The 10 Best Wet Dry Vacuums

Updated May 28, 2018 by Sam Kraft

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We spent 44 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. They can makes cleanup in your house, garage, workshop or yard a far simpler task than it would be otherwise. 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 as 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
  • no carry strap or wheels for moving
Brand ArmorAll
Model AA255
Weight 8.7 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 rigid, five-foot long hose, and you have the option to plug it into an AC outlet or go cordless using battery power.
  • filter is reusable and washable
  • lightweight for ease of use
  • battery life could be better
Model DCV581H
Weight 11.2 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Vacmaster VQ607SFD

The Vacmaster VQ607SFD sports a modern, industrial look with a polished stainless steel can. The six-gallon 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.
  • includes 2 extension wands
  • handy crevice tool
  • not fully resistant to rust
Brand Vacmaster
Model VQ607SFD
Weight 15.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Shop-Vac EZ

You can’t always control where a spill or a mess will occur in your home, so it’s nice to have a functional tool, like the Shop-Vac EZ, that’s suitable for use on various types of floors and carpets. It’s lightweight, highly portable and includes a gulper nozzle.
  • wall mountable for simple storage
  • side handles make it easy to carry
  • hose tends to kink occasionally
Brand Shop-Vac
Model 5895200
Weight 12 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Karcher Multi-Purpose

Not only is it easy to replace, the top-mounted filter on the Karcher Multi-Purpose allows you to switch between wet and dry cleaning modes without stopping. Plus, it offers different suction power settings, so you can tailor it to the application at hand.
  • 1800-watt motor
  • convenient filter cleaning button
  • built-in power tool outlet
Brand Karcher
Model 1.348-197.0
Weight 26.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Vacmaster VBV

With its extra-large draining port and detachable blower, the Vacmaster VBV is ideal for lots of around-the-house cleanup jobs. It comes with a 12-gallon tank and lets you store various accessories onboard, saving you from having to trek back to get the right one.
  • blows at a wind speed of 210 mph
  • 1-button switching between modes
  • sucks water out of carpets well
Brand Vacmaster
Model VBV1210
Weight 24.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Craftsman XSP

With its powerful motor and versatile swiveling casters, the Craftsman XSP will convert most jobs from a pain in the neck to a simple chore. It rolls effortlessly in any direction and doesn't tip over when you yank hard on the hose.
  • large drain for quick emptying
  • huge 16-gallon tank
  • good for clearing gutters
Brand Craftsman
Model 12007
Weight 29.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

3. Workshop Cleaner

The Workshop Cleaner comes with everything you need to spruce up even a disastrous mess. It's designed with a comfortable, easy-to-grip handle, super-strong suction capabilities, and a locking tab to keep the hose connected during use.
  • carrying handle with a cord wrap
  • big rear wheels for maneuverability
  • comes with a 5-year warranty
Model WS1600SS
Weight 38.4 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Ridgid Red

A powerful model with a substantial capacity, the Ridgid Red features a wide attachment that’s ideal for quickly cleaning up filthy floors and untidy surfaces. It's a nice value for its reliability, and its crevice tool is very useful for accessing tight spaces.
  • includes a bag for attachments
  • push handle for ease of movement
  • fairly quiet while in operation
Brand Ridgid
Model 50348
Weight 32.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Mercury Storm

The Mercury Storm offers a generous 20 gallons of capacity for dry vacuuming and 15 gallons for wet, so you know you’ll be in good shape regardless of the job. The wand and head are plated in chrome for withstanding daily use.
  • squeegee tool is included
  • steel tank is strong and durable
  • extra-long 50-foot power cord
Brand Mercury
Model pending
Weight 44 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 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 May 28, 2018 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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