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Looking for the best shop vacuum can be confusing. A reliable vac will handle any kind of mess, making cleaning a breeze.
Choosing the wrong option will only waste your time and money, and your workspace will remain filthy.
We’ve assembled a collection of shop vacuums in assorted sizes and varying power.
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
The Best Wet/Dry Shop Vac with Reviews 2020
Here's a list of the best wet/dry shop vacs we found:
1. Ridgid 50353RID 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Shop Vac - Top Pick
- Get all the horsepower, airflow and capacity of more expensive competitors
- Superb attachment bundle
- The handle and optimized rolling movement make this shop vac more maneuverable than most
- Powerful air pushing gives you incredible value for the money
Not so Good
- Tabs on cord wrapping assembly could be larger as the process is slow and awkward
- No effective hose wrap provided which is a shocking oversight
When reviewing the best models, we could easily have chosen an entire batch from the impressive Ridgid brand. Instead, we choose the best in their line-up and found this bulky 16 gallon beast.
While no vacuum will run without creating some noise, dampening technology means the 50353RID won’t deafen you.
This shop vac is one of those rare products when all the main strengths required of a given tool come together in harmony. You’ve got class-leading airflow, robust power delivery, water suction and a rock-solid chassis built to go the distance. The only thing that’s surprising is that all these features don’t increase the price tag.
The hose is generous enough to give you ample freedom of movement while it’s flexible enough to resist pulling out when in use.
If you want to invest in the best, we can’t recommend the Ridgid 50353RID highly enough for home woodworkers and contractors alike.
2. Vacmaster VBV1210 12 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac - Best Value
- Excellent value for the money
- Highly rated & a top seller
- Very powerful – useful for most jobs
- Huge tank
- Relatively quiet
Not so Good
- Lacks top-end power for construction job sites
- Not many other complaints
3. Stanley SL18129 4 Gallon Wet Dry Vac - Best Budget
- Generous onboard storage lets you keep everything within reach.
- Available in a range of sizes and capacities.
- Robust accessory bundle which is a bonus at this price point.
- Swiveling casters simplify moving your shop vac around.
Not so Good
- The 10-foot power cord is rather restrictive.
- A few complaints about underpowered suction, but for a shop vac in this class, we feel it’s more than adequate.
If you don’t want to buy a big gallon model, then Stanley plugs this gap with this 4-gallon utilitarian unit capable of 70 CFM of airflow.
Along with the tool, you’ll also get hoses, three extension wands for above-floor cleaning, a crevice nozzle for those awkward spots, and an all-purpose utility nozzle. A floor brush helps you finish the job neatly while a foam filter and reusable dry filter complete the accessories. All these can be handily stashed onboard.
At 10-feet long, the power cord gives you inadequate freedom of movement, so think about the layout of the spaces you’ll be cleaning.
This minor inconvenience aside, we’d like to address the recurring grumbles about a lack of power. If you need more power, you should look at one of the larger Stanley models.
For a no-nonsense model that does not need to be big, you can’t beat this Stanley.
4. DeWALT DXV06P 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac
- Portable 6 Gallon wet/dry vac
- Powerful 4 peak horsepower motor provides just the amount of suction needed to most any cleanup job
- Ultra-durable rubberized casters allow smooth swiveling for ease of movement
- 10' power cord with cord wrap helps reach almost any cleanup need.
- Built-in blower port powerful enough to blow sawdust and debri from most any workshop
- Great all round size
- Easy to pick up and transport
- Good strength vacuum
- Highly rated
Not so Good
- No large rear wheels to pull along
- No drain port
- Louder than other models listed
5. Vacmaster Beast Series 12 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac
- Strong suction ideal for most environments
- One of the top-selling wet/dry vacuums
- Backed by hundreds of happy users
- Great value for money for the power you get
Not so Good
- No large rear wheels to pull when transporting
- Lacks top-end power of some premium models
6. Craftsman XSP 20 gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Max power: 6.5 peak HP provides heavy-duty cleanup for tasks in the shop, garage, or on the jobsite
- Large capacity: 20-Gallon drum provides extensive capacity for cleanup of large messes
- Built-in blower port: Rear blowing port on this wet-dry Vac allows for quick cleaning of leaves and grass clippings in your Garage and outdoors
- Oversized drain: built-in oversized drain on the wet/dry Vac allows for convenient emptying of liquids
- Heavy-duty shop vacuum ideal for job sites
- Huge 20-gallon capacity
- Long cord length: 20-ft
- Highly rated
- Comes with a load of attachments
Not so Good
- Too big for home use
- Not many complaints
If you want a substantial shop vac capable of returning the grimiest workshop to its former glory, Craftsman has the answer with this 20-gallon shop vac ideal for any job site.
Power cords cut too short are one of the single most annoying things about buying any power tools or machinery. The 20-foot cable and 7-foot hose give you much more reach than you’ll get with many competing shop vacs, so if mobility counts for you, the Craftsman makes perfect sense.
The Craftsman also converts easily into a blower whether you need to clean up leaves from your driveway or blast away some filth from the floor of your work area.
7. Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum
- Rugged stainless-steel tank should give you many of years of service
- Usual superb Shop Vac accessories give you everything you need to get going out the box
- Motor guaranteed for three years, showing the confidence the manufacturer has in this shop vac
- Ergonomic handle helps to you to shift your shop vac without straining yourself
Not so Good
- The 6-foot power cord is cut far too short for comfort and is a common annoyance with Shop Vac products
- Not designed to withstand sustained or heavy punishment
Large enough not to be considered a micro-vac but small enough for workshops with limited space, this 5-gallon Shop Vac is a compact classic that punches above its weight.
Despite its relatively slimline footprint, performance and build quality are robust. The stainless-steel tank won’t rust, and you’re covered for three years if anything goes amiss with the motor.
As with all Shop Vacs, the Achilles heel is a power cable that’s far too short at just 6 feet. Think seriously about whether this, in combination with the hose length, will give you sufficient reach for your cleaning needs.
You’ll get all the hoses, nozzles and filters you need, and that’s welcome at this price point.
It goes unsaid a model of this size won’t cut the ice if you use it in a heavier commercial setting. For home woodworkers or anyone with a very small workshop, though, this nifty little shop vac will make your life easier and your working environment safer.
Is it Worth Buying a More Expensive Shop Vac?
Once you step up beyond smaller shop vacs intended strictly for home use, price becomes more of a factor.
You’d be better advised to start by frankly determining how you intend to use your vacuum and to consider overall value and lifespan rather than being driven by price only.
For example if you need portability, you may be better served opting for a battery-powered shop vac.
One thing’s certain: the very best vacuums are not cheap.
You should set your budget and stick to it strictly. However much you can spend, you’ll have plenty of choice within that price band, so you can focus on getting the best match for your needs.
The power of the motor is key when you’re reviewing different models.
The peak horsepower ratings you’ll see quoted indicate overall performance including inertia.
It also pays to look at air flow which is expressed in terms of CFM (cubic feet per minute) and determines the suction of the unit.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to power, just a case of what works best for your situation. Make sure you get a unit potent enough for your needs without going over the top and shooting for power you won’t require.
Size matters with shop vac tanks.
Obviously, the larger the tank, the less frequently you’ll need to deal with emptying it.
While anywhere from 4 to 10 gallons is more than enough for household use, you’ll need to look for 12 gallons and above if you want to use your shop vac on site or in a commercial workshop.
Bear in mind that the larger the tank, the less maneuverable the machine. As with all aspects of buying the best shop vac, you should take the time to plan what dimensions make the best fit instead of simply assessing the size.
A poor hose will always be a weak point on any shop vac.
If it’s too thin, the hose will keep twisting and severing suction. Thick hoses tend to be unwieldy. Look for somewhere between 1 ¼-inches and 2 ½ inches for that sweet spot.
You can always replace the hose if necessary at a reasonable cost.
Standard-issue shop vacs come with a single filter while superior models pack 2 or more.
If you’re working with very fine particles, you should hunt for a vacuum with HEPA filtration so that you can suck away dust as small as 0.1 microns.
When you’re considering which model to buy, it’s also worth scoping out how often you’ll need to replace filters and how much they cost. You can then factor this into your budget and buy accordingly.
Almost every shop-vac comes with an extension wand to give you added reach for your above-floor cleaning.
Nozzles can help you clean in awkward spots so think about which ones would be useful, and look for models equipped for your needs rather than obsessing about the number of attachments.
It’s worth paying close attention to build quality. While shop vacs are simple enough, it’s areas like the wheel assembly where you need to look closely.
The durability and materials of the drum are also crucial with stainless steel being the gold-standard.
We’ve flagged any build quality issues in the shop vacs we reviewed so you are forewarned and can do your due diligence.
What’s the core purpose of a shop vacuum?
They truly have many purposes. Ideal for all wet or dry messes in the home, workshop and on-site, no clean-up is too challenging. You’ll also be able to suck up the dust created by power tools if you don’t have a dust collector in your shop.
Is it possible to clean the filter?
It depends from model to model. Any foam filters can be safely rinsed out then left to dry naturally. With cartridge filters, you can get more hands-on and physically beat them out. Keep on top of filter maintenance to optimize suction.
What’s a HEPA filter?
High energy particulate air (HEPA) filters get rid of the tiniest particles of dust down to 1 micron. For drywalling and other similar applications, this is the highest level of filtration.
Is it possible to use a shop vac as a blower?
Yes. The majority of vacuums serve double duty. Be sure that models you’re looking at include this feature.
Wrapping it up
We hope you’re now well-placed to get the best shop vac for your home, workshop, or job site.
If you’re clear about how you’ll use your wet dry vacuum, there’s a wealth of choice and something for all budgets. Today, we’ve attempted to deliver a full cross-section of size, power, and price so you can easily compare like for like.
The Ridgid 50353RID was our well-deserved winner taking all factors into account from price and performance to build quality and lifespan. It’s great for home and commercial use alike.