Any of the best shop vacuums make it easy to suck up large messes such as dust, wood shavings, and even water (hence the alternative name of “wet-dry vacuum”). This makes them perfect for professional use in shops, or on building sites. These powerful vacuums can handle nails, mulch, and water, and we’ve rounded up our favorites in this handy guide to make it easy for you to find the best shop vacuum for your specific needs, be that large or small debris, or even light flooding.
Karcher WD2 Wet and Dry Vacuum (opens in new tab)
The Karcher WD2 shop vac is powerful and easy to use both indoors and outdoors. It includes several attachments to scrub and sweep up debris as you work, and a roomy 12 litre tank. The hose can be extended to a comfortable height, so there is no need to stoop while vacuuming. This shop vac handles both wet and dry messes with a cartridge filter that has a pull and push locking mechanism. The vacuum is tall with accessory and power cable storage that makes it easy to store when not in use and not take up too much space.
Vacmaster Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner (opens in new tab)
The Vacmaster wet and dry vacuum is quite versatile. It’s tough enough to handle most messes without a problem. It also has a blower. This is great for pushing debris out from corners or along driveways. You can connect the hose to some power tools, like sanders and saws, and catch dust while you work. Dirt and debris can be collected directly into the 20 litre tank, or into an option dust bag.
Henry George Wet and Dry Vacuum (opens in new tab)
Vacuum messes and shampoo carpets
This shop vac from Henry George has powerful suction and clever attachments to clean up messes from hard floors, or from deep inside carpeting. It is safe to use to clean up both dry and wet messes, plus it holds 15 litres of debris. You can even use this machine to vacuum blocked sinks, leaks, and upholstery. It comes with carpet cleaning attachments making the Henry George wet and dry vacuum an all-around good household cleaner.
DeWalt DCV58OH 20V Max Cordless Wet-Dry Vacuum (opens in new tab)
No cords, no limits
The DeWalt wet-dry vacuum is powered by a 20V MAX rechargeable battery. This means there are no cords to limit where you can clean with this vacuum. It is also lightweight, so it’s easy to move around your home or even clean outdoors with this shop vac. The hose is flexible and can be extended with the included attachments to better reach smaller areas and crevices. The tank holds 7.5 litres of both dry and wet debris.
The best shop vacuums: Expert advice
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We have been researching and testing shop vacuums since 2012 and have devoted hundreds of hours to reviewing and testing different products to find the very best shop vacuum. We looked for a range of cleaning capabilities in the products we examined and made a concerted effort to find shop vacuums that could handle the different kinds of messes you may encounter at home, ranging from drywall dust scattered around on a floor to a flooded basement.
Among other things, we studied manufacturer websites and sought out expert opinions for advice on finding the best product. Paul Mayer is a Minnesota-based woodworker and tool reviewer that you can see in action on the Tool Metrix channel on YouTube. He has owned a lot of shop vacs over the years and now uses a large dust collector more than any shop vac. He still uses a shop vac for anything left after he sweeps up the floors, though. He recommends doing specific research.
"Know what you need to use it for and read reviews, looking for exactly your use case. If someone is happy with it but is using it for a different task, then it won't necessarily work for what you want," said Mayer. "Example: It doesn't matter if it will pick up a bowling ball. If you are wanting it to extract dust from a cabinetmaker's table saw then you will be disappointed."
Mayer said his favorite shop vac is super quiet and has a built-in filter cleaning mechanism that works well. Those were common themes in many of the articles and reviews we read – concerns about the filter getting clogged and the extreme volume of some machines.