Have you ever used an RV vacuum that doesn’t seem to pick up anything? It sucks, just not like it’s supposed to. And for outdoor adventures especially, you need a vacuum that handles whatever you throw at it.
Keeping your RV clean and organized improves your camping experience. Heck, avoiding the hassle of packing up a wet, dirty tent is a major reason why many folks get into RVing in the first place. But your RV needs to stay clean too.
That’s where having the best RV vacuum for your camping style comes into play. So let’s talk about the different types of RV vacuums, the pros and cons of each, and how to choose the right one for you.
Types of RV Vacuums
There are two main types of RV vacuums: portable and central vacuum units.
Portable RV Vacuums
Portable vacuums are similar to those you’d find in most households, but they’re slimmer and more compact to fit better in RV storage spaces. This category includes handhelds and upright canister vacuums. You’ll find models that plug into AC outlets, cordless battery-powered models, and even manual portable vacuums.
- More affordable
- Easier to replace
- Easier to clean
- Easily portable
- Upright models require more storage space
- Handheld models require more bending or kneeling to use
RV Central Vacuum Units
RV central vacuum units are more common in higher-end, luxury RVs. These typically come with a length of vacuum hose that allows you to connect at a single location and reach everywhere throughout your RV.
They also come with various attachments for different surfaces and hard-to-reach locations. The unit’s central collection canister is installed in an underneath storage compartment or in the space under a dinette seat.
- Always stay with your RV
- A larger collection capacity requires less frequent emptying
- Single outlet required for power
- Require AC power
- Require installation
Steam cleaners are less popular for modern RVs because fewer manufacturers finish their floors with carpet. If your RV does have carpet, it’ll need an annual steam cleaning to remove major stains and embedded pet hair. This accessory won’t likely live in your RV but can be kept at home for seasonal cleaning.
How to Choose the Best RV Vacuum for You?
Let’s look at a process you can use to select the right vacuum for your RV.
Start by deciding whether you prefer a portable or central vacuum unit. Consider whether you want something permanently installed in your RV or something that can be taken out and used in other spaces.
Think about the type of camping you do, who you camp with (i.e., pets or kids), and how much you plan to use your new vacuum. Note when and where you’ll use it most often and whether you’ll be plugged in at an RV park or boondocking when needed.
Look at your RV’s floorplan and imagine what it’ll be like to use various models. How easy will a certain vacuum make cleaning hard-to-reach areas like behind your sofa sleeper?
Prioritize your needs. For example, you might think you want a permanent central vacuum. Still, when you realize you mostly boondock and don’t want to use valuable generator hours running your vacuum, you might compromise for a portable vacuum, even if it’s harder to store between uses.
Factor in the canister size on any portable or central vacuum model you’re considering. A larger collection canister requires less frequent emptying. Most portable RV vacuums must be emptied after each use. Central vacuums can often be emptied every few months, depending on the frequency of use.
A handheld vacuum with a small collection can be a nuisance if you have a larger travel trailer or fifth wheel. You’ll have to stop and empty it multiple times just to vacuum your entire floorplan.
Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to remove and clean your vacuum filter every 1-3 months, depending on your use. Consult your vacuum manufacturer’s care and cleaning instructions for the best practices.
The vacuum’s dimensions come into play when you think about where to store it in your RV. Ensure you have enough space to keep it secure and protected while you’re traveling. You also want it to stay out of the way while in camp.
The perfect RV vacuum size for you depends on your RV’s storage layout. If yours is replacing an existing vacuum, simply find a close match for your old vacuum’s dimensions. If you’re equipping your RV with a vacuum for the first time, ensure it has a dedicated home amidst the rest of your RV accessories and camping gear.
Ease of Use
Mull over how easy or difficult certain RV vacuum models will be to use.
Central vacuums are great because you won’t have to plug and unplug the power cord several times when cleaning a larger RV. However, they must have enough vacuum hose length to reach all your RV’s nooks and crannies.
Handheld vacuums are great for small campers because they don’t require much storage space. Their downside is that they’ll require you to lean over or kneel down to do a thorough cleaning job.
Many view upright portable vacuums as the easiest to use, but they’re most appropriate for longer RVs. They also require some type of floor-to-ceiling closet or cabinet space for storage.
The Best RV Vacuums from Camping World
With a better understanding of the types of RV vacuums and factors to consider when comparing models, we hope you enjoy some of our favorite RV vacuums:
Dirt Devil CV1500 All-in-One Central Vacuum System
Type: Central Vacuum Unit
The CV1500 is a great candidate for installing or replacing an RV central vacuum. It’s also great for pet owners or those suffering from allergies because it comes with HEPA filter bags that remove up to 99.97% of small allergen particles, such as mold, pollen, and dust mites.
The unit measures 14.5” H x 6.25” W x 7” D. Measure to find a compatible space for it under a dinette seat, in a closet, or in a storage compartment. It includes a vacuum hose that extends up to 35 feet but collapses down to seven feet for easy storage. You’ll also get a one-piece adjustable wand with rug, dusting, upholstery, and crevice attachments.
Bissell Featherweight Stick Vacuum
Type: Battery-Powered Upright Portable Vacuum
Bissell’s Featherweight Stick Vacuum also doubles as a handheld vacuum, making it ideal for removing dust and debris from your RV’s floors, countertops, sofas, and dinette cushions. It comes with a 15-foot power cord, and the collection canister is bagless and easy to empty into an RV trash can.
It does require AC power, so keep that in mind if you do a lot of boondocking. But it weighs under four pounds and includes a crevice tool to help you clean harder-to-reach spots in your motorhome or travel trailer.
Bissell EasySweep Manual Sweeper
Type: Upright Portable Manual Vacuum
If you prefer off-grid camping, you may not want a powered vacuum at all. A manual sweeper like this one gives you a compact tool to pick up hair, dirt, and other debris without requiring a power source.
Bissell’s EasySweep picks up with forward and reverse and works on rugs, low carpet, and laminate RV flooring. It also features dual collection bins and a removable brush roll, making it easy to empty, clean, and maintain.
Adding one of the best RV vacuums to your packing list makes cleaning pet hair and loose debris off the floors much easier. Here are a few other resources with tips for RV cleaning once you’ve explored our complete collection of RV vacuums:
- How to Critter Proof a Pop Up Tent Camper
- Cordless Power Equipment RV Campers Love
- Everything You Need to Know About RV Washers & Dryers
What’s your favorite RV vacuum or alternative? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.