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The Best Wet Dry Vacuum - 2021

Last updated on February 25, 2021

We looked at the top 15 Wet Dry Vacuums and dug through the reviews from 65 of the most popular review sites including 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
  Best Overall

Stanley SL18115P Corded Wet Dry Vacuum, 5-Gallon

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Stanley

SL18115P Corded Wet Dry Vacuum, 5-Gallon

Overall Take

Sturdy Carry HandleThanks to the built-in 5-gallon container, you can use this wet dry vacuum to tackle big cleaning projects.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
  We Also Like

Bissell CrossWave 1785A Wet Dry Vacuum

Bissell

CrossWave 1785A Wet Dry Vacuum

Overall Take

Great for Pet OwnersThanks to the two tank system on this wet dry vacuum, clean and dirty water are kept separate.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Target.
Pros
" Among the Bissell units we tested, the Bissell CrossWave 1785A had an especially nice design; at 11 pounds it was the lightest cleaner we tested, and its swivel design made it far and away the most agile."
  Cordless Pick

DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Wet Dry Vacuum

DEWALT

20-Volt MAX Wet Dry Vacuum

Overall Take

Heavy-Duty ModelYou can use this wet dry vacuum with or without the cord.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Top Ten Reviews, Pro Tool Reviews, Tool Guyd, BestReviews, Uprights With Hoses, Power Tools Zone and 3 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" One standout feature, though, is its rechargeable battery. This means you don't have to be near a power source to use the vacuum."
Cons
"You’re not going to be able to do really heavy work with this vac, and I wouldn’t hook it up to anything where you were staking your LRRP credentials on its dust-collecting prowess."
  For Big Jobs

Crafstman CMXEVBE17595 16-Gallon 6.5 Peak Wet Dry Vacuum

Crafstman

16-Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum

Overall Take

Lots of AccessoriesNo job is too big or too small for this 16-gallon wet dry vacuum.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
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.
22

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the wet dry vacuums available to purchase.
15

Products Analyzed

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

View All Product Rankings

65

Expert Reviews Included

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

55,825

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 15 Wet Dry Vacuums and also dug through the reviews from 65 of the most popular review sites including 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.

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval
Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Stanley SL18115P Corded Wet Dry Vacuum, 5-Gallon

User Summarized Score

9.2
5,397 user reviews

Our Take

The swiveling casters on the bottom of this wet dry vacuum make it a cinch to move around the room. The vacuum also comes with a 10-foot cord, which eliminates the need to constantly move to a new outlet. Of course, the powerful suction is the most attractive feature, as it makes quick work of the task at hand.


Overall Product Rankings

Stanley SL18115P Corded Wet Dry Vacuum, 5-Gallon

1. Stanley SL18115P Corded Wet Dry Vacuum, 5-Gallon

Overall Score: 9.5
Reviews Included: 1

Bissell CrossWave 1785A Wet Dry Vacuum

2. Bissell CrossWave 1785A Wet Dry Vacuum

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 6

DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Wet Dry Vacuum

3. DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Wet Dry Vacuum

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 12

Crafstman CMXEVBE17595 16-Gallon 6.5 Peak Wet Dry Vacuum

4. Crafstman CMXEVBE17595 16-Gallon 6.5 Peak Wet Dry Vacuum

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 1

Vacmaster Wet Dry Vacuum, 12-Gallon

5. Vacmaster Wet Dry Vacuum, 12-Gallon

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 11

Vacmaster Beast Series 16 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum

6. Vacmaster Beast Series 16 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 1

WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacuum, 16-Gallon

7. WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacuum, 16-Gallon

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 11

Armor All Wet/Dry Vacuum, 2.5-Gallon

8. Armor All Wet/Dry Vacuum, 2.5-Gallon

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 11

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

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

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 8

Bissell Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum

10. Bissell Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 6

Craftsman Wet/Dry Vacuum 6-Gal

11. Craftsman Wet/Dry Vacuum 6-Gal

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 11

Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum 4-Gal

12. Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum 4-Gal

Overall Score: 8.1
Reviews Included: 7

Shop-Vac Wet Dry Vacuum 5-Gal

13. Shop-Vac Wet Dry Vacuum 5-Gal

Overall Score: 8.1
Reviews Included: 7

Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Micro Vacuum

14. Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Micro Vacuum

Overall Score: 7.7
Reviews Included: 7

Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum 3-Gal

15. Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum 3-Gal

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 6

Our Wet Dry Vacuum Findings


Stanley SL18115P Corded Wet Dry Vacuum, 5-Gallon

What We Liked: The swiveling casters on the bottom of this wet dry vacuum make it a cinch to move around the room. The vacuum also comes with a 10-foot cord, which eliminates the need to constantly move to a new outlet. Of course, the powerful suction is the most attractive feature, as it makes quick work of the task at hand.


Bissell CrossWave 1785A Wet Dry Vacuum

What We Liked: Keep your hardwood floors and area rugs looking like new with this wet dry vacuum. The dual action brush roll is able to grab everything from your child’s spilled cereal to your pet’s hair. The vacuum is also user-friendly with an on-demand solution trigger and two smart-touch controls on the handle.


DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Wet Dry Vacuum

What We Liked: The filter on this wet dry vacuum is easily accessible, and can be washed and reused to save money. The tank can hold up to 2 gallons, which makes it an excellent choice when emptying a clogged pipe. Additionally, this unit features on-board accessory storage to keep everything you need within arms’ reach.


Crafstman CMXEVBE17595 16-Gallon 6.5 Peak Wet Dry Vacuum

What We Liked: High performance is what you’ll get out of this heavy-duty wet dry vacuum. Not only does it have a built-in blower port, but also an oversized drain. When it comes to attachments, you’ll get a flex hose, two extension wands, a utility nozzle, a car nozzle, a wet nozzle, a filter and a dust collection bag.


Vacmaster Wet Dry Vacuum, 12-Gallon

What We Liked: This wet dry vacuum’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. This wet dry vacuum will last, thanks to heavy-duty wheel casters and a sturdy polypropylene canister.

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 cheap. The proceeds earned from “On The Fly…DIY” are donated to no-kill animal shelters and rescue organizations. You can find her show on 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. 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.