The Best Shop Vacuum: Wet Dry Vac Reviews

Is your regular vacuum just not as great for heavy-duty cleaning? The truth is, even some of the best household vacs aren’t strong enough for specific cleaning tasks. In most cases, cleaning garages, job sites, and other such places that are typically dirtier than homes require a different vacuum.

If that’s precisely what you’re looking for, you should try using a wet dry vac. These machines come in different shapes and sizes but are often much more powerful than regular cleaners.

A quality wet dry vacuum can clean larger debris than what your regular vac can pick up. Also, some can even work in wet conditions, depending on the construction and several other specifications.

Take a moment to read about these unique machines in the article below. We’ll discuss some of the best models as well as guidelines on how to choose one for your needs.

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Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose The Right One

Size/Capacity

The best way to decide the size of your wet dry vacuum is to think about your needs in terms of capacity. These machines come in a wide variety of sizes, so think about if you’d need a big or a small one.

If you have a large mess to clean, you should opt for a unit that has a large capacity tank. You won’t have to empty it as often, so the cleaning sessions will be much easier. However, the large capacity tank requires plenty of storage space, so make sure to consider that.

If you live in an apartment or don’t have as much storage space, you should look into a smaller model. Luckily, the market offers plenty of smaller, portable shop vacs that are easier to store away if storage is something you usually struggle with.

Another thing you should keep in mind is its weight. Vacs that are larger in capacity are often much more cumbersome, especially once they’re full.

Performance

When it comes to performance, you should consider its airflow and suction. The term peak horsepower is often used to refer to the output of its motor. However, peak horsepower isn’t the only thing you can use to determine the performance of a wet dry vacuum.

  • Sealed pressure (SP) – you may have noticed this measurement when you bought your regular vac. It’s a crucial specification for all cleaners, especially those that you’ll use to pick up water with. In other words, this is suction pressure measured in inches of water. If the rating is greater than 75, the vac is considered to be a high-end one.
  • Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) – if you’re looking to pick up fine debris such as dust; you want a higher CFM rating. It measures the maximum airflow that the vac achieves at its largest opening.
  • AirPower or Air-Watts (AP) – This is the amount of power that turns into airflow at the inlet. It’s crucial for picking up larger and heavier debris such as bolts and nuts.

Filter

Filters are crucial for the vac to function properly. For this reason, you should always check with the manufacturer that you’re getting the right filter.

Using the wrong filter could result in several issues such as water and dust blowing back into the air. You should look or a filter with a good filtration level if you’re looking to pick up larger debris.

For medium debris, you might want to check out a medium filtration level. For fine debris like dust, you should go for a fine filtration level. If you’re cleaning wet debris, you should use a foam sleeve over the filter of your choice.

However, if you’re prone to allergies, you should think carefully about the filter you choose. HEPA cartridge filters might be a good option in case of allergies.

Another thing you should consider is whether the filter is washable or replaceable, and how does that help your needs and preferences. A common question that customers have is whether or not you can use a shop vac without a filter . And the simple answer is, it depends. Be sure to read our guide as we go a little bit more in-depth with this question.

Length/Size of Hose

Another thing you should figure out is how long you want the hose to be. The best way to determine this is to think about what you’ll use the vac for the most.

Think about the debris you’ll clean and whether you need a wide or a thin hose for the job. In most cases, hoses start with a width of 1.25 inches, going up to 2.5 inches in total.

The wider the hose, the bigger pieces it can pick up, so make sure to consider what you’ll clean the most. You should also consider the length of the hose that would work the best for you.

Those that are longer can usually reach further away and to different hard-to-reach areas. However, keep in mind that sometimes, a long hose means reduced suction.

Detachable Blower

These units can be quite versatile as some of them work as blowers and detachable blowers. If you have a big yard or generally a large area to clean, you should consider one of those.

Detachable blowers work as leaf blowers and are ideal for cleaning big yards. In a way, a wet dry vacuum that also works as a blower is like having two units in one. It’s a versatile solution.

Still, you can use it in your workshop just as well. Having a blower helps if you have hard-to-reach areas where it’s impossible to use a vac.

Use it to simply blow the dust and dirt away from corners and other tight areas before using a pack to pick them up.

Tank Drain

If you’re planning to pick up a lot of water, you might want to consider getting a tank drain. It’s an additional opening in the tank that allows you to empty it into a drain with ease. It’s meant to make the entire cleaning process easier to complete.

It’s not so essential if you don’t think you’ll pick up much or any water at all. In most cases, it’s a feature recommended to people who want to clean wet areas and large quantities of water.

Having a tank drain makes the process much easier, so you might want to consider getting it.

Plastic or Stainless?

Choosing between the two materials depends mostly on your preferences and needs. In most cases, you want to consider what you’ll use the vac for and whether the material of your choice can endure the task.

The main difference between the two is quite simple to understand. Those that are made of plastic are lighter in weight than those made of stainless steel. They’re also less likely to bend.

However, stainless steel is durable and easier to clean. It might not be as lightweight, but many consider it easier to work with nonetheless

In most cases, you cannot go wrong with either because both materials have their pros and cons. For this reason, make sure to consider them well before making the final decision.

Product NameWeightDimensionsCord Length
Craftsman 17595 Galon Heavy Duty26 lbs21.3 x 21.3 x 23.8 in 20 ft
Shop Vac 598930012 lbs14 x 14 x 21 in 6 ft
DeWALT 6 Gallon Wet or Dry Vac14.77 lbs15.5 x 19.5 x 16.5 in 10 ft
Armor Utility Vacuum7 lbs10.6 x 14.2 x 14.4 in 10 ft
Vacmaster Professional14.5 lbs21.96 x 14.56 x 14.56 in 20 ft
Vacmaster 6 Gallon Stainless15.8 lbs21.25 x 15.75 x 12.75 in 12 ft
Stanley SL1811514.05 lbs25.00 x 16.00 x 16.00 in 10 ft
Bissell MultiClean Garage Cleaner6.1 lbs16 x 16 x 24.5 in 19 ft
DeWALT Gallon Wet Dry Vac13.23 lbs12.5 x 15 x 19 in 20 ft
Shop-Vac 5.5 Peak HP Utility Vacuum16.45 lbs20.5 x 13.8 x 17.2 in 18 ft
Shop Vac 589520012 lbs12.4 x 11.6 x 17 in 18 ft
Stanley 12 Gallon20.4 lbs23.6 x 17.5 x 17.5 in 10 ft
RIDGID 14 GalPeak Auto Detailing29.3 lbs22.2 x 19.5 x 26 in 20 ft
AUTLEAD Vacuum5.8 kg14.5 x 14.5 x 21.4 in 5 m

Most Powerful Wet Dry Shop Vac Reviews

Craftsman 17595 Galon Heavy Duty

This heavy-duty unit has 6.5 peak horsepower, which is more than enough for most of your large projects. It’s ideal for people who need a vac for their jobsite, shop, or garage.

It has a built-in blower port in the back which allows you to clean tight and hard-to-reach areas with ease. It also makes it easy to clean leaves and grass clippings in your yard, garage, or anywhere else.

Since it’s a wet/dry vac, this Craftsman unit also features an oversized drain for easier and more convenient emptying of whatever liquid you pick up.

Its hose measures 2-2/1 inches in diameter and features the brand’s well-known dual-flex technology. It’s what allows 180-degree of mobility at each end and helps resist kicking.

The vac comes with several accessories such as the dual-flex hose, utility nozzle, wet nozzle, and a car nozzle.

Craftsman 17595 Galon Heavy Duty Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Wattage: 1440 W

Pros

  • Qwik Lock filter
  • Dual-flex hose
  • Cleans wet and dry debris

Cons

  • It comes with no instructions

Shop Vac 5989300

This is a wet dry vacuum featuring a 5-gallon stainless steel tank. It has 4.5 peak horsepower motor and the ability to clean even the most persistent pieces of large and small debris.

The unit is quite maneuverable and has a top and side handles for easier mobility. On top of that, it comes with an onboard accessory and cord storage.

It comes with a positive lid latch and a rear blower port for some added versatility. The package also includes a 7-foot hose, crevice tool, three wands, a gulper nozzle, floor nozzle, foam sleeve, cartridge filter, and a filter bag.

The unit is a versatile solution for most households and workshops with heavy-duty messes. A part of what makes it as convenient is the wide selection of filters, adapters, and different accessories.

Shop Vac 5989300 Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 6 ft
  • Weight: 12 lbs
  • Hose Length: 7 ft

Pros

  • 1.25” diameter accessories
  • Stainless steel tank
  • Works as a blower

Cons

  • The power cable is a bit short

DeWALT 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

If you’re looking for a smaller unit to use in your garage or yard, you should consider this DeWalt model. It’s among the best-selling models on the market due to its overall quality and reliability.

The unit features a 6-gallon tank and is meant for both wet and dry cleaning. The motor has 4 peak horsepower, which is enough for most cleanup jobs in your garage, workshop or yard.

It comes with ultra-durable rubberized casters allowing you smooth maneuverability and easier mobility across different floor surfaces.

The unit also features a 10’ power cord along with a wrap for more accessible storage. The extended reach allows you to clean areas that aren’t as easily accessible. It also has a built-in blower port which is ideal for blowing debris and sawdust from most surfaces.

DeWALT 6 Gallon Wet or Dry Vac Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 10 ft
  • Weight: 14.77 lbs
  • Tank Capacity: 6 GAL

Pros

  • Ideal for small jobs
  • Has a cord wrap
  • Easy to maneuver with

Cons

  • The cord might be short for you

Armor Utility Vacuum

If 5-gallon units are still somewhat large for you, you might want to consider getting an even smaller unit. This one holds 2.5 gallons of both solids and liquids in its polypropylene tank.

The vacuum has a motor of 6 amps and 2.0 peak horsepower. It provides ample suction power, and because it has a blower function, you can also use it as a blower.

One of its best features is the auto shut-off. It detects that the tank is full and shuts the unit off to prevent overflow.

The unit has a top handle that contributes to shop vac portability. It weighs 7 pounds, which is considered relatively lightweight for a wet dry vacuum.

It comes with a 10-ft cord, which might not be enough for some people. However, you can always use one or two extension cords if you’re working outdoors.

Armor Gallon Utility Vacuum Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 10 ft
  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Dirt Tank Capacity: 2.5 GAL

Pros

  • 10-ft cord
  • Reusable filters
  • No assembly required

Cons

  • No extension wand/tube

Vacmaster Professional

This Vacmaster cleans both dry and wet debris from different surfaces in your garage, workshop, and yard. It features a 12-gallon polypropylene tank that’s durable and can probably endure rougher handling.

Its 5.5 peak horsepower motor delivers enough power and suction to clean different types of a mess across various surfaces. The motor is quiet, so the vac won’t be as loud as wet dry vacs usually are.

On top of that, this one has integrated hose storage for more convenience. Storing the hose inside the vac is often the more convenient option for many people regardless of where you store the vac.

Its cord measures some 20’ in total, allowing you to reach to some farther areas of your workshop and garage. It also has a cord wrap for easier storage of the cable. Another thing worth noting is that the machine converts into a blower.

Vacmaster Professional Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Weight: 14.5 lbs
  • Wattage: 1416

Pros

  • Cleans both wet and dry debris
  • Integrated hose storage
  • Cord wrap

Cons

  • The power cord is on the front side

Vacmaster 6 Gallon Stainless

If you want something that looks as fiercely as it performs, you might want to consider this Vacmaster model. It’s smaller than the one we reviewed above as it comes with a 6-gallon tank.

The vacuum comes with a 7ft hose and 12ft cord along with a cord wrap. A few other attachments included are the two extension wands, air control nozzle, multi-surface floor nozzle, crevice tool, 2-in-1 utility nozzle, and a round dust brush.

This one has a standard cartridge filter, dust bag, and a reusable foam sleeve. These work together to pick up and trap even the smallest and finest dust particles.

The switch is dust-sealed so no dirt will get stuck there over time. Also, it comes with onboard accessory storage allowing you to carry the attachments with you as you clean.

Vacmaster 6 Gallon Stainless Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 12 ft
  • Weight: 15.8 lbs
  • Tank Capacity: 6 GAL

Pros

  • Weather-resistant design
  • Well-balanced
  • 3 peak HP

Cons

  • Weighs over 15 pounds

Stanley SL18115

This mid-size vac is easy to use even though it weighs almost 15 pounds. It’s among the best models from the brand, mostly because it’s as compact for a wet dry vacuum.

It features a 5-gallon stainless steel tank along with 4.0 peak horsepower motor. Its airflow is measured to be at 85 CFM, which is enough for most cleaning tasks in your workshop and garage.

The unit works as a blower as well, thanks to its rear blower port. You can use it to clean your yard or other areas that aren’t as near your reach.

It comes with a 10-ft cord with a built-in wrap for easier storage. It makes the unit more convenient and simple to use and store away.

The accessories included are the ¼-inch x 5-foot hose, crevice nozzle, two extension wands, gulper nozzle, floor brush, cloth bag, dust bag, and a foam filter.

Stanley SL18115 Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 10 ft
  • Weight: 14.05 lbs
  • Tank Capacity: 5 GAL 

Pros

  • Swiveling casters
  • Cord storage
  • Works as a blower

Cons

  • It dents quite easily

Bissell MultiClean Garage Cleaner

Bissell is among the most popular brands in the industry of vacuums. For this reason, you might want to check one of the few wet dry vacs the brand has to offer.

The MultiClean features an 11amp motor and is meant for both wet and dry cleaning. It’s powerful and able to clean most types of dirt and dust that can be found in your workshop, jobsite, and garage.

This one has a 6-gallon tank which should be enough for most basic jobs. It also works as a blower allowing you to clean your doorway, garage, porch, and other such areas. You can use this function to blow up inflatable toys and mattresses as well.

The machine has a two-stage filtration system for easier cleaning. It comes with a specialized tool kit, crevice tool, precision tool, wet suction tool upholstery brush, and inflatable nozzle tools.

Bissell MultiClean Garage Cleaner Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 19 ft
  • Weight: 6.1 lbs
  • Motor Power: 11 Amp

Pros

  • Full tank indicator
  • Auto-cleaning kit
  • Airflow regulator

Cons

  • No cord rewind

DeWALT Portable Gallon Wet Dry

This portable 4-gallon shop vacuum has a toolbox design that makes it convenient and easy to use. It’s a polly container weighing a little over 13 pounds.

It features onboard accessory storage for easier location of all attachments. The extension and wand storage are also included.

The unit has a powerful 5 peak horsepower motor, and it provides enough suction to pick up most dry and wet messes. It’s a compact machine that’s ideal for garages, workshops, and jobsites.

This one comes with an ultra-flexible hose that extends up to 7’ which is enough to reach most areas and corners. It also has a long power cord measuring some 20’ as well as a cord-wrap solution.

It comes with a reusable and washable cartridge filter that picks up and filters in both dry and wet situations.

DeWALT Gallon Wet Dry Vac Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Weight: 13.23 lbs
  • Hose Length: 7 ft

Pros

  • Ideal for small jobs
  • Has a cord wrap
  • Easy to maneuver with

Cons

  • The cord might be short for you

Shop-Vac 5.5 Peak HP Utility Vacuum

This wet dry vacuum has SVX2 motor technology that ensures longer life and more efficient performance. It’s a quiet motor, so the unit isn’t as loud as most shop vacuums on the market. The engine has 5.5 peak horsepower in total.

It’s built to be convenient, so the unit has an onboard cord wrap which also wipes the cord clean. It comes with a tool storage basket for all the accessories to stay within your reach. Its hose storage allows you to store the hose inside the vac for easier use.

The machine has a rear blower port allowing you to convert it into a blower. This one comes with a 1-1/4’’x7’ lockdown hose, dual surface nozzle, two extension wands, 10’’ wet dry nozzle, gulper nozzle, crevice tool, round brush, high-efficiency filer bag, and a cartridge filter with a retainer.

Shop-Vac 5.5 Peak HP Utility Vacuum Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 18 ft
  • Weight: 16.45 lbs
  • Wattage: 1392

Pros

  • Rear wheels
  • Works as a blower
  • For wet and dry cleaning

Cons

  • The hose might be too narrow

Shop Vac 5895200

If you need a small wet dry vac, you might want to consider this one. It has a 2.5-gallon tank and a motor of 2.5 peak horsepower motor. It’s easy to move it around thanks to its roll casters and a top carry handle.

This is a dry/wet vacuum with 1.25’’ diameter tools including dual surface nozzle, two extension wands, a 7-foot hose, a gulper nozzle, crevice tool, wall-mount bracket, and a round brush. It also has a rear blower port allowing you to use the vac as a leaf blower.

Because it’s as versatile and efficient, the cleaner is suitable for everything from household messes to those found in workshops and garages. It comes with a wide range of filters, adapters, and accessories to help you in the cleaning process.

Shop Vac 5895200 Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 18 ft
  • Weight: 12 lbs
  • Hose Length: 7 ft

Pros

  • For wet and dry cleaning
  • Rear blower port
  • Easy to carry around

Cons

  • The hose might be too flexible

Stanley 12 Gallon

If you need a large wet dry vacuum, this might be the right choice for you. It’s a 12-gallon tank that’s suitable for both wet and dry cleaning.

It comes with a powerful motor of 6.0 peak horsepower that provides enough power and suction to tackle most household and jobsite messes. You can use it in workshops, construction sites, or at home, depending on your needs.

The vac has a rear blower port allowing you to use it as a blower for leaf cleaning. It’s an ideal solution if you have a big yard or a jobsite with lots of hard-to-reach areas.

This Stanley unit has swiveling casters to allow easier movement, especially since it’s as large. Also, it comes with a built-in 10-foot power cord and a wrap for easier storage.

Stanley 12 Gallon Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 10 ft
  • Weight: 20.4 lbs
  • Maximum Current: 7 amps

Pros

  • 85-CFM airflow
  • Large tank
  • Cord storage

Cons

  • Weighs over 20 pounds

RIDGID 14 GalPeak Auto Detailing

This might be one of the best options for people who need a versatile kit. The machine is capable of cleaning both dry and wet messes and is designed to deliver top performance in both conditions.

It’s a 14-gallon tank, so it’s pretty large and suitable for rugged construction. It also has a 6.0 peak horsepower motor delivering high-efficiency during heavy-duty jobs.

It features a 3-layer fine dust filter and onboard accessories for more comfortable use. The machine has a top handle with a cord wrap and a large drain allowing you to empty the tank quickly.

On top of that, this one comes with a unique noise-reduction technology which offers quieter performance.

The accessories included in the kit are the two wands, hoses, utility nozzle, car nozzle, wet nozzle, crevice tool, stiff bristle brush, soft bristle brush, claw nozzle, two adapters, filters, and collection bags.

RIDGID 14 GalPeak Auto Detailing Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Weight: 29.3 lbs
  • Capacity: 14 GAL

Pros

  • Works as a blower
  • Plenty of different accessories
  • 360-degree casters

Cons

  • Quite heavy

AUTLEAD Vacuum

This 5.5-gallon tank is probably enough for your home and workshop. It’s meant for both wet and dry conditions, so you can use it in different ways. It works on carpets, floors, in garages, cars and different surfaces.

It has an easy-to-open hook which releases the waste to the trash can making it much easier to empty the tank. The motor generates the 1200W strong suction and blows force allowing versatile use.

This one comes with a T-brush, floor brush, and a soft brush. The package also includes a disposable dust bag, HEPA filter, three wands, and a cloth filter.

The tank is made of stainless steel, so it’s relatively durable but somewhat easy to dent. It has onboard accessory storage and rubber casters for easier mobility.

AUTLEAD Vacuum Product Image

Specifications

  • Cord Length: 5 m
  • Weight: 5.8 kg
  • Hose Length: 1.8 m

Pros

  • Dual filtration system
  • Wet suction function
  • Easy-to-empty tank

Cons

  • The wheels are tricky to use

What is a Shop Vac Good For?

A quality shop vac is good for construction sites and woodworking shops. It’s the main reason why these machines are called shop vacs.

These vacuums are meant for picking up small metal pieces like nails and screws. They’re also great for sucking up sawdust, chunks of wood, and other such small objects you might have in your working area.

Still, you can use a shop vac in domestic conditions just as well although it’s not what the unit is built for. In most cases, these aren’t as ideal for home-clean tasks because they’re more rugged than typical domestic vacuum cleaners.

Some units, especially the high-end ones, are able to work with both wet and dry messes. Those that can pick up water are called wet/dry shop vacs and are typically quite versatile and efficient.

These are great for construction sites since those can get quite wet. With a wet/dry shop vac, you don’t have to worry about whether the wet debris will damage its components and filters.

Shop vacs are more powerful than regular household vacuums, which is what makes them good for more heavy-duty cleaning tasks. These can pick up heavier objects that your regular vac probably can’t, and they’re unlikely to clog.

Difference Between a Shop Vac and a Normal Household Vacuum

As we mentioned, shop vacs are much more powerful than their household counterparts. Clogging them is also nearly impossible, which isn’t the case with household vacs.

The most significant difference between the two is suction power. Shop vacs are intended for bigger cleaning tasks where you’re mainly cleaning heavy objects or large quantities of dust and debris.

While normal units only clean dirt, dust and pet hair, shop vacs suck up wood chunks, screws, nails and possibly even water.

Shop vacs usually have bigger hoses that are also tougher and harder to damage. These can handle chunky and even sharp pieces that your normal cleaner probably can’t.

However, size is also a significant difference. Shop vacs are almost always bigger than regular, household units you use on carpets and hardwood.

They’re usually bigger because they’re indented for cleaning larger messes and more massive objects. Though their large size is justified, you’ll need to figure out a good storage place.

Unlike household vacs, shop ones often don’t have filters. If they do, these filters aren’t as efficient as those in household units. Also, most shop cleaners have to be lifted and flipped upside down in order to empty them, which could be challenging if it’s a big vac.

One good thing however, is that there are shop vacs that are cordless that’s available in the market.

What’s a Good CFM for a Shop Vac?

Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is how we measure air volume. It states the volume of air that the unit can move from its intake to the exhaust in whatever amount of time. It’s not to be confused with static pressure through the two work hand in hand.

Static pressure shows how much resistance a cleaner can overcome to move a volume of air through its pipes and hoses. For a wet dry vac, the raw CFM figure is much more important than the raw static pressure.

Airflow is a result of suction, so you can never have airflow without suction although you can have suction without airflow.

Lower-end vacs typically have an airflow of 120CFM to 150CFM. Commercial-grade and high-end vacs usually have more than that and are able to pick up heavier objects and debris.

Final Thoughts

Shop vacuums are ideal for a wide variety of jobs and cleaning tasks. These powerful units are far more efficient than regular vacs we use in our homes, which is what makes them more suitable for jobsites and workshops.

As you noticed, most units can work in both wet and dry conditions. On top of that, the market has plenty of models to offer; all of which are different in terms of accessories, mobility, and tank capacity.

Olivera Jancikin

I’ve been a dedicated writer for Clean That Floor for approximately 3 years. I’ve written about various topics, mostly focusing on cleaning products, vacuum cleaners, mops, and simple cleaning solutions for homeowners. I enjoy testing tips and tricks on house maintenance, reviewing both the process and results.

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