Workshop and DIY projects can generate a lot of debris, including sawdust, sanding dust, and small bits of debris that contribute to clutter and disorganization.
- 1 What is a wet/dry vacuum?
- 2 What are the benefits of having a wet/dry vacuum?
- 3 Are there different types of wet/dry vacuums?
- 4 How do I maintain my wet/dry vacuum?
- 5 Can wet/dry vacuums be used to clean up water?
- 6 Is a shop vac the same as a wet/dry vac?
- 7 Is a shop vac more powerful than a regular vacuum?
- 8 Can I vacuum water with a shop vac?
- 9 Can a wet/dry vac clean carpets?
- 10 How do I choose a wet/dry vac?
- 11 What is the most powerful wet/dry vacuum?
Wet/dry vacuums, also known as “shop vacs,” are a useful tool for cleaning up both liquid spills and dry messes. Another type of vacuum that can clean up both wet and dry messes is the vacuum mop, which vacuums and washes flooring at the same time.
To assist shoppers in their search for the best wet/dry vacuum, we conducted hands-on testing of some of the top models on the market. We evaluated factors such as suction power, accessories, and ease of use to determine which vacuums are worth the investment. Additionally, we provided information on the features and options to look for in a high-quality shop-type vacuum.
Our top picks include a range of models that vary in power, size, and messes they can effectively tackle, some more suited for job sites than homes. By reading our list of top wet/dry vacuums, shoppers can find the right model for their specific needs.
#1.DeWALT 12 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac
- Powerful suction; ideal for most projects
- Onboard storage pouch; great for storing attachments without losing them
- Simple and effective cord and hose management
- Setup took a while (but we’re stretching to find a con)
It features a medium-size 12-gallon collection tank and a powerful 5.5-hp motor for strong suction. The bright yellow canister is 25.4 inches tall and 17.5 inches in diameter, making it large enough to store in a garage or workshop.
This vacuum comes with a 20-foot power cord, a 7-foot flexible suction hose, and weighs 24.9 pounds. It also has a handle for easy carrying and comes with accessories such as a utility nozzle and crevice tool. Additionally, it comes with an accessory storage bag that attaches to the vacuum.
The DeWalt vacuum proved to be efficient and effective. While it may not be the most powerful model, it performed well in our tests. We also appreciated the onboard storage pouch for retaining attachments. The only downside we found was that setup took a bit longer due to the assembly of the wheels and brackets, as well as the tool pouch bracket.
- Punches above its weight class in power
- Affordable price point compared to similar options
- Vacuum motor detaches and operates as a blower
- Doesn’t come with a HEPA filter
With a medium-capacity 12-gallon collection tank and a 5-hp motor, it offers strong suction while being easy on the wallet. Measuring 24.49 inches tall and 20.52 inches in diameter, the vacuum comes with a 7-foot flexible hose and a 12-foot power cord.
One of the unique features of this vacuum is its ability to double as a blower. By removing the powerhead from the canister and connecting it to one of the two included extension wands, the Vacmaster can be used to clear debris and leaves. It weighs 24.4 pounds and comes with additional nozzles and a crevice tool for cleaning in tight spaces.
The Vacmaster did not disappoint in terms of performance. It was found to be just as good as other models on the list, with a design that allows for suction as powerful as larger vacuums. Additionally, it is the only model with a detachable motor that can be used as a corded leaf blower. The only downside is that it does not come with a HEPA filter, but this is a common feature that is not found in most vacuums.
#3.DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Wet-Dry Vacuum
- Incredibly convenient design; compact and easy to carry
- Operates on any DeWalt 20-volt battery; great for DeWalt tool fans
- Smart onboard storage; easier to swap out accessories
- Doesn’t quite have the power of a corded model
Powered by a 20-volt lithium-ion battery, it weighs only 8 pounds and is easy to carry around the house or take to remote locations without electrical outlets, such as a garden shed.
With a small-capacity 2-gallon collection tank and compact dimensions of 17.25 inches long by 12.31 inches wide by 13.12 inches high, this light-duty vac is easy to store on a shelf in the garage or workshop. It comes with a 5-foot flexible hose and a top handle for carrying, as well as a crevice tool and wide-nozzle tool attachment for tackling messes in various spaces.
We’ve been using this tiny wet/dry vac for weeks and have found it to be incredibly convenient. While it may not have the same power as corded models, it’s still an effective tool for cleaning. Plus, it accepts all of our 20-volt DeWalt batteries and has onboard tool storage for a streamlined design.
- No slouch when it comes to suction
- Comes with dust collection for easy cleanup
- Filters pop on and off easily; good time saver
- It’s a little finicky to assemble
It features a 4.25-hp motor and a 9-gallon collection tank, making it suitable for medium-size messes. Its compact size of 16.61 inches by 18.42 inches by 24.28 inches is slightly more compact than similar medium-duty models.
The vacuum comes with a 10-foot power cord and 7-foot flexible hose, as well as accessory storage on the canister. Additionally, buyers receive several attachments such as a wet nozzle, utility nozzle, crevice tool, and two extension wands.
While not the most powerful or highest capacity option, the Craftsman vac proved to be effective during testing. It effectively cleaned up dirt, dust, and even muddy water. Assembly is required, including attaching the wheels and brackets, but it is not difficult.However, during assembly, it can be easy to secure the vacuum motor to the canister slightly askew, which can greatly reduce suction. This should be kept in mind by buyers.
#5.WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs Vacuum
- Unbelievably powerful; handles most jobs easily
- Enough capacity for even the toughest jobs
- Drain port makes emptying 16 gallons of liquid a breeze
- No HEPA filter; may not trap finer particles
With a built-in auto-shutoff float that prevents overflow accidents, this model also comes with a blower connection, a drain spout, and a 7-foot hose, as well as a variety of attachments including a wet nozzle, a utility nozzle, a car nozzle, and two extension wands.
During testing, this model proved to be one of the most powerful vacuums, effectively cleaning up both dirt and muddy water quickly. Additionally, the vacuum features ample onboard storage spots for organizing attachments. The built-in drain plug also made it easy to empty dirty water. Overall, the Workshop shop vac is a great choice for those in need of a heavy-duty vacuum.
- Lots of power; capable of tackling most projects
- Comes with dust-collection bags
- Brackets for hose storage; keeps everything neat and organized
- Onboard storage isn’t secure; accessories may fall off and get lost
- Finicky assembly compared to similar options
The vacuum features a powerful 6.5-hp motor and a 16-gallon-capacity tank that can be used with or without a dust-collection bag.Buyers receive one bag, and replacement bags are sold separately. Disposing of dry debris is simple with a disposable bag that the user can lift out of the collection tank and throw away. Dust-collection bags are only used when vacuuming dry debris.
The Craftsman comes with a 7-foot flexible hose and a long 20-foot power cord, giving the user ample reach for most cleanup situations. With two extension wands, a car nozzle, a crevice nozzle, a utility nozzle, and a wet nozzle, this wet/dry vac is well suited for DIY and home renovation projects.
We found the Craftsman to deliver just as much power as advertised, making short work of everything we threw at it. We like the power, the fact that it comes with dust-collection bags, and even its organization. The power cord wraps around the handle (which we had to install ourselves, for some reason) and the hose has brackets (that we also had to install) that hold it in place. However, if the hose and cord storage are ideal, the attachment storage is anything but; attachments popped off the vacuum as we pushed it around.
#7.Vacmaster Pro 8 gallon Certified
- By far the best attachments in the group; includes a tool for every task
- Excellent wheels and casters; easy to move around
- 10-foot industrial hose long enough for most tasks
- Comes with HEPA filter; a noticeable bonus compared to other options
- Didn’t have quite the power of the other Vacmaster
- Why don’t we know this model’s horsepower rating?
For unparalleled dust control, consider the Vacmaster Pro 8 wet/dry vac. Equipped with two HEPA filters – a microfiber pre-filter and a cartridge filter – this vacuum is designed to tackle both wet and dry messes while keeping even the smallest particles of dust and pollen out of the air.
The Vacmaster boasts an 8-gallon collection capacity and comes with an extra-long 30-foot power cord and a 10-foot flexible hose. It also includes multiple accessories such as a crevice tool, two steel extension wands, a dust brush, and more. For added dust control, this model can be used with a disposable collection bag (not included).
Unlike other models with plastic attachments, this one comes with durable aluminum attachments that are similar to those found on old-style canister vacuums, featuring click-in buttons and adjustable suction. The 10-foot hose is longer than any other wet/dry vacuum on the market, and the wheels and casters are high-quality for easy maneuverability. However, we did notice that it’s not particularly powerful, and we find it odd that Vacmaster does not disclose the hp rating for this model.
#8.DEWALT 20V MAX Vacuum
- Provides both corded and cordless functionality
- 5-foot hose with wide head; suitable for most jobs
- Integrated HEPA filter; not many similar models include this
- Includes a battery-charger kit and soft storage bag
- May not provide ample suction power for heavy-duty tasks
Operable via its built-in electrical cord or the included 20-volt rechargeable battery, this model features a washable (reusable) HEPA filter and an extendable hose for sucking up small spills, pebbles, and dirt quickly.
This pick has a 2-gallon canister for holding ample dust, debris, and other materials, and the crush-resistant, fully integrated, 5-foot hose with a wide head allows for ample reach in small spaces like under the seats, between seat grooves, and on carpets. The hose can also be wrapped around the canister and secured for compact, easy storage.
For added ease of use, the included battery-charger kit comes with a 4-amp charge-rate charger for quick charging between uses. Perhaps best of all, the DeWalt can be stowed in a closet or on a large shelving unit.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Wet/Dry Vacuum
Choosing the right wet/dry vacuum depends on its intended use. It’s important to consider factors such as primary use, capacity, weight, power source, and necessary attachments.
Size and weight range from lightweight, compact models to large, heavy-duty commercial models. Large shop vacs are better for workshop use while compact models are more suitable for household use and easy transport. Corded vacuums provide a consistent power source but cordless vacuums are more convenient for quick cleanups or limited projects.
Power and performance can be measured by horsepower for corded vacuums and volts for cordless vacuums. Light-duty vacuums are suitable for small tasks, medium-duty vacuums are good for DIY and small construction projects, and heavy-duty vacuums are suitable for commercial use.
Capacity refers to the size of the collection tank and ranges from small (0.5-6 gallons) for handheld models and vacuum mops, medium (6-14 gallons) for larger workshops, and large (14-18 gallons) for busy construction sites.
The length of a hose for a shop vac can range from 6 to 30 feet, depending on the model. Longer hoses provide convenience for users by allowing them to vacuum from one end of a room to the other without having to move the entire vacuum. However, these hoses may become twisted if not properly wound after use. Many shop vacs come with a holder for winding and storing the hose, or the hose can be detached and hung on a wall hook.
The filters in wet/dry vacs serve to capture dust and small debris to prevent recirculation in the air. Most shop vacs have a corrugated paper filter with rubber seals on both ends to prevent dust from escaping. Some vacs also feature a foam prefilter that stops larger particles from reaching the corrugated filter, prolonging its lifespan. It is recommended to remove filters before using the vacuum to clean up water.
Some vacuums come with special multistage filtration systems that include HEPA filters capable of trapping up to 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria larger than 0.3 microns. HEPA filters are more commonly found in residential vacuums and vacuum mops rather than in shop vacs.
Wet/dry vacuums often come equipped with a variety of accessories that enhance their capabilities and allow for more versatile cleaning. These accessories can include a crevice nozzle for reaching tight corners, an elbow wand for cleaning around corners or overhead, a wet nozzle with a squeegee edge for removing liquid spills, and a brush nozzle for cleaning upholstery and car interiors.
Some models may also come with reusable or disposable dust bags for collecting debris. Additionally, many wet/dry vacuums offer a blower connection, which can be used to clear leaves or other debris from yards and garages.
In-home wet/dry vacuums come with additional features that make them more convenient to use. These features include a drain plug for easy release of liquid, built-in holders for cord and hose, filters with antimicrobial ingredients to prevent mold and mildew growth, wall-mounting capability for space-saving, and washable filters for cost-efficient maintenance.
Types of Wet/Dry Vacuums
Having a vacuum that can handle both wet and dry debris eliminates the need for multiple cleaning tools, and can save space in smaller homes and workshops. Among wet/dry vacuums, three popular options are shop vacuums, vacuum mops, and handheld models.
Shop vacuums, also known as wet/dry vacuums, are a popular choice in the DIY industry for their powerful motors and heavy-duty suction capabilities. They have large, bucket-style canisters that can hold a significant amount of debris, up to 14 gallons or more.
These models come with a flexible hose and various attachments for vacuuming while standing or reaching tight spaces. Additionally, they can also effectively clean up liquid messes, making them a versatile tool for a variety of cleaning tasks such as cleaning gutters, reducing water in flooded carpets or draining clogged sump-pump baskets.
Vacuum mops are a convenient addition to any household cleaning routine, as they provide both vacuuming and floor washing capabilities. These machines are similar in appearance to traditional vacuums but often feature a dust-collection bin and a separate container for dirty water. Some models allow for easy switching between vacuuming and floor washing modes.
Some vacuum mops come with additional features such as a rotating brush roll, floor lights, and easy-to-empty collection bins. Some models even have a built-in reservoir for holding cleaning solution, making it ideal for cleaning hardwood floors without leaving excess water that could cause damage. The features of vacuum mops vary depending on the brand and quality.
For quick cleaning tasks, handheld wet/dry vacuums can be a convenient option. These compact devices come in different styles such as:
- Shop style, which are similar to larger shop vacuums but on a smaller scale, including flexible hoses and attachments, and a handle for easy carrying
- Indoor style, which are often cordless, featuring a motor base that attaches to a vacuum nozzle for easy cleaning of pet hair and debris on furniture or stairs
- Tool style, which are made by major power tool manufacturers and use the same lithium-ion batteries as their larger cordless tools, making it easy to switch between cleaning and other tasks.
The Advantages of Owning a Wet/Dry Vacuum
Wet/dry vacuums are a must-have for any workshop or garage, thanks to their versatility and powerful suction capabilities. Here are some of the benefits of owning a wet/dry vacuum:
- Combines the functions of two separate tools, saving space and time.
- Can be used for cleaning up various types of messes, including leaks, spills, and debris.
- Can capture pet hair, dust mites, and other microscopic particles with HEPA filtration.
- Can remove excess water from wet carpeting for faster drying.
- Can be used to clean the interior of cars.
- Can be used to clean up wood chips, shavings, and debris from job sites or workshops.
- Can be used to suck up piles of leaves in corners of garages and sheds.
- Can be used to blow leaves off sidewalks (if the vacuum has a blower connection).
What is a wet/dry vacuum?
A wet/dry vacuum is a type of vacuum cleaner that is designed to handle both wet and dry debris, such as spills, leaks, and dirt.
What are the benefits of having a wet/dry vacuum?
Wet/dry vacuums are versatile and can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks, such as cleaning up spills, removing water from wet carpeting, cleaning the inside of automobiles, and removing debris from a workshop or jobsite. They also eliminate the need for two separate tools.
Are there different types of wet/dry vacuums?
Yes, there are different types of wet/dry vacuums, including shop vacuums, vacuum mops, and handheld vacuum models. Each type has its own unique features and capabilities.
How do I maintain my wet/dry vacuum?
To maintain your wet/dry vacuum, it is important to regularly empty the collection container, clean or replace the filter, and keep the hose and attachments free of debris. It is also important to read the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance and care.
Can wet/dry vacuums be used to clean up water?
Yes, wet/dry vacuums are designed to handle both wet and dry debris, and can be used to clean up water. However, it is important to note that the vacuum should not be overfilled with water, as this can damage the machine.
Is a shop vac the same as a wet/dry vac?
The terms are often used interchangeably, but some shop vacs might not feature wet-suction capabilities.
Is a shop vac more powerful than a regular vacuum?
That depends on both the quality of the regular vacuum and the quality of the shop vac. In general, however, a shop vac is more powerful than a household vacuum.
Can I vacuum water with a shop vac?
Many shop vacs (not all) are also wet/dry vacuums, and users can suck up dirty water as well as dry messes.
Can a wet/dry vac clean carpets?
A shop-type wet/dry vacuum is often the tool of choice for sucking water out of a flooded carpet. It is not, however, a carpet cleaner.
How do I choose a wet/dry vac?
Figure out what type of messes you need to vacuum. Then, select a wet/dry vac with the power and capacity to tackle those messes easily.
What is the most powerful wet/dry vacuum?
Among the most powerful wet/dry vacuums is the Workshop wet/dry vacuum, which comes in as the Best Heavy-Duty pick in this lineup.