As seen in:
VacuMaid
Professional Wall Mounted
Vacmaster
Detachable Blower
Shop-Vac
5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP
Craftsman
6 Gallon
ArmorAll
2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP
Check Price
Check Price
Check Price
Check Price
Check Price
Good

Superior to other models in almost every dimension. 740-watt suction power. HEPA bag reduces the amount of dust released into the air.

Electric motor (5 hp) generates significant wind and suction. Includes detachable blower.

Stainless steel. Appealing warranty. Collection bag minimizes mess.

Portable, stable product from a reputable company. Low price.

Lightweight with versatile attachments. Designed primarily for car use. Automatic shutoff prevents over-filling.

Bad

HEPA bag is expensive and must occasionally be replaced.

12-foot power cord may necessitate an extension for the blower.

Noisy operation. Some owners had difficulty finding accessories to fit the 1.25-inch hose.

Shorter cord and lower hp than some competitors. Very few included attachments.

Motor (2 hp) is weaker than some competitors.

Bottom Line

A commercial-grade unit with centralized wall mounting. By far the best wet/dry vacuum on the market.

Buyers get a powerful shop vac and detachable blower. The best value for those who want quality on a budget.

A durable shop vac from a reputable company. Especially suited for indoor use.

A bare-bones package that is designed for small and medium-sized jobs.

Best for car maintenance and smaller jobs that require focused, intense suction.

How we decide
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
0
Products received from manufacturers
68
Models Considered
48
Hours Spent
2
Experts Interviewed
218
Consumers Consulted

Best Wet/Dry Vacuums‎

Many people turn to wet/dry vacuums when a household or workplace spill contains both liquid and solid materials. Some wet/dry vacuums even incorporate a blower function for other maintenance needs. A quality wet/dry vacuum, sometimes called a "shop vac," can provide enough cleaning power to handle large or small accidents around the house or workplace. We analyzed dozens of wet/dry vacuums and compiled a shortlist of the five top contenders.

Products we Considered

VacuMaid
Professional Wall Mounted
Vacmaster
Detachable Blower
Shop-Vac
5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP
Craftsman
6 Gallon
ArmorAll
2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP

Considerations

Construction

In this section, we take a look at what each wet/dry vac is made of. Some wet/dry vacuum cleaners feature canisters made from heavy-gauge steel. Others use industrial-strength plastic or other lightweight material. Portability is another important design consideration, as is ease of maintenance. We give bonus points to models that address noise issues and environmental concerns. Versatility and easy storage also factored into our top contender considerations.

Power and Performance

Wet/dry vacuums are often called in to perform heavy-duty cleaning jobs. As such, a vacuum's motor size and suction power are serious considerations. Some wet/dry vacuums are better at handling either a wet or a dry task -- but not both. The best wet/dry vacs handle both types of spills equally well. We especially like units that make the transition between wet and dry jobs easier for users.

Additional Features/Attachments

A good wet/dry vacuuming system should include some useful attachments for specialized cleaning. Extension wands are always a good idea, as are crevice tools and upholstery brushes. Convenient on-board storage for these attachments/extensions is a definite plus. In this section of our ratings, we also note additional features such as blower ports and collection bags.

Price

A good rule of thumb when shopping for a wet/dry vacuum is to buy only as much capacity and power as you need. All five contenders are capable of cleaning up both liquid and solid spills when the need arises. The differences in price boil down to capacity, power, and attachments. The cost of replacement filters and other maintenance issues are also important elements to think about.

Considerations

Construction

VacuMaid GV50PRO Professional Wall Mounted Utility Vacuum

The VacuMaid GV50Pro is designed to compete with wall-mounted, centralized vacuum cleaners -- not the wet/dry shop vacs commonly found in garages and workshops. We like the generous steel construction of the seven-gallon canister. The protective finish has a powdered gun metal appearance and is exceptionally durable. There are some plastic parts (primarily the hose and port connections), but these are not prone to cracking. Owners like the fact that the noise generated during operation is quite low, especially compared to the many noisy vacs on today's market that make conversations impossible.

Vacmaster VBV1210 Detachable Blower Wet/Dry Vacuum

Constructed from industrial-strength polypropylene, the Vacmaster VBV1210 wet/dry vacuum's canister can hold up to 12 gallons of wet or dry debris and can be drained quickly when necessary. Although promoted as a wet/dry vacuum, we would also categorize the Vacmaster as an exceptionally good detachable blower. The unit's seven-foot hose attachment has a generous 2.5- inch diameter which helps reduce clogging during heavy cleaning sessions. Some users report dissatisfaction with the hose's flexibility and non-standard interior diameter. Most owners find the Vacmaster to be very quiet during use, but they also note that removing the sound-dampening foam may improve overall performance.

Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

The Shop-Vac 5986000 wet/dry vacuum features a stainless steel canister tank. Owners find this especially useful when tackling water removal jobs. The 4.5-hp motor delivers significant suction and blowing power, but it can be a bit noisy during operation. The unit includes a collection bag that reduces the amount of dust discharged into the air between the motor and the exhaust/blower port. This bag makes the Shop-Vac especially suitable for indoor use.

Craftsman 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

The portable Craftsman 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac, found in many households and workplaces, is designed primarily for small to medium jobs. The unit's motor is rated at 3 hp (peak), which may sound anemic compared to other contenders, but it is still powerful enough to provide strong suction. Few users complain about its ability to pick up dry debris or draw water. The six-gallon collection tank is constructed from rugged plastic. Unlike some other wet/dry vacuums, the Craftsman does not require a liner bag. (Some users prefer this!) At seven feet, the power cord is a bit short, but two extension wands will create a 10-foot reach if necessary.

ArmorAll AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

The ArmorAll AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum is primarily designed for vehicle maintenance, which is not surprising considering ArmorAll's main consumer line is car care products. Unlike other top wet/dry vacuums contenders, the ArmorAll AA255 does not have caster wheels for easy transportation to the accident site. Rather, it is lightweight enough to be carried by hand. (The polypropylene tank is a manageable 2.5 gallons.) The unit's motor may only be rated at 2 hp, but many satisfied owners report that it has the suction power of an industrial car wash vacuum. It comes with a reusable cloth filter for dry vacuuming jobs and a foam filter for wet jobs. Unfortunately, it does not have a cigarette lighter plug -- just a ten-foot AC power cord. Owners may wish to invest in an extension cord for maximum benefit.

Although promoted as a wet/dry vacuum, the versatile Vacmaster could also be categorized as an exceptionally good detachable blower.
Considerations

Power and Performance

VacuMaid GV50PRO Professional Wall Mounted Utility Vacuum

Many professionals consider suction power to be the most important measure of vacuum cleaner performance. The VacuMaid GV50PRO's 15-amp motor delivers an impressive 740 air watts of suction power. The VacuMaid can handle just about any kind of dry spill in the home and workplace. Some professionals have noted difficulties with finely grained debris such as sawdust and metal filings; these challenges are common for many wet/dry vacuum systems. The unit's 50-foot hose can be shortened if increased performance becomes necessary.

Vacmaster VBV1210 Detachable Blower Wet/Dry Vacuum

The Vacmaster VBV1210's 5-hp electric motor generates a significant amount of suction and blowing power. When used as a detached blower, the unit can generate wind speeds of up to 210 miles per hour. This same motor is responsible for creating enough suction to handle most household and workshop spills. Some users do report concerns about overall suction power, especially during wet clean-up jobs, but other users have found that removing the sound-reducing foam improves performance significantly. The unit includes a filter cartridge for dry operations, but we recommend placing a sock or other filter over the blower/exhaust port to reduce blow-back of fine dust particles.

Because Shop-Vac's 4.5 Peak HP vac generates power comparable to larger Shop-Vac models, many satisfied owners have chosen to "downsize" to the 5986000 when replacing their larger units. The exhaust port doubles as an on-board blower and provides satisfactory power for typical blower jobs such as leaf removal and heavy-duty dusting. The Shop-Vac's hose diameter, at just 1.25 inches, improves suction power but also increases the chances of larger debris getting stuck before reaching the tank. We wish the power cord were longer than six feet, but a properly rated extension cord would certainly address that issue.

The Craftsman's 3-hp electric motor may not sound as robust as others, but it does deliver strong suction power. The exhaust port can also be used as a blower when the hose configuration is changed. This on-board blower is powerful enough to clear out debris from a work area or remove dry leaves from a driveway, but it may be of limited use for heavier jobs. The original package does not include many attachments; specialized blower or vacuuming accessories would have to be purchased separately. Although a collection bag is not strictly necessary for operation, we recommend the use of a filter or sock over the exhaust port to minimize dust. Unlike some of the other wet/dry vacs we've examined, this unit's performance does not seem to be affected by the use of sound-dampening foam filters.

ArmorAll AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

The ArmorAll's 2-hp electric motor may not be the largest among our top contenders, but it does get the job done when it comes to most smaller cleaning tasks. The hose is a standard 1 1/4 inches in diameter, but many of the attachments are narrower and help create more suction power. The smaller collection tank also allows more of the motor's power to be directed into the hose. (This is true whether the unit is being used as a vacuum or a blower.) We recommend the ArmorAll primarily for car maintenance and other cleaning jobs where focused, intense suction is required. The ArmorAll may not be the best vacuum for overall floor maintenance or the best leaf blower for an entire yard, but it will definitely handle a clogged bathtub or a dry cereal spill with ease.

The VacuMaid's 15-amp motor delivers an impressive 740 air watts of suction power.
Nina
Expert Consultant
Nina
Gourmet Chef, Health Care Executive

Nina is a longtime gourmet chef, interior designer/decorator, and events planner. She has accomplished all of this in addition to maintaining a stellar career as a healthcare executive, where she helps alter the course of people’s lives via preventive care and healthy living. Nina’s hobbies include learning new recipes, planning and executing amazing dinners to impress local chefs, and hiking around the world.

Considerations

Additional Features/Attachments

VacuMaid GV50PRO Professional Wall Mounted Utility Vacuum

The attachments and extensions included with the VacuMaid GV50PRO -- crevice tool, floor brush, upholstery brush, telescoping wand extender -- are similar to those generally found with traditional vacuum cleaners. All of these accessories are mounted to the canister for easy access and storage. The unit arrives with a special (and somewhat expensive) HEPA plastic liner bag with a five-gallon capacity. This bag helps reduce the amount of dust released back into the air. We do not recommend replacing the HEPA bag with less-expensive alternatives.

Vacmaster VBV1210 Detachable Blower Wet/Dry Vacuum

The Vacmaster VBV1210 includes a basic set of attachments (including two extension wands). A car nozzle, eight-inch utility nozzle, and crevice tool are included on its accessory list. In addition, the detachable blower has its own wand, nozzle, and adapter. The Vacmaster's 12-foot power cord may be enough for most wet/dry shop vac jobs, but blower usage may require a separate extension cord (not included). The VacMaster also comes with a noise-suppression foam collar, but some users have concerns about its effectiveness.

Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

The Shop-Vac 5986000 arrives with some basic attachments and extension wands, but not necessarily the ones most users seek (such as a crevice tool or floor brush). There is a wet/dry squeegee, a blower nozzle, and a total of three extension tubes. The original package also includes a paper-based dry filter and a foam filter for wet debris jobs. Additional attachments can be ordered, but the hose's 1.25-inch inner diameter is often difficult to match. We have some concerns about the on-board storage bracket, as it can interfere with other functions during use.

Craftsman 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

There is some confusion as to what types of attachments are included in the Craftsman package. The manufacturer indicates that the unit includes an "eight-piece accessory set," but the only attachment we've been able to verify with owners is a standard wet/dry squeegee. Some owners report disappointment with the lack of useful attachments such as a crevice tool or floor brush. The vacuum hose's inner diameter is just shy of two inches, which means that existing attachments from other vacuum cleaners may fit. We would like to see more attachments included with the original package, but the Craftsman still does a quality job without them.

ArmorAll AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

Many portable wet/dry vacuums at the ArmorAll AA255's price point do not include much in the way of extra features, so we were quite pleased to discover the list of attachments included with this model. Because the ArmorAll wet/dry vacuum is designed for car maintenance, the attachments are fairly specialized: crevice tool, 2-in-1 utility nozzle, deluxe car nozzle, blower nozzle, and detail brush. Many of these accessories are useful for other cleaning applications as well. Another plus: no assembly is required. The ArmorAll wet/dry vacuum is ready to go right out of the box.

The budget-priced Vacmaster includes a car nozzle, eight-inch utility nozzle, and crevice tool. In addition, the detachable blower includes its own wand, nozzle, and adapter.
Considerations

Price

VacuMaid GV50PRO Professional Wall Mounted Utility Vacuum

The VacuMaid GV50PRO is definitely among our most expensive wet/dry vacuum contenders at $315, but in some ways, it is in a category by itself. Many people dream of owning a centralized vacuuming system in order to avoid the hassle of toting a canister or upright vacuum everywhere. Others want a shop vac they can operate from a distance while using a dust-generating tool like a saw. The VacuMaid is essentially an affordable wall-mounted vacuum cleaner with all the power of a shop vac.

Vacmaster VBV1210 Detachable Blower Wet/Dry Vacuum

At its low retail price of $81, the Vacmaster delivers the same performance as wet/dry vacs twice its price. Its 12-gallon, quick-draining canister and generous 2.5-inch hose diameter are both useful features not commonly found in other wet/dry vacuums at any price point. Other wet/dry vacuums have on-board exhaust ports that can be used as blowers, but the Vacmaster features a completely detachable blower unit with its own accessories. In essence, buying the Vacmaster is like getting two products for the price of one.

Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

At $66, the Shop-Vac 5986000 is an affordable wet/dry vacuum designed for small to medium jobs around the house or workshop. Users love owning a "shop vac" from the company that literally put that term on the map! The Shop-Vac's stainless steel tank construction means durability. The brand name means a solid warranty and the availability of after-market parts and replacement filters.

Craftsman 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

The Craftsman's retail price of $66 makes it an appealing bargain for those who want the stability of a name brand appliance without the name brand price. Homeowners can afford to have a wet/dry vacuum on hand for minor plumbing or kitchen emergencies; workplace employees can clean equipment without the need for an industrial-sized shop vac. We also recommend this unit to hobbyists who generate wood dust or metal filings and maintenance workers who frequently deal with small, unexpected clean-up situations.

ArmorAll AA255 Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

While it may not have the capacity or power of the other wet/dry vacuums on our elite list, the ArmorAll's $34 price is hard to ignore. This affordable, compact appliance is ideal for routine maintenance on cars, motorcycles, boats, and RVs. All of the most useful cleaning attachments are available straight out the box and are easily stored on the unit itself. A six-foot hose and a ten-foot power cord should be sufficient for most cleaning jobs, but a properly rated extension cord would be a relatively inexpensive addition for those who really want one. We appreciate this model's general portability and surprising amount of suction power.

If you are in the market for a commercial-grade vacuum cleaner with centralized wall mounting, look no further than the VacuMaid GV50PRO system!

Best of the Best

For many people, having a centralized or wall-mounted vacuum would be an ideal alternative to lugging a bulky upright or dragging around a loud, dust-spewing shop vac. The VacuMaid GV50PRO vacuuming system delivers on that ideal. It's the Best of the Best on our shortlist of quality wet/dry vacs.

The VacuMaid's 50-foot hose should be sufficient for most household or workshop spills. Its attachments and extensions make routine maintenance jobs much easier. Homeowners could install one VacuMaid GV50PRO near a heavy traffic area and another in a garage or home workshop. Small business owners could keep one in a centralized location for emergencies or after-hours cleaning.

A proprietary HEPA collection bag helps keep dust, pet dander, and other allergens from being released back into the air, and special air/sound mufflers help reduce the overall noise level of the machine during operation. If you are in the market for a commercial-grade utility vacuum cleaner with centralized wall mounting, look no further than the VacuMaid GV50PRO system!
Best of the Best
Check Price
The VacuMaid's proprietary HEPA collection bag helps keep dust, pet dander, and other allergens from being released back into the air.

Best Bang for your Buck

Most wet/dry vacuum manufacturers also promote their models as blowers. This typically means that the exhaust port will accept a vacuum hose; the entire unit still has to be transported to the work site. However, this is not the case with the Vacmaster VBV1210 wet/dry vacuum. Not only does it deliver superior suction power with its 5-hp motor, but it also functions as a detached blower when removed from the collection tank. Essentially, the user gets two appliances for the price of one. Because the Vacmaster provides so much versatility at such a low retail price point, we are happy to endorse it as the Best Bang for Your Buck.

The $81 Vacmaster may not have the same brand recognition as Craftsman or Shop-Vac, but it delivers the same suction power as models costing twice as much. The 12-gallon collection tank is one of the largest on our top five list, and it can be quickly drained with the opening of one valve. The Vacmaster arrives with many useful attachments and an on-board bracket to secure them all in place. Owners love the service they get from this unit, and they also love the low cost. Indeed, the Vacmaster truly is a professional-grade wet/dry vac at an entry-level price!
Best Bang for your Buck
Check Price
The Vacmaster may not get the same brand recognition as the Craftsman or Shop-Vac, but it delivers the same suction power as models costing twice as much.
The team that worked on this review
  • Michael
    Michael
    Creative Lead
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jess
    Jess
    Researcher
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Adrian
    Adrian
    Senior Engineer