Consumer Reports Tests if a Leaf Blower or Vacuum Is Superior for Cleaning Your Car

When was the last time you tackled cleaning your vehicle? For most of us, car detailing is one of the world’s most hated jobs as it takes a long time to do it properly. Additionally, you need to get into all the nooks and crannies if you want to keep it looking nice. Therefore, it comes down to having the right accessories for the job. We decided to explore whether there could be an easier way of tackling car maintenance. Should we break out the leaf blower or the vacuum?

Consumer Reports: Is it safe to use a leaf blower?

City employees removing leaves in a car parking lot in Hamburg, Germany
City employees removing leaves in a car parking lot | Daniel Reinhardt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Some say that leaf blowing is a viable option to avoid spending what may seem like hours vacuuming a car’s interior. So, is it a true time-saver, or is it something that may cause more harm than good?

Keith Barry, a Consumer Reports autos editor, expresses surprise that many online recommend using a leaf blower to clean cars. Why is it surprising? Well, to put it simply, leaf blowers are designed to blow rather than suck things up, which means you “could” be driving the dust deeper into your car’s crevices.

There are exceptions to every rule, though. As pointed out by Consumer Reports auto safety engineer Emily Thomas, “I can see if you used a low setting to quickly get rid of some larger debris, such as kids tracking in a bunch of grass and leaves.” However, she expresses that she would still follow it up with a vacuum to eliminate sand, gravel, and dirt.

You can see on The Drive that there are people who feel it is a viable option. They mostly use compressed air or leaf blowers to clean the hard-to-reach areas, but it can be tricky in general. There are a lot of electronics, buttons, and other risks associated with using a leaf blower. It could make the buttons and dials malfunction because of clogs. You also run risks to your health if you use a gas-powered leaf blower. Therefore, you are much better off getting an electric or a battery-powered leaf blower.

The best choice between vacuums and leaf blowers

If you still want to give leaf blowing a chance, we urge you to practice car safety while doing it. You can stick with blow-drying the exterior or choose a battery-powered leaf blower to lessen your risk of inhaling toxic gas fumes. They will also have slightly less power, so you don’t risk gumming up your electronics.

However, if you do choose to use a leaf blower, do yourself a favor and keep a dependable vacuum nearby as well. Some messes cannot be blown out of the way when dealing with your car’s interior.

Is it really that hard to vacuum car interiors?

When trying to access whether it is a hard job to tackle car detailing, you must keep in mind that the more often you do it, the easier it will be. Some people dive into vacuuming weekly, and they may spend only 10-20 minutes doing it. Others put it off until they are embarrassed by how bad it looks. Those people may spend 1-3 hours when they finally get down to business.

The bad part is car detailing can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. You can purchase a car vacuum that is affordable and easy to work with for only about $30. You also have the option to get a detailing kit with brushes, chemicals that are safe for vehicle interiors, and microfiber cloths for about the same price.

Admittedly, this is an investment to start. It may cost money and time to tackle it the first time, but ultimately it will give your car a deeper clean.

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