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Best Wet-Dry Shop Vacuum [2019]

Shop-Vac 5979403 8-Gallon 6.0 Peak HP Stainless Wet-Dry Vacuum
  • On-board tool storage
  • Stainless steel tank
  • Stable design prevents tip-overs


From the name most associated with wet-dry vacuums, the Shop-Vac 5979403 8-Gallon has plenty of capacity, horsepower, and flexibility for your home improvement needs. This dependable machine has the right options and features to suit most needs at an excellent price. It will easily find a place in your garage or shed with its compact design.

Craftsman CMXEVBE17584 6-Gallon 3.5 Peak HP Wet-Dry Vac
  • Integrated cord and hose storage
  • Respectable power and capacity for most home needs
  • Great value that still includes plenty of extras


Our budget pick may have a smaller price tag, but it does not lack for power, features, and quality. From a trusted name in tools, this Craftsman 6-gallon wet-dry vac has plenty of suction and capacity to meet your needs at a price you can afford.

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RIDGID 50353 1610RV Stainless Steel 16-Gallon Wet-Dry Shop Vacuum
  • Sturdy cart with push handle and large rear wheels
  • Professional-grade construction
  • On-board storage bag for accessories


Professionals, contractors, and those with extensive home improvement projects will appreciate all the extras and standard features of this powerhouse wet-dry vacuum. From RIDGID, a leader in tool manufacturing, the RIDGID 50353 1610RV 16-gallon is sturdy, powerful, and quiet, and you get lots of wonderful accessories in a machine that is easy to use and maneuver.

How We Picked

Wet-dry vacuums are crucial in all types of situations. They can help clean up overflows from washing machines and bathtubs, clean up after sick pets and children, keep your garage and automobiles tidy, save you when your water heater fails, and handle all types of messes that your household vacuum can’t. Having one of these versatile tools is essential for most homeowners, but how do you know which is the right one for you?

Whether you are a professional contractor in need of a vacuum for heavy-duty jobs or a single person who just wants something to keep the house clean, our list of the top ten best wet-dry vacuums has you covered. We have scoured the internet to come up with models that include premium tools, budget-friendly picks, portable options, those perfect for pets and kids, and even ones that can be mounted or used without a cord.

We read industry tests, manufacturer specifications, and customer reviews to find our top choices. These represent industry leaders in vacuum technology as well as standouts in quality and reliability. Our list is as varied as consumers’ needs so that it includes something for everyone. We are sure you will find your perfect wet-dry vacuum among our list of the top ten best for 2019.

Shop-Vac 5979403 8-Gallon 6.0 Peak HP

Shop-Vac 5979403 8-Gallon 6.0 Peak HP

Specs:

  • 8-gallon capacity tank
  • 7 feet of hose
  • Weighs 19 lbs.

Shop-Vac is one of the most trusted names in outdoor vacuums, so much so that their name has come to be used in the generic form to mean any wet-dry vacuum. They offer a wide range of vacuums in their quality line, and their 8-gallon 6 peak horsepower version won our top spot because it finds the perfect blend of capacity, value, size, and flexibility for the average consumer.

Shop-Vac 5979403 8-Gallon 6.0 Peak HP

Anyone who has ever used a wet-dry vac to clean up a wet mess knows the importance of the tank material as well as the ability to drain it easily. All Shop-Vac’s models come with a stainless steel tank, which will not absorb odors from even your messiest spills. You can quickly empty the container with the large, accessible drain port on the side, too.

Shop-Vac 5979403 8-Gallon 6.0 Peak HP and accessories

While this is not the most powerful or largest vacuum in their lineup, the 8-gallon version is perfect for most homeowners, and its compact size means it will not take up a lot of space.

What We Like

The Shop-Vac 8-gallon model is extremely easy to maneuver using either the side handles or the single handle on top. The canister sits atop a stable, full-circumference dolly that prevents tip-overs and always keeps your machine stable.

You still get plenty of power with this smaller version. It moves 75 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) with 6.0 peak horsepower, which is enough for the DIYer or hobbyist who needs to pick up just about any mess in their shop, garage, home, or work area.

You get many helpful accessories with this Shop-Vac model, including three extension wands, a wet-dry nozzle, and a crevice tool. Everything is stored on-board, so you will always have access to what you need within reach.

Overall

The Shop-Vac 5979403 8-Gallon 6.0 Peak HP Stainless Wet-Dry Vacuum is the perfect addition to any home for its ease of use, reliable manufacturing, sufficient capacity, and compact design. You will feel confident cleaning up any mess you and your family can make with this workhorse that is available at a very reasonable price.

Shop-Vac 5979403 8-Gallon 6.0 Peak HP Stainless Wet-Dry Vacuum

  • On-board tool storage
  • Stainless steel tank
  • Stable design prevents tip-overs

Vacmaster Pro 16-Gallon Beast Series

Vacmaster Pro 16-Gallon Beast Series

Specs:

  • 16-gallon capacity tank
  • 7 feet of hose
  • Weighs 29 lbs.

If you have larger messes but do not want a hulking beast of a shop vac taking up room, then this model from Vacmaster is an excellent option.

Vacmaster Pro 16-Gallon Beast Series

You still get plenty of capacity from the 16-gallon tank, but the reasonably compact design of this tool allows it to fit easily just about anywhere. The base moves on sturdy casters, which are easy to roll and provide for a tight turning radius.

Vacmaster Pro 16-Gallon Beast Series accessories

For pros and others who want dependable power and capacity without the premium price tag, this Vacmaster model is for you. The design of this vacuum also includes handy storage for all your accessories, including extension wands and nozzles cleverly stashed along the wheelbase or motor housing.

Someone using the Vacmaster Pro 16-Gallon Beast Series in a workshop

The blower function on the Pro 16-Gallon vac is respectable, giving you enough airflow to remove dust, lighter debris, and leaves from any surface. And this vacuum moves 150 cubic feet of air per minute, which is enough to suck up dirt, wood chips, smaller nails and screws, sawdust, and so much more.

What We Like

Unlike some others on our list, Vacmaster has included integrated hose management and cord storage, both of which will keep your shop more organized and remove trip hazards. The hose wraps around the motor housing using metal rungs, and the cord hangs from a hook on the side and includes a Velcro strap to keep it wound tight.

This behemoth also comes with a drain port that makes for easy emptying of liquids from the tank without needing to lift it. The flat-top design also gives you a place to set tools or cleaning supplies while you work, which is handy.

You may be surprised to see how much you get for a reasonable price with this machine, making this Vacmaster model an excellent value for a large-capacity wet-dry vacuum. Those in the market for a professional-grade tool would do well to consider this choice.

Overall

This large-capacity machine has a lot to offer anyone with bigger messes to address. Despite its generous size, the Vacmaster Pro 16-Gallon Beast Series Wet-Dry Vacuum is still easy to move around. You get plenty of power from this vacuum, and the integrated design touches make sure everything is stored neatly away. This is an excellent option for pros on a budget.

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Vacmaster Pro 16-Gallon Beast Series Wet-Dry Vacuum

  • Integrated hose and cord management
  • Easy maneuverability with sturdy casters
  • Excellent value

RIDGID 50313 4000RV

RIDGID 50313 4000RV Portable Wet-Dry Vacuum

Specs:

  • 4-gallon capacity tank
  • 8 feet of hose
  • Weighs 14 lbs.

When your clean-up needs are small or when you require a wet-dry vac for use in tight spaces, look no further than this, the first of two RIDGID models on our list.

RIDGID 50313 4000RV

This sleek, portable wet-dry vac is perfect for small jobs or when you do not have room to lug around a more massive machine. Even in a small vacuum, though, you still get plenty of suction, thanks to the powerful 5.0 peak horsepower motor.

RIDGID 50313 4000RV and accessories

While this machine still weighs too much to carry around for longer than a few minutes, it comes with a 20-foot cord and an 8-foot hose, giving you plenty of reach once you set it down in any room.

RIDGID 50313 4000RV on a construction site

The handle on top makes it easy to move and carry, and the cord wraps neatly around this to keep it tucked out of the way.

What We Like

For a small machine, this powerful but portable vacuum still moves a lot of air (110 CFM), similar to much larger and bulkier models. This RIDGID model comes with a fine dust accessory, perfect for cleaning drywall dust. The quick-release filter is simple to change and does not require any tools.

The hose on this model is very flexible, allowing you to get into tight spaces with ease. This is an excellent tool for anyone who regularly works in cramped conditions like plumbers, auto detailers, or custom trim carpenters.

The lid stays securely attached and maintains an excellent seal with RIDGID’s unique latch design. This gives you peace of mind when hauling this machine around in your truck or car or around the job site. And like all RIDGID’s products, this compact version has a locking hose connection, which ensures your hose will not pull loose during use.

Overall

Pros and amateurs alike will appreciate this compact but powerful unit for small cleanups or work in tight spaces. You get excellent suction in a compact design, and you will feel confident with RIDGID’s full lifetime warranty on all their wet-vac products. The 50313 4000RV Portable Wet-Dry Vacuum is an excellent choice for those in need of a portable wet-dry vacuum.

RIDGID 50313 4000RV Portable Wet-Dry Vacuum

  • Highly portable and compact
  • Excellent suction comparable to much larger models
  • Lifetime warranty

RIDGID 50353 1610RV Stainless Steel 16-Gallon

RIDGID 50353 1610RV Stainless Steel 16-Gallon Wet-Dry Shop Vacuum

Specs:

  • 16-gallon capacity tank
  • 8 feet of hose
  • Weighs 40 lbs.

The other RIDGID product on our list and our premium pick overall is the perfect choice for contractors, professionals, and anyone with serious clean-up needs.

RIDGID 50353 1610RV Stainless Steel 16-Gallon

RIDGID is a leader in tool manufacturing, and this is one of their most powerful shop-vacs available. You get tons of capacity with the 16-gallon stainless steel tank, which means you can clean up your most substantial messes without needing to empty it.

RIDGID 50353 1610RV Stainless Steel 16-Gallon and accessories

While the average homeowner may not need this large and powerful wet-dry vac, any serious woodworker or avid DIYer will appreciate its ease of use and how well it gets the job done.

RIDGID 50353 1610RV Stainless Steel 16-Gallon on a construction site

You get 10 feet of hose with this machine, allowing you to reach further without needing to move the base. And like our top pick, you get a stainless steel tank that is easy to empty and clean, so your shop vac will not start to smell like your last clean-up job after you use it.

What We Like

This beast of a wet-dry vac is giant, but the easy to maneuver rolling movement and attached handle makes getting it around a breeze. It also comes with an attached storage bag to keep all your accessories close by. And speaking of accessories, you get a lot with this machine, including a utility nozzle, a wet nozzle, a crevice tool, a car nozzle, and a fine dust filter, to name a few. The cord wraps neatly around the top of this vacuum, making it easier to store.

With a 6.5 horsepower motor, you get tremendous airflow that allows you to pick up just about anything, moving 203 cubic feet of air per minute. The surprising part is how quiet this vacuum is thanks to sound reduction technology. The hose attaches to the base using a sturdy locking mechanism that ensures it will not pull out mid-use, too.

Overall

For superior suction as well as enough blowing capacity to clear leaves and debris from anywhere, the RIDGID 50353 1610RV Stainless Steel 16-Gallon Wet-Dry Shop Vacuum is an excellent choice for professional or anyone with large clean-up needs. With reliable construction, quality materials, notable features, and a reasonable price, this is the vacuum of choice for those with more than just the occasional need for a wet-dry vacuum.

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RIDGID 50353 1610RV Stainless Steel 16-Gallon Wet-Dry Shop Vacuum

  • Sturdy cart with push handle and large rear wheels
  • Professional-grade construction
  • On-board storage bag for accessories

Dewalt DCV580H 18/20V MAX Cordless

Dewalt DCV580H 1820V MAX Cordless Wet-Dry Vacuum

Specs:

  • 2-gallon capacity tank
  • 5 feet of hose
  • Weighs 8 lbs.

Our next pick is our second portable wet-dry vac to make the list, and this one from Dewalt is unique because it is completely cordless. When you need a vacuum on the job site or anywhere where you lack an electrical outlet, having the ability to clean up without a cord can be a real lifesaver, and this small machine delivers.

Dewalt DCV580H 1820V MAX Cordless

Compared to other cordless vacuums, this Dewalt model holds quite a bit more, up to two gallons of wet or dry material.

Dewalt DCV580H 1820V MAX Cordless

It can run on either an 18-volt or 20-volt battery, which you will need to purchase separately. But, if you already own Dewalt cordless tools, this is the perfect addition to your workshop because your current batteries are interchangeable.

What We Like

This portable model comes with a respectable 5-foot hose, which is plenty for small jobs and spaces. We love that the square design of this Dewalt model makes it nearly impossible to tip over, and the hose is billed as crushproof.

This machine is much more portable than the other small model on our list, weighing only 8 pounds. And because your cord length does not limit you, you can take this vacuum literally anywhere you need to clean. While you will not be able to handle large debris or pieces with this vacuum, it is perfect for smaller jobs.

Overall

Those who already own Dewalt batteries and chargers will definitely want to consider adding this portable wet-dry vac to their tool kit, and anyone in the market for a cordless and highly portable vacuum should also pay attention. The Dewalt DCV580H 18/20V MAX Cordless Wet-Dry Vacuum has a lot to offer in a small package, including respectable power and the ability to clean wherever you are.

Dewalt DCV580H 18/20V MAX Cordless Wet-Dry Vacuum

  • Cordless design makes cleaning anywhere possible
  • Lightweight design with a sturdy base
  • Comes with a reusable filter that is easy to clean

Craftsman CMXEVBE17584 6-Gallon 3.5 Peak HP

Craftsman CMXEVBE17584 6-Gallon 3.5 Peak HP Wet-Dry Vac

Specs:

  • 6-gallon capacity tank
  • 7 feet of hose
  • Weighs 14 lbs.

This Craftsman model made our Budget Pick for its excellent value in a product that delivers reliable cleaning power from a trusted name in tools.

Craftsman CMXEVBE17584 6-Gallon 3.5 Peak HP and accessories

With a capacity of 6 gallons, you have more than enough to cover most home projects and needs. And, with 10 feet of cord and 7 feet of hose, you have plenty of reach to cover most spaces, too.

Craftsman CMXEVBE17584 in a workshop

Not everyone needs a professional-grade machine or a huge capacity tank, and that is where a tool like this Craftsman model fills the need. The 3.5 peak horsepower motor provides sufficient power and airflow to handle small projects, whole-house cleaning, and messes with ease, and you can quickly reverse the motor to blow off your driveway, patio, or walkway with ease. Situated on sturdy casters, this mighty little machine will roll with you just about anywhere.

What We Like

Because of this machine’s modest price tag, you may not expect much in the way of options, but Craftsman has still designed this machine with many features that will make you happy. They have thoughtfully included integrated cord and hose storage, which keeps these from dangling and getting in the way when not in use. The included accessories are also stored onboard, so they are always close at hand.

This model comes with an extra-large drain, which makes it easy to empty the tank of liquids quickly. You also get two extension arms to increase your reach another 6 feet, a utility nozzle, a car nozzle, the patented qwik-lock filter, and a dust collection bag. The top of the vacuum even has small trays for storing or carrying tools, fasteners, and other small items.

Overall

This reliable, sturdy, and compact design has exactly what you need with plenty of bells and whistles, which is why the price is such a terrific value. The Craftsman CMXEVBE17584 6-Gallon 3.5 Peak HP Wet-Dry Vac is a great option for the average homeowner that just needs a little peace of mind for tackling those occasional messes.

Craftsman CMXEVBE17584 6-Gallon 3.5 Peak HP Wet-Dry Vac

  • Integrated cord and hose storage
  • Respectable power and capacity for most home needs
  • Great value that still includes plenty of extras

Vacmaster VBV1210 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP Wet-Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower

Vacmaster VBV1210 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP

Specs:

  • 12-gallon capacity tank
  • 7 feet of hose
  • Weighs 22 lbs.

This, our second Vacmaster pick of the list, is a great mid-sized vacuum with some distinctive features that make it stand out among the pack.

Vacmaster VBV1210 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP

Unlike the Beast Series, which is targeted more toward professionals, this 12-gallon wet-dry vac is an excellent option for the average homeowner. This versatile but sturdy vacuum can handle your home messes and clean-up needs at an affordable price.

Vacmaster VBV1210 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP accessories

You get plenty of capacity and power with this Vacmaster model, which means you can tackle the jobs you need around your home.

Vacmaster VBV1210 12-Gallon

You will have plenty of reach with the 7 feet of hose plus two extensions, and the accessories make this an excellent tool for tackling messes in the garage, cleaning out the car, or keeping things tidy in the shop.

What We Like

The most unique feature of this wet-dry vac is the detachable blower. The top of this unit literally comes off using a quick-release mechanism, and this part of the vacuum converts into a high-speed blower with 240 mph of power. Among the accessories you get are a blower adapter and nozzle, which makes blowing your leaves, grass clippings, and other debris super easy. It is basically two excellent tools in one.

Like all of Vacmaster’s products, this wet-dry vacuum is built to last and is made from sturdy materials. Accessories are stored onboard to keep them close by, and this machine is easy to move around using the top handle design. It is even easy to empty this mid-sized vacuum with the extra-large drain port on the side. This model is also a little quieter than comparable vacuums, thanks to extra insulation and noise dampening technology.

Overall

From a trusted leader in wet-dry vacuums, the Vacmaster VBV1210 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP Wet-Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower gets you two great tools in one. The vacuum has respectable power and function, and the detachable blower allows you to clean up all the other messes you may face. For a great price, you get a multifunctional tool that will last.

Vacmaster VBV1210 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP Wet-Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower

  • Detachable blower makes this two tools in one
  • Plenty of storage and power to meet your needs
  • Lots of accessories for cleaning all types of jobs

Bissell Garage Pro Wall-Mounted Wet-Dry Car Vacuum/Blower With Auto Tool Kit

Bissell Garage Pro Wall-Mounted

Specs:

  • 4-gallon capacity tank
  • 32 feet of hose
  • Wall-mounted design

Not everyone wants a vacuum taking up floor space in their garage, shed, or shop.

Bissell Garage Pro Wall-Mounted accessories

Bissell heard you and created a wall-mounted version of their wet-dry vacuum that has plenty of hose length to reach where you need it, but it stores neatly out of the way wherever you want to install it.

Bissell Garage Pro Wall-Mounted in the garage

From Bissell, a respected name in vacuum technology, this machine can handle wet or dry messes with a 12-amp motor that delivers enough power for general cleanup needs. It even converts to a blower. With 4-gallons of collection storage, you can clean your entire garage before needing to empty it.

What We Like

The Garage Pro vacuum does an impressive job of removing debris, and the two-stage filter helps to remove particles from the air. You get 32 feet of hose on this machine, so you can reach your whole garage without worrying if your vacuum is still trailing behind you. The hose stores easily on a mounted hanger below your system. It also comes with a carrying bag for all the accessories, which hangs from the vacuum once mounted, keeping everything together.

This is a great option for those who want a wet-dry vac but do not need the portability of one on wheels. And because it comes with great accessories, it is the perfect option for those who like to keep their cars clean regularly. The storage tank is at the bottom and easily releases for emptying, as well.

Overall

If you do not have a lot of floor space to store a conventional wet-dry vacuum, this Bissell Garage Pro Wall-Mounted Wet-Dry Car Vacuum/Blower With Auto Tool Kit is a great option. The wall-mounted design keeps everything out of the way when not in use and includes excellent accessories for keeping your cars and other vehicles clean.

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Bissell Garage Pro Wall-Mounted Wet-Dry Car Vacuum/Blower With Auto Tool Kit

  • Wall-mounted design saves floor space
  • Auto toolkit makes cleaning vehicles easy
  • 32 feet of hose to reach your entire garage

Bissell CrossWave Pet Pro Multi-Surface Wet Dry Vac

Bissell CrossWave Pet Pro Multi-Surface Wet Dry Vac

Specs:

  • Two collection tanks
  • Cordless stick vacuum design
  • Weighs 11 lbs.

Our second Bissell model is unlike any other wet-dry vacuum on our list and is perfect for indoor use, especially for those with pets.

Emptying the Bissell CrossWave Pet Pro

The CrossWave Pet Pro is an upright vacuum that is lightweight and easy to use. It can handle wet or dry messes around your home on hard surfaces or carpet, making it the vacuum of choice for those with pets or small children.

Bissell CrossWave Pet Pro used on a floor mat

In addition to being able to vacuum your floors with this tool, you can also use it to clean up pet stains and other wet messes, which you can’t do with a standard vacuum. The Pet Pro model also comes with a brush roller and a pet hair filter, plus it works perfectly with Bissell’s pet formulas and cleaners to keep your floors tidy.

What We Like

Unlike other wet-dry vacuums, the Bissell Pet Pro gives you a tank to store clean water, allowing you to thoroughly clean floor messes rather than just suction them up. The dirty water is stored in a separate container, which means you are always ready to tackle any mess your family may bring. So, you are not just getting rid of those wet messes in your house; you are actually cleaning up after them all in one easy step.

Because this vacuum also has excellent suction power for everyday messes, it can be used to take care of whatever debris you may find around your home with no troubles. It is small and lightweight enough even to handle the stairs.

While this is not the most powerful vacuum you will find, it does an excellent job of tackling those harder jobs, like pet messes, wet spills, and ordinary family dust and detritus. If you want to get away from having to scrub your floors on hands and knees, this is the tool for you.

Overall

This multi-surface tool is perfect for families with frequent messes on the floor. Pets and kids can cause lots of sticky, wet messes, but the Bissell CrossWave Pet Pro Multi-Surface Wet Dry Vac can handle them all. Use it on your hardwood, laminate, tile, and other hard-surface floors or on area rugs and short-pile carpet with ease.

Bissell CrossWave Pet Pro Multi-Surface Wet Dry Vac

  • Lightweight indoor vacuum
  • Can vacuum up and clean wet and dry floor messes in one step
  • Storage tank for clean water allows you to spot clean area rugs

Stanley 4-Gallon 4.0 HP Wet-Dry Vacuum with Stainless Steel Tank

Stanley 4-Gallon 4.0 HP Wet-Dry Vacuum

Specs:

  • 4-gallon capacity tank
  • 5 feet of hose
  • Weighs 8 lbs.

From Stanley, a leader in tools since 1843, this small but mighty 4-gallon wet-dry vac is a terrific addition to your home, workshop, or garage.

Stanley 4-Gallon 4.0 HP with accessories

Its compact design means it takes up less floor space in your garage than other models with similar capacity. You get a 4-gallon stainless steel tank, which is great for preventing odors from seeping in and never leaving.

Cleaning a rug with the Stanley 4-Gallon 4.0 HP

This utilitarian unit delivers 70 cubic feet of air per minute, which is enough airflow for most homes’ needs, even handling stubborn messes with ease. You have a 15-foot reach with cord plus hose, which means you can reach wherever you need to. The stainless steel design also makes this model lightweight, allowing you to move it around without trouble.

What We Like

The cord for this model is stored neatly on the vacuum, which keeps it from getting in the way. All your accessories are also right at hand with onboard storage for everything you will need. The small wheelbase means this machine can be stored just about anywhere but also can fit into tighter spaces where larger, more cumbersome vacuums can’t go.

You get plenty of accessories with this Stanley model, including three extension wands for increasing your cleaning reach, a crevice tool, an all-purpose utility nozzle, and a floor brush. The four swivel casters keep this machine well balanced while also increasing maneuverability.

Overall

This stainless steel wet-dry vacuum from Stanley is an excellent addition to your home workspace or your clean-up toolkit. With dependable power and plenty of capacity, you will be able to handle any household chore with the Stanley 4-Gallon 4.0 HP Wet-Dry Vacuum with Stainless Steel Tank. Because of its small size, you will not feel like it is always in the way, either.

Bissell CrossWave Pet Pro Multi-Surface Wet Dry Vac

  • Compact design makes it easier to store
  • Stainless steel tank resists odor build-up
  • Swivel casters and lightweight design make it easy to move around

Buyer’s Guide to Finding the Best Wet-Dry Vacuum

Capacity

This seems like the simplest factor to consider. Will you regularly be using this machine to clean up large messes, especially wet ones, which require a larger tank? Or are you just planning to use it for smaller jobs? The size of the holding tank varies widely on wet-dry vacs, and the larger the tank, the bigger the machine, and the less often you need to empty it. Getting a tool that has enough capacity is important without buying something that is simply too big for your storage space.

Suction/Power

What you plan to clean up will help you determine how much suction or power you really need. If your vacuum will be used to suck up nails and screws from a construction site, for example, you will need a lot more power than if you are just vacuuming out your car now and then. If you plan to clean up extremely small particles, like drywall dust, you need the right power, too. The average user will do fine with anywhere between 70- 120 CFM, while professionals may require more air movement and suction power.

Filters

The filter on your vacuum is the part that will need to be replaced most often, so you want to be sure you know how easy it is to change these as well as the cost of replacement. Some filters are designed to remove very tiny particulates, including drywall dust, baking flour, and allergens, while others just catch the big stuff. Knowing your needs as well as your budget will help you determine which is right for you.

Portability & Weight

If you need to be able to move your wet-dry vac around frequently, including up stairs or over uneven ground, you should take this into consideration when choosing a model. Some are more portable than others, while maneuverability varies widely, as well. Look for models with easy-to-grip handles, a carrying handle on more portable units, and sturdy wheels and bases that resist tipping or catching on debris. How much a unit weighs is essential, especially when you consider how much it will weigh when full of water or waste.

Hose & Power Cord Length

Your wet-dry vac will only reach as far as your power cord and hose allow, so you want to be sure you have enough reach to meet your needs. If you are only using it in your garage, you probably have access to multiple outlets you can use for power, but on the job site, there may not be more than one option. Hoses need to be stored, too, when not in use, so consider if your unit has integrated storage or if you will need to find a solution for managing it.

Accessories

Most wet-dry vacs come with some accessories and attachments, but you want to be sure yours includes what you will need. Nozzles and extensions are great for helping you get into tight or awkward spaces. Does your machine have a place to store attachments on board or will you need to find a storage solution for those in your garage or shop?

Noise

No vacuum will be super quiet, so do not expect to find one that is silent, but some wet-dry vacs include noise-reducing systems that will keep the sound to a minimum. If this is important for you, look for those with better insulation or muffling features.

Ease of Emptying

Once your wet-dry vac is full, you will need to empty it, so you should consider this when deciding on a model to buy. Those with drains near the bottom are great for emptying wet messes because you do not have to lift the entire unit to dump it out. Some models use a bag inside to make emptying more manageable, too.

Quality

Most wet-dry vacs are built to withstand rugged use, but the quality of materials and manufacturing still varies widely. If you plan to use this machine for years to come, look at the quality of the hoses, wheel assembly, and connections, as these are common failure points. The materials used in the drum are also relevant, with stainless steel being the best option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a wet-dry vacuum used for?

A: These vacuums, unlike other household cleaning systems, can be used for many purposes and to clean up all sorts of messes. Because you can clean up wet or dry debris, these vacuums are great for cleaning indoors or outdoors. Their large capacity makes them ideal for big jobs like construction projects, woodworking shops, and outdoor needs. Many are powerful enough to suck up small rocks, leaves, construction debris, and other larger particles. They can also clean up water, other liquids, and water-logged debris, as well.

Q: Do I need a HEPA filter on my wet-dry vacuum?

A: HEPA stands for high-energy particulate air, and these filters remove very tiny particles from your home or workspace. Most HEPA filters work up to 1 micron, which means they can handle some allergens and fine dust, like from drywall or powders. If you plan to use your wet-dry vac to clean up these types of particles, be sure it comes with or can be used with a HEPA filter, or you will just end up blowing these particles back into the air.

Q: Can a filter be cleaned, or do I have to replace it?

A: Some models include reusable filters that can be rinsed and reused, but that is not true of all models. Those with foam-type filters can usually be reused, while some cartridge filters can be cleaned by physically hitting them to shake out the dust particles. Always read your instruction manual to learn how to care for your vacuum’s filter.

Q: Will my wet-dry vacuum also work as a blower?

A: Most models include the capability to reverse the motor and blow air out instead of suck it in. Some even come with special blower attachments to make this chore easier. Read your owner’s manual to learn about your model’s blowing capabilities.

Q: How important is the filter on my wet-dry vacuum?

A: The filter is all that separates the air around you from the particles you are vacuuming up. Without a filter, you will be sending those same particles back into the air around you, which is why your filter is especially important. Taking care of your filter will ensure that it is able to remove particles when your vacuum is turned on. For those with allergies or who work around small particulates, it is important that your filter removes these fine particles, too. The liquids you clean up also come with contaminants, so your filter needs to be able to handle these, as well.

Q: What can my wet-dry vacuum suck up?

A: Depending on the power and suction capacity of your model, your vacuum may be able to remove larger debris like nails, twigs, and more substantial pieces. The capacity of your tank will determine how much you can vacuum up before needing to empty the tank and start again. In the case of water or other liquids, your vacuum will have a rating for how much water per minute it can suction.

Conclusion

Buying a wet-dry vacuum is an investment in your home and family. These tools are perfect for suctioning up the hard-to-manage messes that other cleaning tools can’t, and having one means you are always ready to handle the little emergencies and inconveniences that life likes to throw our way.

Wet-dry vacuums are great for use around the house, garage, workshop, shed, and construction site. Those with more professional needs will want a machine made from materials that can withstand ongoing use, but the average homeowner does not necessarily need a professional-grade model for addressing the occasional chore around the house.

There are many options available for those looking for a wet-dry vacuum, and you do not need to skimp on quality to still get a terrific value. And the trusted names on our list have long histories of innovation and technology in their field, which means you are getting reliable, respected products, too.

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