Updated March 04, 2019 by Chase Brush

The 10 Best Shop Vacuums

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

Since the initial publication of this wiki in March of 2015, we've made 29 edits to this page. Contrary to popular belief, wet/dry vacs are not just for industrial use. Whether you're a homeowner undertaking DIY projects or a professional contractor, a good shop vacuum will make quick work of the cleanup process, and there are options to suit every need and budget. We've done the research for you, so all you have to do is choose from our top-notch selections. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best shop vacuum on Amazon.

10. Workshop WS1600SS

9. DeWalt DCV581H

8. Milwaukee 0880-20

7. Vacmaster VWM510

6. Makita VC4710

5. Shop-Vac 5986000

4. Craftsman XSP

3. Vacmaster VQ607SFD

2. Ridgid 50348

1. ArmorAll AA255

Choosing The Right Shop Vac

A business's investment in a large shop vac is not only a commitment to cleanliness, but to employee and visitor safety and wellbeing.

Before considering which shop vac best suits your needs, one must consider whether or not they even need a wet/dry vacuum at all. This musing is not surprising given the common misconception most people have about the price of one of these units. While you could easily spend more than $500 on a high-powered, commercial grade shop vacuum, you can acquire a low-cost model for well under $50.

The second obstacle most people cite in their decision not to buy a shop vac is size. Again, many of these units are large and bulky, and would be an inconvenience to store in the home. Others, though, are only a bit larger than a standard tool box, and are ingeniously designed in the same rectangular pattern as such units. They can be stored away under a bed, on the top shelf of a closet, or in the garage.

Most homeowners don't need a large shop vac, and should select a smaller option that's easier to store. Even the smaller units can easily lift up hair, dust, and other debris from flooring and upholstery. And while you don't ever want to need your shop vac's wet function at home, you will be endlessly grateful you made the modest investment in one the first time you quickly suck spilled water (or worse) out of your carpets.

When it comes to a professional setting, a shop vac is not a mere convenience, but can actually be a necessity. In an environment prone to frequent water or other liquids spilled on the floors, a shop vac can help keep employees and visitors safe by minimizing the chance for slips and falls. Shop vacs are also crucial for areas where lots of particulate matter is produced, like lumber yards. The more sawdust (or other fine matter) that can be sucked up off the floors and workspaces, the less matter will end up in the respiratory systems of those nearby.

A business's investment in a large shop vac is not only a commitment to cleanliness, but to employee and visitor safety and wellbeing.

Shop Vac Safety And Maintenance

If you are using your shop vac near water, then it is important to remember how dangerous the use of any electrical device can be when liquid is involved -- don't be lulled into complacency because the unit is purpose-built to be used with liquids. Make sure to inspect the power cord of the shop vac for any cuts or tears that could present a danger, and make sure to use the unit according to its instructions.

Make sure to inspect the power cord of the shop vac for any cuts or tears that could present a danger, and make sure to use the unit according to its instructions.

Shop vacs use different filtration systems depending on their application. That is to say, when used to suck up water, their internal filter is usually removed from the process. When operated to lift dry materials, the filter must be in place, or else most of that which the vacuum draws in will be broadcast right back out of its exhaust port. This will potentially cause more issues than were present before, with small particles now airborne as opposed to lying on the ground.

Again, it is critical that you consult a unit's manual before using it in either wet or dry applications.

Most shop vacs have filters that can be rinsed clean many times before they require replacement. The more frequently you take the few minutes required to perform this step, the better your vacuum will work in terms of suction power, and the longer the filter itself will last. Do replace the filter once it has become compromised by extended use and numerous washings, but prior to that, treat it as a valued component to be cared for, just as the vacuum is a valued part of your home or institution.

A Brief Look At The History Of Vacuums

The first genuine vacuum cleaners were so large they had to be hauled from place to place by a team of horses. These monstrous vacuums were invented by a Englishman named Hubert C. Booth. The first vacuums Booth's British Vacuum Cleaner Company created were powered by gasoline-fueled engines. Soon, the company created a unit with an electric motor, but it was still so large as to require equine power for transportation. British Vacuum Cleaner Company vacuums would be perched outside a client's home or building and long suction tubes fed through the doors and windows. Professional operators then got to work cleaning the home. Booth initially planned to sell cleaning services, not cleaning products.

The personal vacuum cleaner of the early 1900s used a handle attached to a bellows to create airflow into its collection chamber.

The first vacuums that were easily portable and could be used by a single person required manpower to create their suction. The personal vacuum cleaner of the early 1900s used a handle attached to a bellows to create airflow into its collection chamber. These hand-powered pneumatic vacuums were only used for a handful of years, however, as portable, electrically powered vacuums were soon on the market.

By the year 1908, the forerunner to the modern vacuum had been designed and patented. Today, one can find vacuums in all shapes and sizes, from units built right into the framework of a home or business to handheld units compact enough to be stored under the seat of a car. They use a variety of different techniques to create suction, to store the dirt, dust, and other debris they suck up, and they are designed for a range of applications.

Few vacuums can serve with quite such versatility as the wet/dry vacuum, also known as the shop vacuum or merely as a shop vac. With a good shop vac at the ready, a person can be ready to clean up almost any mess, from crumbs to gallons of water spilled by a leaking pipe. Most shop vacs can also be used as blowers, and can be operated indoors or outdoors and even with fine particles like ash, provided a proper filter is installed.

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Chase Brush
Last updated on March 04, 2019 by Chase Brush

Chase is a writer and freelance reporter with experience covering a wide range of subjects, from politics to technology. At Ezvid Wiki, he applies his journalistic expertise to a similarly diverse assortment of products, but he tends to focus on travel and adventure gear, drawing his knowledge from a lifetime spent outdoors. He’s an avid biker, hiker, climber, skier, and budget backpacker -- basically, anything that allows him a reprieve from his keyboard. His most recent rovings took him to Peru, where he trekked throughout the Cordillera Blanca. Chase holds a bachelor's in philosophy from Rutgers University in New Jersey (where he's from), and is working toward a master's at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in New York City (where he now lives).

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