rv vacuum

RV Vacuums – The Good, Bag and Under-Powered

After years of RV travel, constantly building up dirt and trying every machine powered device to suck it up, I have come to a conclusion: No single vacuum is perfect for an RV, but some come close.

Some are good (enough), some require the dreaded (dare I say old fashioned) bag and others loose (or never had) enough suction power. Here is a breakdown of my RV vacuum trial and tribulations…the good, the bag and the under-powered.


The Good

Shark RV Vaccum

Shark – This little guy is hard to beat for under $100. The attachments were functional, it kept the pet hair at bay and, after a year of use it still had good suction power (not amazing, but good enough).  Amazon Link:

best vaccums

Dyson – They makes some great vacuums…if only they weren’t so darn expensive! We first tried to get away with our standard upright (cleaned great) but was way too bulky for the tiny and oddly shaped areas in the RV.  If you’re looking for a good vacuum for your house, this one is excellent!  Amazon Link:

dyson animal RV vacuum

Animal – We finally broke down and got one of these guys. It has a cord but it works like a champ on all the cat hair and obscene amount of dust we seem to collect Wild Camping all the time! The attachments are great and it gets in all the tiny awkward spaces in our RV and Smart Car. Not to mention it has not lost any of it’s awesome sucking power. Amazon Link:

dyson rv vacuum

Digital Slim – We also looked into the cordless option, but I like the flexibility of the canister vacs. For us in the RV we really need the multi-function action of a canister and it’s flexible hose that can go in more places. (and you’d be surprised how quick 20-30min of cleaning time goes by).  However, we know of fellow RV’ing friends who love this vacuum. Amazon Link:

The Bag

Roy came equipped with a Dirt Devil Central Vacuum to which I have mixed feelings about: It’s a very love-hate relationship. The “35ft” hose can be clunky and just barely makes it to the front of our coach (so any RV over 32ft long and you’ll need an extension that doesn’t exist).

It has decent suction power and 3 out of the 5 attachments are handy: The dusting, selectable rug/floor (really only works well for floors), and crevice tools are great. The rugrat (so called) powerbrush is useless. It is terrible on carpet and does more damage to the fibers than picking up any dirt. I have yet to find a good use for the upholstery tool. For what little upholstery we have, the dusting tool does a better job at picking up pet hair.

Then there is the bag that needs replacing (for us about every 2-3 months). This isn’t that big of a deal but seriously, is this 1980? No, we now live in the age of cleanable filters and bagless vacuums. All in all, it gets the job done and came with Roy. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t purchase and install one.

That being said…We did make this quick demonstration video for Fleetwood. So, keep in mind this video isn’t intended to be my personal opinions, it’s strictly informational if you’re curious to see it in action.  Amazon Link:


The Under-powered

bissel rv vacuum

Bissel – Out of the gate this little guy impressed us (especially for $35). The battery would last 2 weeks worth of daily sweep/vacuuming and picked up a ton of dirt and pet hair. Sadly after about six months of use it started really loosing battery power and suction to the point of unusable. If you’re the occasional RV’er, this inexpensive vacuum could work great but not ideal for full time use. Amazon Link:

cordless RV Vacuum

Black and Decker – This cordless worked fine for the first six months then quickly started losing suction. Before we reached a year of use the battery was so weak, you were lucky to get 2 solid minutes out of it. Also, with no real floor cleaning option, it was best for small areas/furniture and not ideal for full coach cleaning. Amazon Link:


Of course, this isn’t every vacuum option out there, just the ones I have personally used and tested. It’s an ongoing search for the perfect cleaning companion. So, if you have a vacuum that has stood the test of time and nomadic abuse, for the love of all things fresh and clean, share in the comment box below!


If you want to see more of my favorite gadgets, check these out:



Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (41)

  • Jim

    There is also the InterVac system. I’ve had the RMG120 in my 5th wheel for three years. Did an ok job but could be stronger suction and bags fill up quickly and are very expensive. It just quit. Being an electrician…I tested the 12V and 120V…no 12volt. To my surprise, the plastic housing is welded shut with no access. Calling InterVac, they internationally build them so they cannot be serviced and have to be returned to the mamufacturer. Avoid would be my thoughts. I purchased a powerful shop vac type and connected it to the port. About a third of the cost to have InterVac repair… and far better performance. A tad bit louder…but who cares. Rather than replace or repair, this may be an option folks.

  • Deborah stacey

    We are 70 and full time in our jayco travel. Trailer. Slide out. We need a lite upright vaccum . We have no pets. Any suggestions?

  • I’m not sure if I am suppose to comment here since our company makes the InterVac Central Vacuum, but I did want to mention that a bagged system is far cleaner for fine dust and pet dander. We have our own design (Patented and manufactured in USA) and we use a 5 layer filtration bag but part of our patent is a rib system to hold the bag upright while it fills. Our customers tell us one bag with daily use, and pets, last over 5 months. Our system is super compact and you only have to move the hose (40 feet long) around so it’s not as tiring to use as a regular vac.

  • Any advice for people who dont have $350 to spend on a Dyson?? We just want a small vacuum with a cord that has good suction on bare floors and carpet for our travel trailer. Would rather have one WITH a bag but either is fine too.

  • Thanks for the carpet cleaner recipe. I’ll have to try it.

  • Dirk Van Essendelft

    Wanted to give a little update. The information about the dirt devil central vacuum isn’t accurate anymore.

    I haven’t gotten mine yet but we are going to put one in. While I agree that the air powered vacuum head is probably not going to be very good (my experience is that no turbine powered tool works well). It is now not true that you cannot get extensions. I found hose extensions (part number 9092-35) on along with all kinds of replacement parts and accessories.

    You can also buy the pack without the “rug rat” turbine vacuum head for about $60 less.

    Further still, they now have a retractable 35 foot hose system they call “VRoom RV”. Its a tube in tube flexible hose that you can stuff almost anywhere you have room for a 2 inch flex tube. All you have to do to make it retract is put your hand over the suction tube and it will suck right back in the larger tube out of the way… no more hassle storing a tube in your drawers or cupboard. All you have to do is store your accessory tools which is easy.

    They also sell a combo pack that contains the vacuum unit and the vroom tube for $300 ish. I don’t think that has any accessory tools with it, but those are cheap enough (a few dollars a piece). I plan on getting that this spring and installing it.

    • Dirk Van Essendelft

      correction… that kit with the vroom RV tube does come with the tools, just not the rug rat

  • kareen walton

    Hi !
    A nice little robotic vacuum. Who wouldn’t want one?! One less chore to have to worry about so we can spend more time with family!

  • Michelle

    Just wanted to take a moment to share my experience with the small Dyson canister vac. I bought one that was refurbished and it never really had adequate suction so we took the head apart and found a huge “clog”. After cleaning it out it was good for about 2 days then lost suction again. Time the head apart and there was another “clog”. Super frustrating, but I believe it was clogging because both my husband and I have thick long hair and mixed with pet hair it just didn’t work for us. The other thing that didn’t work for me is the hose ending is funky shaped and prevents attacking the hose to a space saver bag. I was so disappointed when I found I could t use it to vacuum and seal my storage bags I’ve set it aside and am searching for a replacement. I think that Shark might just be the one. Thaks for your reviews. 🙂
    Happy travels.

  • Lou Waters

    Hi just wanted to give you some feedback. We went to Maine to visit family with our year old Great Dane and begle mix. We stayed in my sister in laws drive way which was gravel. Needless to say our 33′ Open Range travel trailer wea like a gravel pit ( brother in laws business). Prior to leaving we ordered the Shark vacume you recommended and it did a great job over all.
    One of my highlights of the trip was getting to operate a huge loader and excavator at my brother in laws pit. Jason you have got to try it it was a lot of fun.
    We drove about 2200 miles on the trip and I averaged a little over 12 MPG with my Chevy 2500 HD with 6.6 liter Duramax and Allison 6 speed transmission.
    I love reading your adventures.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for sharing Lou, that little Shark Vacuum worked great for us for nearly 2 years, sad we got rid of it for the built in system.

  • Samuel J. Martin III

    The Swivel Sweeper should be ideal for an RV; I’ve only used it in a home but I love it as it works very well!

  • Samantha

    I tried the cordless vacs and found them inadequate and heavy to the point that my hand and arm hurt after trying them. Went instead with a compact central vacuum by InterVac. We especially liked the hose that expanded to reach all of our RV. Very satisfied.

  • In our forty-two years of marriage we have had two vacuums, both Rainbows, with the water canisters….which means you don’t have to purchase bags or clean out a dry dusty canister. They both still work, but are in storage while we are living on the road. We started out with just a hand vac as our Via is only 25.5 and no carpet. We still use it for quick pick ups or the occasional bug that sneaks into the rv. We purchased a Stanley one gallon shop vac for $20. It has great suction, can be used to vacuum out the Jeep, and is small. Since we seem to have more than enough storage I may consider bringing our older model Rainbow along when we go back to Michigan. For now, the small shop vac is doing the job.

  • Richard Rimmington

    Nikki, your so hot even when vacuuming. No wonder Jason always has a smile on his face

  • I just picked up a $30 2.5 gallon wet/dry vac from Lowe’s. So far, I really like it. It sucks good! 🙂 and it’s very compact in size. Good fit in my 26′ Jamboree.

  • I was just thinking about writing a blog post on this same subject the other day! I may still do it – the two vacuums we have are different than the ones you listed. With 3 dogs you can imagine that this is a very important subject for us!!

  • Sheridan Pew

    We’ve lived in our Winnebago 39N full time going into our third year. We bought a cordless Dyson and love it. It’s compact, and even if the battery life is short, how long does it take to vacuum a motor home. It’s one of the best decisions we made in starting this adventure.

  • Dan

    In theory, a central vacuum is the best solution, but in my experience (not with this product, sorry), the hoses are too bulky in that we trip over them when near the kitchen in your case or they are too short to reach everything. I would ask Dirt Devil if they could maintain the suction power with a smaller cloth wrapped hose – with extensions that we can add for every five feet that we are away from the source. I would also define bulky in the diameter of the hose, can a 3/4″ diameter hose work equally well for an RV?

    I agree on the bag, give us something to dump and not have to keep purchasing from Dirt Devil. Sorry, it does maintain sales for Dirt Devil, but remind them it is not the best environmental decision.

    Looking at the attachments, I would expect to have a similar experience based upon my limited experience with similar products.

    Great review!

  • Ted Strickland

    Best all around vac for our RV(s) has been the little Craftsman 2 gal Clean and Carry. It is a wet-dry little shop vac with lots of power. No bag and is easy to open to empty. We haven’t seen the need for extensions, but I have made vac extensions with PVC and Duck Tape. Cost of this vac, when we bought it, several years ago, was $30. You can use is outdoors and indoors, wet or dry.. We liked it.

  • mary van

    I know is that when you all got a central vacuum, I ended up with a really great portable. I do like it when you recycle your gadgets through me!

  • Terry

    So far we love our central vacuum. Having that means one less “appliance” I need to find storage for. It seems to do an adequate job. Granted we have only owned our 5th wheel for 9 months and we are stationary in a campground and are only weekenders for now……

  • Great points about vacuuming. We have some perfect vacuums for RV’s. The real deal is not the vacuum itself but the service after the sale. Buy a vacuum at Walmart or one of the Home Improvement stores and try to bring it back to them when you have issues and see what they say. But when you buy a brand name vacuum that has authorized dealers around the country where you can get it serviced if you have trouble, that’s worth the few extra dollars you might pay up front. The other things you want to think about is the energy usage and is it a green and clean vacuum. Look for a vacuum that cleans the air as it vacuums your floors. Our Miele vacuums contain a HEPA Filter, HEPA filters are independently certified to meet or exceed HEPA filtration standards of trapping 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns or larger. A rubber seal ensures no air leakage while a layer of generally activated charcoal adsorbs light odors. This filter will leave your house smelling fresher and you breather easier as it removes allergens like dander and pollen. In addition to HEPA filters, Miele offers a variety of filters to meet your specific filtration needs whether it is simply light filtration or pet odor removal.

  • Christine Hughes

    Hi Nikki,
    I absolutely love this site, your videos and blogs. I am also a seeker of the ultimate vacuumm. I have tried and returned many a vacuum. I have a furry shedding dog, a fuzzy cat and two kids who are always making a mess. My personal ecperience is that a Hoover Tempo Widepath is the best vacuum out there. Mine has held up for years. Still has great suction, particularly in the hose. We also have a Shark Bayless Navigator, but it has to be dumped regularly (ugh!) And it loses suction very quickly. Bagless with pets is a drag. If I could have the perfect vacuum cleaner, it would be a cordless, rechargeable version of the Hoover Tempo. Oh, I forgot to mention it only costs $79!
    – Chris

  • Linda58

    Our new 5th wheel has a B7D built in but keeping the little Eureka Optima on hand (cause it is a very good little vac!)

  • JIm S.

    I agree with you Nikki, most vacuum cleaners are not worth the money. The best vacuum I’ve ever used is a Kirby, but it’s so huge and heavy that it is not a good RV choice. I currently have a Dirt Devil upright that my son purchased for his apartment several years ago and left with us during a move. It has a small footprint and is light so is easy to store and use, but it is a bag-less and the filter plugs up quickly. I mostly use the Swiffer system for dusting and cleaning the hard flooring. Starting with a good dusting then I move on to dry sweep the floor followed up with the wet mop. The best idea is to keep the dirt out, or at least contained in an easy to clean area. A rug laid out to step on before you touch the carpet works well. We use one (several in reserve) that is easy to launder and replace it as needed.

  • Alan

    Now admittedly, our rig isn’t as fancy as yours. A 10-year-old Itasca Spirit Class C. But when we go out in The Darlin’ Dot, vacuums aren’t even on the checklist.

  • We simply unplugged the central vacuum on ours because the place where you connect the hose (which was also the “on-off switch” turning the device on when the flip lid was flipped up) kept powering on the vacuum, even when nothing was attached. We tried putting a dog dish in front of the flip lid to keep it closed and powered off, but we eventually gave up and unplugged it in the storage compartment of our fifth-wheel.

      • Since the fifth-wheel was used when we bought it (2007 model), everything was well out of warranty. Plus, we weren’t all that excited about the central vac anyway.

  • Randy

    We also bought the Dyson, it’s a little awkward for the RV, size and placement wise, and since the RV is not pluged in that often tends to be dead when needed. Even in the house that wand catches on the rug when trying to detach from the charging station AND it only has the one battery so when you run out on a long task you are done.

    We got the Hoover LiNX originally for the house, but it works great in the RV. Looks like they don’t sell it new anymore, but reconditioned at: It comes with two batteries and an external charger so one battery is ready to use while the other is charging. When the RV is plugged in the battery one battery will be charged up, along with the SLR spart battery and the HD video camera that lives at the charging station. The LiNX is also baggless and easy to empty, loves carpet and hard flooring, but doesn’t come with attachments.

    I would tell you about the Míele vacuum ( that we have, in our little 24’ RV we don’t bring it with, but it does EVERYTHING, so when the RV (or anything really) needs a good cleaning, that’s the tool we bring out, but you said the Dyson was expensive, so don’t look at the Míele.

    Honestly what I do the detail work with is the corded car vac, like a dust buster, but it’s 100 years old. I cannot find a reference to it on the net. But 12v means it always works, and corded means it never runs out of power. The LTV Serenity has 12v outlets in the front and back so the cord is almost too long, but it wraps around the unit cleanly.

  • Interesting review! And you always do a nice job on the videos! We opted to take out our in-coach model because it didn’t have very good suction. We’ve used a small upright model with the bags. Not a great solution but a workable one.


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