The 9 Best Ash Vacuums

Updated November 15, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

9 Best Ash Vacuums
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Cleaning hot or cold ash from your fireplace, pellet stove, or barbecue pit is one of the messiest and potentially most dangerous chores around the house. Turn it into one of the easiest and safest with our selection of the best ash vacuums, machines specially designed for the job. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best ash vacuum on Amazon.

9. Snow Joe ASHJ201

The Snow Joe ASHJ201 is designed for cold ash pickup through its aluminum intake nozzle, though the wide tip makes it hard to get into tight spaces. Also, a safety stop switch prevents operation without a properly fitted filter.
  • inspection window to see blockages
  • holds nearly 5 gallons of ash
  • difficult to clean
Brand Snow Joe
Model ASHJ201
Weight 11.5 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Stanley Wet/Dry SL18116P

The Stanley Wet/Dry SL18116P is ideal for heavy-duty pickup of ash as well as dust from cement, wood, or drywall. It moves around nicely in any direction thanks to its swiveling casters, and has a large on/off switch in an easy-to-access location.
  • includes 2 extension wands
  • durable waterproof design
  • top doesn't secure tightly
Brand Stanley
Model SL18116P
Weight 13.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Bad Ash 3

The professional-quality Bad Ash 3 is a great bagless unit that features a side inlet designed to produce a cyclonic action that reduces clogging. Plus, the front level indicator makes it easy to keep track of the remaining capacity.
  • good grip on the handle
  • lightweight and easily portable
  • less powerful option than others
Brand Badash
Model BA-003
Weight 13 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. PowerSmith PAVC101

With a heat-resistant metal wand and canister, the PowerSmith PAVC101 is equipped to withstand high temperatures and prevent fire hazards around a grill or fireplace. Plus, its versatility allows it to be used as a regular shop vac or blower.
  • washable and reusable filter
  • attractive glossy green finish
  • small hose can be too short
Brand PowerSmith
Model PAVC101
Weight 13.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Dustless Technologies Cheetah MU405

Designed with safety in mind, the Dustless Technologies Cheetah MU405 features a double filter system that traps even the finest ash to keep your air pure and healthy. It offers superior performance without creating a mess.
  • agitator rod knocks off the ashes
  • withstands high heat
  • extremely loud motor
Brand Dustless Technologies
Model MU305-B
Weight 14.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. Shop-Vac 5986200

The Shop-Vac 5986200 can handle all of your cleaning jobs effectively and efficiently without breaking the bank. It boasts a large 12-gallon tank that sits on a rolling dolly, and the cord and tools store neatly in the back.
  • works great on wet messes
  • strong 6 hp motor
  • lid latches are weak
Brand Shop-Vac
Model 5986200
Weight 23 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

3. Dustless Technologies Cougar MU405

The Dustless Technologies Cougar MU405 boasts a powerful and quiet motor to remove warm to cold ash from wood and pellet stoves, fireplaces, and barbecues. The 5-foot, flame-retardant hose allows material to pass through without causing any damage.
  • slim colorful canister
  • includes a handy crevice tool
  • no accessory storage
Brand Dustless Technologies
Model MU405-W
Weight 15.8 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Vacmaster 6-Gallon VQ607SFD

The rugged Vacmaster 6-Gallon VQ607SFD is powerful enough for commercial cleaning, yet light enough for personal home use. It comes equipped with a 7-foot hose and a generous 12-foot cord that wraps around the tank when not in use.
  • weather-resistant housing
  • comfortable contoured handle
  • dust-sealed switch
Brand Vacmaster
Model VQ607SFD
Weight 15.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Nilfisk Alto Aero 31

The top-of-the-line Nilfisk Alto Aero 31 is engineered to bring long-lasting performance and industry-leading suction to a compact and ergonomic design. Plus, it has a fully-automatic filter cleaning system for easy maintenance.
  • heavy-duty construction
  • lightweight hose is easy to maneuver
  • works with electric power tools
Brand Nilfisk
Model 107406623
Weight 28.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Choosing The Right Ash Vacuum

Ash vacuums are used to remove the solid remains of a fire, e.g. the ashes themselves. These purpose built devices are a marked improvement on other ash removal options such as using a shovel and broom. This is true as an ash vacuum will not stir up dust, sending fine particulate matter into the air you breathe, and as these vacuums can safely capture hot embers, reducing the risk for a burn or for inadvertently starting a fire if the cinders end up near a combustible material.

Choosing an ash vacuum means added safety, cleanliness, and convenience when you take ashes out of your fireplace, barbecue, fire pit, or pellet stove. But as some ash vacuums cost many hundreds of dollars, it's not a choice that should be made without careful consideration.

The first factor you must weigh is simply the volume of ash you usually need to clean. If you are looking for a convenient and thorough way to remove ashes from your charcoal grill then one of the more compact (and lower priced) ash vacuums will likely suffice. Grills produce relatively small ash volumes when used with charcoal -- as opposed to the hardwood often used in long, slow smoking sessions -- and the charcoal reliably burns out completely if given a bit of time. The absence of hot embers after a grill has been left to burn out means units designed for cold ashes only are acceptable.

Ironically, smaller ash vacuums are also suitable for cleaning out pellet stoves despite the fact that these stoves are often constantly burning in some homes during the winter. That's so because pellet stoves burn so efficiently that they produce minimal ash. The person looking to keep a pellet stove clean need not own a large ash vacuum, but he or she should only get one that can handle got embers.

If you need a way to clean out a large wood burning fireplace, you need a large ash vacuum. This is the case not only because of the larger ash reservoir, but thanks to the larger, more robust vacuum tube and internal components. Few fires ever burn up every bit of wood added, thus there will be chunks of material of varying sizes left behind in the fireplace. These larger, partially burned remnants can easily clog a smaller ash vacuum, and the abundance of embers left smoldering after a fire can overwhelm the filters of smaller units as well, causing fire danger rather than mitigating it.

Tips For Maintaining A Cleaner Fireplace

The best way to keep a clean fireplace (and therefore a cleaner home) is to use your ash vacuum regularly and to carefully and thoroughly clean out the unit's filter frequently. An ash vacuum with a clean filter is your best ally in keeping a clean hearth and home, as it were.

But you can also create "cleaner" fires by burning the right kind of wood. Make sure any firewood you use is fully seasoned, having been given plenty of time to dry out. Freshly cut wood of many varieties can in fact be as much as 45% water; this green wood does not burn cleanly or efficiently, but rather produces a glut of smoke and leaves behind large, irregular chunks instead of small, fine ashes. Properly seasoned wood, on the other hand, is usually less than 20% water and will ignite more quickly and evenly and will burn up more fully, leaving ashes that are easy to remove from a fireplace or fire pit.

Cleaning your fireplace means periodically going beyond mere ash removal and actually scrubbing at the inside of the firebox, the doors, and even the grate used to hold logs. Before you commence a deep cleaning, remove the grate and place it outside for power washing with a hose and rough scraping with a stiff bristled broom. Then remove all the ash possible using your ash vacuum.

There are purpose built hearth cleaners available that can help cut through the sooty build up on the walls and doors of your fireplace, but many all purpose cleaners work suitably well. To remove stubborn soot deposits from brick or stone, you can mix one part liquid hand soap with one part standard table salt to create a thick paste that helps cut through the grime. Apply it liberally, let is sit for ten to fifteen minutes, and then scrub the solvent and soot away with a stiff brush.

A Few Words On Fireplace Safety

If your home regularly enjoys fires, you need to have a professional chimney cleaner visit your residence at least once a year; an even wiser idea is to have a service attend to your fireplace at the start and finish of each fire burning season. Chimney fires, which occur when the built up creosote deposited by previous fires suddenly ignites with the heat of the fire below, are dangerous and difficult to extinguish. It's imperative you prevent this issue through proper cleaning. (Creosote "sweeping" logs can remove some of the build up but must be used regularly to have any marked effect.)

Also have a professional inspect your fireplace's firebox, doors, and flue after you have bought a new home or every few years that you live in a residence. It's important to identify any cracks in bricks or grout that could release embers, and that you have doors that seal properly to keep smoke, ash, and embers in the fireplace where they belong.

Ensuring your fireplace is safe does not stop with inspecting it from the inside; make sure that your chimney is not overhung by any tree limbs or wires that could potentially catch fire. You must attend to any such hazards before even considering lighting a fire below.

A proper chimney cap -- sometimes known as a spark arrestor -- is also critical; check your local ordinances before adding or updating this feature, as many towns, cities, or rural regions have specific regulations pertaining to these items. Also look for bird's nests or debris that may have found its way atop your chimney during the warmer months.

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Last updated on November 15, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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