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Best wet and dry vacuum

Which wet and dry vacuum is best?

A regular vacuum is good for everyday messes, but if you’re trying to pick up liquid spills or large pieces of debris, you need a wet/dry vacuum. These versatile machines are designed to tackle all manner of messes, but each model has its own strength and weaknesses. Here are a few things you need to know in order to choose the right wet/dry vacuum for your messes.

What to know before you buy a wet and dry vacuum

The first thing you have to think about is what kind of jobs you need the wet/dry vacuum for. A vacuum that is good at picking up fine dust may not do as well at picking up water. Paying attention to these three key ratings can help you determine which tasks a vacuum will excel at:

Air power (AP)

This indicates how much of the machine’s power is converted into the airflow. A higher number means the vacuum will be better at picking up larger debris.

Cubic feet per minute (CFM)

This is a measure of maximum airflow and corresponds to the vacuum’s ability to pick up fine debris like dust.

Sealed Pressure (SP)

This number indicates how well the wet/dry vacuum can pick up water and other liquids.

Ideally, your vacuum will do all three tasks well. But you should focus primarily on the type of task you intend to use the vacuum for the most.

What to look for in a quality wet and dry vacuum

Here are a few other features you may want to look for in your wet/dry vacuum:


A larger capacity means you won’t have to empty the vacuum as often, but it also means you need more storage space and it may be a little more difficult to maneuver.

Filter type

 Make sure the wet/dry vacuum has the filters you need or is compatible with the type of filter you need, like HEPA filters.

Speed settings

Higher speeds generate more suction power, but they’re also louder, so you may prefer multiple speed settings.

Hose attachments

Many wet/dry vacuums come with hose attachments, like a crevice tool for reaching into tight areas. It may also come with onboard storage for these attachments.

Blower setting

Some wet/dry vacuums also have a blower setting so you can use it to blow dust out of corners or clear leaves away from your front door.

Tank drain

If you plan to use your vacuum to pick water or wet debris often, you should look for a model with a built-in tank drain. This makes it easy to dump out the liquid once you’ve collected it.

How much you can expect to spend on a wet and dry vacuum

The cost of your wet/dry vac will vary depending on its size and capabilities. Low-end models cost $30 or less, but you should expect to spend at least $50 if you want a powerful, high-quality unit that will last you for many years. Some top-of-the-line models can cost more than $100.


Q: When should I change my wet/dry vacuum filter?

A: Whenever you’re switching between wet and dry debris, you should change out the filter. You should also change it whenever you begin to notice a loss in suction power.

Q: What type of filter does my vacuum need?

A: It depends on the job. You want a foam filter if you’ll be picking up wet debris, but a paper filter is sufficient for dry debris. If you suffer from allergies, you may want to consider upgrading to a HEPA filter. It traps particles as small as 0.3 microns.

What are the best wet and dry vacuums to buy? 

Top wet and dry vacuum

Emerson WORKSHOP High-Capacity 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

Our take: Go with this model if you’re looking for a powerful vacuum that can tackle any job you throw at it.

What we like: This high-capacity wet/dry vacuum has a 16-gallon capacity, 7-foot hose and on board storage for its accessories. It’s covered by a five-year warranty and has a blowing port so you can use it to blow debris out of tight corners.

What we dislike: The machine has a lot of power, but it also makes it run loudly. Its size also makes it a little more difficult to maneuver.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top wet and dry vacuum for money

Shop-Vac 5-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

Our take: This is a great value if you’re looking for a compact wet/dry vacuum to tackle the occasional mess.

What we like: The tank is made of a durable stainless steel that’s easy to clean. It comes with a 6-foot cord, onboard storage for its accessories and a rear blower port.

What we dislike: The hose is smaller than a traditional wet/dry vacuum hose, so it’s not ideal if you need to pick up larger pieces of debris.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

DeWALT 18/20-Volt MAX Corded/Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum

Our take: This is a versatile wet/dry vacuum that you can use in your home or on the go.

What we like: It has a HEPA filter that can be washed and reused. It also comes with a battery, so you can use the vacuum even when you’re not near an outlet.

What we dislike: It’s pricey for a vacuum of its size and it’s not as powerful when powered by the battery.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

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Kailey Fralick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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