The 10 Best Wet Dry Vacuums

Updated September 25, 2017 by Sam Kraft

10 Best Wet Dry Vacuums
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Sometimes you do want something that sucks, specifically when you have a daunting mess to deal with. These wet-dry vacuums will take care of both dirt and liquids efficiently, and some will even reverse their power to act as blowers as well. This makes cleanup in the house, garage, workshop or yard a far simpler task than it would be without one of these useful tools. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best wet dry vacuum on Amazon.

10. ArmorAll Peak

It’s not the most powerful or the longest-lasting option around, but the ArmorAll Peak is a nice bargain for a serviceable solution. Its hose can be stored in the canister, and it has an auto shutoff feature that helps prevent overflows.
  • built-in air and noise diffuser
  • comes with a detail brush
  • cannot plug into a car
Brand ArmorAll
Model AA255
Weight 8.5 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. DeWalt Max

If you are more concerned with portability than power, the DeWalt Max is probably a smart choice. It’s equipped with a five-foot long crush-resistant hose, and can either be plugged into an AC outlet or use an 18-volt or 20-volt battery for power.
  • filter is reusable and washable
  • lightweight for ease of use
  • battery life is not terrific
Brand DEWALT
Model DCV581H
Weight 11.2 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Shop-Vac 8-Gallon

Once you receive the Shop-Vac 8-Gallon, all you need to do is connect the handles and pop in the preassembled casters and you’ll be vacuuming to your heart’s content. Its stainless steel tank is durable, attractive and features a rear blower port.
  • compact size for easy portability
  • 10-inch wet-dry nozzle
  • top does not latch securely
Brand Shop-Vac
Model 5986100
Weight 19.3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Vacmaster VBV

With its extra-large draining port and detachable blower, the Vacmaster VBV is ideal for those around-the-house jobs where you want to keep gusts of dust to a minimum. It also allows for onboard storage of various accessories.
  • works great as a leaf blower
  • 1-button conversion between modes
  • changing the filter is difficult
Brand Vacmaster
Model VBV1210
Weight 24.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Shop-Vac Ultra Pro

The Shop-Vac Ultra Pro features both side and top carry handles, making it a convenient option if you are often taking it to job sites. It can also double as a water pump, capable of reaching heights of up to 50 feet and speeds of 6 gallons per minute.
  • can stand up to rough daily use
  • quiet despite its power
  • assembly instructions are confusing
Brand Shop-Vac
Model 9689400
Weight 25 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Karcher Multi-Purpose

The top mounted filter featured on the Karcher Multi-Purpose allows users to switch between wet and dry cleaning without stopping and to quickly replace it when needed. Plus, its useful variable suction control lets you optimize airflow for specific functions.
  • 3 distinct styles to choose from
  • convenient filter cleaning button
  • onboard power tool outlet
Brand Karcher
Model 1.348-197.0
Weight 27.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Vacmaster VQ607SFD

The Vacmaster VQ607SFD sports a modern, industrial look with a polished stainless steel can. The six-gallon storage tank is small enough to store without a problem, yet holds a lot of dirt or water. Plus, its seven-foot hose helps you reach into tight corners.
  • weather-resistant design
  • two extension wands
  • a handy crevice tool
Brand Vacmaster
Model VQ607SFD
Weight 15.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Craftsman XSP

With its powerful 6.5-horsepower motor and innovative swivel casters, the Craftsman XSP will make any major cleanup an easier chore. It rolls effortlessly in any direction and doesn't tip over when you yank hard on the hose.
  • extra-large drain for quick emptying
  • dust-sealed on-off switch
  • huge 16-gallon collection tank
Brand Craftsman
Model pending
Weight 29.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Workshop Cleaner

The Workshop Cleaner comes with everything you need to spruce up even a disastrous mess. It features an ergonomically-designed handle, super-strong suction, and a locking tab to keep the hose connected to the vacuum during use.
  • hose with 180-degree flexibility
  • big rear wheels for maneuverability
  • five-year warranty
Brand WORKSHOP Wet
Model WS1600SS
Weight 37.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Ridgid Red

Powerful with substantial storage capacity, the Ridgid Red features a wide attachment that’s ideal for cleaning up filthy floors and untidy surfaces. A rubber insert across the bottom allows you to switch suction from the front to the back and vice versa.
  • easy-to-follow instructions
  • comes with a sturdy cart
  • sound reduction technology
Brand Ridgid
Model 50348RID
Weight 31.9 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Wet Dry Vacuums

Wet dry vacuums are a special use variation of the standard vacuum, a device with roots way back in the late 19th century.

The earliest ancestor of the device wasn't a vacuum cleaner at all, but a mechanical cleaning tool called the carpet sweeper. Based on an 1876 patent by Melville R. Bissell, these sweepers featured a box containing rollers and brushes that scraped up dust and pulled it inside. Today, Bissell's company is one of the largest manufacturers of vacuum cleaners in the world.

By 1900, powered cleaners were introduced. Most early powered cleaners actually pushed air, rather than pulling air into a collector. One such powered cleaner relied on an internal combustion engine, and could only be moved by horse-drawn wagon. Because of their impracticality, these cumbersome cleaners were typically only used by businesses.

Just a year later, in 1901, powered suction vacuum cleaners were invented independently by American inventor David T. Kenney and British engineer Hubert Cecil Booth. Booth is credited with originating the phrase "vacuum cleaner" to describe his creation. Booth's vacuum was powered by an enormous horse-drawn engine, and Kenney's by a two-ton steam engine.

Finally, in 1905, British manufacturer Walter Griffiths revealed "Griffith's Improved Vacuum Apparatus for Removing Dust from Carpets" — the first vacuum cleaner for domestic use. Although this portable model required the user to squeeze a bellows to suck up dust, it was easily operated by an individual, unlike its predecessors. Griffiths' vacuum was also easy to store and clean, unlike competing models from the era, which used water to separate collected dirt and debris.

The first portable electric vacuum cleaner was invented by Canton, Ohio department store janitor James Murray Spangler in 1907. Pairing the rolling brush of carpet sweepers with vacuum suction technology, Spangler's prototype collected dust in a pillow case. After trying and failing to market the invention himself, Spangler sold the patent to leather goods manufacturer William Henry Hoover. For this reason, it is Hoover, not Spangler, whose name is synonymous with the vacuum cleaner.

The Hoover Company's first vacuum — the Model O — was rolled out in 1908, selling for $60. The Hoover Company continued improving Spangler's design in the early 20th century, releasing disposable filter bags in 1920, and the upright vacuum cleaner in 1926.

With the post-World War II baby boom, vacuums became a staple of American life. As the market grew, companies expanded their investment in vacuum technology, and cleaners grew more effective and durable as the century wore on.

Today's wet dry vacuums combine powerful suction with the ability to handle liquids seen in early commercial models, and thanks to innovations like the reverse-flow switch, they are significantly easier to clean.

The Ins And Outs Of Vacuum Cleaner Technology

The substantial suction modern wet dry vacuum cleaners wield is generated when the pressure outside the cleaner is greater than the pressure inside. This effect occurs when an electric fan reduces pressure inside the cleaner, effectively pulling debris into a dust collector.

Prior to 1910, many vacuums used water to filter debris from the air, a method that required intensive maintenance to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

Unlike those primitive models, today's cleaners don't require water, and instead rely on filters to clean the air as it passes through. Filters are integral to vacuum safety because vacuums pull potentially harmful dust up from the ground and into the air. Central vacuum systems, which vent dirty air outside the space being cleaned, are sometimes used in office and apartment buildings that require frequent cleaning because of their safety in this regard.

With a high-quality filter and proper vacuum care, even standard cleaners cause little need to worry. Today's filters are so well designed they are even effective in eliminating fleas, killing 96 percent of adults.

Most wet dry vacuum cleaners store the dirt and liquids they collect inside a reusable compartment. Found in the drum, this compartment is, by design, easily to empty and clean.

Many standard vacuum cleaners collect debris in a disposable bag. Made of an air-permeable fabric or heavy paper, these bags filter out all but the finest particles.

Other standard vacuums are bagless, featuring filtered containers that can detach and be emptied when necessary. Some bagless vacuums utilize an alternative method called cyclonic separation, which rapidly spins incoming debris, forcing it inside a collection bin.

The Many Shapes Of Vacuum Cleaners

To most Americans, a vacuum cleaner sits upright, with a suction base that pulls dust into a vertical bag. While popular in the United States, this model is uncommon in Europe, which favors an alternative design.

The most common vacuum design in Europe is the canister, which separates the dust collector from the motor. Canister models have a flexible hose and more maneuverability than their upright counterparts. For this reason, most wet dry vacuums come in a commercial-grade canister configuration known as the drum model.

Wet dry vacuums are designed to intake dry and wet debris alike, and sometimes feature reverse flow functionality, making it easy to clear clogs and clean the hose.

A variation on the wet dry model is the compressed air-powered pneumatic vacuum. Frequently used in industry, it can hold up to 50 gallons of liquid.

Among the newest designs is the robotic cleaner, which automates the cleaning process, and uses onboard processors and scanning technology to map the surrounding space.

Other designs include a portable cyclonic vacuum pioneered by James Dyson, the central vacuum system popular in city high-rises, and the vacuum truck, which features a massive cleaner attached to a vehicle.



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Last updated on September 25, 2017 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.


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