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What features make the best wet dry vac? The best wet dry vacuums should have powerful motors to generate the strong suction power needed to clean up wet and dry messes. Next, the best wet and dry vacs should have versatile attachments like a crevice tool, wet nozzle, dry dust collector, and detachable blower hose.
Ideally, they should have a switch that lets you toggle between the vacuum and blower function settings. Great wet dry vacuums should also have excellent filtration so you can clean up pet messes and drywall dust without releasing excessive particulate matter or allergens into the air. Depending on your needs, you might also want to look for features like automatic filter cleaning, an extra-long crevice nozzle, or a compact design. After investing in these advanced appliances, make sure you get them protected through the best insurance for home appliances.
The right wet dry vacuum can help busy parents and pet owners keep the house clean. A wet-dry vac typically has more powerful suction than most upright vacuums, plus stick vacuum corded and cordless options, letting it handle pet messes, dust and debris, and food cleanup tasks. Keep reading to learn more about the best wet dry vacuum cleaners and how to choose the best vacuum for home cleaning.
The best wet and dry vacuum cleaner you can buy today is the Hoover Power Scrub Elite. This high-quality cleaner can easily handle stains and fully dries in under 45 minutes, in addition to featuring an extra-large tank capacity that keeps dirty and clean water completely separate.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Fantastic choice for those looking for a system that quickly dries treated areas, as it can do so in just 45 minutes, with two large capacity water tanks that keep the clean and dirty liquids completely separate.
The Hoover Power Scrub Elite features a powerful motor and antimicrobial spin brushes that rotate at a full 360 degrees, to get deep into the carpet fibers for an extra-thorough cleaning. This vacuum cleaner also comes with proprietary HeatForce technology, which helps clean treated areas in 45 minutes or less. We also loved the large-capacity water tanks (1.25 gallons), which help to keep the clean and dirty liquids absolutely separate as you go about operating the unit.
Though this is a highly effective cleaner on carpeting and rugs, it is not designed to clean harder surface types, such as hardwood floors. Additionally, this is a powerful and somewhat bulky vacuum, clocking in at nearly 20 pounds. For more streamlined options, check out our best cordless vacuum buying guide.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Great option for industrial or commercial use, with an ultra-powerful 6.5 HP motor, a crush-resistant hose, large wheels, and a push handle for easy transport from room to room during intense cleaning sessions.
The Ridgid 50353RID is one of the most powerful wet dry vacs available for purchase, thanks to the durably made 6.5 HP motor that makes short work out of even the most extreme messes. We loved the large wheels and push handle included with this vacuum, making it easy to move from room to room. This wet/dry vac also ships with a number of useful attachments, including a lengthy and crush-resistant hose for quick cleaning. This is a highly regarded device, much like our best ash vacuums.
This is an extremely powerful vacuum intended primarily for industrial and commercial use, and, as such, it is on the noisier side, though the excellent motor more than makes up for it. This is also a fairly large and weighty vacuum, so you’ll have to provide ample storage space. For a smaller model, you might also be interested in the best backpack vacuums.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: High-quality vacuum with some beefy specs, such as a motor that produces an astounding 162 CFM and the capacity to operate as both a blower and an inflator.
This wet and dry vac by Prolux offers a seriously robust feature set for discerning shoppers, including an ultra-powerful motor that can clean up to 162 CFM, which is simply an astounding metric. We loved that this vacuum can also operate as an excellent blower and an inflator, the latter being great for inflating kiddie pools and air mattresses. This vacuum also ships with a multitude of useful attachments and accessories, such as a pair of extension wands, a crevice tool, and an auto detailing tool. This makes it a powerful vacuum, just like our best vacuums for high pile carpets.
This vacuum can be hung on the wall, for easy storage, but assembling the wall mount itself will take some time and a selection of tools. Additionally, this is a somewhat heavy vacuum, at 25 pounds, and does not include wheels for easy transport. It’s a great option for anyone in search of the best shop vac.
Award: BEST SIMPLE OPERATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Design that maximizes simplicity, making it great for average consumers, with easy-to-access controls on the handle and a powerful 3000 RPM dual-action brush roll.
The Bissell CrossWave is built from the ground up to reduce the intimidation factor that occasionally comes with wet and dry vacuums. It features easy-to-use controls on the handle, allowing for easy speed and power adjustments. The dual-tank design helps to keep dirty and clean water absolutely separate, and the 3000 RPM dual-action brush roll makes short work out of caked-in stains and debris. Then once your home is clean, you can move on to cleaning your pool once you learn how a pool vacuum works.
This wet and dry vac does need some cleaning solution in order to effectively operate, and it does not ship with any, which may be a turnoff for some consumers. Also, there is a built-in filtration system here, for trapping potentially harmful particles, but it does not include a genuine HEPA filter. If you’ve got the best air purifier for allergies and dust, it might be fine.
Award: BEST ACCESSORIES
WHY WE LIKE IT: Ships with a multitude of useful attachments and accessories, with a design that can easily be wall-mounted and featuring a powerful 12 amp motor that excels across different surface types.
The Bissell Garage Pro is the best wet dry vacuum for hardwood floors, thanks to shipping with a number of highly useful attachments that include a 32-foot hose, a crevice nozzle, and an automobile kit, in addition to a multi-stage filtration system and a high-powered blower function. We loved that the design allows for easy wall mounting and that the ultra-powerful 12 amp motor excels on the aforementioned hardwood flooring, but also does a great job with carpeting, rugs, linoleum, and other surface types. If you’re a fan of vacuuming with a nozzle, the best canister vacuum for pets can be another great option for you.
This is a heavier-than-average wet/dry vac, however, clocking in at over 30 pounds, could impact portability and transport. To that end, there are no integrated wheels here, which would have streamlined the transportation process. It’s definitely one of the must-have home appliances products for any DIY enthusiast. If you like easy maintenance in a vacuum cleaner, check out some upright bagged vacuum cleaners that make emptying out your dust compartment a breeze.
Award: BEST FILTRATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Ships with a high-grade filtration system that includes a genuine HEPA filter, in addition to a relatively light form factor, an ergonomically designed handle, and the capacity to operate as a powerful blower.
The DeWalt Max DCV581H comes integrated with a whole-machine filtration system that includes a true HEPA filter, so as to best capture up to 99.97 percent of potentially harmful particles, such as bacteria and allergens. We loved the dual-use motor, which can operate as a vacuum and a powerful blower. This wet/dry vac can also operate without the need for a power cord, thanks to a slot to insert a lithium battery.
It must be noted, however, that a battery is not included with the initial purchase, so you’ll have to buy a third-party battery and insert it yourself. Also, this vacuum operates with a 33 CFM rating, so it isn’t the most powerful wet/dry cleaner on the market, though it is more than serviceable. For everyday use, check out our best kitchen vacuum buying guide. If the cordless alternative appeals to you and you’re a pet owner of a very furry friend, the best cordless vacuum for pet hair might be a great option for you.
Award: BEST FOR ANIMAL LOVERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Great choice for pet owners, thanks to a motor design that excels at eliminating animal-related messes, such as pet hair, with a lightweight form factor (6 lb) and a built-in battery for cordless operation.
The Tineco iFLOOR comes equipped to handle even the most time-intensive pet-related messes, thanks to a high-powered motor that excels with both dry and wet accidents. We loved the lightweight and highly maneuverable design that can reach underneath furniture and clean stairs, in addition to the cordless battery-powered design, making this one of, if not the best vacuum for carpeted stairs. This vacuum also boasts a self-cleaning functionality that keeps the brush roll free from tangles and debris.
Though this is an efficient vacuum, it does not ship with too many useful attachments, so you won’t be getting a lengthy hose or a crevice tool with this model. Additionally, the lithium battery cannot be replaced, so if it fails down the line, you’ll have to replace the entire vacuum. If you’re dealing with a lot of pets, you’ll also want to get the best floor cleaner to ensure your floors stay clean and healthy.
Award: BEST VALUE
WHY WE LIKE IT: Value-friendly wet/dry vacuum that can operate without the need for a power cord, thanks to an integrated battery, with a toolbox design for easy transport and storage.
The Milwaukee 0880-20 comes in at a value-conscious price while offering a bevy of high-end features, such as the option to insert a lithium battery that allows this vacuum to operate cordlessly. We loved the toolbox design, which allows for easy storage and transport, and the high-grade filtration system that includes a true HEPA filter, for the purposes of eliminating potentially harmful particles.
Though this vacuum does excel as a cordless cleaner, it does not ship with a battery pack or a charger, so you’ll have to purchase those separately. Also, this is an extremely light vacuum cleaner, at just over two pounds, but the integrated cleaning hose is on the shorter side. For additional value options, check out our best vacuums for elderly consumers buying guide.
Award: BEST LARGE CAPACITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: Features a generous 14-gallon storage capacity, with a flexible dual-locking hose, for stability, and an efficient cart design that allows for easy transport during lengthy cleaning sessions.
The Workshop WS1400CA is a fantastic option for commercial or industrial spaces, thanks to its generous 14-gallon storage capacity and powerful 6 HP motor. We loved the flexible dual-locking hose, which is lengthy and adds stability to the cleaning process, and the efficient cart design for easy transportation from room to room. This is also a relatively quiet vacuum, even on its highest power and speed settings.
Though the wheels and cart design make for easy transport, this is a corded vacuum, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the power outlet before moving from room to room. Additionally, this is a heavy cleaner, at over 30 pounds, so it could be frustrating to clean stairs and the like, though the best cleaning cloths can do the trick.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: Budget-conscious wet/dry vac with a robust feature set that includes the capacity to operate as a powerful blower and a high-grade debris tank made from ultra-durable polypropylene.
This Armor All AA255 wet/dry vacuum comes in at a budget-friendly price while offering features in line with more expensive competitors, such as the ability to also operate as a powerful blower, for the purposes of debris dispersal. We loved the onboard accessory storage compartments, which make for a convenient way to store attachments, and the durable debris tank, which is made from high-grade polypropylene.
This is a corded vacuum, however, and the included power cable is on the shorter side, coming in at just ten feet. Also, the 2 horsepower motor will not offer the most powerful suction ability on the market, though it is a decent enough metric. And for complete hands-off functionality, have you considered the best robot vacuums or high-end robot mops?
To help narrow down the above list, we took great care to ensure the motor and cleaning head systems were on point, offering plenty of suction power and peak horsepower for both wet and dry messes. To that end, we liked motors with plenty of horsepower and those that excelled at cleaning a wide variety of flooring types, such as hardwood floors, carpeting, rugs, and linoleum. Moreover, you’ll find more such options in our list of the best multi-surface vacuums.
We liked industrial-grade vacuums that were made with durable and long-lasting components, such as rubber and polypropylene. We also awarded bonus points to vacuum cleaners that could also operate as a powerful blower and an inflator, both functionalities being extremely useful for blowing away leaves and inflating kiddie pools, as two examples. Having a variety of uses is good to consider if you’re in the market for buying a vacuum.
Filtration was an important concern here, especially when it comes to dry messes. We liked vacuums with integrated whole-machine filtration systems that were often complemented by a genuine HEPA filter. Finally, we liked vacuum cleaners that shipped with a multitude of useful attachments and accessories, including lengthy hoses, swivel casters, crevice tools, dust brushes, extension wands, and more.
Wet/Dry vacuums are vacuum cleaners that can clean up wet messes as well as dry spills, dust, and dirt. Wet dry vacs come in a wide range of sizes, from large canister models suited to heavy-duty cleanup at construction sites to battery-powered portable wet dry vacuums similar in size to a regular cordless vacuum.
The best wet vacuum for home use depends on the size of the space and the types of surfaces and cleaning tasks. Larger wet dry vacs can weigh 35 pounds or more and use caster wheels for mobility. Compact wet/dry vacs are about the same size as a regular upright canister vacuum. Wet and dry vacs can use a plug-in or battery power. Cordless wet dry vacuum models tend to be smaller and specialized for quick cleaning projects and spot cleaning
Wet Dry Vacs are similar to any other type of vacuum in that they use a motor to generate suction and pull dust and dirt off of surfaces and upholstery. If you need to clean thick rugs, though, you’ll need a vacuum for a high-pile carpet. Of course, as the name implies, a wet-dry vac or wet/dry vacuum can pick up wet debris and wet spills.
Compared to a regular upright or handheld vacuum, wet/dry vacuums tend to be larger and heavier. They have specialized nozzles for liquid spills and one or more dry suction nozzles or flexible hoses.
Unlike typical household dry vacuums, wet and dry vacs usually work mainly through a large flexible hose. They may or may not include brushes and rollers, and they tend to work just as well on hard surfaces and concrete floor types as on carpets and upholstery.
Wet dry vacs can also have larger capacity canisters to handle large dry debris such as wood chips and shavings. A compact wet/dry vacuum will likely have a larger motor and more powerful suction than a typical dry upright model.
Wet and dry vacs use more power than dry-only models due to the greater suction needed to pull up liquid spills and wet messes. Larger vacuums typically have a 2-horsepower motor to a 6.5-horsepower motor or more.
Unlike other types of vacuum, wet and dry vacs often have a blower nozzle or blower port. This is helpful for outdoor cleanup and dry messes such as potting soil or wood shavings. Some models have specialized modes for cleaning up challenging substances like drywall dust, making them an excellent vacuum for ashes. Depending on the dust and debris involved, wearing a respirator or N95 mask and eye protection might be advisable when using the blower function. Regarding outdoor cleanup, you can also opt for a top-rated leaf vacuum alongside a wet/dry vac to pick up that outdoor debris. If you need to clean specific outdoor areas like a pond, there are pond vacuums, or there are tutorials on how to create a pond vacuum DIY.
In principle, wet-dry vacs work like other vacuum cleaners. A motor turns the vanes of an air pump that generates suction, and the suction picks up dirt, debris, and messes through a variety of nozzles and attachments. Wet dry vacuums usually use intake and outlet port filters to prevent dirt and grime from clogging the motor and keep dust and particles from aerosolizing during the cleanup process.
Wet/dry vacs use a second wet canister and wet filter for pulling up liquids and wet debris. The design of the wet suction pathway allows dirty water to pass through into a canister or tank. Tank capacity varies among different types of wet and dry vacuums. Medium-sized models tend to have a built-in 5-gallon container. At the same time, it’s not uncommon to see a large, 16-gallon wet dry vacuum for applications where you might need a larger liquid capacity.
Wet/dry vacs usually have a drain port to empty the dirty water without removing the debris canister.
Most wet-dry models use electric motors that draw power from an AC electrical socket or a battery pack like standard vacuums. Cordless wet dry vacuum models tend to be much smaller and have limited battery life and run time due to the high power demands of wet and dry cleanup. A modern portable wet dry vacuum will generally use a 20-volt to a 48-volt or 8-12 amp-hour rechargeable battery pack and be able to provide ten to fifteen minutes of run time on a single charge.
A new wet dry vac can be a convenient way to speed up the cleaning process for many household needs. Plus, the right wet and dry vac models can double as garage and outdoor cleaning tools, potentially providing a two-in-one solution for home improvement projects and routine cleanup.
If you have pets such as younger puppies or kittens, you may want to consider a wet-dry vac to speed up the cleaning process around the litter box or house training areas. Household wet and dry vacuums are also well-suited to kids’ play areas and nursery rooms.
You might also want to consider a new wet dry vacuum if you often work on DIY projects involving woodworking, drywall, or ceramics. Newer wet dry vac models can effectively handle wood chips, muddy water, and tile dust on the garage floor. This makes it easier to clean up debris and helps reduce the number of dust particles and potential allergens in the air.
If you or anyone in your household experiences asthma or an autoimmune condition, you may want to make sure to look for a wet dry vac with a dust extractor featuring a true HEPA filter, which can reduce the number of aerosolized particles by as much as 99.9 percent.
The latest portable wet and dry vacs can deliver impressive suction with over 50 CFM of air movement, enough to rival some plug-in models. Compared to older wet dry vacs, new models offer more versatility and improved filtration efficiency, along with new convenience features such as semi-automatic filter cleaning and smart power-saving modes. Cordless wet dry vacs benefit from recent advances in battery life and battery power management.
Wet dry vacuums last about as long as regular vacuum cleaners, with larger capacity models, generally designed for rugged durability and long-term reliability. According to EPA life cycle analysis estimates, household vacuum cleaners last around 6-8 years.
Cordless battery-powered models may not last as long, depending on the lifespan of battery packs and whether the batteries are replaceable. Other vacuum components such as motors, hoses, power switches, and fans tend to be relatively durable.
Wet and dry vacs, like other vacuum cleaners, do require periodic maintenance. Changing the filter and exhaust filters at the recommended intervals or whenever they get dirty, for example, helps keep the motor and fans in good condition. Users may need to clean the wet canister periodically and replace the dust bag on large wet and dry vacuums.
Along with maintenance, factors that affect the lifespan of a wet dry vac include heat, humidity, and run time. Heat and electrical issues can speed up wear-and-tear on battery-powered models. Charging the battery in a hot environment or using a higher-wattage fast charger generally results in shorter battery life.
Various factors can help you choose the best wet dry vacuum cleaner for your cleaning needs. What makes the best wet carpet cleaner will depend on the cleaning tasks you need it to perform, your floor types and surfaces, and how much storage space you’re willing to let a vacuum take up.
The right wet dry vac may depend on whether you need a portable wet dry vacuum for your car or truck and clean floors in different rooms around the house. If you need portability, you might want to consider a compact model that you can easily carry around. Look to a battery-powered unit with compact size and built-in accessory storage for the most portable wet dry vac options.
Corded wet dry vacs tend to be larger and more capable of heavy cleaning tasks in the garage and outdoors. Some models may offer specialized cleaning options for muddy water, concrete dust, drywall dust, or broken glass. Others offer versatile attachment options suited to pet hair cleanup and spot cleaning on carpeting.
A 6.5 HP wet/dry vacuum can move a lot of air — larger models reach up to 180 CFM (cubic feet per minute), but that can involve a lot of noise. A wet dry vac tends to be noisier than a regular vacuum on its highest power setting. Some models, however, offer low-noise modes.
Filtration is another key consideration when it comes to wet dry vacs. Especially if you have allergies or other respiratory conditions, you’ll want to make sure to get a wet and dry vacuum that offers excellent filtration with a true-HEPA filter.