Wet Dry Vac Reviews

Vacuum

We spent over 28 hours testing and researching 10 different types of wet/dry vacs and found that capacity, overall weight of the unit, and hose length were most important. The Shop-Vac wet dry vacuum scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. The 6.5 horsepower motor was powerful and the 12 gallon capacity gave us plenty of room to tackle bigger jobs without having to constantly stop and empty the canister. The tank is rust and dent resistant. The 8 foot hose, 18 foot power cord, and extension wands made it simple to reach even the hard-to-reach areas.

Best Wet Dry Vac

maxwoodworkingWet Dry Vacs are not just for flooded and wet areas, even though they are great for those types of situations. The handy vacuums can be used in the garage, outside and in the house for a multitude of jobs. Break a window? A wet dry vac can make quick work of all the broken glass around no matter where it is. There are many different brands and styles of wet dry vacs on the market today. We’ve done tons of research and have spoken with professionals who use these vacuums regularly and have put everything we found into this review so the information can be used to help you choose the best wet dry vac for your needs.

We know that going from site to site, trying to find out which model is the best and why can be really frustrating so we’ve done all the legwork for you. We have listed the three of the top wet dry vacs on the market that are in the top 10 on review sites and we go into detail for you so you know why they are so popular and what they can do for you.

Our goal is to make finding and choosing the right wet dry vac for you as easy and efficient as possible. By having the right information at your fingertips you will find the one that will be perfect for the tasks you need it for. Read below to learn more about these helpful vacuums and how to choose the right one that you will be happy with.

Top 10 Wet Dry Vacs

RankPictureVacuumHorsepowerCapacity
(Gallons)
1
Shop-Vac 3400
6.5012.00
2
Vacmaster 1210
5.0012.00
3
Vacmaster 408
5.004.00
4
Shop-Vac 6000
4.505.00
5
ArmorAll
2.002.50
6
Dewalt
0.250.25
7
Shop-Vac 600
3.003.00
8Vacmaster3.003.00
9
Shop-Vac 1000
1.001.00
10
Vacmaster 607
3.003.00

Best Overall Wet Dry Vac

Shop-Vac 9633400 Review

The Shop Vac 9633400 is perfect for wet pickup and dry pickup too. Whether you’re cleaning up water in the basement or cleaning out your vehicles, you’ll love the 12-gallon capacity and 6.5 HP motor that has a super quiet housing.

The handle on top makes for easy carrying and the onboard cord wrap and accessory holder keeps all of the great accessories together and in one place. 

The rugged tank is made of durable, heavy-duty plastic and won’t rust or dent.  You’ll be able to take care of a lot of cleanup with all of the accessories the Shop Vac 9633400 comes with. 

You’ll have an 8’ x 1 – ¼” LockOn Hose, two 2 1/2” extension wands, a 14” wet/dry nozzle, crevice tool, gulper nozzle. It also has the cartridge filter with retainer and a disposable filter bag

The 18ft power cord and side handles make for easy use.  You’ll love the convenience of having a wet/dry vac that can handle any kind of clean up job you need to do.

Vacmaster VBV1210 Review

The Vacmaster VBV1210 is two great tools in one; a wet/dry vac AND a 210 HP leaf blower and it converts from one to the other with the push of a button.

No need to worry about latches and locks to go from one tool function to the other. The large 12 gallon tank with an extra large drain makes filling and emptying fast and easy.

There is onboard storage for the 8 handy accessories that work for the blower and the vac functions.  The power cord is a long 12 feet, making it much easier to move around a bit more than some of the other models that have 6 or 8 ft cords.

Keep things organized and neat with the cord wrap accessory storage right on the tool itself.  Keeps dust out of the on/off switch by having it sealed which prevents any dust or dirt from getting into the switch and causing issues.

Best Budget Wet Dry Vac

VacMasterVF408 Review

The 2-stage industrial motor that this great wet/dry vac has makes it quieter, provide great suction and also last longer than many others.

Both lightweight and portable, it has many features that make is a customer favorite such as the automatic cord rewind, the triple filtration and the extra long 18 foot cord.

The Vacmaster VF408 has a 4 gallon tank and onboard accessory storage to keep things organized.  The HEPA filter and dust bag contain the dust, preventing it from flowing back out into the room you’re working on cleaning. The large rear wheels make maneuvering much easier for the user.

Summary

Once you have used a wet dry vac you won’t want to be without one ever again. The multitude of uses they have and the powerful cleaning ability you will have when you have one make them highly appealing, especially for anyone who does a lot of work in their garage, such as woodworking or any other type of building. When you start shopping for your own, be sure to check them out thoroughly and know ahead of time what you will be doing with your vacuum. If it’s just for once in awhile, you can use a lesser grade one that is not as commercial ready, but if you’ll be using it often for projects and constant cleanup, than a more expensive model might be what you need.

Wet Dry Vac Comparison Chart


Shop-Vac
3400
View

Vacmaster
1210
View

VacMaster 408
View

Shop-Vac
6000
View

ArmorAll
View

DEWALT
View

Shop-Vac
600
View

Vacmaster
507
View

Shop-Vac
1000
View

Vacmaster
607
View
Air Volume
(CFM)
385.00133.0063.00175.00110.0033.55140.00223.0098.0065.00
Amperage12.0010.508.0012.009.008.008.207.006.007.00
Weight
(Pounds)
29.0021.0017.2014.808.4011.0619.008.907.0015.10
Capacity
(Gallons)
12.0012.004.005.002.502.006.005.001.006.00
Cord Length
(Feet)
181218610568612
Horsepower6.505.005.004.502.000.253.003.001.003.00
Hose
Diameter
(Inches)
2.502.501.251.251.251.251.251.251.251.25
Hose
Length
(Feet)
8777658647
Housing
Material
Poly PropylenePoly PropylenePoly PropyleneStainless SteelPoly PropylenePoly PropylenePoly PropylenePoly PropylenePoly PropyleneStainless Steel
Wands2222113302
Sealed / Static Pressure
(Inches)
60201010201057401510
Filtration Type Bag & Cartridge Cartridge Cartridge Cartridge Cloth Washable

Cartridge

Cloth Foam & Disc

Cartridge

Dimensions
(Inches)
18.20 x 22.80 x 18.2024.10 x 18.20 x 18.0017.00 x 13.00 x 17.0013.50 x 13.50 x 19.5014.20 x 10.60 x 14.4017.20 x 12.30 x 13.1014.00 x 14.00 x 21.0019.00 x 13.00 x 13.0010.20 x 10.20 x 11.0014.60 x 13.00 x 20.00

Warranty
(Years)

4223233222

 

Wet Dry Vac Buying Guide

Wet Dry Vac Reviews

What is a Wet Dry Vac?

A wet dry vac is a heavy duty vacuum cleaner that is primarily used in garages and workshops and can vacuum up both wet messes and dry messes of any kind. They are also called shop vacs. They are extremely handy when you have a water problem in your basement or for heavy cleanup in the shop such as saw dust. They are much more sturdy than regular vacuum cleaners and for anyone who works in a garage or workshop with any regularity, they will make clean up of any kind much easier and more efficient, without worry of ruining a regular household vacuum.

Sometimes people use them as regular vacuums and they do a great job cleaning up things like pet hair and dust, but they tend to be louder than regular vacuums, as well as bulkier, which is why they are not a favored choice for general household use. They are perfect for cleaning up broken glass though and any floods that your house may encounter due to bathroom overflows or appliance malfunctions such as washers, refrigerators and hot water heaters.

History of the Vacuum

Wet Dry Vac 1The first style of wet dry vac came onto the scene in the late 50s and it resembled the floor steamers or Swiffer wet jets of today. The user filled the removable canister with water and cleaner and then could “vacuum” their floors. The vacuum would lay down a layer of water and cleaner that with the switch of a button the vacuum would then suck back up and steam dry the floor at the same time. This vacuum could also be used to suck up liquid messes as well.

As with many companies that mimic each other, many different manufacturers came out with their own version of the wet dry vac and over the years the models have been improved upon and updated to where they are today. Electrolux, Rexair, Shelton and others all have had wet dry versions of their vacuums.

The wet dry vacs of today do not lay down water and cleaner but they do suck up liquid messes easily, sucking it up through a hose and getting rid of the need for having to use all your household towels to clean up a big wet mess. Because appliances can break and flood and sinks and toilets can overflow, the invention of the wet dry vac was a welcome one and is still a much needed piece of equipment in many homes and shops today.

Choosing the Right Vacuum

When it comes to buying a wet dry vac it is important to get the right one that will fit your needs.  You will want to consider a few things when you start your search that can help ensure you get the right one that will do what you need it to.  Before you get started know what you need. Below we’ve outlined a few questions to help you narrow your search.

  • How often are you going to use your wet dry vac?
  • What types of jobs will you need it for?
  • What size and capacity do you think you’ll need now and in the future?
  • Where will the wet dry vac be stored when you’re not using it?
  • Are there any special features or accessories you need or want?

The answers to these questions will help you weed out wet dry vacs that don’t fit into your specifications.  Once you know what you’re looking for, your search becomes much easier.  They are not just for garages and shops anymore and despite their size and sometimes loud noise, people love their clean up ability and bringing them indoors to use as well.

Sizes

There are several different sizes of wet dry vacs and the sizes are pretty standard:

  • Mini
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large

In general what you will be giving up as you go down in size is capacity and performance. On the other hand, you will gain easier storage capacity and lighter weight by going smaller. Again it will depend on what you’ll be using your wet dry vac for and how often.  If you’re going to use it often for large clean up jobs, getting a small or a mini sized wet dry vac will just be an exercise in frustration.  On the flip side of that, if you only use it for small kitchen cleanups, having to lug a huge wet dry vac out to clean up a glass of spilled milk will be a waste of time and energy.  It is for this reason that matching the size you get to the size of the jobs is so important.

Consider Power and Capacity

Different styles of shop vacs can do different sized jobs.  Below the different styles of tasks are outlined along with some specs that will match these jobs much better.  You don’t want to overbuy any more than you want to under buy, so knowing ahead of time what specifications match the style of job can help guide you in the right direction.

Light-Duty Jobs –  If you’ll be using your wet dry vac for mostly small tasks and light household chores, find a low capacity model that can hold anywhere from 2-6 gallons. Your ideal horsepower will be in the 1-4 ½ HP range.  The benefit to these small capacity styles is that they are typically very compact and lightweight.  This makes storing them a breeze and getting them out for a quick cleanup very easy.  They even have small, cordless versions that give users handheld convenience that is perfect for your vehicles and recreational vehicles.  Other styles are mounted on rolling wheels (casters) to make pulling around the room much easier.  Use the small capacity styles for:

  • Cleaning small work areas
  • Cleaning up wet and dry spills around the house
  • Cleaning up debris a normal vacuum can’t handle such as small pieces of glass
  • Great for apartments

Medium-Duty jobs – These medium sized models usually hold anywhere from 8-14 gallons. These are great for around the house, garage or workshop.  Good performance can be expected from the 5 to 6 HP most of them provide.  Suction is typically very good on these styles as well.  Some of the medium units can be switched to a blower for easier lawn cleanup after mowing and they’re great for inflating air mattresses, beach balls, sports balls of any kind and even bike tires.  This middle of the road size can handle:

  • Anything from fine dust to larger debris
  • Great size for household, basement, garage and workshop
  • Great for garden cleanup as well as household tasks
  • Most can convert to a blower for additional uses

Heavy –Duty Jobs – Commercial uses for wet dry vacs are another matter entirely and they involve the need for a much larger capacity as well as a more powerful motor and performance capability.  You will want to look for models that are at least 6 hp and the hold capacity should be 14-18 gallons or more.  These size wet dry vacs are great for industrial cleaning, busy garages and shops and professional cleaning businesses.  These are the size models that most restoration companies use when they are going to homes or businesses and providing restoration from flooding and other accidents.  With vacs this size, they will be mounted on large wheels/casters or even a cart which makes them much easier to move around as needed.  The tasks that these large units are best for are:

  • Commercial cleaning of offices, warehouses, banks
  • Busy mechanical workshops, garages, and jobsites
  • Great for sucking up large, heavy debris and other large materials including glass

Common Features

Wet Dry Vac 2Quiet Operation – The newer models of wet dry vacs don’t require ear protection anymore thank goodness. With new motor technologies and quieter operation that doesn’t sacrifice anything you still get great airflow and strong suction without having to hurt your ears to do it.

Filters – filters are important for trapping dirt, dust and other debris and keeping it from being put right back into the air.  For anyone who has asthma or allergies, this can be horrible to deal with and actually cause problems.  The new HEPA filters that many units come with harness more than 99% of the dust mites, pollen and other allergens that can cause issues for those sensitive to it.  This means the air around you is irritant- free and cleaner as well.  There are some filters that have antimicrobial treatments as well that will prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew as well as other harmful substances that can cause health problems.  AS a general rule, the more stages available in the filtration system the more control you will have for maximizing performance with many different debris types.  Please note: without specialized specific filtering systems, and other safety measures taken, wet dry vacs should never be used to vacuum up asbestos debris ever.

On-Board Tool Storage – Onboard tool storage means that the tools and accessories that the unit uses are stored on the unit somewhere; either in special holders or in a compartment of some kind. The benefit to this is that it prevents things from getting lost as easily and the accessories and tools are right there when you need them, rather than having to trek back to wherever the tools and accessories are if there is not onboard storage.

Portability – smaller capacity units that have a high-end motor can deliver the same quality of cleaning that a larger unit does without the difficulty in mobility and portability. For lighter jobs, these smaller units are terrific.

Storage – Storage can be an issue when you have a smaller space to work with.  Features such as wall mounts and other storage features can help you store your unit without sacrificing space.  The units also often feature higher hp ratings and a smaller hold capacity that can handle heavy-duty performance in tighter spaces.

Cleanup – When you’ve just spent time cleaning up a big mess, you don’t want to have to have a bigger mess cleaning up your wet dry vac.  Larger capacity units are not as mobile as their smaller counterparts, so try to find styles that offer easy ways to empty the liquid that you’ve soaked up such as built in spouts or drains so you don’t have to lift out heavy containers or lift the whole unit to empty it.  Some units may have a pump or allow to have a pump added that will take a garden hose attachment. This will suck the water right out.

Wider Hoses – Wet dry vacs that have wider hoses tend to get clogged a lot less than those with smaller hoses.  Look for a model that has a 2 ½” hose at the very least to have much smoother cleanup sessions with less clogging and issues.

Extension Wands – These handy accessories eliminate the need for bending and climbing. These wands can get into hard to reach corners, under tables and counters and do ceilings and upper window ledges beautifully.

Dual-swivel hose fittings – These are fittings that go at each end of the hose and prevent kinking of the hose during use.  Some units only have one swivel fitting, so look for the ones that offer the dual for added protection against annoying kinks.

Dust bag around the filter –  A dust bag is used to keep the inside of the vac clean and It also makes switching from dry to wet clean up much easier.  Another benefit to this is that it helps the filter last longer and you’ll have more suction as well.  Some models automatically come with a dust bag and others have it as an optional add-on.  There’s not really a need to spend a lot on dust bags though, the standard ones work just as well to hold bolts, screws and other debris while maintaining a good suction.

Popular Accessories

There are many accessories that you can buy for your wet dry vac that will make it even more valuable when it comes to cleaning your garage, workshop, jobsite and home. These accessories are all optional and some may come with your shop vac when you buy it, but others can be added on.  Most accessories come in 1 ¼”, 1 ½” and 2 ½” sizes.   These accessories and filters should never be used for any kind of hazardous material pickup.

1 ¼” Accessories

  • Nozzles
  • Squeegees
  • Extension wands
  • Round brush
  • Multi-purpose nozzle
  • Crevice tool
  • Rug shoe
  • Brush shoe
  • Dog grooming tool
  • Upholstery nozzle
  • Locking hose kit
  • Drain hero
  • Car cleaning kit
  • Wet/dry cleaning kit
  • Micro cleaning kit
  • Heavy-duty floor carpet cleaning kit
  • Different size hoses

1 ½” Accessories

  • Round brush
  • Crevice tool
  • Utility nozzle
  • Master nozzle
  • Squeegee shoe
  • Brush shoe
  • Rug shoe
  • Curved Elbow grip
  • Adapter
  • Extension wands
  • Crush resistant hose
  • Car cleaning kit
  • Accessory kit

2 ½” Accessories

  • Flange ferrule
  • Utility nozzle
  • Crevice tool
  • Right angle brush
  • Floor nozzle with squeegee
  • Brush shoe
  • Squeegee shoe
  • Extension wands
  • Elbow grip
  • Handle grip
  • Bulk dry pick up kit
  • Locking hose kit
  • Lock on hose
  • Universal tool adapter
  • 2 ½ to 1 ½ converter
  • 2 ½” to 1 ¼ converter

Portable Vac Accessories

  • Wall bracket
  • Tool holder
  • Different size hoses
  • Micro cleaning kit

Blower Vac Accessories

  • 2 ½” Utility blower nozzle
  • 2 ½” blower concentrator

Misc Accessories

  • Water drainage kit
  • Air inflator nozzle
  • Claw utility nozzle
  • Gutter cleaning kit
  • Dustless hand sander
  • Sawdust collection system

Onboard Storage Accessories

  • Tool basket for 11 ¼” tanks
  • Tool basket for 14” tanks
  • Tool basket for 16” tanks
  • Tool holder for different size vacs
  • Accessory basket for different sized vacs

Filters for Dry Pick up

  • For fine dust and powders – E, F, G and P
  • For drywall dust, cement dust, cold ashes and other fine dust – H, J, I and Q
  • All Around Collection Bags – A, B, C and D
  • Large debris and dry material – EE, FF, T/S, and GG
  • Small debris and dry material – cartridge filters in different sizes, reusable cloth filter
  • Specialty Vac Filters

Filters for Wet Pick up

  • Large quantity pickup Foam sleeves
  • Small quantity pickup cartridge filters

Safety

Wet Dry Vac 3There are some important safety factors to consider when operating a wet dry vac. As with any electrical tool, you need to use caution when performing cleanup and children should not be allowed to operate them unsupervised. We have outlined several safety tips below.

Connection – Since you will use your wet dry vac to suck up wet messes at times, it is important that you pay attention to a few important things that can keep you from getting an electrical shock.  Make sure that the vac is plugged into a grounded receptacle or grounded adapter.  Don’t use torn filters and never operate the wet dry vac if the motor housing is immersed in water. In addition don’t operate it outside in the rain and make sure your hands are completely dry.  Many people think that because it can soak up water that it is safe to use in all water conditions but this is not true and you can get a nasty electrical shock by using it in conditions you shouldn’t.

What is Safe to Pick up – Wet dry vacs are designed to pick up dust, plaster, sawdust and wet messes such as water and beverage spills.  NEVER vacuum flammable, toxic, smoldering, burning or explosive materials. These will include things such as:

It is also not advisable to vacuum up sharp objects s they may puncture the hose or damage the filter.  If the glass pieces are small enough, it should be fine, but larger sharp pieces should be carefully picked up using heavy gloves and disposed of properly.

Never use a wet dry vac to vacuum up asbestos.  This is a hazardous material that can produce toxic dust that is very dangerous to your health. Asbestos must be disposed of in a very specific way and should really be saved for professionals who know how to dispose of it safely.

Regular Service and Maintenance – Most units will come with a warranty and will stipulate that the unit must be serviced through an authorized service center.  It is important that you abide by these stipulations to keep your warranty intact.  Never use your wet dry vac if it is acting up.  If you are servicing the vac yourself, be certain that it is unplugged and that you are familiar with what you’re doing. Please note: servicing a wet dry vac on your own when it is under warranty can void your warranty so be certain this is allowed before you attempt it.

Check all hoses and cords before use for cracks, holes, frayed cords, etc.  Never use a wet dry vacuum with a cord that has nicks or frayed spots in it.  This can cause an electric shock or even a fire.  You can keep your unit in good running order by having it serviced regularly, keeping it clean after usage, using the cord wrap or automatic cord retraction to keep the cord from being out where it can get damaged and by not leaving it out in the elements.  Have a designated spot to store it where it will be dry and protected from being played with by children, chewed on by rodents or pets and affected by rain or dampness.

Conclusion

Buying a wet dry vac can be an exciting purchase. They are favored tools in most workshops for the easy cleanup and convenience they provide. Follow the tips and information in this guide can help you choose the right vacuum for your needs as well as help you with choosing the right accessories and keeping it in great working order as well. It’s a purchase you can have for a long time when it is taken care of properly and care is taken to buy a wet dry vac that will be durable and long lasting.

Resources

  1. Shop Vac 9650600 – http://ecx.images-amazon.com/
  2. VacmasterVBV1210http://i.ytimg.com/
  3. Vacmaster VF408 – http://cache.air-n-water.com/