Power Cleaning: The Best Shop Vacs

Power Cleaning: The Best Shop Vacs

The best shop vac can help you power through a tough cleaning job in the shortest time possible. That is why it is a favorite among many workshop owners. You might be wondering where the name Shop-Vac comes from. Well, Shop-Vac is a brand of vacuum cleaners. Eventually, the name stuck since these types of vacuums are used mainly to clean up workshops and construction sites. They are capable of clearing up large pieces of debris as well as spillages. Despite the many advantages of owning one, the challenge begins in choosing one that suits you. There are different options available out there, here are some of the factors to consider before purchase.

Features to consider in Good Shop Vac


Different shop vacs come with different designs. You can go with a unit such as the Shop-Vac 5951400 that is designed for commercial use with a heavy-duty 14-gallon tank. You can also go with a unit that is designed for portability to make it easy to use in your car or around the house. Overall, whether you are going with a unit designed for commercial or consumer use, be sure to pick one with features designed for convenience.


The size of the shop vac you go for is determined by the amount of debris or spillage you need to get rid of. If you have a large pile of water or sawdust to clean up, you will need a shop vac with a sizeable collection bag or tank. We recommend going with a unit that has a 3-gallon capacity and above. Also, if you need to clean up large-sized debris, be sure to pick a unit with a wide hose diameter. However while some vacuums might have large hoses, you might have to sacrifice a bit when it comes to suction power. If you pick a unit with a large hose be sure to also check that the unit has a powerful motor that keeps the suction power at par.


A shop vac’s versatility is all about the various ways your shop vac can be put to use. Ideally, the best shop vac will help you clean up both solids and liquids with ease. For instance, while some units come with a water drain some don’t. Depending on your amount of spillage, you might need one that comes with a drain to make your work easy. A blower port is another optional feature that adds to the versatility of your shop vac. It can be used during in autumn when you need to clear up the leaves in your back yard.

Suction Power

You can argue that the performance of a shop vac boils down to its suction power and you will be right on the money. The suction power of a shop vac is determined by the power of its motor. The standard rating given to a vacuum’s suction power is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). Therefore, to determine whether a unit has the suction power you need just check its CFM rating.

Top 10 Best Shop Vacs 2024

1. Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

Why we like it: it can pick up both wet and dry debris and it comes with accessories that make it easy to use inside a car.

Editor’s Rating:


Let’s kick off with an affordable unit that is designed for light household chores. The Armor AA255 comes with a convertible design that can be used to blow out dry leaves from your back yard during autumn. This is a great feature for versatility since you can use it to dry up the grills or the wheels of your car as well.

It’s a wet/dry vacuum that performs well when it comes to cleaning both dry and wet spills inside your car or in the house. It is made with a lightweight and portable body that fits most car owners. With a capacity to hold up to 2,5 gallons, this unit offers a decent range for lightweight cleaning of spillage and debris. It’s suction power is dependable thanks to a powerful 2 HP motor system that is integrated into its compact body.

The hose diameter measure 1-1/4 inch which is sufficient for anyone who needs maximum suction power from a tiny shop vac. It also comes with a 5ft hose length that makes it easy to maneuver whenever you need to clean around corners. Furthermore, with the built-in air and noise diffuser, you can expect quiet operations from this shop vac even if you use it for long hours.


Convenience and quality performance must have been a top agenda in the process of making the Armor All Utility wet/Dry Vacuum. Not only does this unit boast a reliable suction power, but it’s also affordable. It features an automatic shut-off mechanism that is triggered whenever the tank gets full to prevent overflow. The unit can also be easily converted to a blower which is a plus for versatility. The only thing you need to be aware of is that it’s made for lightweight use at home. If you are looking for an industrial shop vac, you might want to check out the next item on our list.


  • Portable design with a handle
  • Reliable suction power
  • Ideal for car enthusiasts
  • Cleans both dry and wet spillages


  • Only designed for lightweight tasks at home or in the car

2. Shop-Vac 9633400 6.5-Peak HP Ultra Pro Series 12-Gallon Wet or Dry Vacuum

Shop-Vac 9633400 6.5-Peak HP Ultra Pro Series 12-Gallon Wet or Dry Vacuum

Why we like it: it can withstand a lot of abuse plus it features a versatile performance that can be used to clean up spills as well as debris in a construction site.

Editor’s Rating:


The 12-gallon onboard tank on the Shop-Vac 9633400 is enough for sucking up all sorts of dirt and spillage without constant emptying. The unit has a built-in portable leaf blower that is just as powerful when it comes to clearing up dead leaves from your back yard.

With a 6,5 peak horsepower motor, you can get through your cleaning job with enough suction power for heavy-duty tasks as well. Thanks to included accessories, such as the 120-degree elbow you can use this shop vac to clear up your gutter effortlessly. It also comes with a 14-inch floor nozzle, a blower nozzle, and a concentrator nozzle to offer you versatile functionality that will make it easy to clean up anything that comes your way.

The 2-1/2 inch extension will also come in handy whenever you need to clean hard to reach places. Also, the 8-foot Lock-On hose adds to the flexibility that you can achieve while cleaning with this shop vac.


When it’s all said and done, the Shop-Vac 9633400 is a pretty decent shop vac that doubles up as a yard blower. It offers the flexibility that most users have come to expect with premium units and it’s suction power is reliable for both debris and spillage.


  • Offers easy drainage solutions
  • Changing the filter is easy
  • Lightweight build quality for easy portability
  • Lengthy cord and hose for better reach


  • Its leaf blower performance could be better

3. Vacmaster VBV1210 Wet/Dry Vacuum

Vacmaster VBV1210 Wet/Dry Vacuum

Why we like it: It features a quiet vacuuming process that makes it ideal for vacuuming for indoors. Also, it's suction power is reliable and it comes with a dust collection bag.

Editor’s Rating:


If you live in a condo or an apartment with neighbors, the last thing you need is a vacuum cleaner that disturbs the peace. This unit performs well if you are looking for a quiet vacuuming experience. It features a quick-release detachable blower that makes it versatile enough for use on the carpet or for clearing up the leaves in your back yard.

The built-in 12-gallon tank is sufficient for clearing up spillages plus, it is also designed with an easy drainage port making to make your cleaning work even easier.

The unit features a 5 peak HP motor plus a reusable cloth filter that will trap any dog hairs in the house. The 4-inch hose works well for clearing up large pieces of debris as well. In terms of durability, the Vacmaster VBV1210 Wet/Dry Vacuum comes with a tough polypropylene construct that will last through any heavy-duty task. Even if you are cleaning around corners, this unit has you covered in terms of range and convenience since it comes with a 12-foot power cord.


When you need a simple and dependable shop vac, the Vacmaster VBV1210 Wet/Dry Vacuum is one you cannot miss. It comes with plenty of range for indoor cleaning and its quiet vacuuming makes it easy to use in an urban setting. Additionally, the 12-gallon tank is ample enough for debris and spillage storage plus a drain port is attached to minimize overflow. To top it all off, it comes with a 2-year warranty that guarantees its durability.


  • Versatile functionality with a 1 button release blower
  • Quiet operation
  • Sizeable drain port
  • Automatic shut off for efficiency and safety


  • It doesn’t come with a HEPA filter for fine debris

4. Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

Shop-Vac 5989300 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

Why we like it: it features a sturdy stainless steel body not to mention a 4,5 peak horsepower motor that is ideal for heavy-duty cleaning.

Editor’s Rating:


Not only is Shop-Vacc a namesake of the shop vacuums but its also a reliable brand if you are looking for reliable performance for a variety of cleaning needs. Their Shop-Vac 5989300 attests to this since it comes with unmatched features.

With a stainless steel tank, this unit can power through any type of abuse you throw its way making it a decent pick for commercial use.

It comes with a versatile set of accessories that include a rear blower port, a 7-foot hose with 3 extension wands plus a cartridge filter to mention only a few. If you ever need a blower cum shop vac, this unit will do. It converts into a powerful blower any time. For portability, it comes with top and side carry handles. And you don’t need to worry about storage since it features on-board tool storage that keeps your tools where they need to be.

Whether you need to remove water from a rug or get rid of large debris, the Shop-Vac 5989300 will power through it thanks to its 4,5 peak horsepower motor. There is a 3-year warranty on the motor that gives you peace of mind if it ever breaks down.


Shop-Vac 5989300 is a powerful tool that makes cleanup jobs at home or in the workshop much easier. It has an adaptable design thanks to the many accessories that are included for your convenience. You will also love its stainless steel construct since it can withstand harsh environments such as the workshop. However, its power cord is not long enough and it does not come with a tank drain.


  • Ideal for wet and dry cleaning
  • It has a powerful motor
  • There is a 3-year warranty on the motor
  • Versatile set of accessories
  • Ideal for heavy-duty cleaning


  • The power cord is not long enough for some users
  • It does not have a drain tank

5. RIDGID 50348 1400RV Wet Dry Vacuum

RIDGID 50348 1400RV Wet Dry Vacuum

Why we like it: It has a 14-gallon capacity that is convenient for heavy-duty cleanup tasks since there is no need to constantly empty the unit.

Editor’s Rating:


One of the most important factors that most shop-vac buyers look at when making a purchase is performance. The RIDGID 50348 1400RV Wet Dry Vacuum is built for impressive performance with its 6.0 Peak Horsepower motor. Add that to its 8-foot locking hose and you have a winner when it comes to cleaning your workshop, your car or just around the house.

Apart from the amply sized tank, the unit also features a smooth interior surface that prevents clogging. In terms of versatility, you can get more bang for your buck with this unit since you can attach the lock-in blower port and get rid of leaves and other debris on your yard and walkways.

This unit comes with a patented noise reduction technology that makes it easy to control the airflow and use the vacuum in a noise restricted area. You can use this shop vac for both wet and dry vacuuming and just in case you encounter some fine dust, you can easily install the fine-dust filter and get the job done. Emptying liquids is also easy since there is a drain attached to the polypropylene drum.


When the cleaning task requires a heavy-duty vacuum, you can count on a shop vac such as the RIDGID 50348 1400RV Wet Dry Vacuum. It features a versatile set of utilities including a wet nozzle and crevice tool, a car nozzle and a utility nozzle to make work easy no matter where it is that you are cleaning. Furthermore, the built-in noise reduction system performs well to ensure quiet operation.


  • Powerful motor
  • Amply sized drum
  • Comes with wheels for maneuverability
  • Relatively quiet operation
  • Comes with a drainage port


  • The power cord quality could be better
  • There is no brush accessory

6. Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum

Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum

Why we like it: it is made with a lightweight and compact build which is easy to carry around.

Editor’s Rating:


When you don’t have a portable vac, even cleaning up a small room can be an uphill task. That is why the Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum is made with a lightweight compact and portable body. It features a 4-gallon tank attached to a 4 peak horsepower motor that works well for both wet and dry pickups. You can use this shop vac around the house or in your car and with its large switch and waterproof body, you can be sure it will withstand any harsh conditions you throw its way.

The 10-inch power cord wraps easily around the body of the unit for safe storage. Plus if you consider the 4 swivel casters included in the package you get a maneuverable shop vac that allows you to clean in any direction.

Although it comes with a small diameter hose, it is easy to use especially when compared to a large diameter hose. Plus the small diameter of the hose adds to the suction power making it clear up debris and spillage in the shortest time possible. Among the accessories included in the package is a floor brush which always comes in handy when you need to clean up debris after a remodeling job. Other accessories include a reusable dry filter, a utility nozzle, an extension want as well a foam filter to mention only a few.


At its price range, the Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum offers a level of convenience most users have come to expect from pricier units. The included extension wand works well to help you reach the gutter or other hard to reach spots. With a lightweight body, the unit is easy to carry around and the long power cord makes it easy to clean in all direction.


  • Quiet vacuuming
  • Long power cord for maneuverability
  • Easily portable
  • Easy to use with a large power switch
  • A versatile set of accessories included


  • The hose is not quite flexible

7. DeWALT 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac

DeWALT 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac

Why we like it: it is built for durability with a rubberized caster that also makes it easy to carry around small spaces.

Editor’s Rating:


The DeWALT 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac is a great fit for anyone looking for a compact shop vac to handle small and medium jobs in the workshop. The unit features a set of rubberized caster wheels that are not only durable but also work well in terms of maneuverability.

With a 4,0 peak horsepower motor, you get all the suction power you need for lightweight tasks at home. Plus there is a 6 gallon wet and dry tank is built inside to reduce the emptying frequency. The hose on this unit will pretty much suck up everything in its way including little chips of wood. The hose is also designed to easily and quickly disconnect from the vacuum with the push of a button.


Not only does this unit boast of emerging form a reputable brand but it also comes with a level of performance to back up the hype. It is durable and quite easy to use. For instance, if you need to detach the hose you can do so with the push of a button. It also comes with a built-in blower that is reliable for blowing off sawdust, dry leaves and debris. The only complain is that it lacks a drain port. Also, the lid sits slightly loose at the top, however, this is barely an issue since it does not move around as you use.


  • Compact and portable design
  • Comes with rubber caster wheels for maneuverability
  • Features a waterproof switch
  • Powerful motor with a reliable suction power
  • Comes with a built-in blower port


  • It lacks a drain port
  • There is no onboard accessory storage

8. Vacmaster 6 Gallon, 3 Peak HP, Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum

Vacmaster 6 Gallon, 3 Peak HP, Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum

Why we like it: Some of the accessories include a round dust brush that comes in handy while collecting dust in hard to reach areas. It also comes with a powerful motor for quality suction power.

Editor’s Rating:


When you need a shop vac with accessories that can help you clean up any type of floor surface going with the Vacmaster VQ607SFD would be a great idea. The unit comes with a 7 foot hose that is quite flexible. The onboard 12 ft cord also adds to the flexibility thus allowing you to move around with the shop vac as you clean. In terms of versatility, this shop vac has a lot to offer.

You get a multi-surface floor cleaner, a dust brush, a reusable foam sleeve, a dust bag, and a crevice tool. On top of all that is an inbuilt storage space for keeping your accessories which is simply amazing. The overall design of the Vacmaster VQ607SFD is weather-resistant meaning you can use it in the harshest conditions and still get top performance from it. In fact, with the 3 peak HP single speed motor; this shop vac will suck up spillage as well as debris with stunning efficiency.


The Vacmaster VQ607SFD is a masterpiece when it comes to convenience. It is also quite durable considering its weather-resistant design and on top of everything you get a 2 years warranty for peace of mind.


  • Durable build quality
  • Comes with various accessories
  • Quiet operation
  • Lightweight and portable


  • It’s not the best for woodworkers

9. Shop-Vac 1.5 Gallon All-In-One Wet And Dry Vac

Shop-Vac 1.5 Gallon All-In-One Wet And Dry Vac

Why we like it: It features a design that can be mounted on the wall to free up more space on the floor. This makes it ideal for cleaning up small spaces.

Editor’s Rating:


What we have here is another unit from ShopVac that will make household cleaning a fun and exciting activity for you. This one, in particular, comes with a lightweight and portable design that you carry with you around the room with ease.

But just because its small does not mean it’s not as powerful as the big ones. This shop vac comes with a 2,0 peak horsepower motor that is sufficient for cleaning spillages and debris in the house. With its 17-foot hose length, you can easily get rid of dust or pet hair stuck between corners and other hard to reach spaces.


If you are in the search for a budget-friendly but reliable shop vac, this unit might just be a perfect fit. For portability, it comes with a top carry handle and since it can be mounted on the wall, you can use it in the office, or around the hose without giving up much of your space.


  • Comes with a variety of accessories
  • It is easily portable
  • Can pick up wet and dry debris and spillage
  • Budget-friendly pricing
  • Features a blower port


  • Hose flexibility could be better

10. WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1600VA High Capacity Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner

WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1600VA High Capacity Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner

Why we like it: it can drink up about 1 gallon of water per minute. With an impressive 15 gallon tank, you can use it for large cleanup projects with ease.

Editor’s Rating:


Apart from the fact that the WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1600VA is ideal for large cleanup projects, it also comes with the convenience of easily changing from a wet to dry vacuum thanks to the filter fastening system.

The unit also comes with an auto-shutdown capacity preventing any incidences of overflow, especially when clearing up spillages.

For versatility, the shop vac comes with a blowing port that is just as powerful. You also get a drain port with this shop vac thus making it easy to empty the tank whenever necessary. The entire unit is built for durability with a touch copolymer exterior. And to reduce clogging the unit comes with a variety of accessories not to mention a large opening on its hose connector.


Simply put the WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1600VA is a must-have unit for commercial jobs that require a heavy-duty shop vac. The onboard 16-gallon tank is overkill for small cleanup projects. With a 6,5 peak HP motor, you can be sure of the speed and precision while cleaning up spillages and debris.


  • Durable build quality
  • Comes with a lengthy 20-foot power cord
  • Onboard accessory storage included
  • Fine dust HEPA filter included


  • It’s a bit expensive but worth it


1. Can I use a shop vac as a blower?

Yes, you can but first here is what you need to know. Different manufacturers produce different types of shop vacs that work in a variety of ways. Simply put, no two shop vacs are completely the same. However, if you plan to use your shop vac as a blower, here is the best way to go about it. Start by first pulling the latches back on the side. Then lift the top off and remove the bag and filter. Now put the lid back in its original position and snap back the latches as well. The final step here is to remove the hose from the front suction port and take the exhaust port that is normally located at the top of the machine. Once you secure the hose the port into the hose you can go ahead and use it as a blower.

2. Why would a vacuum lose suction power?

The most common reasons that make a shop vac, or any other vacuum, lose its power is due to an obstruction in the airflow system. To solve the problem, you can check the hose and stretch it out or even insert a long stick to clear the blockage. If your shop vac loses suction while you are using it, you will need to first unplug and remove all filters, clean them and possibly check the shop vac’s manual to get the right cleaning procedure for your machine. Keep in mind that some filters are washable while others only need to be cleaned gently with a brush.

3. How can I stop my shop vac from blowing dust back into the room?

If your shop vac is blowing back dust into the room, then it means there is a problem with the filter. If the filter is exhausted out of the blower port, a tear is created in the filter that might be passing dust back into the room. Another likely cause is that the filter was not installed properly or that the dust is too fine that it’s passing through the holes of the filter. You can choose to install a better quality filter in such a case or clean it up. Also, be sure to check the features of the filter before buying your shop vac. You need a HEPA filter with highly efficient cartridges to get the best performance. Keep in mind that not all shop vacs feature a HEPA filter.

4. Which is the best filter for wet pickup?

A foam sleeve is the best filter for wet pick up. You can also go ahead and add a tear-resistant wet dry collection bag to pick up sharp debris like broken pieces of glass or stone. Most shop vacs will trap the debris while allowing water to pass into the tank afterward, you can remove the bag with dispose of it then drain out the water from the tank.

5. Can I leave my shop vac running continuously?

Leaving your shop-vac unattended is the last thing you should do. This is because the filter to your shop vac needs to be checked constantly and cleaned every once in a while. The best practice is to turn your vacuum off. Also, be sure to unplug the vacuum from before cleaning or changing the filter. Also keep in mind that if you are working with fine debris, you will need to clean your filter more often than larger debris.

Guide to Buying the Best Shop Vac


A decent warranty is a must-have with pretty much any product. After all, the last thing you want is to have a product that fails as soon as you start using it and have no way to get your money’s value. For most shop vacs, you will find products with a 1-year warranty and above. We recommend you confirm the brand’s customer care to validate your warranty. The good news is that most of the products we have features are covered.

Available accessories

The accessories you should expect with your shop vac depend on how you plan to use the shop vac. If you plan to use it to clean you woodworking shop after a DIY project, you should try to get a unit with extra HEPA filters since they will work well to get rid of the fine sawdust that usually sneaks out through the holes of the filter. You can also go for shop vac with extensive car accessories if you plan to use your shop vac to clean your car. And if you plan to use your shop vac in your garage or your home garden, going with a unit that has blower port will give you the best bang for the buck. You can also buy aftermarket accessories to further customize your shop vac.

Collection bag

Few features beat the convenience of a high-quality collection bag. Your collection bag will help you dispose of the debris your vacuum has collected more easily. Furthermore, the collection bag also helps you keep the lid café from getting clogged. If you are using your shop vac on fine debris you will need a HEPA collection bag to efficiently trap the fine dust. However, if your vacuum has a HEPA cartridge filter you might not need to use a collection bag. Basically what you need to know is that some specialty vacs come must be used with a collection bags while some do not need the use of a collection bag so be sure to check through the features carefully.


Many brands make shop vacs out there. Some of the most common brands you will encounter include:
Shop-Vac – Shop-Vac is one of the leading brands in the vacuum manufacturing space. The brand has existed since 1953 and had had such a long-standing reputation for producing high-quality products that simply work. They have a variety of units that fit industrial, consumer and commercial applications.

Vacmaster – this one is another household name when it comes to making high-quality vacuum cleaners for all purposes. The brand has been in the market for the past 15 years and it’s known for engineering dependable and innovative products. Most of their Wet/Dry vacs are easily portable as well which is great.

Armor – this is another brand from Vacmaster that receives a lot of love from users across the globe due to its reputation for high-quality performance. For instance, our top pick is an Armor shop vac that features wet and dry pick up plus it boasts of a built-in air and hose diffuser with a 2-year limited warranty on top. Now that’s what a good shop vac is made of.

DEWALT – since the 1920’s DEWALT has been at work producing some of the world’s best power and hand tools. Basically, when you think construction you will be hard-pressed not to find a tool from DEWALT. They also make powerful vacuums that have proven to stand the test of time.


On average most shop vacs cost between $40 and $100. As usual, you get your money’s worth with every product. However, in some cases, a unit’s high price will not automatically translate to performance. Be sure to also check out the cheaper units since most of them can offer great value for the money. However, if you are looking for a commercial or industrial unit that will last through heavy-duty usage, it is safe to go with a high-quality unit even if it’s highly-priced.


Our list of the best shop vac contains nearly everything you would need to find a unit that works for your needs. Whether you are a woodworker, a DIYer doing some remodeling at home or a construction worker, you will be able to find the best shop vac with reliable suction power to get the job done. One particular feature that you should not forget to consider is the tank capacity. Having to constantly empty the tank can slow down your cleanup process. With a sizeable tank, you can clean as much spillage or debris without any problem.

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