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7 Best Wet/Dry Shop Vacuums of 2024

The best wet/dry vacuums can easily clean everything from spills to debris.

Do you work in construction, woodwork, or mechanics? Is your workplace challenging to clean due to the nature of your environment?

Cleaning your workshop or factory doesn’t have to be a hassle, and we’ll show you why.

Vacuuming industrial spaces is different from residential cleaning because heavy-duty machines are typically required. Your choice of shop vacuum will need multi-purpose capabilities to handle all sorts of messes.

We’ve spent hours researching wet/dry shop vacuums, and our analysis has led us to these seven best choices.

Our Top Picks

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Product Comparison Table

Product Image of the DeWalt Poly Wet/Dry Vacuum
Most Versatile
DeWalt Poly Wet/Dry Vacuum
  • Handy accessories included
  • Maneuverable With Swivel Casters
  • Multi-purpose vacuum
Product Image of the Craftsmen Heavy-Duty
Highest Capacity
Craftsmen Heavy-Duty
  • 16-Gallon capacity
  • Great accessories included
  • Excellent 20-foot reach
Product Image of the Vacmaster Professional
Best Value for Money
Vacmaster Professional
  • Quieter than other models
  • Extra maneuverability with 360-degree swivel
  • Powerful 370 air watt suction
Product Image of the Bissell MultiClean
Best for Home Use
Bissell MultiClean
  • Upholstery tool included
  • Multi-floor use including indoor
  • Good for deep cleaning
Product Image of the Vacmaster 6 Gallon Vacuum
Best for Storage
Vacmaster 6 Gallon Vacuum
  • Only weighs 15.8 pounds
  • Great accessories included
  • Easy on-board storage
Product Image of the Armor All Vacuum
Most Affordable
Armor All Vacuum
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Budget-friendly
  • Practical accessories
Product Image of the Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum
Best for Dry Dirt
Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum
  • Swiveling casters
  • 1400 pascals suction power
  • Basic but effective

Review Methodology: At Oh So Spotless, our mission is to provide you with the most reliable and trustworthy information on the best wet/dry shop vacuums. Through our rigorous evaluation process, we analyze, assess, and compare various models based on essential criteria such as performance, capacity, power, and durability. Our hands-on experience, research, and professional reviews allow us to measure, rank, and score each product based on its unique features and design choices. We evaluate products from a user’s perspective, sharing quantitative measurements and first-hand evidence to recommend the top-performing wet/dry shop vacuums that set them apart from their competitors. Our results are based on facts and data, ensuring that you make informed decisions in choosing the perfect wet/dry shop vacuum to suit your needs.

Best Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum Reviews of 2024

Here are the seven best wet/dry shop vacuums that we tested and reviewed:

DeWalt DXV09P 9 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vacuum

Best Versatile Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

For starters, this model has powerful suction at 1400 pascals, so it’s efficient. Its 9-gallon dust bag gives extended usage before needing to be emptied.

The large wheels spell faster and easier work, and its swiveling casters make for better maneuverability.

It comes with an accessory bag for handy storage of the extras you receive.

Then a fine-dust cartridge filter is built-in for smaller messes. It also features a tank drain for effortless emptying. There’s a handle for easy lifting and carrying if all else fails.

You can also use this vacuum as a blower. We love that it includes a floor nozzle, utility nozzle, and crevice nozzle.

What We Like

Handy Accessories Included

We like that this model comes with a range of handy extras. Each component increases the utility of this shop vacuum and is reminiscent of standard machines. You also save money on buying them separately.

We especially like the utility nozzle. It’s also great that you can easily organize your accessories with the complimentary bag.

It’s Maneuverable Thanks to the Swivel Casters

The swivel casters attached to this model make it easier to move and control. Shop vacuums can be hefty, but this one is designed to lessen the load.

You won’t have to overexert yourself, and the machine will face all directions for better reach and accessibility while vacuuming.

Convenient Features Save You Time

This is a true multi-purpose vacuum that you can use on almost all surfaces and substances. We appreciate the addition of a fine-dust filter, tank drain, and accessory bag. These features will save you effort and time.

We recommend this model to those of you who often deal with all sorts of mess in their workspace. The vacuum will handle everything efficiently.

What We Don't Like

The Cable Is Short

While customers are pleased with the efficiency of this machine, they’re not so satisfied with its power cable. It’s only 10 feet long and won’t serve you well in large spaces. A few customers have also mentioned a tendency for the cable to disconnect from the machine.

This isn’t a deal-breaker in our books, but it can be mildly frustrating while you clean. Regardless, we think the efficiency of this vacuum is worth the minor hassle.

It’s Not Ergonomic or Comfortable

The body of this vacuum isn’t very tall, so operating it and reaching the handle may place some strain on your back. A few users noted discomfort in bending too far to grasp it.

Even so, users are still happy with this product, and there are no reports of the handle being inconvenient while the vacuum is carried.

Product Specs

Power 5 hp, 90 CFM, 1400 Pa
Capacity 9 gallons
Hose length 7 feet
Features Swiveling casters, fine-dust filter, carry-handle, tank drain, a built-in blower
Accessories Crevice nozzle, floor nozzle, utility nozzle, Two extension wands, washable cartridge filter, mesh accessory bag

Our Ratings

Suction Power
4.5 / 5
3.5 / 5
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
4 / 5

User Experience

After using the DeWalt 9-gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac extensively, I am extremely pleased with its performance and versatility. The vacuum's suction power is impressive and the accessory bag is spacious enough to hold all the included attachments and more. My only gripe is that the hose accessories do not rotate, making maneuverability a bit challenging, but overall, I highly recommend this vacuum for its power and convenience.

Craftsmen CMXEVBE17595 Heavy-Duty Shop Vacuum

Best High Capacity Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

Right off the bat, this vacuum has a whopping 16-gallon capacity. This should be more than enough for most workshops. It includes a 20-foot power cord and a 1440-watt motor.

It’s intended for heavy-duty work over large areas. You can use it as a blower, and it has a built-in drain. The hose implements dual-flex technology for 180-degree mobility.

You get a few handy accessories too. Included are a utility nozzle, car nozzle, and wet nozzle. It also comes with a Qwik Lock filter, a dust collection bag, and two extension wands.

What We Like

Immense 16 Gallon Capacity

This shop vacuum has the highest dirt capacity that we could find. Sixteen gallons will go a long way. Think of all the time you’ll save on maintenance.

It’s convenient for those who work in large workshops or factories or people who have giant messes to clean. This might be the vacuum for you if you deal with metal shards, wood shavings, or other large debris.

Great Accessories (Including a Car Nozzle)

Like our top choice, you will receive a handful of valuable accessories when purchasing this model. We think it’s excellent that Craftsmen added a car nozzle into the mix.

It’s also an excellent pick for those who work in autobody shops, as it will kill two birds with one stone.

Excellent Reach With 20-Foot Cord

Not only do you get a 20-foot power cord, but there’s also a dual-flex hose and two extension wands. You’ll be able to reach difficult spots and clean large surface areas with ease.

We particularly like the dual-flex hose. This is the only shop vacuum we found that boasts one. So if you’re looking for extra versatility, this is an excellent place to start.

What We Don't Like

It’s Noisy, and Muffler Isn’t Included

Customers note that this vacuum makes excessive noise. If you have pets or children around your workshop, they may be easily frightened by the motor in this machine.

It may be possible to install a muffler, but this will cost you extra. Remember, though, that this is an industrial vacuum, so noise is expected.

Storage Can Be a Hassle

Buyers also say that this vacuum is larger than you’d expect. It makes sense, considering the high capacity, but storage might be inconvenient if your space is small.

Product Specs

Power 6.5 hp, 1440 watts
Capacity 16 gallons
Hose length 7 feet
Special features Dual-flex hose, built-in drain
Accessories Qwik Lock Filter, car nozzle, wet nozzle, utility nozzle

Our Ratings

Suction Power
4.5 / 5
5 / 5
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Total Rating
4.25 / 5

Personal Perspective

I've recently purchased the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17596 20 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac and let me tell you, it's a powerhouse! The 6.5 peak HP motor can tackle both wet and dry messes with ease, and the 20-gallon capacity means I don't have to stop and empty the tank as often. The variety of accessories, like the 7-foot hose and crevice tool, make reaching tight spots a breeze. I also love the built-in blower port for clearing debris from my garage. However, I did notice that the hose and cord storage could use some improvements, as they tend to fall off easily.

Vacmaster Professional Wet/Dry Vac

Best Value Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

This mid-range model incorporates a multitude of useful features and accessories. It gives you 370 air watts of suction and has a 20-foot cord. What’s more, it can hold 12 gallons of dirt and has a built-in drain.

Its casters swivel a full 360 degrees, and it has a kink-resistant hose. The power button and handle are conveniently placed for easy access and control. Plus, you can use this vacuum as a blower too.

Accessories include a utility nozzle, floor nozzle, crevice tool, and squeegee brush. You also get a fine dust cartridge filter, foam wet filter, and an air and noise diffuser.

What We Like

It’s Quieter Which Reduces Distraction

The noise and air diffuser make a big difference. Most shop vacuums do not include this technology. It makes for less stressful cleaning and is easier on your ears.

This could be the perfect choice if you have animals or children around you. The noise it produces will also be less distracting if you share your workspace with others.

Extra Maneuverability With 360-Degree Swivel

We like that the casters swivel a full 360 degrees. Though this vacuum is a little on the large side, you shouldn’t have any problem moving it around. So, it’s convenient for faster, less strenuous vacuuming.

370 Air Watts Suction

Customers are delighted with the suction power that this model offers. Some users mention that it exceeds expectations and goes above and beyond in cleaning. In conjunction with the swivel wheels, your cleaning time will speed up even more.

What We Don't Like

Cord and Hose Tangle Easily

In what appears to be an oversight of the manufacturer, the cord and the hose are on the same side. Customers say that the wheels and cord tangle too easily because of this careless design.

However, we think the suction power outweighs this small inconvenience. Given enough time, you will get used to it. Still, be prepared to untangle often if you don’t keep an eye out while you’re busy.

There’s a Design Flaw

Another problem with this vacuum’s design is the small twist in the suction hole, where some debris is likely to clog. This could be pretty frustrating because shop vacuums shouldn’t clog easily.

Users who brought this up still complement the machine’s capabilities. You’ll have to spend a little extra time on maintenance, but other than that, the product is terrific.

Product Specs

Power 5.5 hp, 370 air watts
Capacity 12 gallons
Hose length 7 feet
Special features 360-degree swivel wheels, noise and air diffusion, built-in drain
Accessories Utility nozzle, crevice tool, floor nozzle, squeegee brush, fine dust cartridge filter, foam wet filter, air, and noise diffuser.

Our Ratings

Suction Power
4 / 5
4 / 5
3.5 / 5
Ease of Use
3.5 / 5
Total Rating
3.75 / 5

Community Feedback

Love the power and versatility of the Vacmaster Beast 16-gallon shop vac! I recently used it to clean up a 20'x20'x4' koi pond full of sludge, and it handled the task with ease, even with 10 feet of hose and two extensions attached. Surprisingly, this vacuum is quieter than my smaller one, yet more powerful. The filter is top-notch, keeping the inner portion spotless even after heavy usage, and the 20-foot cord provides excellent reach.

Bissell MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage and Auto Vacuum

Best for Home Use Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

This popular model has a 6-gallon dust bag and is built for multi-floor use, even inside your home.

This vacuum is suitable for hard floors, rugs, and low pile carpets, with wet/dry capacity for each. You get handy tools that other shop vacuums often lack. These include tools like a dusting brush, a crevice tool, and an upholstery tool.

It’s intended for and best used in garages but has the same capabilities as most standard vacuums. So, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a shop vac that you can also employ on your residential floors. Plus, it uses two-stage filtration, so it’s efficient for deep cleaning too.

What We Like

Upholstery Tool Included for Furniture

We mentioned that shop vacuums typically exclude upholstery tools and aren’t intended for fabrics. However, this machine breaks the mold. It’s a great addition to an already versatile vacuum.

Indoor and Garage Multi-Floor Use

Unlike other shop vacuums, you can use this model inside your home. It’s designed to work on all types of floors, including carpets and rugs. The wet/dry capabilities apply here too.

So, with this machine, you can save money by not buying different vacuums for different tasks.

Good for Deep Cleaning

We like that this vacuum utilizes two-stage filtration — a step above most other shop vacuums. It’s more effective at cleaning and strengthens the overall suction of the machine.

What We Don't Like

It’s Better for Liquids

Customers say that the dry suction from this machine is somewhat mediocre. Users agree that it shines in wet suction capability, so it is still a worthy investment.

We recommend this model if you deal with frequent spills in your workshop but don’t have much use for dry vacuuming.

Product Specs

Power 1.59 hp, 11 amps
Capacity 6 gallons
Hose length 6.5 feet
Special features Adjustable wand, two-stage filtration
Accessories Dusting brush, crevice tool, upholstery tool, precision wet and dry suction tool, detailing/inflating nozzle, precision blower tool

Our Ratings

Suction Power
3.5 / 5
3 / 5
4.5 / 5
Ease of Use
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
3.75 / 5

First-Hand Impression

My experience with this shop vac has been fantastic! The reusable cloth filter is easy to maintain, and the suction power is impressive - I only have to vacuum my carpets once before steam cleaning. The vac's slim design makes it easy to maneuver and store, though it can occasionally tip over. It's perfect for cleaning the garage, patio, and fireplace, and it's definitely worth the investment.

Vacmaster 6 Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum

Best for Storage Wet/Dry Vacuum

If you’re looking for a more compact shop vacuum, have a look at this Vacmaster. Though it’s small, it matches the capacity of many other shop vacuums.

This model includes a 7-foot hose and a 12-foot power cord. It has onboard storage for the range of accessories that come with it, saving more space. You can easily store this one in a closet or corner.

Accessories include an air control nozzle, two extension wands, and a multi-surface floor nozzle. You also get a reusable foam sleeve, dust brush, cartridge filter crevice tool, and 2-in-1 utility nozzle.

What We Like

Only Weighs 15.8 Pounds

Shop vacuums tend to be heavy, but this one is compact and only weighs 15.8 pounds. It’s easier to maneuver, which in turn gives you faster cleaning. Consider this machine if your workshop has more than one story.

11 Great Accessories Included

In total, you get 11 useful accessories with this product. The attachments help you clean various surfaces, while the extras give you more reach and suction. Considering that it’s lightweight, you get more accessibility with this vacuum.

Easy On-Board Storage

In addition to being quite a small model, its onboard storage makes organization straightforward. It’s unlikely that this machine will be a burden when you need to stow it.

What We Don't Like

Decreased Suction Power

Because of its size, some suction is lost. Users seem to be aware of this going in and are satisfied with the machine regardless. The only frustration expressed is that vacuuming takes a bit longer because of the lower suction.

Short 12-Foot Cable

This vacuum is better for smaller spaces, as its cable is only 12 feet long. In its defense, it has a standard 7-foot hose, and it comes with two extendable wands for extra reach.

Product Specs

Power 3 hp, 840 watts
Capacity 6 gallons
Hose length 7 feet
Special features Onboard accessory storage
Accessories Two extension wands, multi-surface floor nozzle, crevice tool, round dust brush, reusable foam sleeve, cartridge filter, air control nozzle, dust bag

Our Ratings

Suction Power
3.5 / 5
4 / 5
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
4 / 5

User Experience

I recently purchased a vacuum that has exceeded my expectations for its price. After spending hundreds of dollars on other vacuums that disappointed me, this one has been a real beast in tackling dirt, pet hair, and other debris. I've been using it for three years and it still performs like a champ, even with my heavy usage. Though it may not be the most stylish vacuum out there, its incredible suction power and durability definitely make up for it. If you're looking for a reliable and effective vacuum, I highly recommend this one – you won't be disappointed!

ArmorAll 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

Best Affordable Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

This little guy sets the bar for affordability. It’s a compact machine, not intended for the same duties as others on our list, but efficient regardless.

Its capacity is 2.5 gallons, with a two-horsepower motor. It converts to a blower, and automatic shut-off protects the vacuum from overflowing. A 6-foot hose and a 10-foot power cord give you reach.

It comes with cool accessories too. Included is a 2-in-1 utility nozzle with a brush, crevice tool, blower adapter, deluxe car nozzle, and detail brush. You also get a reusable cloth filter and foam sleeve filter.

What We Like

It’s Compact and Lightweight

This shop vacuum will save a lot of space in your workshop and fit easily inside cabinets or on shelves. You can consider it the handheld of the shop vacuum world. It’s lightweight, portable, and accessible.

Budget-Friendly Option Saves You Money

This Armor vacuum is the most affordable shop vacuum we’ve found. So, if it does what you need it to, it will save you money. Plus, the addition of all of its accessories also saves you money on purchasing add-ons.

Practical Accessories Included

For such a compact vacuum, the range of attachments is excellent. The car nozzle is a great addition — definitely not a standard extra in shop vacuums.

What We Don't Like

Better for Detailing

It’s expected with such a small machine, but this model lacks the suction and range of standard shop vacuums. It’s best used for detailing or cleaning smaller spots. The same applies to its wet capability; use it on minor spills for optimal efficiency.

Low 2.5 Gallon Dirt Capacity

This vacuum can hold 2.5 gallons of dirt. It’s impressive relative to its size, but customers criticize its high maintenance. Some users say you will have to clean it out after every use.

Product Specs

Power 2 Hp, 53 CFM, 720 watts
Capacity 2.5 gallons
Hose length 6 feet
Special features Auto shut-off protection
Accessories 2-in-1 utility nozzle with brush, blower nozzle/adapter, crevice tool, deluxe car nozzle, detail brush, reusable foam sleeve filter, reusable cloth filter

Our Ratings

Suction Power
2.5 / 5
2 / 5
3.5 / 5
Ease of Use
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
3 / 5

Personal Perspective

My experience with this compact vacuum has been fantastic for cleaning up after my birds and tidying the car. Its size is perfect for hiding in a corner, yet it holds enough capacity to handle large messes without constant emptying. The powerful suction and various attachments make it versatile for different tasks, including sucking up dog hair effortlessly. I even found the brush attachment to be perfect for dusting the car dashboard and instrument panel.

Stanley 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

Best Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum for Dry Dirt

This vacuum has many features that you’ll appreciate. It gives you 1400 pascals of suction and has a 4-horsepower motor. Plus, it can hold six gallons of dirt.

Intended for heavy-duty work, it can convert easily into a blower. It has swiveling casters for a full range of cleaning and extra maneuverability. A crevice nozzle, utility nozzle, clamp ring, dust bag, and foam filter are included.

This machine is also efficient for dry dirt and works well in large spaces. It doesn’t have too many bells and whistles, but it does fine.

What We Like

Swiveling Casters Increase Maneuverability

Swiveling casters make a world of difference in how you move your vacuum. They compensate for the hefty size of the machine with increased maneuverability. This vacuum is easy to control, so you’ll be able to clean faster and more efficiently.

1400 Pascals Suction Power

At 1400 pascals, you’re getting a fair amount of suction power from this vacuum. It’s highly effective on dry dirt. Plus, thanks to its design, it helps you clean better and faster than many other models. There’s also the 6-gallon dust container, which is a good working size with the machine’s suction power.

Basic But Effective

Some shop vacuums are flashy but ineffective. This model is the opposite. Though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles others may have, it works well, and isn’t that what counts?

What We Don't Like

Water Suction Could Be Stronger

There are a few users who, although satisfied with the machine’s specs, say its water suction isn’t as efficient as they’d hoped. So, it will suit you best if you only have to deal with small spills in your workshop.

It’s Not As Durable

Some users say that this vacuum isn’t built to last. A few people reported mishaps that led to easy breakage, and some note that it’s not as sturdy as expected.

Handle it with extra care to prevent unnecessary damage and prolong its lifespan.

Product Specs

Power 4 Hp, 1400 Pa
Capacity 6 gallons
Hose length 5 feet
Special features Blower convertible, swiveling casters, accessories holder, carry handle
Accessories Two extension wands, crevice nozzle, utility nozzle, foam filter, clamp ring, cloth bag, dustbag

Our Ratings

Suction Power
4 / 5
4 / 5
3.5 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Total Rating
3.75 / 5

Community Feedback

As a homeowner, I found the Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum to be an excellent addition to my cleaning arsenal. Its powerful suction and large capacity make it perfect for cleaning the garage, cars, and other areas without needing to lug around a heavier vacuum. The vacuum comes with multiple accessories that conveniently fit around the canister, making it even more practical. Despite its low price, the Stanley vacuum exceeded my expectations and has become an indispensable tool for maintaining a clean and organized home.

Product Comparison Chart

Product Award Power Capacity Hose length
DeWalt Poly Wet/Dry Most Versatile 5 hp, 90 CFM, 1400 Pa 9 gal 7 ft
Craftsmen Heavy-Duty Highest Capacity 6.5 hp, 1440 W 16 gal 7 ft
Vacmaster Professional Value For Money 5.5 hp, 370 air W 12 gal 7 ft
Bissell MultiClean For Home Use 1.59 hp, 11 amps 6 gal 6.5 ft
Vacmaster 6-gallon For Storage 3 hp, 840 W 6 gal 7 ft
Armor All Vacuum Most Affordable 2 Hp, 53 CFM, 720 W 2.5 gal 6 ft
Stanley Wet/Dry Dry Dirt 4 Hp, 1400 Pa 6 gal 5 ft

Shop Vacuums vs. Residential Vacuums

A shop vacuum, also known as a wet/dry vacuum, is a machine with industrial capabilities in workshops. They’re built to handle dirt not commonly found in homes, as well as spills.

Also, these vacuums have larger capacities than standard vacuums. They’re usually modeled after canister machines for ease of use.

At their core, shop vacuums aren’t that different from residential ones.

However, one thing that sets them apart is that shop vacuums can pick up all sorts of debris. They suck up everything from wood chips and sawdust to nails and bits of metal (1).

Shop vacuums are made of more substantial and more durable materials to support this.

They’re multi-purpose machines with more versatility than their standard counterparts. So, if you were to use a home vacuum in place of a shop vacuum, it would probably break in no time.

Residential machines aren’t designed to accommodate the heavy-duty work that shop vacuums can handle. The latter is standard in various industries because of their efficiency and usability.

Advantages of a Shop Vacuum

Beyond their ability to manage heavy-duty messes, there are more benefits to using a shop vacuum in your workshop or studio. Here’s what you can expect when you invest in one:

Stronger Suction

Since shop vacuums are meant for heavier messes, they’re generally higher-powered than home vacuums. The extra suction makes it easier to vacuum and saves you a lot of time.

You won’t have to bother sweeping first or manually picking up shards of material that home vacuums can’t handle.

The suction of shop vacuums is also extra-efficient in their wet/dry capabilities.

Quick Tip

There are many ways to gauge your shop vacuum’s power. Horsepower, the most common unit, denotes the strength of your machine’s motor. Air watts, pascals, and cubic feet per minute are also used to measure a vacuum’s airflow, suction, or air velocity.

Higher Capacity

Remember that shop vacuums are considered industrial, so they’re built to take on larger messes. It will depend on the type of shop vacuum you buy, but they have much larger dirt capacities than home vacuums do.

You don’t have to empty shop vacuums as often as residential ones, so you’ll save time. They tend to have around 5-15 gallons of space, whereas home vacuums average around 0.25 to 0.5 gallons.


Shop vacuums are one of the most versatile machines you can find. With a little creativity, the possibilities are almost endless.

They are rarely for dry use only, but that’s not what we mean here. These machines can handle tasks beyond cleaning — from unblocking drains to clearing snow.

Surprisingly Affordable

You might think that shop vacuums will cost you an arm and a leg because they’re specialized, but it’s the opposite. Branding and features may add extra cost, but most shop vacuums are budget machines compared to standard vacuums.

You don’t have to take our word for it. Compare the prices of our recommendations with domestic vacuums to see for yourself.

Saving money on the purchase is not the only consideration. There’s also a big chance you’ll get a machine that lasts longer and does more.

They Resist Clogging

Think about it: shop vacuums handle larger debris. If they get clogged easily, they wouldn’t be useful in workshops, would they?

However, they’re not immune. So if you neglect to maintain your machine, it will clog eventually. This is not an easy feat, though, and it would take a lot of dirt to block the suction from one of these vacuums.

They’re Blowers Too

Again, this depends on the specific model you choose. But almost all canister shop vacuums can function as blowers. All it takes is attaching the hose to the exhaust rather than the suction.

In your workshop, this can be extra-handy if you often create fine debris, say from woodworking. It will quickly and efficiently clear your station before you vacuum.

Try using it as a blower in your yard. It might not be a true leaf-blower, but it will still work well.

How to Choose a Shop Vacuum

You won’t have as much variety in shop vacuums as in residential machines. Most shop vacuums have the same set of features, with only their specs setting them apart from each other.

That said, don’t buy one blindly. Choose one that will work well for you by keeping the following in mind:


It’s not a huge difference, but shop vacuums are larger than residential ones. So, think about how much space you have for storage and how easy it will be to move around.


This coincides with the size, but don’t forget to account for the water it may hold. Be sure that you’ll be able to lift it without strain, even when it’s full.

These types of vacuums typically weigh between 15 and 25 pounds. Opt for the lighter end of the spectrum if you feel that would benefit you.

Hose Length

You’ll have a choice in hose length with different machines. So double-check that it will reach far enough in your space. Having adequate range will increase overall maneuverability.

Hoses tend to be between five and seven feet long. If you find one shorter than five feet, you might notice a lack in flexibility.


Chances are your shop vacuum will have wet/dry capacity, but this is something you need to double-check. Never assume that a vacuum can handle liquids. If you use a dry vacuum on wet messes, you can ruin the machine or, worse, endanger yourself.


Shop vacuums are mostly rated in horsepower. As with other measurements, the higher this number, the stronger the suction. One HP is good, but the strongest machines can range up to 6.5 HP.


HEPA filters aren’t standard in wet/dry vacuums, so you’ll have to consider whether you need one. Some machines can have them installed, but shop vacuums that include them are rare.


How easy will your model be to empty? Some shop vacuums come with a tank drain feature that makes emptying water a lot easier. Others might come with a pump, and some you’ll have to lift to drain manually.

Considerations Before You Buy a Shop Vacuum

We strongly recommend shop vacuums, but they may not be for everyone. Before you place your order, think about what owning one entails.

  • They’re not for home use: Shop vacuums are powerful, multi-purpose machines, but there are some things they can’t do. Typically, they’re not built with brush rolls and will be ineffective at picking up hair. Tools for upholstery also often aren’t included, so that they won’t do well on fabrics.
  • Storage is tricky: Storage can be a problem depending on how big your machine is. They’re unlikely to fit into closets easily and are better suited for workshops with more space.
  • Not the best for allergies: We mentioned that they tend to lack HEPA filtration, so they won’t do if you have allergies. If you can install a HEPA filter into the machine, it will probably cost extra money and effort.
  • Maneuvering them can be difficult: Remember that shop vacuums are heavy-duty. They’re not designed for precision but rather focus on the effect. They take on more debris, dirt, or liquid, and the heavier they become, the more effort it takes to move them.
  • They can be loud: Standard vacuum cleaners average between 70 and 80 decibels—as loud as a traveling car. Shop vacuums are bound to be louder than domestic models, as they’re built for more substantial work. Their noise levels can be amplified further if there’s sound reflection by the walls of your workshop.

Vacuum Getting Louder?

If you notice that your vacuum is louder than usual, it may need maintenance. Blocked fans, broken attachments, or clogged filters can increase a vacuum’s noise level (2).


Can a Wet/Dry Vac Pick Up Leaves?

Wet/dry vacs can pick up leaves because they have more substantial suction power. They also suck up water and other debris that standard domestic vacuum cleaners can’t handle.

How Much HP Should a Shop Vac Have?

Your shop vac should have between three and five HP. Compare that to domestic vacuum cleaners with one to three HP, and you can see how they are much more powerful.

Our favorite shop vac is the DeWalt 9-Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac because it generates five horsepower, has maneuverable swivel casters, and many accessories.

What is the Best Wet/Dry Vacuum on the Market?

In our opinion, the best wet/dry vacuum on the market is the DeWalt 9-Gallon Poly Wet/Dry. It is a heavy-duty machine with a five HP motor; it has swivel casters for better maneuverability and a nine-gallon capacity.

Which Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaner is Best?

The best cordless wet/dry vacuum cleaner is the DeWalt 20V Max Wet/Dry. It has a two-gallon tank capacity, it’s portable, and an airflow of 31 cubic feet per minute (CFM). It also has a HEPA-rated filter that traps 99.97 percent of allergens to a size of three microns.

What is the Best Wet/Dry Vacuum for Tile Floors?

The best wet/dry vacuum for tile floors is the DeWalt 9-Gallon Poly Wet/Dry. It has a nine-gallon tank capacity, large rubberized casters that easily roll over most surfaces, and a five HP motor that generates potent suction.

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy Anthony is a cleaning expert, author, and contributing writer for Oh So Spotless, a leading online resource for all things related to cleaning, organizing, and maintaining a spotless home. With over 15 years of experience in the cleaning industry, Amy has gained extensive knowledge and expertise that have made her a trusted authority on best practices, efficient techniques, and innovative cleaning solutions.