As you start your spring cleaning and summer projects, the Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum is the wet and dry vacuum you are going to want to invest in to make clean up a breeze. Offering a five-gallon stainless steel tank with a dolly featuring easy roll coasters, the Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum is a great all around vacuum.
The Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum offers the best in both versatility and price. With a six-foot power cord and a six-foot hose you are sure to be able to reach anywhere that needs to be cleaned, from under the beds to the ceiling fans to the back seat of the car. The stainless steel canister assures there will be no rust when the vacuum is used to clean up wet messes, and as an added bonus, the Shop-Vac 5986000 also comes with a blower feature to help clean out the gutters and dry your car. This wet and dry vacuum is sure to meet all your household needs, from everyday cleaning to cleaning after renovations.
If you are looking for something that can do a little bit more than the Shop-Vac and have the budget to pay more, the RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner and Blower is going to suit your needs. This vacuum costs more than the Shop-Vac, but also offers more features to make up for the cost. The RIDGID Vacuum Cleaner/Blower Combo offers a twenty-foot power cord and an eight-foot hose as well as a twelve-gallon canister size. This RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuum also features a large drain to allow for easy liquid disposal without the need to lift the entire vacuum to pour the liquid out.
If the Shop-Vac 5986000 is unavailable and the RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner and Blower is out of your price range, we recommend the Vacmaster VP205 Portable Wet And Dry Vacuum. The Vacmaster is a little bit smaller, but just as functional as the other two wet and dry vacuums. The Vacmaster VP205 Portable Wet And Dry Vacuum has a four-foot hose and an eight-foot power cord allowing it to still reach into most places, as long as there is an electrical outlet nearby. The 2.5-gallon canister is only half the size of the Shop-Vac but also features an auto shut-off to prevent overflow and saving you from additional messes to clean.
What is a Wet And Dry Vacuum?
A wet and dry vacuum is a multipurpose vacuum that can be used for many things around the house, garage and shop. Also known as a shop vacuum, wet and dry vacuums are most often used in commercial settings. Recently wet and dry vacuums have become more common in the home. Designed similarly to a basic canister vacuum, a wet and dry vacuum is designed to tackle dry dirt and dust as well as liquid messes. The wet and dry vacuum is a handy tool in any working environment and can be used indoors and outdoors. The inner components of the wet and dry vacuum are designed in a way that the machine is safe to use on liquids with no risk of electrocution. This is because the electrical components are insulated and housed away from the integral workings of the machine.
How Does a Wet And Dry Vacuum Work?
The design and concept of a wet and dry vacuum is actually quite simple. The vacuum usually uses a two bucket system instead of a vacuum bag. The two bucket system allows the liquids and solids to be separated into two different chambers. Dirt and/or water is sucked up into the intake port of the vacuum cleaner and travels along a tube. The air flow decreases over the buckets and the dirt and debris are dropped into the buckets. The air current is then drawn through a motorized fan and exits through the exhaust port. Since the dust dissolves into the water, less dust is expelled from the exhaust port and into the air you are breathing.
What Can a Wet And Dry Vacuum Be Used for?
A wet and dry vacuum is an incredibly versatile tool. Not only is it able to clean up hard debris, fine dust and liquid spills, but it can also do a variety of other jobs. Below are some jobs your wet and dry vacuum can do that you would never expect from a vacuum.
– Open clogged sinks: Set the vacuum to blower (if it has that feature) and the force of the expelled air will do the job for you.
– Empty water mattresses: If you are moving to a new home, or just want to change the location of your water bed, your wet and dry vacuum is the easiest way to empty your water bed so you can move it.
– Floors and curtains: With the suction a wet and dry vacuum offers wood floors and curtains can by easily cleaned by using a buffing attachment for the floors and a fabric attachment for the curtains.
– Fireplace: Cleaning your fireplace will be quick and easy since the wet and dry vacuum can suck up cold ashes, wood chips and dirt in no time at all.
– Snow Machine: If you are ever snowed in and don’t have the time or ability to shovel, a wet and dry vacuum can clear the way quickly.
– Flooding: Whether it’s a leaky basement, a tap left running or a broken pipe, a wet and dry vacuum can tackle any household water disaster quickly and easily to help you prevent prolonged water damage.
– Carpet cleaning: Cleaning your carpets with your wet and dry vacuum is a much cheaper alternative to having to rent a machine to clean your carpets. The wet and dry vacuum can remove stains, marks and mildew with the use of detergent.
– Sucks anything: Nails, screws and wood shavings are all safe to be sucked into a wet and dry vacuum, this comes in handy when tackling a do-it yourself job around the house since you don’t need to sweep before you can vacuum.
A great resource for how to best use a wet and dry vacuum can be found at how to use a wet dry vacuum
How to choose a Wet And Dry Vacuum for Your Needs
When you start looking at a wet and dry vacuum, you want to make sure you buy the one that is right for your needs. The last thing you want is to spend your money on a vacuum to find out that it doesn’t work for what you need it for. Some of the things you should take into consideration include the canister capacity, length of the hose and power cord, onboard features, and portability.
– Canister Capacity: You can find wet and dry vacuums on the market with a wide range of capacities. For most people who plan on using the vacuum for cleaning a house or car, a five- to six-gallon canister vacuum is easy to move around and holds more than enough dirt. However, if you are planning on collecting wood chips or other large debris, a sixteen- to twenty-gallon vacuum is probably what you are going to want.
– Length of the Hose and Power Cord: The length of the hose and cord are important to take into consideration. If you are planning on using the vacuum primarily outdoors, you want to make sure that the power cord is long enough to reach an electrical outlet. The hose length is important to ensure you are going to be able to reach to what you want to clean.
– Onboard Features: Many wet and dry vacuums feature a cord wrap for easy cord storage, as well as a way to store the hose and attachments. The on board storage can minimize the clutter of the vacuum, but it can also mean the vacuum takes up more space.
– Portability: It is important to consider how often you are going to be moving your vacuum around. If you are going to be hauling it up and down the stairs, you are going to want to look for a lighter vacuum. Whereas, if the vacuum is only for out in the garage, the weight might not matter and instead you may be more concerned about making sure the vacuum is the right dimensions to store.
How we Picked
Choosing our top picks was a little more complicated than picking the one for a specific set of needs, and we took a lot of things into consideration to make sure we were recommending the best wet and dry vacuums to you. We looked at the overall vacuum and compared what it offered for features to the cost of the vacuum. We searched for the overall best wet and dry vacuum as well as the best hand held and portable vacuums and the best vacuums for the car and shop. Some of the most important things to us when we considered the different wet and dry vacuums were size, purpose and cost.
– Size: No one wants to try to use a vacuum that is as heavy as they are. We considered the size of the canister to the weight of the vacuum. We also considered whether the vacuum had wheels to make moving it around easier.
– Purpose: Since wet and dry vacuums are so versatile, they can be used for many purposes. It was important that our top pick was able to be used for many purposes. We also narrowed down the vacuums that were best in their classes, so if you are looking for a wet and dry vacuum with a specific purpose in mind, you are sure to find it.
– Cost: The most important factor in our review, is the cost of the wet and dry vacuum. The ratio of features to cost absolutely has to be appropriate, we are not going to recommend a vacuum with a high cost, unless the features are worth the price.
The Best Wet And Dry Vacuum Overall: Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum
Our top choice of wet and dry vacuums is without a doubt, the Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum. Aside from the seven-foot hose and stainless steel canister, the Shop-Vac also offers three extension wands as well as a variety of other tools including a ten-inch wet and dry nozzle, gulper, crevice tools and a tool holder to allow all the tools to be stored on the vacuum. The Shop-Vac can be used with or without a bag, giving it the versatility that every home needs. Coming with a three-year warranty, this vacuum is sure to meet the overall needs of any home or small shop.
The Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet And Dry Vacuum also comes with a dolly with easy roll coasters, making it easy to move the vacuum around your home. This vacuum also features a blower option which enables you to get the most use out of the Shop-Vac.
Flaws but not Deal Breakers
Step-Up Pick: RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC1200
If you are looking for a wet and dry vacuum that offers a little more than the Shop-Vac, the RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuum VAC1200 is the way to go. Featuring a twelve-gallon canister and a large drain, as well as a detachable leaf blower vacuum cleaner, the RIDGID VAC1200 offers versatility for those looking for a larger vacuum capable of many jobs.
The RIDGID VAC1200 comes with a complete arsenal of tools from an eight-foot locking hose to a utility nozzle, car nozzle, two extension wands and a blower wand. The RIDGID VAC1200 is a little pricier than most of the other options on our list, but it also comes with a full lifetime warranty against material and workmanship defects.
Budget Pick: Vacmaster VP205 Portable Wet And Dry Vacuum
If both our top pick and our step up pick are unavailable to you, our budget pick is the Vacmaster VP205 Portable Wet And Dry Vacuum. The small two and a half-gallon tank is small enough to be easily carried around while still being large enough to do most jobs. The Vacmaster VP205 offers a blower feature just like our other two top picks and also comes with a mini tool box.
The four-foot hose and eight-foot power cord put slight limitations on how far you may be able to go with your vacuum, but as long as there are electrical outlets near where you are using it, there won’t be any problems. The Vacmaster also has a place for on board storage for the hose, two in one utility nozzle, and the crevice tool. This vacuum is perfect for anyone with a small home or apartment that also wants the convenience of a wet And Dry vacuum.
The Best Wet And Dry Vacuum for the Car: ArmorAll Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner
ArmorAll Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner
If you are looking for a wet and dry vacuum specifically for cleaning messes in the car, the ArmorAll Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner is what you want. The ArmorAll Wet Dry Vacuum comes with a fifteen-foot power cord that uses a twelve-volt plug for in-car use. Small enough to easily be stored in the car, this vacuum is perfect for on the go messes as well as when you want to deep clean your vehicle. Featuring a small light on the front of the vacuum so you can see in darker corners as well as a crevice tool that is built right into the vacuum and flips out when you need it, the ArmorAll Wet Dry Vacuum is a great tool to keep in the car to clean up all the small messes that tend to accumulate.
The Best Hand Held Wet And Dry Vacuum: Dirt Devil Extreme Power Wet Dry Cordless Hand M0944 Vacuum Cleaner
Dirt Devil Extreme Power Wet Dry Cordless Hand M0944 Vacuum Cleaner
If you are looking for a wet and dry vacuum that is the perfect size to be carried around by hand, without a large canister, the Dirt Devil Extreme Power Wet Dry Cordless Hand M0944 Vacuum Cleaner is the way to go. Perfect for cleaning wet and dry messes around the house, the Dirt Devil Extreme offers both a quick flip crevice tool and a retractable brush strip. A hand held wet dry vacuum is not going to be able to suck up any overly large particles, but it is great for the quick clean-up of crumbs, dirt and small spills around the house. Including a three year limited warranty, there is no doubt that the Dirt Devil Extreme Power Wet Dry Cordless Hand M0944 is the best hand held wet dry vacuum currently on the market.
The Best Wet And Dry Vacuum for the shop: WORKSHOP Wet And Dry Vacs WS1600VA
If you have a woodshop in your basement or garage and you are looking for a good wet dry vacuum to clean up those messes the WORKSHOP Wet And Dry Vacs WS1600VA is going to get the job done. With a 20-foot cord and seven-foot hose, this vacuum can reach anywhere you want to go. The hose measures a large two-inch diameter, allowing for easy suction of large particles as well as fine dust. The WORKSHOP Wet And Dry Vacs WS1600VA is easily converted to a blower and also comes with a drain, 2 extension wands, utility nozzle, wet nozzle and car nozzle, offering incredible versatility. With a five-year warranty, this 16-gallon vacuum is the best choice for clean up in a shop.
The Best Cordless Wet And Dry Vacuum: RIDGID WD4522 4.5 Gallon Pro Pack Portable Wet And Dry Vacuum
RIDGID WD4522 4.5 Gallon Pro Pack Portable Wet And Dry Vacuum
If you are looking for all the portability of a hand held vacuum along with all the features of a full size vacuums, the RIDGID WD4522 is just what you need. This vacuum is conveniently shaped in a tool box shape allowing for easy storing and staking. With a 20-foot power cord and expandable two- to seven- foot hose, the RIDGID WD4522 is sure to reach anywhere you want to go. Storage brackets keep the 2 extension wands conveniently on board while the nozzles, hose and power cord can all be stored into the vacuum under hinged covers in the self-contained storage area. With a full lifetime warranty, it’s easy to see why this was our top choice in its class.
Top Contender: The Black Series Multifunction Wet & Dry Auto Vacuum
The Black Series Multifunction Wet & Dry Auto Vacuum
A runner up for the position of best wet dry vacuum for the car is The Black Series Multifunction Wet & Dry Auto Vacuum. This vacuum has a smaller cord than our top choice for the car, with a length of seven-feet. While The Black Series Multifunction Wet & Dry Vacuum is larger allowing it to hold more debris before being empties, that is also a con because storing it in the car is that much more difficult. This vacuum is a great choice if you have the storage space for it and don’t mind the shorter cord length. However, in our opinion, it’s definitely not top of its class.
Top Contender: DEWALT DCV581H Cordless Corded Wet-Dry Vacuum
DEWALT DCV581H Cordless Corded Wet-Dry Vacuum
Our runner up for the best portable wet and dry vacuum is the DEWALT DCV 581H Cordless Corded Wet-Dry Vacuum. Featuring a crush resistant five-foot hose as well as the option to use power either from an AC outlet or cordless with a battery, this vacuum can be taken anywhere. The DEWALT DCV 581H comes with a crevice tool attachment and a wide nozzle tool attachment. This vacuum comes with a three year limited warranty. The only real disadvantages to the DEWALT DCV 581H is that the battery and charger are sold separately, and the cord and hose are much shorter than that of the RIDGID WD4522 that we chose for the best portable wet dry vacuum.
Top Contender: Craftsman 9-17761 16 Gallon Wet And Dry Vacuum
Craftsman 9-17761 16 Gallon Wet And Dry Vacuum
Our runner up for best wet dry vacuum in the shop is the Craftsman 9-17761 16 Gallon Wet And Dry Vacuum. This vacuum comes with the same size hose and cord lengths as our top pick for the shop and comes with the same attachments. the only real advantage the Craftsman 9-17761 16 Gallon Wet And Dry Vacuum has over the RIDGID WD4522 is that the hose diameter measures two and half inches instead of two inches. This doesn’t make much of a difference however.
Wrapping it up
A wet and dry vacuum is a great tool to have on hand regardless of whether you run a shop, are looking for a vacuum for your home or for your car. Wet and dry vacuums come in different sizes and with many different features making them one of the most versatile types of vacuums on the market. When you make the decision to invest in a wet and dry vacuum, we strongly recommend our top choice, the Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum. If for some reason the Shop-Vac doesn’t quite fit your needs, our step up pick the RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC1200 Heavy Duty Wet Dry Vacuum is a superb choice. If neither the Shop-Vac or the RIDGID VAC1200 are in your price range, our budget pick the Vacmaster VP205 Portable Wet and dry Vacuum is a great choice. Finally, if you are looking for a wet and dry vacuum to serve a specific purpose our guide to the best wet and dry vacuums for the car and shop as well as best hand held and portable wet and dry vacuums are sure to help you find the best wet and dry vacuum for any situation.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.