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The Best Wet Dry Vacuum

Last updated on October 15, 2019

We looked at the top 11 Wet Dry Vacuums and dug through the reviews from 63 of the most popular review sites including Pro Tool Zone, New York Times Wirecutter, The Humble Mechanic, Woodbrew, Wood Working Toolkit, DIY House Help and more. The result is a ranking of the best Wet Dry Vacuums.

Best Wet Dry Vacuum

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Our Picks For The Top Wet Dry Vacuums

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

WORKSHOP

Wet/Dry Vac 16-Gal

Overall Take

No More MessThe WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vac 16-Gal is perfect for large jobs, since it has a big storage capacity and is super powerful.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, The Spruce, Drill Press View, Workshop Addict, Brains and Brawn and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Compatable w/various HEPA filters."
Cons
"Large form factor; high price point."

Vacmaster

Wet/Dry Vacuum 12-Gal

Overall Take

All-Surface VacThe Vacmaster Wet/Dry Vacuum 12-Gal is versatile, since it can easily switch from upholstery to hardwood and beyond.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Woodwork Boss, Garage Tool Advisor, Vacuum EZ and 5 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" This unit comes with a ton of goodies straight out of the box including the blower nozzles, and adapter for the blower want, and two extension wands. You will also get a car nozzle, crevice tool, 8” utility nozzle, and..."
Cons
"Does not have a HEPA filter."

Armor All

Wet/Dry Vacuum 2.5 Gal

Overall Take

Small but MightyThe Armor All Wet/Dry Vacuum 2.5 Gal is small, but powerful enough to tackle even big messes.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Top Ten Reviews, Best Handheld Vacuums, Vacuum Cleaner Hub, Automotive Ward, Vacuum EZ, Tool Consult and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy.
Pros
" The shop vacuum comes with a floor nozzle, crevice tool, concentration tool and car nozzle, which means it can clean out every area of your vehicle."
Cons
"The only downsides are that it’s obviously not as portable as what a cordless model could provide, the power cable should’ve been longer than 10 ft. and also, a power adapter for the cigarette lighter could’ve been supplied."
  The Best Value

Shop-Vac

Wet/Dry Micro Vacuum

Overall Take

Convenient VacThe Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Micro Vacuum won't get in your way when you're not using it, since you can mount it to the wall.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Wood Working Toolkit, Best Shop Vac and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" This last model from Shop-Vac is a micro vac which is wall mounted and compact in size. This one is suitable for smaller places because of its petite size."
Cons
"The 6-foot cord limits movement."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
18

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the wet dry vacuums available to purchase.
11

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

63

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Pro Tool Zone, New York Times Wirecutter, The Humble Mechanic, Woodbrew, Wood Working Toolkit.

39,977

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart, Best Buy, Sam’s Club and 7 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 11 Wet Dry Vacuums and also dug through the reviews from 63 of the most popular review sites including Pro Tool Zone, New York Times Wirecutter, The Humble Mechanic, Woodbrew, Wood Working Toolkit, DIY House Help and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Wet Dry Vacuums.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vac 16-Gal

Our Expert Score
10.0
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.3
213 user reviews
Our Take

This is a serious wet/dry vac for serious messes. Its extra-wide, flexible hose sucks up everything in sight, and its massive storage capacity makes it perfect for large jobs. It's also compatible with HEPA filters, and the extension nozzles are a snap to switch out.

What other experts liked
A flexible hose featuring 2.5-inch diameter not only allows quickly and efficiently sucking up liquids and larger debris but also will enhance the output power and when using a blower feature
- Best Advisor
Compatable w/various HEPA filters.
- BestReviews
Professionals will appreciate the large storage capacity and plethora of attachments that make this vacuum versatile around the shop or worksite.
- The Spruce
This vacuum will suck up everything in sight through its 7-foot hose—wet debris, mud, cut board ends, and tile scraps were all pulled up with no problem.
- Drill Press View
he Dual-Flex hose that can flex 180 degrees on each end of the hose makes getting into small areas easier than with other hoses and should provide better longevity.
- Workshop Addict
It comes with extension nozzles and a Qwik Lock fastening design that makes switching filters quick and easy.
- Brains and Brawn
What other experts didn't like
The unit operation is a bit noisy
- Best Advisor
Filter clogs quickly in dusty situations
- BestReviews
Large form factor; high price point.
- Drill Press View
As with most units designed for pure power, this wet/dry vac is a touch loud.
- Workshop Addict

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Micro Vacuum

Expert Summarized Score
7.6
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
7.9
701 user reviews
Our Take

Our budget pick is ultra-convenient. You can mount it to a wall with all of its accessories to keep it out of the way. Its portability makes it perfect for car cleanups. This micro vacuum's one-gallon tank can be limiting, but it's still ideal for smaller jobs.

What other experts liked
Owing to a wall mountable bracket and wall mountable holder, you can compactly stow the vacuum cleaner away together will all attachments without taking much storage space
- Best Advisor
This last model from Shop-Vac is a micro vac which is wall mounted and compact in size. This one is suitable for smaller places because of its petite size.
- Wood Working Toolkit
There is a simple on-off rocker switch that controls the power to the handheld vacuum, and the 6-foot-long cord offers a large working radius.
- HouseholdMe
Small size makes it one of the most portable best small shop vac you can find. It is easy to store thanks to its size as well as the wall bracket
- Best Shop Vac
What other experts didn't like
The unit power might seem somewhat low
- Best Advisor
The tank capacity of this model is 1 gallons which is only for basic cleaning of the smallest areas because it will not be able to accommodate a lot of dirt.
- Wood Working Toolkit
The 6-foot cord limits movement.
- Best Shop Vac

Overall Product Rankings

1. WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vac 16-Gal

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 11

2. Vacmaster Wet/Dry Vacuum 12-Gal

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 11

3. Armor All Wet/Dry Vacuum 2.5 Gal

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 11

4. DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Wet/Dry Vacuum

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 12

5. Rigid 12 Gal. 5.0-Peak HP Wet/Dry Vacuum

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 8

6. Bissell Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 6

7. Shop-Vac Wet Dry Vacuum 5-Gal

Overall Score: 8.3
Reviews Included: 7

8. Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum 4-Gal

Overall Score: 8.1
Reviews Included: 7

9. Craftsman Wet/Dry Vacuum 6-Gal

Overall Score: 8.1
Reviews Included: 11

10. Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Micro Vacuum

Overall Score: 7.7
Reviews Included: 7

11. Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum 3-Gal

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 6

Our Findings

WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vac 16-Gal

What We Liked: This is a serious wet/dry vac for serious messes. Its extra-wide, flexible hose sucks up everything in sight, and its massive storage capacity makes it perfect for large jobs. It’s also compatible with HEPA filters, and the extension nozzles are a snap to switch out.

Vacmaster Wet/Dry Vacuum 12-Gal

Best for Versatility

What We Liked: This vac’s versatility makes it stand out from the crowd. It works great on all surfaces from hardwood to upholstery, and the motor detaches in seconds for an instant leaf blower. The Vacmaster will last, thanks to heavy-duty wheel casters and a sturdy polypropylene canister.

Armor All Wet/Dry Vacuum 2.5 Gal

Best for Small Spaces

Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum (Tools & Home Improvement)


List Price: $45.12 USD
New From: $37.80 USD In Stock
Used from: $37.80 USD In Stock

What We Liked: This smaller wet/dry vacuum has the powerful suction of its peers, plus an impressive selection of nozzles. It can fit into corners without issue. The six-foot stretch hose also reaches those inconvenient crevices. The size makes it better for household tasks than for workshop cleanup, but it’s excellent for cleaning your car or furniture.

Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Micro Vacuum

Best Bang for Your Buck

Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet/Dry Vac (Tools & Home Improvement)


List Price: $33.99 USD
New From: $33.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $29.39 USD In Stock

What We Liked: Our budget pick is ultra-convenient. You can mount it to a wall with all of its accessories to keep it out of the way. Its portability makes it perfect for car cleanups. This micro vacuum’s one-gallon tank can be limiting, but it’s still ideal for smaller jobs.

Our Expert Consultant

Vicki Liston 
Home Improvement Expert

Vicki Liston writes, produces, and narrates “On The Fly…DIY,” an award-winning home improvement and DIY show of unique project tutorials for the casual DIY’er.

Home improvement and all things DIY have been Liston’s passion since she bought her first house in 2007 and she started making video blogs in 2014. She’s performed hundreds of DIY projects, from small ones to major, wall-smashing renovations and can teach you how to make a trendy DIY barn door for less than $40. The proceeds earned from “On The Fly…DIY” are donated to no-kill animal shelters and rescue organizations. You can find her show on YouTube and Prime Video.

 

 

Our Wet Dry Vacuum Buying Guide

What do flooded basements, messes in your workshop and the ashy aftermath of a BBQ have in common? If you’re thinking that they’re all major annoyances, you’re not wrong — but they’re also all jobs for a wet/dry vacuum. 

Wet/dry vacs, or shop vacs, are common accessories in woodshops, but they can also help out with lots of different messes. These versatile appliances have more powerful suction, plus tougher filters and sturdier canisters than a standard vacuum. They can pick up debris like nails and screws, and you can use them to clean up wet messes. Puddles from a leaky dishwasher or water basins that need emptying don’t stand a chance against a wet/dry vac. 

Standard vacuums operate using a relatively simple process. Once you turn them on, the motor receives electricity that drives the fan and the brush roll (that spiky part that goes deep into your carpet and gets tangled with hair). After the motor starts running, it creates an area of low pressure behind the fan, which generates the suction you need to chase down those dust bunnies. Your messes move into the vacuum’s removable dust bag or canister, and poof! You’ve got a clean floor. 

Shop vacs have different power levels for different size messes.

“A wet/dry vacuum’s power is measured in Sealed Pressure (or SP) units,” says Vicki Liston, a home improvement expert and host of “On The Fly…DIY,” an award-winning show with project tutorials. “Vacs with an SP rating over 75 should be able to handle almost everything you throw at them. “

Cubic Feet per Minute, or CFM, is your vac’s airflow rating.

“If you’re sucking up tiny particulates like sawdust, opt for something that’s at least 90 CFMs,” adds Liston. “If you’re vacuuming up heavier items like nuts and bolts, look for an Air Power (AP, also called Air Watts) rating over 250.” 

Another difference between wet/dry vacuums and standard vacuums is the motor placement. Instead of sitting inside of the vacuum’s canister, a wet/dry vac’s motor sits on top of the canister. This design allows anything that you suck up through the hose to go directly into the canister, instead of passing over the motor. It’s the reason that wet/dry vacs can safely pick up water — if the water was moving through electrical or mechanical parts, it could create a dangerous electrical shock. 

Some wet/dry vac models also vent air through an opening in the canister. With the help of a few accessories, you can turn this opening into a blower on many shop vacs. Vacs that convert into a blower make your autumn leaf chores much easier. 

We’ve covered the wet/dry vacuum basics, but make sure to check out our Tips & Advice to find the perfect choice for your needs. 

DWYM Fun Fact

The history of vacuums might sound boring, but trust us — it doesn’t suck. Windy City resident Ives McGaffey patented the precursor to the modern vacuum on a warm summer day in 1869. It was called a “sweeping machine,” and it was designed to clean rugs. 

The sweeping machine was a far cry from our modern wet/dry vacuums, but Ohio janitor James Spangler brought us one step closer in 1907. He realized that his carpet sweeper was kicking up dust and causing his chronic coughing fits, so he buckled down with his Midwestern work ethic and created an alternative. Spangler stapled a soap box to a broom handle, tacked on an old fan motor and added a pillowcase as a dust collector. His cough disappeared, and he received his patent in 1908. 

After World War II, a new vacuum arrived on the scene. The first wet/dry vacuums were enormous metal appliances, and they were mostly used in industrial and woodshop settings. It took a while, but engineers finally developed smaller units for residential areas. The trickiest part was muffling the loud “screaming” noise the wet/dry vacuums made when they turned on! 

Today’s wet/dry vacs aren’t the quietest appliance around, but they definitely don’t sound like a low-budget horror movie.

The Wet Dry Vacuum Tips and Advice

  • Before you buy, think about where you’ll get the most use out of your wet/dry vacuum. If you’re buying it for heavy-duty construction projects, a larger unit is appropriate. A handheld vac is fine for everyday jobs like vacuuming your car or sucking up spilled liquids in your kitchen.
  • Wet/dry vacs have an unmatched level of versatility and they can pick up far more debris than a standard vacuum. However, that convenience comes at a cost. Most wet/dry vacs are much heavier and bulkier than a standard vacuum, so make sure you take a look at the unit’s weight when you purchase it. You’ll also want to account for the weight of the dust, dirt and junk you’ll be picking up. Make sure you can comfortably lift and handle that weight. You can’t do much in your sparkling clean workshop if you throw out your back when you’re cleaning it up! Most vacuums that weigh over 20 pounds will have something in the neighborhood of a 16-gallon capacity, while vacuums under 10 pounds can pick up roughly 2.5 gallons of mess. 
  • Check out the length of the vacuum’s hose and power cord. Unless you want to stop every few minutes and find a new power outlet, you’ll need a nice long cord for vacuuming up larger areas. A 12-foot cord works well for bigger rooms, while a six-foot cord is easy to store and makes small jobs simple and quick. 
  • Will you need a wet/dry vac with wheels? Cleaning up an entire construction area means you’ll need some help moving the vac around, but wheels can get unwieldy if you need to pick up the vac and get between seats in your car. 
  • Wet/dry vacs come with accessories galore so that you can get the most out of your investment. A fully accessorized wet/dry vac will come with a brush, a crevice tool, a detail brush and a deluxe car nozzle. It’s a great pick for cleaning out your car. Others will add multiple extension wands, so they’re ideal for reaching every space in your woodshop. 
  • A wet/dry vacuum’s design prevents water from crossing paths with the interior electrical components, but you could be in for some trouble if the external cord winds up in a puddle. Investing in a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (or GFCI) is the smartest thing you can do to stay safe while using your vacuum’s wet mode. GFCIs trip electric power in as little as 1/40 of a second, preventing shocks or reducing the shock’s damage.
  • Three-pronged electric outlets have built-in GFCIs, but there are also portable versions that you can plug into two-pronged outlets, as well as attachment plugs that incorporate the GFCI module. Portable GFCIs and Cord-Connected GFCIs are available online or at your local hardware store.
  • Although wet/dry vacuums are designed differently than standard vacuums, they still use filters. “It wasn’t until I aerated a room with drywall dust that I realized just how critical correct filter size was in wet/dry vacuums,” says home improvement pro Vicki Liston. “Before starting every job, consider the debris size and install the appropriate filter.  They’re available from ‘fine’ to ‘large’ and ‘wet’ for damp environments.”
  • You’ll also have to swap out your filters depending on what type of job you’re doing, and you’ll need to clean the filters regularly or buy replacements. Double-check the cost of the filter replacements before you buy your wet/dry vacuum. 
  • Cleaning your filter is essential if you want your vacuum to function at its highest level. Wet filters are made from foam, and you’ll have to set them aside to dry after every wet mess you clean up. After they dry, give them a good shake to knock off any debris. If it’s still dirty, hold it under running water for a few minutes. Make sure you rinse from the inside of the filter to the outside. Let it sit for a long time in a room with low humidity — this prevents mold from forming.  
  • Cleaning dry filters is a bit simpler. If they’re reusable, you can knock loose any debris and call it a day. If you just finished a big job, rinse them with water on both sides and give them plenty of time to air dry. Using a disposable filter? Just toss it and start over with a new filter the next time you’re vacuuming.
  • The standard filter you’ll use for dry messes will vary depending on which wet/dry vac you choose. Some come with HEPA filters. These filters force air particles through the ultra-fine mesh, and they’re great at picking up small particles and allergens. It helps prevent dust from spreading as you’re cleaning up, making it an ideal filter for anyone with allergies or asthma. 
  • You’ll have to dump some wet/dry vacs upside down to clean out the canister. Other models have dust bags that you can empty or remove instead of flipping the whole canister upside down. Make sure your wet/dry vacuum is easy for you to lift and tilt before you hand over your cash.

About The Author

Abby Stassen
Abby Stassen 

Abby Stassen has a bachelor's degree in English language & literature from the University of Michigan. She's been writing professionally for over a decade. Home is where the heart is, and it's also where Abby spends time hunting for the perfect appliances, decor and more. She also has a lush Floridian backyard that doubles as a test lab for garden products. Abby recommends home and garden products based on her rigorous online research and personal experiences with the products.