Last updated on January 23rd, 2020
Have you ever had a mess in your house that you just didn’t want to clean up with your regular house vacuum? Or maybe your husband was doing some woodworking in the garage and got a bunch of wood shavings all or the place? Or how about your kids, did they bring a bunch of mud in the house that’ all over the floor? These are the types of messes that are perfect for a wet-dry vacuum and today we’re going to show you the Top 5 Best Wet Dry Vacuums.
We’re partnered with a local appliance shop in the town where our testing facility is located and we got the opportunity to test and review some of the best wet dry vacuums on the market.
We reviewed these vacuums based on many different factors as well. Some of these factors include gallon size, durability, consumer reviews, overall cost, the best value, and features or components.
In addition, we will also be teaching you all about wet dry vacuums before we get to our top 5 picks. Below is a table of contents for you to navigate through our review if you would like as well.
What Is A Wet Dry Vacuum?
A wet-dry vacuum is an essential tool that should be in every garage, shop, household. You may have heard the term “shop-vac” which is essentially a short term for wet dry vacuum. Shop-Vac is a brand name in itself though, so we won’t be using that term in the greater part of this review.
Wet dry vacuums offer versatility and convenience for all the do-it-yourselfers out there. When you break it down, a wet-dry vacuum is nothing more than a high powered vacuum cleaner to its core. But due to its design, it allows you to accomplish more than you can with a traditional vacuum cleaner. Trust me when I say this, once you have a wet-dry vacuum, you will never find yourself without one again.
Typical Features Of A Wet Dry Vacuum
One of the absolute best features of a wet-dry vacuum is its versatility. These vacuums provide powerful suction that can pick up decking nails, screws, small wood pieces, and other larger pieces of debris that a typical household vacuum would never be able to pick up.
How Wet Dry Vacuums Work
A wet-dry vacuum consists of three main components: the collection bucket, the motor, and the hose. The motor usually sits on top of the collection bucket and drives a fan which draws air through the collection bucket and the hose.
As the air passes into the hose, it increases in speed and creates that powerful suction. The powerful suction allows the vacuum to pick up the debris and carry it to the collection bucket.
As the air enters back into the collection bucket, the air slows down and the debris is released. The air is then vented out of the upper portion of the vacuum, like an exhaust.
Wet Dry Vacuum Maintenance
Attached to the motor is a filter in most cases. These filters collect dust and smaller pieces of debris on a regular basis. When you own a wet-dry vacuum, it’s important to clean this filter on a regular basis. You can either hit the filter on the ground to get the dust out of the filter, or most people actually use an air hose to clean it out.
In addition, you will want to clean out the collection bucket with a pressure washer on a regular basis as well. If you don’t have a pressure washer, a regular hose or buckets of hot water will work as well. Either way, make sure that the bucket is always clean so that it doesn’t get gunked up with dirt in the corners over time.
Can A Wet Dry Vacuum Pick Up Water?
The short answer is yes, a wet-dry vacuum can pick up water. However, it’s not supposed to be used as a water pump or anything like that. You can’t exactly shove the hose in the bathtub and suck all the water out.
When people use a wet-dry vacuum to pick up water, it’s mainly used for lightweight spills in the garage. In addition, it can also be used for minor flooding in the basement or something like that. For example, if your clothes washer decides to take a spill and empty its water onto the floor for whatever reason, this would be a great job for a wet dry vacuum.
Another great example would be if you have an air compressor. If you go to empty the water in the bottom of your air compressor and it leaks all over the floor, this mess is a perfect cleanup for a wet dry vacuum. It will clean that mess right up.
Can A Wet Dry Vacuum Clean Carpets?
The short answer to this question is yes as well. Even though your household vacuum cleaner is probably a better use for a carpet, a wet-dry vacuum will work as well.
Generally, some people have “man caves” or “hang out” areas in their outdoor shops or garages. These areas are sometimes carpeted with indoor/outdoor carpet. A wet-dry vacuum would be great for cleaning a carpet like this.
A perfect example of using a wet-dry vacuum on the carpet would be if you were hauling firewood in the trunk of your car. A wet-dry vacuum would be the best for the job due to its high powered suction and versatility. You will be able to suck all the small wood chippings out of the carpet fibers with no problems at all. A household vacuum would take forever to get those wood chipping out.
How Big Is A Wet Dry Vacuum?
Some of the best wet dry vacuums come in many shapes and sizes. Most of the better ones come with at least a 10-gallon bucket capacity which is all you would need. This sized capacity allows you to clean up any small messes before having to clean the vacuum out. Or, it’s also great for cleaning up one very large mess.
Wet dry vacuums are usually sold in six different categories when they are divided based on bucket capacity. These categories of sizes consist of: under 2 gallons, 2-3 gallons, 4-5 gallons, 6-10 gallons, 11-13 gallons, and lastly 14 gallons and above.
As stated in the previous section, the average size most people have in their shops or garages is 10 gallons or above. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry and having to clean out the bucket on an hourly basis, which would be a waste of time.
How Much Does A Wet Dry Vacuum Cost?
When you’re in the market for a wet-dry vacuum, you will find a very wide selection of sizes and power. A smaller vacuum with a 4-5 gallon bucket equipped with a 3 horsepower motor will average around $50. This size of we vacuum would be good to have inside the house for smaller messes and cleanups, as well as minor household tasks.
A step above that would be a 5.5 horsepower motor with an 11-13 gallon bucket would cost you around $100 depending on which brand you’re looking at. These wet dry vacuums are the typical size you will see in most garages or workshops. You can also get this size with a 6.5 horsepower motor as well if you’d like to get the best of the best.
Then there are the tiny wet-dry vacuums that generally have a 1 horsepower motor and a 1-gallon bucket. These wet-dry vacuums are best for car usage or to use in the kitchen or a utility room. Wet dry vacuums in this size range will average around $30.
Top 5 Best Wet/Dry Vacuums
For our review, the only wet-dry vacuums that we tested were 11-13 gallon vacuums. The reason for this is because we wanted to review the best wet dry vacuums that you generally see in most garages or workshops. Most of which are vacuums with an 11-13 gallon bucket. Below are our top 5 picks for the best wet dry vacuums.
1. Craftsman 12-Gallon 5.5HP Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Craftsman XSP 12 Gallon 5.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac.
- An over 27 Foot cleaning reach (7’ Hose, 20’ Power Cord + Extension Wands) allows you to reach larger areas without unplugging the unit.
- The 2-1/2” diameter secure fit hose system keeps the hose in place during use.
- Powerful 5.5 peak HP motor makes short work of jobs.
2. Vacmaster 12-Gallon 5HP Wet/Dry Vacuum
The Vacmaster was our all-time favorite. mainly because it has a detachable blower on the top. The blower can be very useful if you need to get water pooled up to suck away, or if you have dirt scattered throughout your garage that you want to either blow away or pile up into a corner to vacuum out. The blower is a nice extra touch and was very easy to use and put away when we were done with it.
The Vacmaster also has the most positive reviews above any other vacuum on our list.
- 12 Gallon Polypropylene Tank.
- 5 Peak HP Motor.
- Quick Release Detachable Blower.
- 240 MPH Blowing Speed.
- 12 Ft. Cord with Cord Wrap. Locking Hose.
3. Stanley 12-Gallon 5.5HP Wet/Dry Vacuum
Stanley’s 6.0-Peak Horsepower, 12-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum, with a powerful heavy-duty motor for industry-leading performance, provides maximum suction power for a heavy-duty pickup. Swiveling casters provide ease of movement. The powerful rear blower port instantly converts vacuum to power blower.
Other features include a clip hose connector for easy installation, a 10-foot power cord with a cord wrap design and an accessory holder to keep accessories organized. Accessories include 1-7/8-inch wide by 6-foot long hose, two extension wands, utility nozzle, crevice nozzle, 10-inch floor nozzle, and cartridge filter and dust bag. The cartridge filter is compatible with Shop-Vac. Vacuum: 17-KPa. Airflow: 85-CFM. Shipped without wheels installed to increase the quantity per container.
- Airflow: 85-CFM.
- 6.0-Peak horsepower motor.
- Swiveling casters provide ease of movement.
- Rear blower port.
- Built-in 10-foot built-in power cord with cord wrap.
4. RIDGID 12-Gallon 5HP Wet/Dry Vacuum
Two tools in one! This RIDGID 12-gallon wet-dry shop vacuum is a tool that provides ultimate versatility. Not only does it boast an impressive 5.0 peak horsepower motor, great for heavy-duty cleanup, but this unique design also doubles as a detachable hand-held blower. The powerhead detaches from the vacuum drum and transforms into a 170 MPH blower, perfect for cleaning decks or driveways.
This heavy-duty vac is also well equipped with an arsenal of tools such as the 8 foot locking Pro Hose, Qwik-Lock Pleated Paper Filter, Utility Nozzle, Car Nozzle, 2 Extension Wands and a Blower Wand. The caster feet not only provide easy mobility around the job site but also a storage solution with their integrated recessed cavities for accessory storage.
- Wet dry vacuum powerhead doubles as a high-performance detachable leaf blower vacuum cleaner for added convenience and versatility.
- The large drain allows for easy liquid disposal on this RIDGID wet dry vacuum cleaner and blower vac.
- Caster feet allows for additional storage of accessories and the dual-flex locking hose on this RIDGID shop vacuum and blower.
- The compact drum size and side-carry handles make this RIDGID shop vacuum and blower easily portable and maneuverable when transporting.
- Patented Qwik-Lock filter makes filter changes for the RIDGID wet dry vacuum cleaner easy and eliminates the need for additional parts and tools.
5. DeWALT 14-Gallon 6HP Wet/Dry Vacuum
The 14 Gallon wet/dry vac by DeWALT has a convenient handle and large read wheels for large clean-up applications. It arrives with a cartridge filter for small, dry debris and wet materials. This can also feature a strong handle for easy carrying, large on/off switch with water-resistant design for safe and quick access, convenient, built-in 20′ power cord and accessory bag to get all your accessories/tools organized. Swiveling casters provide ease of movement in any direction while a built-in tank drain makes draining easy.
- Sturdy 14 Gallon wet/dry vac ideal for large pick-up applications.
- Powerful 6 peak horsepower motor provides just the amount of suction needed to most any cleanup job.
- Ultra-durable rubberized casters on the front and large rear wheels provide easy maneuverability.
- Built-in blower port powerful enough to blow sawdust and debris from almost any workshop.
- Built-in accessory storage bag conveniently attached to the backside of the vac to keep all accessories neatly organized.
- A large built-in tank drain makes it easy to remove liquids picked up.
Out of the eight wet dry vacuums we tested, these five were our all-time favorites. Out of these five, the Vacmaster was our favorite altogether. It had powerful suction, was very easy to clean, and the detachable blower was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in a wet-dry vacuum.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a wet-dry vacuum and you have no idea what to get, we hope our suggestions can help you make that decision.