10 Best Wet / Dry Shop Vacs

10 Best Wet / Dry Shop Vacs - Reviews & Buyers Guide

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A great wet/dry shop vacuum is powerful without being too bulky. It needs a strong airflow, large capacity and lots of suction power.

Depending on the specific use, the desired specs might differ but generally airflow, capacity and suction power are the main characteristics to look at. Here are 10 of the best shop vacs available online today, one for each type of job and fitting every budget.

If you are new to shopping for shop vacs, be sure to read the glossary of important terms below, as they will help you identify what models are best for your project.

Determining Vacuum Strength: CFM & Water Lift

In the "features" section below, you will find a number of different metrics. Most are self explanatory, but some can get those who are new tripped up.

 

Two of the most important factors to consider when choosing a vac are air flow and static pressure. They are explained below.

 

Static Pressure (AKA Water Lift AKA Suction)

 

Suction is measured in terms of Static Pressure, which is also called Water Lift. It got this name because it is the number of inches a vacuum would pull up water in a vertical tube.

 

The higher the Water Lift, the easier time a vacuum will have picking up heavier debris.

 

A strong water lift rating is around 80 inches.

 

Air Flow (AKA CFM)

 

Air flow refers to the volume of air that is moved through a vacuum. It is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). In general, the higher the CFM, the better the vacuum.

 

CFM ratings refer to the airflow that picks up debris and moves them to the dust bag or container. They essentially indicate the cleaning power of the vacuum and are considered the most important metric when choosing a vac by many.

 

A standard air flow rating is between 50 and 100 CFM.

 

Bringing It All Together

 

In general, you want to find a vacuum that has a good CFM and a good Water Lift rating.

1. Workshop Wet Dry Vac – Editors Choice

WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1600VA High Capacity Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner, 16-Gallon Shop Vacuum Cleaner, 6.5 Peak HP Wet And Dry Vacuum

Features

  • Canister Size: 16 gallons
  • Power: Corded, 6.5 peak HP
  • Hose Diameter: 1-1/2 in
  • Hose Length: 7 ft
  • Airflow: 169 CFM
  • Suction: 46 inches Water Lift

More Features: Equipped with handy storage on the feet and top to keep attachments accessible and organize. Capable of picking up 1 gallon of water per second, with drainage port for easy emptying. Also comes with integrated blower, auto shut off, and Qwik Lock filter fastening system.

For heavy duty use there is no better way to go than this workhorse created by Workshop. It has a large capacity of 16 gallons and packs an impressive 6.5 peak horsepower that is sure to get the job done, whether it is endless sawdust or a flooded basement.

At the bottom of the unit is a big drain port plus an outlet to use this tool as a blower. The hoses have extra larger openings and are also super flexible since they are capable of twisting 180 degrees on both ends.

The manufacturer also thought of one of the most common complaints with wet/dry vacs; loose hoses and attachments. Instead of the standard screw on hoses, this design features a locking tab which is not only faster but also more secure.

This is the ultimate wet/dry vac with undeniable power and performance. It is worth every penny since it up to any task.

Pros

  • Very powerful
  • Locking hose system
  • Large hose openings
  • Integrated storage

Cons

  • Not compatible with dust collection bags

2. Stanley 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac – Most Popular

Stanley 6 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum , 4 Peak HP Poly 3 in 1 Shop Vac Blower with Powerful Suction, Multifunctional Shop Vacuum W/ 4 Horsepower Motor for Job Site,Garage,Basement,Van,Workshop,Vehicle

Features

  • Canister Size: 1 – 12 gallons
  • Power: Corded, 4 peak HP
  • Hose Diameter: 1.24 in
  • Hose Length: 6 ft
  • Airflow: 75 CFM
  • Suction: 50 inches Water Lift

More Features: Comes with (3) extension wands, floor nozzle, crevice nozzle, foam filter, dust bag, 12 month warranty and many more attachments.

This Stanley wet/dry vac is one of their most popular models with hundreds of positive reviews. It holds a lot of power for its small size making it the perfect cleaning tool for shops with less storage space, especially with the included wall mount.

We recommend the 6 gallon version because it is the most versatile size but the range has vacuums as small as 2 gallons with a 2 horsepower motor and as big as 12 gallons with a 5.5 horsepower electric motor. Each one is corded, just like any plug and play device.

One of the downsides of this model is that this Stanley design does not have the greatest reach on its own but there are also several extenders included in the package. The standard reach is 16 feet, with 6 feet from the suction hose and 10 feet from the power cord, which is enough for smaller sized workshop spaces.

Pros

  • Many container sizes available to suite needs
  • Includes blower port
  • Comes with multiple accessories

Cons

  • Reportedly can get wobbly

3. Vacmaster 8 Gallon HEPA Vac – The Most Professional

Vacmaster Pro 8 gallon Certified Hepa Filtration Wet/Dry Vac

Features

  • Canister Size: 8 gallons
  • Power: 2-stage motor
  • Hose Diameter: 2-1/2 in
  • Hose Length: 10 ft
  • Airflow: 125 CFM
  • Suction: 78 inches Water Lift

More Features: HIGHLY effective at removing allergens. Has a 30 ft cord, industrial strength motor, and plenty of airflow to keep your home or workspace clean. 

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air which means that this type of vacuum is capable of removing the smallest air particles. This is the type of vac is a rare find when browsing in the wet/dry vac section but it is the recommended type for people that have allergies to things like dust.

This 8 gallon Vacmaster unit is rated as 99.97% efficiency on 0.3 microns so it is an excellent choice for household use or for keeping the workshop free from allergens. It has an impressive industrial grade 2 stage motor which exceptionally is durable so this is a purchase that lasts many years.

It also has an extra long 10 foot suction hose which easily stores away in the caddy that is already attached to the unit. There is no doubt that this model is a useful tool to have.

Pros

  • HEPA certified
  • Very long suction hose
  • Durable design and internals

Cons

  • Accessories not secure

4. Dewalt VXP10P – Most Quiet

DeWALT DXV10P 10 gallon Quiet Poly Wet Dry Vacuum Yellow

Features

  • Canister Size: 10 gallons
  • Power: Corded, 5.5 peak HP
  • Hose Diameter: 1 7/8 in
  • Hose Length: 7 ft
  • Airflow: 90 CFM
  • Suction: 80 inches Water Lift

More Features: Features a built-in 20 ft power cord and comes with an accessory bag for easy parts storage. Very easy to move around a workspace due to casters that rotate 360 degrees.

Dewalt is truly a household name when it comes to power tools so you know that the electric motor inside this vac is trustworthy. It is a 2 stage 5.5 peak horsepower motor that runs 50% more quietly than earlier Dewalt models and also has twice the lifespan.

Besides the upgraded motor, this design is also perfectly though out for shop use. It has rubberized wheels so that it rolls easily but it it also on the heavier side at over 20 pounds which keeps this cleaning steady and stable.

This is a great choice for larger workshops since the 20 foot long power cord gives much more reach and freedom of movement. It is also the smart choice for places where liquids are likely to end up on the floor – it has a tank drain which makes clearing out liquids from the canister super easy.

The package comes with a special storage bag to keep all the accessories in one place.

Pros

  • Highly mobile
  • God sized canister
  • Storage bag included
  • Far reach without unplugging

Cons

  • Standard shop vac tools won't fit on the hose

5. Vacmaster Professional Beast Series – Most Portable

Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac, 5 Gallon, Beast Series, 5.5 HP 1-7/8' Hose Jobsite Vac (VFB511B0201), Black

Features

  • Canister Size: 5 gallons
  • Power: Corded, 5.5 peak HP
  • Hose Diameter: 1-7/8 in
  • Hose Length: 18 ft
  • Airflow: 102 CFM
  • Suction: 82.6 inches Water Lift

More Features: 25 feet of cleaning reach, large dust sealed power switch, and 8 accessories make this a great unit right out of the box.

The Beast Series by Vacmaster was designed to offer professionals a wet/dry vacuum that was easily transported without compromising on performance. The result is lightweight designs with plenty of power.

The smallest corded edition holds 5.5 peak horsepower for a 5 gallon capacity but the series also includes much larger options including 12 gallons, 14 gallons and 16 gallons. There is also a cordless option powered by a 20 volt battery with a canister that can contain 4 gallons.

The 5 gallon model weighs just over 13 pounds and is easily carried around thanks to the smart storage spaces for the suction hose and power cord. The casing itself is made of polyprolene which is a sturdy non-corrosive material that can withstand enough bumps for the handyman not to worry.

This is a very user-friendly design that is easily assembled in just a few minutes. There are also many positive reviews praising the strong suction.

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Long reach
  • Great suction power
  • Integrated storage

Cons

  • Attaching accessories has been difficult for some

6. Craftsman CMXEVBE17596 – Largest Container

CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17596 20 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac, Heavy-Duty Shop Vacuum with Attachments

Features

  • Canister Size: 20 gallons
  • Power: Corded, 6.5 peak HP
  • Hose Diameter: 2-1/2 in
  • Hose Length: 7 ft
  • Airflow: 190.8 CFM
  • Suction: Not Listed

More Features: Comes with a multitude of accessories, including a car nozzle, crevice tool, wet nozzle and dust collection bag. Also features a built-in blower port and an oversized drain.

Tackling large areas on the job site or having to drain a large space? Then you need a wet/dry vac that does not fill up so easily, just like this extra-large design by Craftsman that can hold up to 20 gallons.

To match its large capacity it has a 6.5 peak horsepower electric motor with an impressive 190.8 CFM. The interior is compatible with dust bags and there is a cartridge filter, too.

The suction hose has a good opening for professional use and incorporates Dual-Flex technology that prevents damage crushing and kinks. At the opposite end you will find a very large drain which is excellent for removing water from a flooded room.

The design also works as a blower if you are looking to clear the lawn from debris. Despite this Craftsman model being such a large size it is easily moved around thanks to the on board storage design and the smooth rolling of the wheels.

Pros

  • Extremely large canister
  • Powerful
  • Includes filtration system
  • Comes with plenty of accessories
  • Large drain + blower port

Cons

  • Great for jobsites but can sometimes be a little too strong for household use

7. Shop-Vac 5979403 – Easiest Maintenance

Shop-Vac 5979403 8 gallon 6.0 Peak Hp Stainless Wet Dry Vacuum

Features

  • Canister Size: 8 gallons
  • Power: Corded, 6 peak HP
  • Hose Diameter: 1-1/2 in
  • Hose Length: 7 ft
  • Airflow: 175 CFM
  • Suction: 54 inches Water Lift

More Features: Since 1965 Shop-Vac have been making vacuum cleaners and, as such, have a multitude of accessories, ad-ons and attachments. This model in particular comes with (3) extension wands, gulper nozzle, floor nozzle, crevice tool, foam sleeve and more.

With a brand name that exactly describes the product we expect a very clever design and excellent performance. This Shop-Vac model does not disappoint and lives up to the expectation of being a great workshop cleaning tool.

This is not the largest size but it should be enough for the average homeowner or smaller workshops. It is also an eye-catching design with a stainless steel exterior that also makes it a durable tool.

This option comes with several accessories including 3 different extension wands, a gulper, floor nozzle and everything you need for a filtration system. This model is compatible with bags which makes clean up even easier than it already was with the stainless steel surface.

Pros

  • Easily cleaned
  • Sturdy design
  • Includes accessories
  • Good CFM

Cons

  • Short power cord minimizes reach

8. Stanley SL18117 – Best Budget Buy

Stanley Wet/Dry Vac Cleaner 8 Gallon 4 HP Peak Shop Vacuum with Attachment 16 Feet Cleaning Range,Stainless Steel Tank SL18117

Features

  • Canister Size: 8 gallons
  • Power: Corded, 4 peak HP
  • Hose Diameter: 1-1/2 in
  • Hose Length: 6 ft
  • Airflow: 100 CFM
  • Suction: Not Listed

More Features: Comes with multiple accessories including (2) extension wands, dust bag, floor nozzle, crevice nozzle and more.

Stanley shop vacs are popular because they offer great value, often making them the best budget buy. This model is yet another example of good value for money with great capacity and power.

The package includes all the extra accessories that you would need. The design itself is also not lacking in any functions since it includes a large drain, has 4 swiveling wheels and a rear blowing port.

One thing to note about this design is that the reach is somewhat limited. The power cord is only 10 feet long which means that this model is better suited for smaller spaces.

It has a stainless steel casing which is good for a quick cleanup but a few reviewers do no recommend using it for wet situations.

Pros

  • Highly affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Includes all accessories

Cons

  • Best suited for light household use

9. Bissel Multiclean – Best Multi-Surface Pick

Bissell, Red, MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage and Auto Vacuum Cleaner, 2035M

Features

  • Canister Size: 6 gallons
  • Power: 11 amp motor
  • Hose Diameter: Not Listed
  • Hose Length: 6.5 ft
  • Airflow: Not Listed
  • Suction: Not Listed

More Features: Includes full auto kit with (3) detailing tips and other accessories. Versatile usage past vacuuming, which can include inflating a pool or deflating an air mattress.

If you are hoping for a more versatile cleaning tool that is suitable for different floor surfaces then consider this Bissel model. It is a more unconventional brand name but it does have promising reviews.

It holds up to 6 gallons which is a standard size for household use but this is not limited to use inside the house. The package also includes an auto kit with several attachments specifically for cleaning cars and it has 3 detailing tips that can be used for both inflating and deflating products like a mattress or blow up pool.

This unit has no problem with cleaning up wet surfaces and is also converts into a blower for clearing the yard of fall leaves or fallen twigs. In short, this Bissel vac is suitable for a wide range of tasks.

Pros

  • Versatile usage
  • Full tank indicator
  • Includes filtration system

Cons

  • No integrated storage

10. Porter-Cable PCC795B – Best Cordless Option

PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Shop Vacuum, Wet/Dry, 2-Gallon, Tool Only (PCC795B)

Features

  • Canister Size: 2 gallons
  • Power: Porter-Cable 20V Max Lithium Ion (not included)
  • Hose Diameter: 8 in
  • Hose Length: 7 ft
  • Airflow: 34 CFM
  • Suction: Not Listed

More Features: While it is obviously underpowered compared to corded models, it is still a great choice if you want to maximize portability. Includes multiple attachments.

Let’s be honest, shop vacs are rather clunky and not the easiest devices to carry around because they are stand on own devices. The solution to that is this very compact cordless model by Porter-Cable which is only a fraction of the average shop vac size.

Granted, this is not the best tool for clearing large spaces since it is only capable of holding a maximum of 2 gallons. However, for the professional that is constantly moving between projects or for the home handyman that only has a small workshop, it might be large enough.

One of its benefits is that it is a battery-powered design so there is no need to fumble with a power cord. It is also very lightweight and comes with a carrying handle so we could almost call it a hand-held tool.

There is space for storing all the accessories so choosing this product really increases portability and reduces the need for storage space. Don’t let the size fool you though, its electric motor still holds enough water lift power for suctioning water out of a bowl.

Pros

  • Very compact and portable
  • Flexible usage since it's cordless
  • Can still take care of minor wet messes despite size and power

Cons

  • No drain