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To help you find the best shop vac, we have thoroughly researched a multitude of well-regarded vacuum cleaners, ensuring that they had enough power to keep busy work areas clean and that they were durable enough to last for years to come. We preferred vacuum cleaners that were a fine choice for woodworkers, auto detailers, and other potentially messy occupations.
The best shop vac we tried was easily the DeWalt Wet/Dry Shop-Vac. This high-grade shop vac is equally at home in an industrial or residential setting, thanks to the integrated noise-reducing silencing muffler and an ultra-large 16-gallon debris canister. Keep reading to learn more about other top-quality vacuum cleaners available for purchase.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Best wet/dry vac with a slew of features, including a silencing muffler to reduce noise during operation and an ultra-large 16-gallon debris canister.
This DeWalt Wet/Dry vacuum is the best shop vac for car detailing, thanks to arriving with a handy car nozzle for cleaning tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas of the automobile, making this a versatile option. You can also use this powerful shop vac for wet messes alongside dry debris, which a regular vacuum can’t accomplish. The 6.5 peak horsepower motor grants some powerful suction on this model, yet the integrated silencing muffler does a fantastic job of reducing noise during operation. We also loved that the debris canister is larger-than-average, at 16 gallons, so you won’t have to empty it too often. It could be considered a top-rated wet/dry vac. The contained noise levels plus the large capacity for gallons of debris like construction debris help this wet dry vacuum cleaner stand out from the rest, leading to satisfied customers that can have a normal conversation while vacuuming with exceptional suction power.
Related: Check out the best shark vacuums.
This shop vacuum cleaner does not arrive fully installed, so you’ll have to install the wheels and do some other general maintenance before it is ready to go. Additionally, these wheels are made from plastic and not as sturdy as the wheels found with some other vacuums, which is why it’s good to know what type of shop vac you need. And if you’re looking for the best mop or the leading steam mop vacuum for your floors, we’ve also got you covered.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: One of the most powerful shop vacs, with a 6.5 horsepower motor, in addition to offering some convenience features like large wheels and a push handle for easy transport.
The Ridgid 50353RID is the best shop vac for woodworking, among other professional applications, thanks to an ultra-powerful 6.5 horsepower motor that makes short work out of the both liquid and solid messes. The large wheels and included push handle make it easy to transport from room to room, and the ultra-flexible and durable hose won’t accidentally fall out during use. If you need to clean stairs efficiently and safely, though, consider looking into the best stair vacuum.
Related: If you want to try something different, take a quick look at the best steam vacuum cleaners.
This is a powerful shop vacuum and, as such, it is not as quiet as other models available for purchase. The noise during operation isn’t quite as off-putting as it could be, however, given the sheer power on offer here. You may also want to check out some of the best floor cleaners, evaluated based on steaming power, ease of use, construction, and ability to clean.
Award: Best Quality
WHY WE LIKE IT: High-quality cleaner with a robust feature set that includes an automatic filter that self-cleans every 15 seconds and a water sensor that automatically powers down if a predetermined water level has been exceeded, to help protect the motor.
Read Full Review: Bosch Vacuum
The Bosch VAC090A features the best shop vac filter and filtration system, which not only filters out impurities, such as dust, during use but also self-cleans every 15 seconds, helping to avoid accidental clogging. It’s powerful enough and is comparable to highly-rated central vacuum systems or even the top commercial backpack vacuums. This high-quality vacuum comes with integrated sensors that will automatically power down if the water level becomes too high and can actually be operated by any of the power switches available with the power tools you happen to be using at the time.
Though this could be the best shop vac with a HEPA filter, the filter that ships with the unit are not HIPAA-compliant, and an actual HEPA filter must be purchased separately. Additionally, the maximum debris capacity here is set at nine gallons, which is slightly lower than comparable models. Compare that with what is offered on some of the best pet vacuums that work for pet hair on carpet and on hardwood floors, too.
Award: Best Attachments
WHY WE LIKE IT: Ships with a multitude of useful attachments and accessories, with a design that can easily be wall-mounted in a garage or wherever else it receives consistent use.
The Bissell Garage Pro is a fantastic choice for those who need a bit of versatility when it comes to their shop vac. It ships with a multitude of useful attachments and accessories, including a 32-foot hose, a crevice nozzle, and an automobile kit, in addition to functioning nicely as a blower. The 12 amp motor is powerful enough for both wet and dry messes, and the integrated wall mount allows for easy wall hanging in a garage, repair center, or office.
The debris tank capacity here is just four gallons, which is on the lower end but still large enough for multiple cleanings. Also, this vacuum weighs around 35 pounds and does not include any built-in wheels for the purposes of transport. The Bissell Garage Pro could also be used with the best carpet cleaner detergent, and while it’s a shop vac, it could be a great vacuum for cleaning area rugs.
Award: Best Durability
WHY WE LIKE IT: Exceptionally durable design, with a polypropylene exterior, sturdy wheels that can easily be locked in place, and an automotive-style pleated top-mounted air filter.
Read Full Review: Karcher WD4
The Karcher WD4 Multi-Purpose shop vac is extraordinarily durable, with an exterior that is made almost entirely from tough polypropylene. The caster wheels are exceptionally sturdy and can easily be locked in place during use. We also loved the automotive-style pleated top-mounted air filter, which effectively removes dust, bacteria, and related allergens as you operate the vacuum. The powerful 1800-watt motor is also on the higher end and is a perfect choice for commercial, residential, and industrial applications. This makes it an ideal choice as a leading ash vacuum.
Though this vacuum does include a blower port, the output of this port is on the weaker side compared to some available models. Additionally, the powerful motor does create a fair amount of noise during use, so take that into consideration.
Award: Best Filter
WHY WE LIKE IT: Comes equipped with a fantastic HEPA filter with a 99.97 percent efficiency rating, in addition to featuring a light form factor, 10 pounds, and an ergonomically designed easy-carry handle.
The DeWalt DCV581H comes equipped with a fantastic HEPA filter that is reusable, washable, and certified to operate with a 99.97 efficiency, meaning that it will easily remove most dust and bacteria particles. The ergonomically designed handle and light form factor give it a high portability rating, and we also loved that this vacuum can dual-operate as a blower. You can also insert a battery to turn this into a cordless vacuum, though one is not included with the purchase. For more lightweight options that don’t require a battery, consider the best corded vacuum.
The two-gallon tank capacity is on the lower side, requiring regular cleaning and maintenance. Also, this vacuum operates with a 33 CFM rating, so it isn’t the most powerful cleaner on the market, though it is more than serviceable.
Award: Best for Car Cleaning
WHY WE LIKE IT: Ships with a number of attachments and accessories that are perfect for automobile cleaning and detail work, in addition to featuring a powerful blower function and an 11 amp motor.
The Bissell MultiClean is an excellent choice as a car vacuum for fine detail-oriented cleaning work, thanks to shipping with a number of automobile-centric attachments and accessories. These include a crevice tool, a precision blowing tool, an upholstery brush, and a detailing nozzle, among others. This vacuum can double as a powerful blower, which can be handy in a number of scenarios, such as inflating an air mattress. The specs here are also on point, as this vacuum boasts an 11-amp motor and a six-gallon debris tank capacity.
Though the accessories here are indeed useful, the included hose is just over six feet in length, which is slightly below average. Additionally, the powerful motor can drum up a lot of noise during use, so consider that before making a purchase.
Award: Best Portable Design
WHY WE LIKE IT: Backpack design that is easily wearable, making it shine as a portable shop vac, while still offering 64 CFM of sucking power and an integrated HEPA filter.
Read Full Review: Makita Backpack Vacuum
The Makita XCV10ZX is built from the ground up to be eminently portable, as this shop vac can be worn like a backpack and easily carried from room to room or location to location. The specs here are on point, with a high-powered motor that produces 64 CFM of suction power and 44-inches of water lift, with an integrated HEPA filter that effectively removes 99.97 percent of potentially harmful particles, such as bacteria and dust.
Due to the wearable design on offer, the debris tank here is on the smaller side, at just one-half of a gallon. On the bright side, this model will help save space while still giving you strong suction versus larger vacuums. Also, this portable shop vacuum can operate cordlessly, but requires the purchase of batteries, as they don’t come standard with an initial purchase. Compact models tend to have a more affordable price, but that costs the product performance and capacity during wet-dry cleaning.
Award: Best Value
WHY WE LIKE IT: Value-conscious shop vac with a robust list of features, including ultra-durable rubberized casters, smooth-rolling wheels, and a powerful built-in blower port.
The DeWalt DXV06P shop vac comes in at a value-friendly price while offering a serious feature set that includes a built-in blower port that is powerful and perfect for blowing away wood particles from a worksite. This is a fairly light and portable shop vac, weighing just 14 pounds, and the durable rubberized casters and smooth-rolling wheels make it easy to transport from room to room.
Though the four-horsepower motor is powerful enough for most jobs, the six-gallon capacity debris tank is not the largest you are likely to see while comparison shopping. Additionally, the attachments that accompany this vacuum are minimal, with just a crevice nozzle and a flat nozzle included with the initial purchase.
Award: Best on a Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: Budget-conscious vacuum with a suite of high-end features, such as the capacity to operate as a blower and a debris tank made from ultra-durable and long-lasting polypropylene.
The Armor All AA255 shop vac comes in at a budget-friendly price while offering features in line with more expensive competitors and their expensive models, including the capacity to operate as a blower as well as a vacuum. The debris tank is on the smaller side, at 2.5 gallons, but is made from polypropylene, which is known to be durable and long-lasting, so if you’re vacuuming larger debris, the dust tank may fill quickly. We also loved that this vac doubles as a storage container for all of its attachments and accessories, helping to keep everything in one place. Customers living in tight quarters will appreciate this product having the capability of built-in storage space.
The 2-horsepower motor is decent but is not nearly the most powerful motor available for purchase. Also, the power cord is somewhat short, at only ten feet, so take that into consideration before making a purchase.
To help narrow down the above list, we thoroughly researched a number of well-regarded shop vacs (except commercial leaf vacuums), ensuring that their specs were up to snuff and suitable for both wet and dry conditions. We liked durable models with powerful motors that were a great choice for automotive repair shops, woodworking shops, bike repair shops, and another commercial, industrial, and residential locations.
We liked shop vacuum cleaners with built-in filtration systems for the purpose of reducing dust, allergens, and bacteria particles during cleaning. We also preferred vacs with a relatively light form factor, with bonus points awarded to truly handheld units or larger cordless models that could operate without the use of a power cable or cord. Models with sturdy casters and wheels that easily glide across various types of surfaces were also preferred.
During our research, we enjoyed shop vacuums packed with additional features, such as the ability to operate as a blower for the purposes of inflating toys and mattresses and keeping work areas free of debris and clutter. Finally, we liked vacuums that shipped with all manner of attachments and accessories, such as automobile kits, crevice tools, extra-long hoses, and more. Utility nozzles, wet nozzle pieces, and a detachable blower all contribute to the good performance of a heavy-duty vacuum that needs to handle some tough messes versus a regular vacuum cleaner. Even a wide range of bonus attachments is good to have, like a drain port, floor nozzle, gulper nozzle, and an extension cord. A warranty coming with a heavy-duty shop vacuum is also appreciated, anywhere from a 12-month warranty to a lifetime warranty in case cleaning up large bits of debris causes certain parts to run down.
When it comes to shop vacs, higher power is preferred. Look for vacuums with plenty of suction power that is derived from top-class motors. This power can be measured in a number of ways. There is CFM, which stands for cubic feet per minute and measures the amount of cleaning that can get done in a minute, and the wattage/amps of the motor itself. Look for a motor of at least 500 watts. Finally, there is horsepower. If you are cleaning average-sized messes, a motor with 1 or 2 HP should be fine. If you are dealing with some heavy-duty messes, however, then go for something with 5 or 6 horsepower that you’ll find on larger shop vacs. A compact shop vac is a more portable wet/dry shop vacuum that’s easy to manage, but it may lack the strongest suction that large shop vacs may possess. You will be able to clean up far-away messes and take up less floor space, but you’ll also miss out on larger capacity like a shop-vac 16-gallon model. These compact models will probably be more suited for dust collection in tight spots and small-scale cleanups if they have a capacity of a 2.5-gal. capacity. There may be some small industrial vacuum cleaners out there with surprising suction power, so keep in mind there may be exceptions.
These shop vacs are generally built to last, as they are primarily intended for industrial and commercial use. Look for vacuum cleaners with tough exteriors, often made from polypropylene or a similar chemical derivative, with rubberized components when necessary. The casters and wheels should also be of exceptional quality, to help with hauling it from room to room or from location to location as you go about the cleaning process.
Many of these shop vacs ship with additional features, accessories, and attachments. Look for a vac with a blower function, as that will allow you to keep work areas free of debris and can also double as an inflator for mattresses and the like. You’ll also want a lengthy hose and other attachments such as crevice tools, automobile kits, extension wands, and more. Some vacuums ship with as many as a dozen attachments, so the sky’s the limit here.