Shop vacs are no longer bulky and cumbersome. Nowadays, they’re built to be more compact and easy to use without losing any of their efficiency.
The market now offers plenty of portable and easy to use shop vacs with equally as strong suction. But, they’re more portable and comfortable to move around.
Take a few minutes to read about some of the best portable shop vacs and their pros and cons.
Here’s a quick look at our favorites:
- Our Top Pick: DeWALT Portable 4 gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Best Option with a Blower Port: Vacmaster Professional (VFB511B0201)
- Best Option for On-The-Go Cleaning: PORTER-CABLE Cordless Shop Vacuum, Wet/Dry (PCC795B)
- Top Choice for Car Detailing: Stanley 3 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum
- Large Tank: CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon
|Product Name||Weight||Cord Length/Run Time||Tank Capacity|
|DeWALT Portable 4 gallon Wet Dry Vacuum||13.23 lbs||20 ft||4 GAL|
|Vacmaster Professional (VFB511B0201)||13.5 lbs||18 ft||5 GAL|
|PORTER-CABLE Cordless Shop Vacuum, Wet Dry (PCC795B)||9.2 lbs||7 ft||2 GAL|
|Stanley 3 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum||8.38 lbs||6 ft||3 GAL|
|CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon||26 lbs||20 ft||16 GAL|
|Makita XCV11Z 18V||10.5 lbs||60 min||2 GAL|
|Armor All, AA255, 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet Dry Utility Shop Vacuum||7 lbs||10 ft||2.5 GAL|
|WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vacs Workshop Wet Dry Vac WS0255VA||8.38 lbs||10 ft||2.5 GAL|
Top 8 Portable Shop Vacuum Reviews
DeWALT Portable 4 gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
(Our Top Pick)
This DeWALT 4-gallon wet/dry vacuum resembles a toolbox by design. It’s easy to carry around thanks to its ergonomically designed handle. Plus, it weighs only 13 pounds, which is lightweight for a shop vac.
The poly container is sturdy and durable. This makes the vac suitable for frequent use in rugged conditions such as workshops, job sites, and garages.
It has on-board accessory storage so that you can keep them at hand at all times. It comes with an extension wand that also stores on the vac.
This portable shop vac features a 5.0 peak horsepower motor that provides strong suction. It’s strong enough to pick up all kinds of debris and sawdust.
It comes with a 20′ long power cord that wraps for easier storage. The included hose is flexible and extends up to 7′, providing some added reach.
- Floor, utility and crevice nozzles included
- Water-resistant on/off switch
- Washable cartridge filter
- Poorly written manual
Vacmaster Professional (VFB511B0201)
(Best Option with a Blower Port)
Vacmaster Professional is an easy-to-use portable shop vac that’s strong enough to clean workshops, cars, garages, and basements. It features a blower port that allows you to use it to blow leaves and other debris from your porch, corners, and other areas.
It features a 5-gallon tank made of polypropylene. It’s durable and suitable for rough use, which allows you to use it on construction job sites, or for woodworking.
Its 5.5 peak horsepower motor is highly efficient, providing strong and undying suction. It’s strong enough to pick up all kinds of debris, as well as wet and dry messes.
Also, this shop vac comes with an 18′ power cord, 7′ hose, and extension wands. It also includes a utility nozzle, crevice tool, noise diffuser, and a car nozzle.
- Washable and reusable filtration
- On-board storage for the cord and accessories
- Wet/dry cleaning
- No wheels
PORTER-CABLE Cordless Shop Vacuum, Wet/Dry (PCC795B)
(Best Option for On-The-Go Cleaning)
Porter-Cable is a cordless shop vac. It has an unlimited reach, which makes this one of the best portable shop vacs. It’s also one of the smallest machines, so it’s suitable for small jobs on the go.
This one has a 2-gallon tank that can handle both wet and dry messes. It provides strong suction, which allows it to pick up all kinds of debris and messes with ease.
Also, this one comes with a 7′ hose that wraps around the vacuum for easier storage. It also includes a crevice tool and a wide nozzle for different types of jobs.
Since it’s cordless, it uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Its run time varies, but in most cases, it provides some 30 minutes of continuous suction. Sadly, batteries are only available for separate purchase.
- Ideal for on-the-go cleaning
- On-board accessory storage
- Washable cartridge filter
- Battery not included
Stanley 3 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum
(Top Choice for Car Detailing)
Stanley portable shop vac has a 3-gallon tank that’s suitable for wet and dry cleaning. It features a 3.0 peak horsepower motor that provides enough suction to pick up even the most persistent debris.
This one is particularly easy to carry around because it’s lightweight. It weighs 8.65 pounds and has an ergonomically-designed handle that makes carrying it even easier.
Because it’s so easy to use and portable, you can use it in workshops, garages, job sites, cars, and even your household. It’s suitable for basements and even indoors during renovations.
It comes with a 6′ power cord and 4′ hose. On top of that, you’ll also receive crevice and gulper nozzles. When it comes to filtration, this one has a non-woven filter and a foam filter.
- Wet/dry cleaning
- Ideal for car detailing
- Short cord and hose
CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon
This portable shop vac is built to last, featuring strong suction and plenty of accessories. It’s one of the best portable shop vacs for heavy-duty jobs thanks to its 6.5 peak horsepower motor.
It features a blower port, allowing you to clean all nooks and crannies of your workshop, garage, job site, or porch. It’s also ideal for grass clippings and leaves.
This is a large shop vac with a 16-gallon tank. This is a wet/dry shop vac that because it’s so large, features a built-in drain that makes it easier to empty the liquids.
It comes with a dual-flex hose that measures 2-1/2” in diameter, rotating for 180° for some added mobility and ease of use.
Another few accessories included are a utility nozzle, two extension wands, a wet nozzle, and a car nozzle.
- Dust bag and Qwik Lock filter included
- Flexible hose
- 20′ long power cord
- It weighs 26 pounds
Makita XCV11Z 18V
Makita is a well-known brand in the industry of portable ship vacs. The Makita XCV11Z portable shop vac is a powerful and handy tool suitable for cleaning different debris in your household, garage, workshop, or job site.
It features a powerful brushless motor with 57 CFM and 27” water lift of suction. However, one thing to keep in mind is that this one is cordless, which makes it even more portable.
It uses an 18V LXT lithium-ion battery, but none is included in the package. Batteries are available for separate purchase which allows you to buy a back-up as well. This type of battery provides up to an hour of run time.
This shop vac features a HEPA filter, meaning that it’s suitable for allergy-prone people working in dusty areas. It traps up 99.97% of particles found in these areas.
- LED battery indicator
- HEPA filter
- No batteries included
Armor All, AA255, 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum
Armor All AA225 is a popular option as it’s one of the best portable shop vacs with a 2.5-gallon polypropylene tank. It’s compact and lightweight but packed with useful features that make it worth your while.
It comes with a crevice tool, detail brush, blower nozzle, utility nozzle, and a car nozzle. On top of that, you’ll receive a wet foam filter and a reusable cloth filter.
This is a wet/dry shop vac with a 2.0 peak horsepower motor. Its voltage is 120V-60Hz, providing sufficient suction power to pick up different messes.
It comes with a 10′ power cord and a 6′ hose. The hose measures 1-1/4 inches in diameter and is suitable for cleaning larger debris as well.
Another thing worth noting is its blower function. It’s meant to help you blow out debris that’s stuck in corners and tight places.
- On-board accessory and hose storage
- Great for cleaning car interiors
- Blower function
- Loud operation
WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs Workshop Wet Dry Vac WS0255VA
This Workshop wet/dry shop vac is more suitable for little, light-duty cleaning tasks. It’s compact and lightweight, weighing only 8 pounds, which is rather lightweight for shop vacs.
The vacuum is easy to carry around because it’s lightweight, but also thanks to its ergonomic handle. Another thing worth mentioning is that this one has a flat bottom. This makes it stable and impossible to tip over.
It comes with a 10′ power cord and a 4′ hose for some added reach. On top of that, the package includes a car nozzle, filter bag with a retaining band, and a utility nozzle.
Keep in mind that this one features a 2.5-gallon tank and a 1.5 peak horsepower motor that makes it suitable for light-duty wet/dry cleaning tasks.
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Blower function
- On-board accessory storage
- Short reach
How to Choose the Best Mini Shop Vac
Choosing a portable shop vac isn’t as tricky because the market offers plenty of different vacuums. However, you should be careful about a few things that can affect the portability and maneuverability.
Other things like accessories and cord length are equally as crucial for ease of use.
For this reason, take a few moments to read the guide below because the information included can help you make the best decision when buying a quality wet and dry vacuum.
Maneuverability is a significant part of a portable shop vac. However, it depends on many things that you should carefully consider.
The first most important factor that affects maneuverability is the weight. You should look for a lightweight shop vac because those are usually easier to carry and move around.
Think about other things, such as whether it has wheels. Shop vacs don’t usually have wheels, although this can help with mobility and portability.
Another thing that may affect portability is the design of your shop vac. Those that have a flat bottom are easier to move around without tipping them over.
A shop vac should be stronger than the typical vacuum cleaner you use at home. It’s meant to pick up different debris, some of which may be larger than others.
However, small and portable shop vacs are somewhat weaker than large shop vacs. That’s quite normal since smaller vacs are built for smaller and less demanding jobs.
Most vacuums have 1.5 to 6.5 peak horsepower motors, delivering different levels of suction power. Choose the suction power that works the best for your needs and the type of tasks you’re dealing with.
Size & Design
Since you’re looking for portability, you should pay special attention to the size and design of your shop vac. As we briefly mentioned, these things have a major say in how portable a vacuum actually is.
If you want a portable vacuum, you should look for a smaller one. You probably noticed we only included smaller shop vacs in our reviews. It’s because smaller vacs are also lighter and, with that, more comfortable to carry.
You should also consider the overall design and how does it affect portability and ease of use. Does your shop vac have a handle? Does it have wheels? These are a few features you may want to look for.
Accessories are always important since they can make all jobs easier to complete. Keep in mind that most shop vacs come with at least a few accessories, although the number of accessories tends to vary.
In most cases, you’ll receive a few attachments to help with both wet and dry cleaning. This includes a crevice tool, brush tool, utility nozzle, car nozzle, detail brush, an extension hose, and wands.
These are the most useful accessories, although some wet dry vacuums may include a few others. Typically, these store within the vacuum which allows you to have them at hand all the time.
The best portable shop vac should be able to clean both wet and dry messes. The ability to clean dry debris and liquids is highly useful in a shop vac for garage, workshop, and job site.
All the electrical components of your wet/dry shop vac are insulated and housed away from the tank. This makes it safe to clean liquids without getting the water to any of those components.
However, you should always check the user manual you got with the shop vac. Make sure to understand how to use it properly so that there’s no risk of electrocution or damage to the machine.
Wet dry vacuums are meant for quick cleanups and maintenance of workshops and garages. However, some are more suitable for the job than others, and this usually depends on many factors.
Now that you know the importance of having reliable accessories, you should take a close look at the hose. Sadly, most portable wet dry vacuums come with a rather short hose.
With a long hose, you can complete more tasks in less time. It gives you more reach, making it easier to get to hard-to-reach areas and above-floor surfaces.
A power cord is another critical component of your shop vac. As you noticed, these vacuums usually have short power cords. Still, some have longer cords than others, so make sure to pay special attention to that.
Although your shop vac won’t have the same cord length as the vacuum you use at home, it’s essential to go for the longest one possible.
Having a long cord makes all the difference when it comes to mobility and versatility. It would allow you to reach different places without having to re-plug the machine as many times.
More Info: Our Top Cord-Free Shop Vac Picks
Some portable shop vacs are cordless and battery-operated. These are typically far more portable than corded vacuums, much like in the case of traditional vacuums we use in our homes.
Having a cordless shop vacuum allows you to get to all the areas and corners of your workshop or garage. It provides an unlimited reach, making it easy to clean without having to re-plug the vac as frequently.
However, you should keep in mind that a portable vacuum that’s battery-operated has limited run time. Unfortunately, most of them don’t come with batteries, which means you’d have to buy one separately.
Compatibility with Your Car
If you’re buying a portable shop vacuum for your car, you should make sure that it’s compatible with the particular car you have. Most shop vacuums are ideal for cleaning car interiors, more so if you choose a cordless vac.
However, it’s only useful if it comes with the right tools and accessories. In other words, you already know that there are many nooks and crannies in each car. These are tricky to clean without a crevice tool and a detail brush that make the job easier.
Also, make sure that the portable shop vac of your choice has a hose and cord long enough to reach all areas in your car.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my shop vac blow dust?
A: If your vacuum is blowing dust back into the room, you’re probably dealing with a filter problem. Its filter isn’t stopping the dust, which results in dust being blown out of the blower port.
The reason for this could be a broken or damaged filter. If not, you may have installed it improperly, or the dust you’re cleaning is too tiny and is just passing through the filter.
You’ll have to upgrade the filter to something more suitable for fine dust if that’s what’s causing the trouble. You may want to consider a HEPA filter if you’re often dealing with this type of dirt. HEPA is an ideal choice for allergy-prone people and everyone sensitive to dust.
Also, make sure to check whether the filter is installed correctly. You could get some instructions from the user manual if you received one. If not, try finding them online.
Is there a shop vac that blows air?
A: As you probably noticed from our reviews, nearly every portable shop vac features a blower port. This is where it blows air, allowing you to clean different tight areas, nooks, and crannies.
All you should do is connect the hose to the port and turn the vacuum on. It makes it easy to blow leaves, sawdust, grass clippings, and all kinds of messes from all sorts of areas.
Keep in mind that many blower ports don’t have caps. They’re entirely open, which may create a mess if you’re not careful. In other words, the open blower port will blow air with or without a hose.
You could find a shop vac without a blower port if you think you won’t need one. However, it’s a handy feature that you never truly know when it could be more useful than suction power.
What is the best shop vac filter?
A: Shop vacuums come with different filtration systems that range in efficiency and ease of maintenance. For this reason, filtration is one of the most critical things you should consider.
Make sure that the shop vac of your choice has the right type of filtration for the mess you’re usually dealing with. As we said, HEPA is almost always the best choice regardless of whether or not you’re allergic to anything. It traps the tiniest particles and is particularly suitable for people who are sensitive to dust.
If not, you should consider a high-efficiency cartridge filter or a cartridge filter with a high-efficiency disposable filter bag.
Related Post: Do You Need a Filter for a Shop Vac to Function?
How do shop vacs work?
A: A motor powers an electric fan that lowers air pressure, sucking the air into the intake port or hose of your shop vac. This creates a vacuum effect, pulling the air along with debris and particles into the intake port.
The air, debris, and tiny particles go through the hose, reaching the filter. The debris goes into the vacuum tank before the rest of the air is pushed through the filter. Once that’s done, clean air is exhausted through the blower port.
It uses a similar method to pick up liquids, dropping them into the bucket without them touching the fan. Also, every shop vac has its components well protected so that liquids can’t damage them.
Finding the best portable shop vac is rather simple if you consider all the critical buying factors. This is precisely why we talked about these factors in our buyer’s guide.
If you haven’t already found the best portable shop vac that matches your needs, we suggest you reread the reviews as well as the guide. The information can help you figure out which portable shop vac is the best for the type of job tasks you’re usually dealing with.
These are the best portable shop vac models that the market offers at this time. They’re easy to use and ideal for smaller jobs around your workshop, garage, and job site. Some of them are suitable for cleaning car interiors as well.
Having the best portable shop vac can make all the difference in how you clean. It makes the entire process easier as quicker and less dreadful.
Sources and Resources
- Research: Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaners market set to boom
- A comparative study on the sound quality of wet-and-dry type vacuum cleaners