Is your regular vacuum not as great for heavy-duty cleaning? The truth is, even some of the best household vacs aren’t strong enough for cleaning garages, and other such places.
If that’s precisely what you’re looking for, you should try using a wet-dry vac.
Take a moment to read about the best shop vac models in the article below. We’ll discuss some of the best pieces as well as guidelines on how to choose one for your needs.
And if you’re in hurry, check out our top 5 shop vacs:
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose The Best Shop Vac
The best way to decide the size of your shop vac is to think about your needs in terms of capacity. The best shop vac models 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 shop vac 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 shop vac. 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. A large capacity shop vac is often much more cumbersome, especially once it’s full.
When it comes to performance, you should consider its airflow and suction power. The term peak horsepower is often used to refer to the output of its motor. However, this 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 vacuum. 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 shop 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 shop vac with a higher CFM rating. It measures the maximum airflow that the shop 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 if you want the shop vacuum to pick up larger and heavier debris such as bolts and nuts.
Filters are crucial for the best shop 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 shop vac hose to be. The best way to determine this is to think about what you’ll use the shop 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 power.
Best shop vac models 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 best for cleaning big yards. In a way, a wet dry vacuum that also works as a blower is like having two machines in one. This type of shop vac is a versatile solution.
Still, you can use this shop vac in your workshop just as well. Having a blower helps if you have hard-to-reach areas where it’s impossible to use a shop 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.
If you’re planning to pick up a lot of water, you might want to consider getting a shop vac with a tank drain port. It’s an additional opening in the tank that allows you to empty it 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 shop vac with a tank drain port makes the process much easier, especially if it has a large capacity tank.
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 shop vac for and whether the material of your choice can endure the task.
The main difference between the two is quite simple to understand. Plastic shop vac models are lighter in weight than those made of stainless steel. They’re also less likely to bend.
However, stainless steel shop vac models are 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.
14 Best Rated Shop Vacs
|Product Name||Weight||Dimensions||Cord Length|
|Craftsman 17595 Galon Heavy Duty||26 lbs||21.3 x 21.3 x 23.8 in||20 ft|
|Shop Vac 5989300||12 lbs||14 x 14 x 21 in||6 ft|
|DeWALT 6 Gallon Wet or Dry Vac||14.77 lbs||15.5 x 19.5 x 16.5 in||10 ft|
|Armor Utility Vacuum||7 lbs||10.6 x 14.2 x 14.4 in||10 ft|
|Vacmaster Professional||14.5 lbs||21.96 x 14.56 x 14.56 in||20 ft|
|Vacmaster 6 Gallon Stainless||15.8 lbs||21.25 x 15.75 x 12.75 in||12 ft|
|Stanley SL18115||14.05 lbs||25.00 x 16.00 x 16.00 in||10 ft|
|Bissell MultiClean Garage Cleaner||6.1 lbs||16 x 16 x 24.5 in||19 ft|
|DeWALT Gallon Wet Dry Vac||13.23 lbs||12.5 x 15 x 19 in||20 ft|
|Shop-Vac 5.5 Peak HP Utility Vacuum||16.45 lbs||20.5 x 13.8 x 17.2 in||18 ft|
|Shop Vac 5895200||12 lbs||12.4 x 11.6 x 17 in||18 ft|
|Stanley 12 Gallon||20.4 lbs||23.6 x 17.5 x 17.5 in||10 ft|
|RIDGID 14 GalPeak Auto Detailing||29.3 lbs||22.2 x 19.5 x 26 in||20 ft|
|AUTLEAD Vacuum||5.8 kg||14.5 x 14.5 x 21.4 in||5 m|
Most Powerful Wet Dry Shop Vac Reviews
Craftsman 17595 Galon 6.5 HP Heavy Duty
(Our Top Shop Vac Pick)
This heavy-duty shop vac has 6.5 HP, which is more than enough for most of your large projects. It’s best for people who need a shop vac for their job site, shop, or garage.
It has a built-in blower 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 vacuum 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 shop vac comes with several accessories such as the dual-flex hose, utility nozzle, wet nozzle, and a car nozzle. It’s has a 20 foot power cord which should be enough for most tasks.
- Qwik Lock filter
- Dual-flex hose
- Cleans wet and dry debris
- It comes with no instructions
Shop Vac 5989300
(Shop Vac & Blower In One)
This is a wet dry vacuum featuring a high-capacity 5-gallon stainless steel tank. It has a 4.5 horsepower motor and the ability to clean even the most persistent pieces of large and small debris.
The shop vac is quite maneuverable and has 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 port that allows you to use it as a blower for some added versatility. The package also includes a 7-foot hose, crevice tool, three wands, a gulper nozzle, floor nozzle, foam sleeve, cartridge filtration, and a filter bag.
This shop vac is a versatile solution for most households and workshops with heavy-duty messes. A part of what makes this vacuum as convenient is the long hose, and a wide selection of filters, adapters, and different accessories.
- 1.25” diameter accessories
- Large capacity stainless steel tank
- Works as a blower
- The power cable is a bit short
DeWALT 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac
(Best Option for Small Cleaning Tasks)
If you’re looking for a smaller shop vac to use in your garage or yard, you should consider this DeWalt shop vac. It’s among the best-selling shop vac models on the market due to its overall quality and reliability.
The shop vac features a large capacity 6-gallon tank and is best for both wet and dry cleaning. The powerful motor has 4 peak HP, 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 shop vac 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 best for blowing debris and sawdust from most surfaces.
- Best for small jobs
- Has a power cord wrap
- Easy to maneuver with
- The cord might be short for you
Armor Utility Shop Vacuum Cleaner
If 5-gallon models are still somewhat large for you, you might want to consider getting a smaller shop vac. This shop vac holds 2.5 gallons of both solids and liquids in its polypropylene tank.
This wet dry shop vacuum cleaner has a powerful motor of 6 amps and 2.0 peak HP. 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 capacity is full and shuts the vacuum off to prevent overflow.
The shop vac has a top handle that contributes to shop vac portability. It weighs 7 pounds, which is considered relatively lightweight for a shop vac.
It comes with a 10-ft power cord, which might not be enough for some people. However, you can always use one or two extension cords if you’re working outdoors.
- 10-ft cord
- Reusable filters
- No assembly required
- No extension wand/tube
Vacmaster Professional 12 Gallon Shop Vac
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 horsepower motor delivers enough suction power to clean different types of messes across various surfaces. The powerful motor is quiet, so the shop vac won’t be as loud as shop vacs usually are.
On top of that, this shop vac has integrated hose storage for more convenience. Storing the hose inside the shop 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 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 this shop converts into a blower.
- Cord Length: 20 ft
- Weight: 14.5 lbs
- Wattage: 1416
- Cleans both wet and dry debris
- Integrated hose storage
- Cord wrap
- The power cord is on the front side
Vacmaster 6 Gallon Stainless
(Water-Resistant Stainless Design)
If you want something that looks as fiercely as it performs, you might want to consider this Vacmaster shop vac. It’s smaller than the one we reviewed above as it comes with a 6-gallon tank capacity.
This shop vac comes with a 7ft hose and 12ft cord along with a cord wrap. A few other attachments included are the two extensions poles, air control nozzle, multi-surface floor nozzle, crevice tool, 2-in-1 utility nozzle, and a round dust brush.
This Vacmaster shop vac has standard cartridge filtration, 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, the shop vac comes with onboard accessory storage allowing you to carry the attachments with you as you clean.
- Weather-resistant design
- 3 peak HP
- Weighs over 15 pounds
Stanley SL18115 Shop Vacuum
This mid-size shop vac is easy to use even though it weighs almost 15 pounds. It’s among the best shop vac models from the brand, mostly because it’s as compact for a wet dry shop vacuum cleaner.
It features a 5-gallon tank capacity along with a 4.0 peak HP motor. Its airflow is measured to be at 85 CFM, which is enough for most cleaning tasks in your workshop and garage.
The shop vac 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 shop vac more convenient and simple to use and store away.
The accessories included are the ¼-inch x 5-foot hose, crevice nozzle, two extension poles, gulper nozzle, floor brush, cloth bag, dust bag, and a foam filter.
- Swiveling casters
- Cord storage
- Works as a blower
- It dents quite easily
Bissell MultiClean Garage Vacuum Cleaner
Bissell is among the most popular brands in the industry of the best shop vacs. For this reason, you might want to check one of the few wet dry vacs the brand has to offer.
The MultiClean shop vac features an 11amp motor and is best 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 shop vac has a capacity of 6 gallons 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 vacuum has a two-stage filtration system for easier cleaning. It comes with a specialized tool kit, crevice attachment, precision tool, wet suction tool upholstery brush, and inflatable nozzle tools.
- Full tank indicator
- Auto-cleaning kit
- Airflow regulator
- No cord rewind
DeWALT Portable Gallon Wet Dry Shop Vac
This portable 4-gallon shop vacuum cleaner 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.
This shop vac has a powerful 5 HP motor, and it provides enough suction power to pick up most dry and wet messes. It’s a compact shop vac best for garages, workshops, and job sites.
This shop vac 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.
- Best for small jobs
- Has a cord wrap
- Easy to maneuver with
- The cord might be short for you
Shop-Vac 5.5 Peak HP Utility Shop Vac
This wet dry vacuum cleaner has SVX2 motor technology that ensures longer life and more efficient performance. It’s a quiet motor, so the shop vac isn’t as loud as most shop vac models on the market. The engine has 5.5 peak HP in total.
It’s built to be convenient, so it 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 shop vac for easier use.
The shop vac works as a blower as well. This shop vac comes with a 1-1/4’’x7’ lockdown hose, dual surface nozzle, two extension wands, 10’’ wet dry nozzle, gulper nozzle, crevice attachment, round brush, high-efficiency filer bag, and a cartridge filter with a retainer.
- Rear wheels
- Works as a blower
- For wet and dry cleaning
- The hose might be too narrow
Shop Vac 5895200 Shop Vac
If you need a small wet dry vac, you might want to consider this shop vac. It has 2.5-gallon tank capacity and a motor of 2.5 peak HP motor. It’s easy to move it around thanks to its roll casters and a top carry handle.
This is a dry wet shop vac with 1.25’’ diameter tools including a dual surface nozzle, two extension wands, a 7-foot hose, a gulper nozzle, crevice attachment, wall-mount bracket, and a round brush. It also works as a leaf blower.
Because it’s as versatile and efficient, it’s among the best shop vac models 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.
- For wet and dry cleaning
- It works as a blower
- Easy to carry around
- The hose might be too flexible
Stanley 12 Gallon Shop Vac
If you need a large wet dry vacuum cleaner, this might be the right choice for you. It’s a 12-gallon tank capacity that’s best for both wet and dry cleaning.
It comes with a powerful motor of 6.0 peak HP that provides enough power and suction to tackle most household and job site messes. You can use this vac in workshops, construction sites, or at home, depending on your needs.
The shop vac has a rear blower port allowing you to use it as a blower for leaf cleaning. It’s best if you have a big yard or a job site with lots of hard-to-reach areas.
This Stanley shop vac has swiveling caster wheels 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.
- 85-CFM airflow
- Large tank capacity
- Cord storage
- Weighs over 20 pounds
RIDGID 14 GalPeak Auto Detailing Shop Vac Kit
This might be one of the best options for people who need a versatile kit. The shop vac is capable of cleaning both dry and wet messes and is designed to deliver top performance in both conditions.
It holds 14 gallons, so it’s pretty large and best 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 vacuum has a top handle with a cord wrap and a large drain allowing you to empty the tank quickly.
On top of that, this shop vac comes with a unique noise-reduction technology that offers quieter performance.
The accessories included in this shop vac 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.
- Works as a blower
- Powerful motor
- 360-degree caster wheels
- Quite heavy
AUTLEAD Shop Vacuum Cleaner
This 5.5-gallon tank is probably enough for your home and workshop. It’s best 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. Its powerful motor generates the 1200W strong suction and blows force allowing versatile use.
This shop vac 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 high-capacity 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.
- Dual filtration system
- Wet suction function
- Easy-to-empty tank
- 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 vacuum cleaners are called shop vacs.
The best wet dry shop vacuums are meant for picking up small metal pieces like nails and screws. They’re also best 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 it’s 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 shop vacs, 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.
Best shop vacs 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 vacuum 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 vacuum cleaners only clean dirt, dust, and pet hair, shop vacs suck up wood chunks, screws, nails, and possibly even water.
Shop vacs come with bigger hoses that are also tougher and harder to damage. Best shop vacs 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 vacuums 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 vacuums, shop vacs often don’t have filters. If they do, these filters aren’t as efficient as those in household vacuums. Also, most shop vacs 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 shop vac 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 wet dry shop vacuum 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 power, so you can never have airflow without suction power although you can have suction power 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.
Shop vacuums are best for a wide variety of jobs and cleaning tasks. These powerful wet dry vacuums are far more efficient than regular vacuum cleaners we use in our homes, which is what makes them best for job sites and workshops.
As you noticed, most shop vacs can work in both wet and dry conditions. On top of that, the market has plenty of shop vac models to offer; all of which are different in terms of accessories, mobility, and tank capacity.
Sources and Resources
- Household vacuum cleaners vs. the high-volume surface sampler for collection of carpet dust samples in epidemiologic studies of children
- Typical Household Vacuum Cleaners: The Collection Efficiency and Emissions Characteristics for Fine Particles https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10473289.1999.10463789