Best Shop Vacs
No More Chores

An upright or indoor vacuum cleaner is a fantastic piece of equipment to have around the house. Want to remove dirt and dust from the floor? Your vacuum cleaner can do that. Tired of seeing your nice carpet littered with pet hair? Then whip out your vacuum cleaner. You can even clean your kitchen appliances, recover tiny items, get rid of allergens at home, and more when you have this home equipment

But a conventional vacuum cleaner simply won’t do if you’re a woodworker or a contractor. The types of projects you take on require something as heavy-duty and as versatile as a shop vac. In this article, we’re going to learn what a shop vac is and how you can make your workshop or job site cleaner and safer with this piece of equipment.

We’re also going to review some of the best shop vacs available online and in your favorite local hardware store. Feel free to use our buying guide below to help you choose the right shop vac for your workshop, business, or home.

WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs Vacuum WS1600VA High Capacity Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaner, 16-Gallon Heavy-Duty Shop Vacuum Cleaner, 6.5 Peak HP Wet and Dry Vacuum
  • Backed by a 5-Year Limited Warranty, this shop vacuum cleaner has a tough copolymer drum that resists dents, cracks and it will not rust. It also includes a large drain for easy liquid disposal. Not compatible with Dust Collection Bags.
  • Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System allows quick and easy wet dry vacuum filter changes and contains an auto shut-off float mechanism that helps prevent overflow during wet pickups.
  • Accessory storage on the feet and top keeps vacuum attachments secure and within reach.
  • 7-ft. x 2-1/2-inch Dual-Flex locking hose offers 180 Degree flexibility at both hose ends. Locking tab keeps hose connected to the wet dry vacuum cleaner during use.
  • Integrated Blowing Port provides added versatility to this powerful wet dry vacuum cleaner, allowing a user to blow unwanted debris out of garages, jobsites, and driveways.
CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac, Heavy-Duty Shop Vacuum with Attachments
  • HEAVY-DUTY: Powerful 6.5 Peak HP provides extra power for large projects in the garage, shop and on the jobsite
  • BUILT-IN BLOWER PORT: Rear blowing port on this wet dry vac allows for quick cleaning of leaves and grass clippings in your garage and outdoors
  • OVERSIZED DRAIN: Built-in oversized drain on the wet/dry vac allows for convenient emptying of liquids
  • DUAL-FLEX TECHNOLOGY: 2-1/2 in. diameter shop vacuum hose features Dual-Flex technology for 180-degree mobility at each end to resist kinking
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: 2-1/2 in. x 7 ft. POS-I-LOCK Dual-Flex Hose, 2 Extension Wands, Utility Nozzle, Car Nozzle, Wet Nozzle, Qwik Lock Filter and Dust Collection Bag
Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
  • ❤【LARGER CAPACITY】Stanley SL18116P Wet / Dry Vacuum has a larger capacity over 22 L, makes small clean-up jobs a breeze for you as you don’t have to empty the bucket frequently any more.Runtime: 300.0 hours
  • ❤【VERSATILE & POWERFUL】Thanks to the 4 peak HP motor, this vac offers powerful enough suction needed to almost any cleanup jobs in vehicle, jobsite, workshop, garage, basement, van, house, etc
  • ❤【3 in 1 FUNCTION】With this versatile vac you can vacuum both wet liquid spills and dry debris, dust, saw, dirt or blow leaves away(use blower port), just organize the hose and power cord on top handle and side wraps after using, conveniently
  • ❤【FARTHER CLEANUP】With over 16 ft of cleaning reach(6 ft hose, 10 ft power cord and 3 pieces of extension wands) it’s easy to do a farther cleanup for you without unplugging the unit, while it has four swivel casters for convenient and easy manoeuvrability
  • ❤【WHAT YOU GET】Stanley SL18116P Wet / Dry Vac x 1, 1-1/4"x6’ super flexible hose x 1,extension wands x 3, gulper nozzle, floor nozzle x 1,crevice nozzle x 1,foam filter x 1, dust bag x 1, reusable dry filter x 1, 12-Month Warranty
PORTER-CABLE PCX18406-5B 5 Gallon 4HP Wet/Dry Shop Vac Vacuum with Hose and Nozzles (Renewed)
  • 4 Peak HP, 5 Gallon, 18.9 Liters, 5 ft x 1.25 in hose
  • Sturdy handle with cord wrap for easy carrying and storage
  • High performance motor provides maximum power
  • Sleek stainless steel tank offers a premium contemporary design
  • Accessory storage for easy tool organization
Vacmaster VJC507P 5-Gallon* 3 Peak HP** Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum, Blue, 5 gal
  • 5 Gallon Polypropylene Tank
  • 3 Peak HP Motor
  • 8 Ft. Cord with Cord Wrap
  • On-Board Accessory Storage
  • Locking Hose
Milwaukee 0880-20 18V Cordless Lithium-Ion 2 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum (Bare Tool)
  • (1) M18 Wet/Dry Vacuum (Bare Tool) (0880-20)
  • (1) Crevice Tool
  • (1) Filter Assembly
  • (1) Wide Utility Nozzle
Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum , Orange
  • 2.5 Gallon Polypropylene Tank.Specific uses:Car,Garage,Shop
  • 2 Peak HP Motor
  • 10 Ft. Cord With Cord Wrap
  • Blower Function – Easy Conversion
  • On-board Accessory & Hose Storage

What Is A Shop Vac?

A shop vac is an equipment that is similar to a traditional or upright vacuum cleaner. But, of course, there are differences between these two pieces of equipment. While upright vacuum cleaners are used indoors, shop vacs can be used indoors and outdoors. 

Shop vacs are suitable for different applications, jobsites, and working conditions. They are powered by a heavy-duty motor and come with a large stainless steel or plastic drum or tank.

Several upright vacuum cleaners can be used to extract liquids, but these are the exception rather than the norm. Shop vacs, on the other hand, can be used for both dry and wet applications. You can use them to remove dirt and debris from the ground today, then use them to extract water in case of floods or spills tomorrow. 

Shop vacs have a large drum or tank where all the extracted dirt, debris, dust, or water are stored until they are disposed of. Upright or indoor vacuum cleaners, on the other hand, have a smaller dust bag.

They are an indispensable tool, especially for contractors and woodworkers. Shop vacs are used to remove solid and liquid waste off the floor or any surface in the work area. But apart from that, woodworkers, furniture-makers, joiners, and more also plug the shop vac’s hose into some of the power tools they use to get rid of sawdust produced during the operation.

best wet dry shop vac

Wet/Dry Shop Vac Buying Guide


Airflow measures the amount of air sucked into the shop vac within one minute. This is measured in cubic feet per minute or CFM. When it comes to choosing the best wet/dry shop vac, choose one with a higher CFM rating to get the most out of your machine. 

The bad news is a lot of manufacturers do not readily supply their units’ CFM, so you have to dig deeper when reading product descriptions and specifications. You can try the manufacturer’s website to look for this important detail. They are usually listed in the ‘Specifications’ portion of the product information page.

Water Lift 

Also called sealed suction or sealed pressure. Water lift is measured by testing the amount of water (in inches) that a vacuum can suck. Just like airflow, the higher the quantity of water it extracts, the better.

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It refers to the power consumption of the shop vac’s motor. When it comes to choosing a good shop vac, look for ones with higher watts as these have more powerful motors.

Hose Size and Length

Shop vac hose diameter ranges between 1 1/4 inches to as much as 2 1/2 inches. If you want to remove bigger debris or you want a faster liquid cleanup, then a wider hose is ideal for you. A wider hose also doesn’t clog as easily as a narrow hose tend to.

For some users, a longer shop vac hose is better than a shorter one. You can reach more debris with a longer hose, but you might be sacrificing overall vacuum power just to get a couple of inches or so. Remember that the motor will need to work harder if you have a longer hose, so it might not be to your advantage. 

Make sure that the hose has a lock to ensure that it won’t come loose off the canister or drum when you’re pulling it or moving it around.

best wet dry shop vac

Tank Material and Size

If you’re a professional woodworker or you clean flooded properties for a living, then choose a large tank that can store up to 14 gallons or more.

There are two types of tank materials: stainless steel and plastic. Plastic tanks or drums are lighter compared to stainless steel ones. They also do not dent when you accidentally bang them on hard objects.

Stainless steel tanks are heavier and more expensive than plastic ones. The pros are that they are sturdier and are easier to clean.


Most shop vac models have pleated cartridge filters. Look for filters like these as they are not as prone to dust leaks compared to paper-and-foam filters. Plus, it’s easier to change them when the time comes.

Always ask your retailer if the unit’s filter can be easily replaced. Steer clear of units with odd-sized filters as they can be harder to replace.

A Word On Peak Horsepower

You might be wondering why peak horsepower is relegated to the last portion of this section. That’s because peak horsepower is not crucial at all when it comes to choosing a shop vac. Let me explain why.

Peak horsepower is the measurement of the peak in-rush current to the motor the moment you turn it on. It is not, however, the measurement of the nominal operating current of the motor. This is just another marketing ploy that does not mean anything at all when it comes to the suction power of the shop vac. If you want to check the shop vac’s suction power, then it’s best to check the airflow (CFM) and water lift instead.


We’ve come to the end of the review, and the best shop vac for me is the WORKSHOP WS1600VA Wet Dry Shop Vacuum. What are the things that make this shop vac stand out?

First is its motor’s performance. It has a 169 CFM rating, and a water lift of 46 inches. Plus, it has an impressive 20-ft cord length, plus a high-capacity 16-gallon drum/tank. The hose runs up to 7 feet, but don’t worry about the reduction of suction power as it has a powerful 12 amp motor.

It has a Dual-Flex® Locking hose with a wider diameter. The hose is also made of durable material that didn’t easily bend or break apart when it was stepped on or twisted.

It comes with a pleated filter and all the necessary attachments. The attachments are pretty basic, but they will do if you’re going to use them for general cleaning or you want to attach the shop vac to your power tool.

The WORKSHOP WS1600VA Wet Dry Shop Vacuum performed very well during the test and even exceeded expectations. Overall, this is one of the best shop vacs in the market right now.

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