipment, you may find it’s not long until the hose cracks or the canister breaks. Barring accidents and mishaps, though, it should last quite a while.
What I Liked
- Some of the most powerful suction of any of the RV vacuums we tested
- Wheels make it easy to move around
- Blower port comes in handy when cleaning up big messes
- 20-foot cable and two hose extensions provide plenty of flexibility
- Bags are easy to dump and replace
What I Didn’t Like
- Parts feel a little flimsy
- Attachments come apart frequently
If you’re willing to put in a little more effort up-front, this might be the most convenient option on the list
The HP Products 9880 is a different beast than the others shown here. Rather than being a standalone vacuum, it’s a complete system that you actually have to install in your RV.
Right away, this has several positives and negatives associated with it. On the sunny side of the ledger, it’s extremely powerful, never in the way, and you’ll never forget it or leave it behind.
The downsides, of course, are that you have to install it — which will either drive up the costs (if you pay someone to do it) or ruin one of your Saturdays. It’s also a lot harder to replace if it breaks.
The hose expands from 7 feet all the way to 35, giving you plenty of freedom to move around. The hose itself is quite heavy, though, so you’ll still feel like you’re lugging around a larger vacuum while cleaning.
It has all the standard vacuum attachments as well, not to mention a handy little mesh bag to store them in (if you’re anything like me, you’ll lose the bag immediately).
The suction is top-notch and the system has a one-gallon capacity, so you won’t need to empty it too often. It comes with 3 bags, each of which has a HEPA filter inside, making the system great for neutralizing pet hair and dander.
Installation is fairly easy — provided you know what you’re doing, of course. It will likely require modifications to your vehicle, though.
What I Liked
- Extremely powerful suction
- Completely out of the way when stored
- Hose expands to 35 feet
- Bags have HEPA filters inside
- Large storage capacity
What I Didn’t Like
- Requires installation that may be expensive or difficult
- Hose is extremely heavy and cumbersome
You don’t have to worry about getting tangled up in this battery-powered model
The Stylus is an excellent stick vacuum, and really, its biggest sin is being not quite as good as the Bissell Featherweight. Unlike the Bissell, it’s cordless, which may make it more attractive to some people.
It offers 45 minutes of runtime, which should be more than enough to clean up an RV (and if it’s not, please invite me to your next party). The suction is strong and even throughout that runtime, and it has a “MAX power” mode that you can switch to if need be; be aware that the MAX setting really saps its juice, though.
While it’s a good overall vacuum, it’s the intelligent features that set it apart. Unlike many other stick vacuums, the dust cup is situated on the front, which allows you to completely lay the thing down when it’s time to get under furniture. It’s a small thing, but if it saves you from moving things around, it’s well worth it.
The stick has an easy-rest feature as well; there’s a nook that lets you prop it up on the nearest surface whenever you need a break. The thing only weighs 6 pounds, though, so it’s not like it’s a huge burden to hold onto.
You will need to rest it on something, though, as it has a tendency to fall over if you try to stand it up on its own. It does come with a wall mount, so you can keep it out of the way when you’re done with it.
There’s even an LED headlight that allows you to see in dark spaces or to vacuum late at night, if that’s your thing (on second thought, maybe don’t invite us to your parties). It does come in handy when vacuuming up glass, however.
You might want to keep looking if you travel with pets, though. The thing clogs very easily when faced with fur, so you’ll have to stop and clean it out regularly. It handles all other kinds of dirt and debris capably.
What I Liked
- Max power mode generates serious suction
- Can lay completely flat for getting under furniture
- Easy-rest feature makes it easy to prop up when not in use
- Headlight illuminates dark spots
What I Didn’t Like
- Tends to clog when vacuuming up pet hair
- Limited runtime when on max power setting
What We Looked for in the Best RV Vacuums
While shopping for an RV vacuum is a lot like shopping for a regular vacuum, there are a few key differences that are worth noting. There are some features that are more important, some that are less important, and some that don’t matter at all.
That’s why, during our examination of the various RV vacuums currently on the market, we focused on the following criteria:
You don’t have a lot of room in an RV, and you don’t want to sacrifice valuable real estate to something as boring as a vacuum cleaner. Smaller vacuums are definitely preferable to giant monstrosities.
Of course, having the smallest vacuum in the world won’t do you much good if it can’t pick anything up. While it’s unlikely that RV vacuums can match the power of your typical upright, we still wanted models that were able to clean up the kinds of messes that RVers are likely to encounter.
RVs generally don’t have the same large stretches of flat surface that homes do. Instead, they have a variety of nooks and crannies that are difficult to get into, so your vacuum needs to have the ability to get into all those tight spaces with ease.
This one goes without saying. You want the most bang for your buck, and while we didn’t elevate bad vacuums simply on account of being cheap, price was definitely an important factor in our rankings.
There are a few things that go into determining a vacuum’s convenience. It can include everything from cord length to the weight of the machine. Basically, while we can’t say that any of the models on this list made vacuuming fun, we prized any vacuums that made cleaning up less of a chore.
How to Choose the Right Vacuum Cleaner for an RV
The Bissell Featherweight was our favorite of all the RV vacuums, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. If you’re trying to determine the best vacuum for your situation, it helps to know what exactly you need — and what features you can safely skip.
The following questions are just a few of the things you should consider before making a purchase; we can’t highlight every single variable you might encounter, but these should cover most of your bases.
There are several different types of vacuum that could be suitable for use in an RV. While it’s unlikely you’ll want to deal with the hassle of lugging a bulky upright around, there are other options to consider.
Stick vacuums are one of the most popular choices. They offer nearly the same amount of suction you’ll get with an upright, but they’re not nearly as heavy — many of them weigh 10 pounds or less. They come in both cordless and corded models, each of which have their pros and cons (more on that later).
Handhelds are another option. These are the small dustbusters you may already have in your house and car; they’re extremely convenient, but they’re better suited for small messes than cleaning your entire vehicle. Still, if you don’t have much carpet to deal with, they may be all you need.
Canister vacuums are also worth considering. These are full-fledged vacuums, and many of them are also suitable for home use. They’re a little bulky, but they offer a lot of suction and usually come with all the accessories you’d get in an upright.
Some vacuum systems are actually installed inside your RV. These are expensive and kind of a hassle to put in, but after the initial setup, they’re incredibly convenient. They offer a ton of suction, and once you’re done, you can hide them completely out of your way.
Storage Capacity Size and Convenience
Storage capacity is a bit of a double-edged sword. The larger models will go longer between needing to be emptied, which makes things much more convenient, but they also add bulk.
You should also investigate how easy it is to empty the vacuum when it’s full. Many bagless vacuums simply need to have the storage basin removed and emptied, but some vacuums require changing a bag.
This can be a hassle, but vacuums with bags are often better at filtering out things like pet hair and dander. That might be a sacrifice you’re willing to make if you’re traveling with a furry friend.
It’s important to think about how you’ll get juice to your machine, but that’s also something that most people overlook when shopping for RV vacuums.
Many vacuums have power cords, which means you’ll need to know where your outlets are. You’ll also want to consider how long those cables are, so that you’re not constantly having to reposition yourself while cleaning.
On the other hand, cordless models have a limited battery life, and your suction will often peter off the closer the battery gets to dying. The good news is that it shouldn’t take too terribly long to vacuum an RV, so most cordless vacs should offer plenty of juice to get the job done.
Still, it’s incredibly frustrating to have your vacuum die before your chores are done (or to not be able to vacuum at all because you forgot to charge the thing after the last time you used it).
Some models (typically the handheld, dustbuster types) need to be plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter to work. This can be incredibly frustrating, and many don’t have long enough cords to allow you to cover your entire rig. We didn’t include any such models on this list, and would generally recommend avoiding them for use in an RV.
For many users, this is the most important factor. After all, a vacuum isn’t of much use to you if it can’t, you know, vacuum stuff up.
Most RV vacuums offer plenty of suction for the types of messes you’ll encounter while on the road. You shouldn’t need as much suction as you would in a conventional household vacuum, as it’s unlikely you’ll have as much carpet to deal with in your vehicle.
Suction power can be especially important if you’re traveling with pets, though. Look for a vac that’s capable of lifting pet hair and dander off of carpet and upholstery, and you may want to opt for a model with HEPA filtration as well.
The Bissell Featherweight was the best RV vacuum that we tested, due in large part to the fact that it packs incredible suction power in a lightweight machine. The price is hard to beat as well.
While picking RV vacuums isn’t likely to be the most important decision you’ll ever make, you still don’t want to waste money on the wrong model. Our top picks are all capable of keeping your rig clean and shiny, and you can’t really go wrong with any of them.
Then again, you could always just roll the windows down on the freeway and let the wind do the work for you. Just a thought.