The 4 Best Boat Vacuum Cleaners: Reviews & Buying Guide

Just like a car, your boat probably has the tendency to get dirty pretty quickly. And if you’re like many of the other pontoon owners out there, seeing your vessel soiled and covered in dirt is probably the last thing you’d want. So aside from all the fun accessories, the slides, diving boards, and premium upholstered seats, investing in the right cleaning essentials should be on your list of pontoon upkeep must-haves.

One of the most important boat cleaning necessities that any owner should seek to have is the boat vacuum cleaner. Able to reach into tight spots, the best boat vacuum cleaners can make cleaning your pontoon easy, effortless, and fast. But before you go and pull out your wallet to buy the first vacuum cleaner you find, it pays to know that they’re not all made equal.

How to Choose the Right Boat Vacuum Cleaner

You’d be surprised how many different kinds of vacuum cleaners there are. So you can assume that not every model will cater to your unique preferences and standards. That said, it helps to fully understand what differences you can expect to see so you can avoid the tedious returns process.

Versatility

Cleaning a pontoon is different from cleaning your carpeted indoor flooring. Tight spaces, hidden nooks and crannies, and lots of moisture can make the job a difficult task for your average, run-of-the-mill household vacuum cleaner. Fortunately, there are some models that are designed to clean up dirt even in wet conditions. These wet and dry vacuum cleaners can be perfect for all sorts of pontoon surfaces, helping you clean up dirt and grime even after a trip to the lake.

Size

The larger a vacuum cleaner, the more sucking power it has. And that makes it ideal if you’re planning to clean up particularly tedious boats, or if you think you might not be able to clean too often. Then again, large vacuum cleaners can be tedious to pull out, to set up, and to operate. Which is why some buyers gravitate towards smaller, even handheld models that can perform spot treatment when necessary. Of course, that also entails that you don’t leave your boat for too long without cleaning, which depends on the kind of time you have available to tend to your pontoon.

Other than that, the size of your vacuum cleaner will also tell you whether it can be stored on board or not. Remember that the more accessible it is, the more likely you’re going to find the will to pull it out and get cleaning. That’s why some people opt to buy two vacs - a top quality heavy duty design for intensive cleaning, and the best 12 volt vacuum cleaner for boats as its spot treatment counterpart.

Corded vs Cordless

Expect a corded vacuum cleaner to provide a more powerful motor that can target larger areas and heavier debris. On the other hand, that also means that you’re always going to have to have a power outlet nearby. And because these vacuums won’t always have an infinite tail of cord trailing behind them, then you might need to prepare extension cables every time you use them.

Then there are the cordless vacuum cleaners. Operating with the help of an internal, rechargeable battery, cordless vacuum cleaners are infinitely easier to use. And because they aren’t tethered to anything like a power outlet, you can use them in out-of-reach areas that might be hard to get into if you were using a corded model. The downside of course is that cordless vacuum cleaners aren’t always the most powerful, and they might not be able to operate for more than a few hours without a recharge.

Bagless vs Bagged

How do you want your vacuum cleaner to manage dirt and debris? Vacuum cleaners that bag your collected filth can be particularly convenient to use. As you suck up any dirt in your boat, they’re accumulated into a bag that’s attached to the vacuum. This can then be disposed of once it’s full. The beauty of a vacuum cleaner that bags dirt is that it minimizes the amount of direct interaction you’ll have with the debris. If you suffer from allergies, this can be a great option.

Bagless vacuum cleaners are designed so that all of the dirt collects in a single chamber that you can empty out once it’s full. They can be immensely economical since you won’t have to keep replacing bags between uses. Then again, that also means that you’ll have to toss out the collected dirt and clean the chamber itself if it calls for it, which increases your exposure to potential allergens.

Accessories

Most vacuum cleaners will come with interchangeable heads. These are intended to extend the versatility of your device. Some heads can help you reach into specific areas, while others can comb through fibers and fabrics to clean up upholstery, carpets, and everything else. Consider what comes with your vacuum cleaner, and whether these accessories have on-board storage. The more accessible they are, the more likely you’re going to use them down the line.

Warranty

Let’s not forget the warranty. While it’s not indicator of quality or performance power, a longer warranty will give you an idea of the kind of confidence a brand has in their product. It’s really the manufacturers way of saying they stand behind their product, and they believe it will serve its purpose satisfactorily for a period of time. But aside from simply looking at the length of the warranty, it can also help to read the fine print. Some warranties will only cover specific parts like the motor.

The Best Boat Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

1. Shop-Vac Micro Wet/Dry Vac (2021000)

best pontoon boat vacuum cleaners

The corded Shop-Vac Micro Wet/Dry Vac is a powerful cleaning machine that touts a 1hp motor, allowing vigorous suction performance that works for both wet and dry clean up. Its 1 gallon tank capacity lets you collect a substantial amount of debris in one sitting, keeping all the dirt secure from spills and extending the time to the next emptying.

With a 6 foot power cord, a 4 foot hose, and a mere 5-pound body, the Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Vac can be a portable solution that you can keep under a seat until the next cleaning session.

2. Stanley 5-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

Stanley 5-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

The supersized Stanley 5-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum isn’t just an investment for your pontoon, but for your household all together. This ultra robust model touts an impressive 4hp motor that can satisfy a variety of cleaning jobs around your boat, targeting both wet and dry messes.

The powerful suction gets to work on even caked dirt and debris, pulling them out of corners and crannies with little effort. And because the design comes with three different extension wands, a 5 foot hose, and a 10 foot cable, you can expect to get into the hard-to-reach areas that you would otherwise struggle to clean with a traditional vacuum.

3. Homasy 8Kpa Portable Handheld Vacuum

 handheld vacuum cleaner for boat

Don’t let its undersized body fool you - the Homasy 8Kpa Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner is a wet and dry model that comes equipped with a 100W ultra high-powered motor. This works hand in hand with a high capacity lithium ion battery that charges for 3 to 4 hours and keeps the vacuum running for a maximum of 30 minutes at full power.

On board, it features a 600mL storage capacity that can be more than enough to keep dirt and debris for a full cleaning session. On top of all of that, this design comes with three different attachments that let you reach into dead corners on your boat for a quick and easy deep clean whenever you need it.

4. WORKSHOP WS1200VA Heavy Duty Wet Dry Vac

WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac

Designed for rugged performance, the WORKSHOP WS1200VA Heavy Duty Wet and Dry Vac uses a tough copolymer drum that’s designed to resist dents, cracks, and rust. Inside, it touts a 5hp motor that delivers immense suction power, able to target both wet and dry conditions with utmost ease.

With an integrated blower, this vacuum can also push out dirt and debris from nooks and crannies, making it easier to work on caked filth that might be tough to clean up with suction.

And to complete the design, an ultra large two and half inch diameter hose guarantees that the vac won’t clog or lose suction power even with substantial amounts of dirt and moisture entering its collection chamber.

Over to You

It actually takes some sound decision-making to find a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t figuratively suck. That’s especially true if you were on the hunt for a vacuum for your boat. Not all choices will be the best boat vacuum cleaners, especially if you factor in your own distinct preferences. But by taking the time to consider the specifics, and really looking into the various options available, you should be able to find one that sucks (literally.)

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