- 1. Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum
- 2. DEWALT 2 Gallon Max Wet/Dry Vacuum
- 3. DEWALT Poly 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Shop Vac
- 4. CRAFTSMAN 16 Gallon Heavy Duty Shop Vacuum
- 5. Vacmaster 12 Gallon Detachable Wet/Dry Shop Vac
- 6. Shop-Vac 1 Gallon Micro Wet/Dry Vac
- 7. Stanley 5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum
- 8. Vacmaster Beast Series 12 Gallon Professional Wet/Dry Vac
- 9. Bissell MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage and Auto Vacuum Cleaner
- 10. TACKLIFE 5 Gallon 4 Layer Filtration Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
- 11. CRAFTSMAN 4 Gallon Portable Shop Vac
- 12. Ridgid 4 Gallon Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum
- 13. CRAFTSMAN XSP 20 Gallon Heavy-Duty Cart Shop Vacuum
The Best Shop Vac
There are many models of shop vac from which to choose, these days, and they all come with accessories and particular areas of strength. You might want a more robust machine in order to clean out a drain, or a smaller portable model to deal with pet mess. Some of the more expensive wet dry vacs are even powerful enough to clean your garage floor and even your car and bike!
The best shop vacs are generally better than one rented from your local convenience store. In terms of options like having a HEPA or washable filter, a whole host of free added accessories and a stronger suction power, a shop vac will allow you to search for your exact needs, including features like a long hose, a more powerful motor, a larger capacity, or whatever. Hendheld vacuums have to be all things to all people, and so are often not quite right for you.
We don't recommend the best overall because that will depend on what the best overall is for you. If your top end, 5 hp machine also comes with a stainless steel tank and a substantial warranty then that might be the best overall for you. However, if a steel tank, extra-long power cord, and blowing capacity are what you need then that is your best. Here are the models we selected all of which have their own unique strengths and capacities that will make you choose shop vacs instead of regular vacuum cleaners.
The Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum is particularly intended to cleanse the inside of your vehicle. It is a wet-dry vacuum so can handle both kinds of surfaces. In fact, it also changes into being a blower so can dry motorbikes, car grills, and wheels. It has a useful automatic shut off function which prevents overflow, as well as a built-in air and noise diffuser so you won’t annoy the neighbors. Its 2.5 gallon polypropylene tank is stronger than stainless steel tank and yet light enough for you to carry around and complete most jobs. Its 10- foot cord with wrap (6 foot), and 1.25-inch house, tucked neatly inside the canister, make this a user-friendly model, with no assembly required. It also comes with a reusable cloth filter and reusable foam sleeve, 2-in-1 utility nozzle, crevice tool, deluxe car nozzle, blower nozzle, and a detail brush. What other tools do you need! Finally, its 2 horsepower motor creates a powerful suction that makes even hard jobs easy.
Can be used corded or cordless
HEPA Rated filter – highly efficient
5 foot hose – crush resistant
On board storage – make transporting easier
The DEWALT 2 Gallon Max Wet/Dry Vacuum offers cordless or corded capabilities, powered either by an 18V or 20V MAX battery, or an AC outlet. A wet dry vac, it is versatile and resilient, boasting a heavy-duty crush-resistant fully integrated 5′ (by 1-1/4″ diameter) hose. It is designed to suction up microscopic pieces of dust, aided by its HEPA rated wet/dry filter that ensnares 99.97% of 1 micron! This filter can be wet under a tap and rinsed clean. Because the hose is tucked within the machine itself, it makes storage hassle-free and is able to be transported easily. It also has a crevice tool attachment and a wide nozzle attachment, although the battery and charger are sold separately.
Perfect for minor clean-up jobs
4 Peak horsepower – powerful suction
Sturdy rubberized casters – easy maneuverability
Blower port – built-in
Power cord – conveniently wraps around machine
The DEWALT Poly 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Shop Vac is portable and so ideal for small clean-up. That said, it has a powerful heavy-duty motor which makes it one of the best shop vacs out there, in terms of its large capacity and its strong suction power. It has a dust cartridge filter that will work well for small, dry debris and even wet materials. Its carrying handle is sturdy, while big water-resistant on/off switch makes it safe, convenient, and hassle-free. It has a built-in 10′ power cord and accessory bag. Its swiveling casters allow for ease of movement, and its in-built tank drain makes draining that much easier. The interior hose diameter is 1.875 inches.
6.5 Peak horsepower – extra power
Rear blowing port
Extra-large Drain – easy to empty liquids
Dual-Flex Technology – resists kinking
Range of useful accessories
The CRAFTSMAN 16 Gallon Heavy Duty Shop Vacuum with most powerful 6.5. peak HO motor is perfect for handling large cleanup projects at home or on the construction site, or perhaps renovations, builds, or floods. This large model includes a car nozzle and wet nozzle, as well as a large 2-1/2 in. diameter hose with extra Dual-Flex that resists kinks and crushing. On-board hose storage is included and power cord organizers, which do away with the need for extra storage space. Its Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System helps facilitate a fast and efficient change of wet-dry vacuum filters. It has an extra-large drain, and the tank pours our liquids rapidly. You may want to blow away yard waste from the deck, and this machine can morph into a blower as it directs high-speed exhaust air through the hose.
Converts easily from Wet/Dry Vac to Handheld Blower
19-Foot Cleaning Reach
Extra-large Drain Port
On-board Accessory Storage
Accessories x 11
The Vacmaster 12 Gallon Detachable Wet/Dry Shop Vac is an excellent 2-in-1 unit that enables users to switch from a wet dry vac to a powerful, handheld vacuum like blower at the push of a button. The 12-Gallon capacity of this 12-Gallon model is perfect for at home or around the shop. Its 5 HP (Peak) motor manages to suction up dust, liquids, and whatever else; however, if you push the release button and take the blower out of its cradle it can become a detached, handheld blower, able to reach that shadowy garage or yard spots so more easily. The blowing speed of 210 MPH makes this a formidable blower of even tough debris. The handle design and study canisters make for stable transportation, while the accessory storage, on-board, means that all of your tools stay organized and centralized.
1 gallon, 1hp peak
An American Original
Fold-down top carry handle
Wall bracket for out-of-the-way storage
A mere 1-gallon machine, with an all-purpose use. Portable, lightweight, convenient, versatile, the Hang Up Mini can handle a range of quick-clean jobs that need doing in your home, workshop, or garage. The Shop-Vac 1 Gallon Micro Wet/Dry Vac has a 6-foot power cord and 1.25-inch accessories including 4 ft x 1.25-inch hose, gulper nozzle, a crevice tool, a wall mount bracket for tools, and a wall bracket for tool bag. Filters include foam sleeve and disposable collection filter bags. Its 2-year warranty gives you the peace of mind you need. Overall, a durable and surprisingly useful smaller model.
Large 18.5 Liter capacity
4 HP peak motor
Cleans liquid and debris
15ft of reach
Swivel castors for easy movement
Packs away conveniently
This sleek-looking Stanley 5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum comes at a great price and features a powerful motor for great suction and heavy-duty pickup, both wet and dry. The blower port can instantly convert into a power blower, and the strong handle makes for easy carrying. The big on/off water-resistant switch means quick and safe access. You also get a built-in power cord wrap, making storage that much easier. Storage casters come as accessories, and the tank is built-in which facilitates trouble-free draining with no removal of parts necessary.
This powerful Vacmaster Beast Series 12 Gallon Professional Wet/Dry Vac has been designed to eliminate the most challenging of cleanup operations, whether at home or at work. You will find its on-board hose usefully stowed inside the machine itself, while its unique flat power head design actually stores tools on top of the vacuum, making them easily accessible. Its long hose (7′) and power cord (20′) give you substantial reach without having to constantly unplug and replug the unit. You get a cloud of big dust dealt on/off switch and heavy-duty 360° swivel castors as standard. As for accessories, it boasts 9 of them!
Powerful motor – 11 amp
6 gallon capacity
Specialized auto tool kit
An impressively large capacity of 6 gallons allows any kind of mess to cleaned up easily, making this one of the best shop vacs on the market. Containing a large range of specialized auto tools, this BISSELL multi clean can achieve professional results and is for serious vacuuming, not localized spillage. The Bissell MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage and Auto Vacuum Cleaner has a high power 11 amp motor together with the combination floor tool is perfect for Hard floors, low pile carpeting and area rugs. Meanwhile, the wet floor tool is great for dealing with wet messes of any size. A crevice tool and dusting brush are neatly stowed on board, and the blower option helps remove leaves and other outdoor debris.
Powerful motor – strong suction
17 foot diameter range
4-layer filtration system
Buoy technology protects the motor
Long Safety Cleaning Hose
The TACKLIFE 5 Gallon 4 Layer Filtration Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum is one of the best in terms of having a strong 5.5 HP motor which helps suction up. It has a multi-functional capacity that allows you to clean your car and home thoroughly. It has a great reach, with a 10 ft power cord, 7 ft safety cleaning hose, and 2 extension wands. This allows you to move to a range of locations, and the folding handle and 4X260° wheel will rotate to any angle. The make boasts an Air Cyclone Diversion filter which helps store large particles of dust that pass through its thick dust filter. The Silencer sponge filter intercepts dust particles, while its Outlet filter cotton blocks the remaining power, leaving clean air in its wake. The 5-gallon capacity polypropylene collection tank allows for longer cleaning time, while Buoy technology automatically powers off when the bucket’s weather level has exceeded the boundary; this protects the motor.
5.0 peak HP motor
Extra-long power cord
Easy-to-use Power switch
Accessories x 8
The CRAFTSMAN 4 Gallon Portable Shop Vac is superb for auto-detailing, whether at work, home, or in the garage. It has a 5.0 peak HP and its power is equal to other vacs 3 times its size; it remains portable enough to easily transport and store. Its embedded tool storage system stows all its equipment in one place, while its 20-foot cord and 7-foot hose help you to maneuver into every corner of a room. It has 2 extension wands for your outdoor extension cord and a 10-inch combo brush; these can tackle virtually any job imaginable. Swivel casters enable you to glide around, while its rear wheels maintain the vac’s upright posture even on the roughest of surfaces. All these factors make this model one of the best shop vacs available.
Lightweight vac – portable
Large carry handle
Tug-A-Long locking hose
Three-layer fine dust filter
The Ridgid 4 Gallon Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum is designed to be lightweight, portable, but still very powerful. Its 5.0 Peak HP motor allows it to punch above its weight and make the experience of vacuuming a smooth one. It has a large carry handle and large rear wheels and casters, so you won’t need to lift it over carpeted or rough floors. Another of its many pros is that its accessories are stored in a neat storage caddy for easy access. After years of developments, Ridgid’s Tug-A-Long locking hose is useful in that it won’t come loose during use. The large 1-7/8″ diameter hose provides non-clogging performance similar to that of a larger diameter hose, but with the flexibility of smaller diameter hoses. This shop vac has an impressive 20′ power cord that helps with wide-area cleaning and wraps neatly around its carry handle when not in use. It also has a strong blower capability when the hose is put into the exhaust port. Finally, its 3-layer fine dust filter captures fine dust particles, eg drywall dust, and its patented scroll noise reduction means a quiet operation due to its precisely controlling the flow of air through the vac.
One of the best shop vacs out there. The CRAFTSMAN XSP 20 Gallon Heavy-Duty Cart Shop Vacuum can handle extra-large cleanup projects at work, home, or in the garage. It boasts an integrated cart system with 360° mobility, easily transportable up or downstairs, and across rougher surfaces. Included is a 10-foot Pro-grade hose that has 4 times the longevity of a standard hose. The Accessory storage bag snaps on to the cart handle, keeping the vacuum’s accessories to hand. It has an extra-large drain, plus a 20 foot Power cord, so you can clean a wide area and then wrap it around the specially designed carry handle to store it. The rear blowing port facilitates quick removal of waste; meanwhile, the Qwik Lock filter fastening system makes installing and removing filters easy, fast, and secure.
Features To Consider With Shop Vacuums
Your best shop vac will tend to have around a dozen accessories; a range of brush-head attachments, spare filters, utility nozzles, long hose, crevice tool, and many more features at your disposal. Many machines, these days, will have a storage compartment which enables you to stow everything away and have it close to hand.
Airflow will depend upon your motor's horse power (HP), which will vary from machine to machine. The wet and dry vacs tend to have a much more powerful motor than regular vacuum cleaners, with an extra pro; the capability of plugging the hose into the exhaust port and turning your vac into a powerful blower, ideal for dispersing leaves and blasting away excess dirt and dust from a given work area.
Many vacs will have a large stainless steel tank which will come in various sizes. The larger the volume the longer you can keep going at any given time. If you have a large capacity and long hose, then this will set you up for serious suctioning, perhaps even in a filthy garage or busy work environment.
Unlike most rented vacs, shop vacs offer the possibility of HEPA filters, which remove tiny allergens which can be so detrimental to health. Some come with thick dust filter, sponge filters, and even outlet filter cotton due to the larger, sometimes industrial use of the wet vac.
Most shop vacs will come with a several foot hose to help you maneuver around any space. Some models will have an extension wand or two, so as to probe into more awkward nook and crannies.
Many shop vacs will have up to 20 feet of cord, which often wraps neatly into the machine for ease of storage. This should be enough to deal with most rooms; in general the cord length will be longer in proportion to the storage tank.
Due to the stronger powered motor, some vacs can be on the noisy side. However, some makes will offer a silencer or muffler in order to reduce this.
Suction power is the main USP of the wet vac. Its motor will define just how powerful it is. It your shop vac has 5 Peak HP (horse power) then there's not much that it can't suction up.
Portability may or may not be a big deal for you, but many models make life easier by having a large handle and durable, large casters that help you navigate the rougher surfaces that the wet vac is often wheeled in to tackle.
The horse power measurement of a wet dry vac's power tells you that it is considerably more powerful than a regular vacuum cleaner's power, which tends to be measured in watts.
A wet dry vac is best used for serious spillage, detritus, and often renovation work, or work projects. It is overkill to use it in place of a regular vacuum cleaner, which is used mainly to suck up dust, allergens, and microscopic bits and pieces.
Wet dry vacs will be heavier than regular vacs, largely due to their stainless steel (or similar material) storage tank. Seeing as the wet vac might even have to store bits of small rubble and larger detritus, it needs a much sturdier profile.
Shop Vac FAQ
Q: Can a shop vac pick up water?
Yes. A wet dry doesn't care what is there; soda, water, wine, feces, urine, it matters not (as long as it's not flammable) - it will suction it up. You must ensure, however, that when switching to dry vacuuming, your vac has the necessary filter and if necessary, bag. HEPA filters are best, due to their special design of filtering out harmful allergens.
Q: What is the difference between a shop vac and a regular vacuum?
The main difference between a shop vac and a regular vacuum is that the former is designed for heavy-duty suctioning with larger pieces of debris, whereas a normal vacuum is primarily designed for carpets, in which small particles of dust and allergens are removed. Your regular vacuum would be damaged if it were to suction up metal and wooden objects, but a shop vac would easily cope with this.
A shop vac will tend to come with a larger, more robust hose, and are bulkier and heavier than a regular vacuum. The shop vac's motor is considerably more powerful, due to the robust operations it is engineered to carry out. If you are looking for a multipurpose option, maybe a stick vacuum cleaner is a better solution. If a powerful engine is not your priority, a robot vacuum will make cleaning a lot easier.
Q: Can you use a shop vac without a filter?
Yes, you can use a shop vac without filter, but it will depend on the model. It's wiser to use a filter in order to handle the dry debris that it will be sucking up. If your model functions without a filter then it might be necessary to go over that area again with a regular vacuum in order to remove the finer dust and other particles which have flown out of your sturdy shop vac. Better to use your shop vac in more open areas if it doesn't have a filter. A shop vac will tend to have 2 settings – with the filter on or with water in the tank.
Q: What is a good horsepower for a shop vac?
Horsepower is superficially impressive, but it's wiser to look for the best shop vac you can afford. Many cheaper models might boast a higher horsepower but have fewer windings and low-quality bearings, so end up overhearing and self-destructing. Reviewing the specifications and reading reviews is essential. You'd be best served by a model that offers a medium to high rate of airflow and suction pressure. Those two factors are crucial in weighing up potential shop vac performance over time.