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ThisWorx car vacuum review: Fast, hassle-free dust-busting for your ride

I didn't expect much from such a compact, inexpensive vac -- but my clean floor mats tell a different story.

Do you own a car? An RV? Anything where dirt accumulates and it's woefully inconvenient to haul out a full-size vacuum? Consider a portable hand-vac, one that's powerful enough to actually suck up errant Cheerios, pebbles, lint balls and all the other stuff that finds its way into seats and onto floors. Recently I tested the ThisWorx car vacuum, which includes everything you need to keep your ride looking spiffy. But how well does it actually work? Here's my ThisWorx review. (Spoiler alert: This works. Mostly.)

VERDICT: This thing sucks! But, you know, in a good way, like a vacuum should.

  • Small and lightweight
  • Good suction
  • Useful accessories
  • Low price
  • Carrying case a little small
  • Struggles with pebbles and other heavier debris
$38 at Amazon

Remember Dustbusters? Yeah, this is pretty much a Dustbuster for the car, one with a 16-foot power cord that plugs into any standard 12-volt outlet (previously known as a cigarette lighter, now referred to as a power port). That's enough length for it to reach the back of a minivan, which I know because I tested it in a minivan (aka Dirt Trap on Wheels).

Are you thinking this would be better if it was battery-powered and cordless? Maybe, but that would add weight and limit the amount of cleaning time. Plus, it would be one more thing to keep charged; for this particular product, I don't mind a corded option.

The 2.4-pound vac houses a 106-watt motor, which is about on par with similar models I've seen. I don't really care about such numbers; I just want enough power to suck up everyday car debris. More on that below.

ThisWorx supplies three attachments: crevice tool, brush head and extension tube. I'll admit these items feel a little flimsy, but in the short term at least, they get the job done. You also get a spare HEPA filter and a filter-cleaning brush.

I'm glad the vac comes with a zippered case, but wish it was larger. There's barely room for the vac itself, let alone the accessories. I was able to squeeze everything in (except the spare filter) and pull the zipper closed, but it's certainly not neat and tidy in there.

Of course, the most important thing is cleaning capability, so I'll start with this true story: My wife was the designated driver for book club, so she picked up a handful of friends on the way to the gathering. One of them brought a potted plant as a host gift — and it promptly toppled over, spilling soil on a floor mat. (Why did it topple over? I've been informed we're not here to discuss anyone's driving skills.) Thus we had the perfect real-world opportunity to test the vacuum.

How did it go? Behold the before-and-after photos:

The lefthand photo shows dirt spilled on a floor mat. The righthand one shows the mostly spotless mat after using the vac.
Left: The potted-plant spill. Right: A few minutes later. Impressive results given the size (and price) of this little sucker. (Photos: Rick Broida/Yahoo)

Pretty good, right? Although the mat was still stained a bit where the dirt had gotten mashed in, the vacuum easily sucked up all the loose stuff — including in the crevices, thanks to the crevice attachment.

Next I turned to my own vehicle, which probably had six months' worth of dirt littered across the driver's side floor mat. (Don't judge me; let's see yours.) This time, here's before, during and after:

Before, during and after using the ThisWorx vacuum on my floor mats.
Floor-mat attack: before, during and after. The brush attachment definitely helps with jobs like this. (Photos: Rick Broida/Yahoo)

Floor mats can be tough, but the vac did a surprisingly good job. After an initial once-over, I added the brush attachment, which helped "agitate" the stuck stuff so it could get sucked up. Of course, the crevice tool was helpful here as well.

Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck with little rocks, the kind often brought in by your shoe. In the normal course of vacuuming, they got left behind. Only if I angled the suction end just so, fully covering a pebble, could the vac grab it. This ain't a Dyson, friends.

That said, after a couple minutes of floor work, my mat looked much cleaner. (The less said about the rest of the car, the better.)

Now, if your vehicle is routinely littered with gravel, pebbles and such, I'd probably choose a more powerful vac. But if you want something for light cleaning or "dirt emergencies," the ThisWorx car vac gets the job done at a very affordable price. It's better than I expected.