Best Shop Vacs of 2021

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A shop vac is an essential tool for quickly and efficiently cleaning up messes in your home, garage, workshop, or car. These specialized vacuum canisters are equipped to suction up dry and wet debris, giving you double duty cleaning power.

Available as a portable, cordless canister for small messes or in a larger, heavy-duty size, shop vacs are sized according to their capacity in gallons. Other factors to consider when shopping for a wet/dry vac include the air power or CFM, included attachments, and tank material. All of these factors affect the usability and durability of a model. Keep in mind that shop vac often refers to a specific brand of wet/dry vacuum or to this category of vacuums in general.

Suck up dirt, dust, debris, muddy messes and more with the help of these top shop vacs on the market.

Services

TWO-IN-ONE

-CAPABILITY

Shop vacuum can be used as a blower for added versatility

Vacmaster VBV1210

Easily Convert from Wet/Dry Vacuum to 210 MPH Handheld Blower

16 Gal. 6.5-Peak HP NXT

Two tools in one with its powerful, detachable hand-held blower

Armor All 2.5 Gallon Portable

The Armor All Portable Utility vacuum combines a 2.5 gallon canister with a 2 HP motor for a compact solution to cleaning up wet or dry messes. This

CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17250

PORTABLE: Lightweight, 2.5-Gallon wet dry Vac offers unparalleled mobility

Vacmaster VBV1210

An all-purpose shop vac is an indispensable tool for a wide variety of household tasks and light-duty garage clean-up. This 12-gallon model with a 5HP motor offers enough capacity and suction to handle dry or wet messes but is easy to maneuver, thanks to the lightweight polypropylene tank and casters. For liquid clean-up, keep in mind that capacity will be more limited. An internal float will shut off suction once the canister reaches full capacity at 8.5 gallons. 

What We Like

  • Detachable blower

  • 71 decibel noise rating

  • 2.5 inch hose diameter

What We Don’t Like

  • Liquid capacity limited to 8.5 gallons

Armor All 2.5 Gallon Portable

The Armor All Portable Utility vacuum combines a 2.5 gallon canister with a 2 HP motor for a compact solution to cleaning up wet or dry messes. This affordable shop vac may lack some of the features and accessories found on larger, more expensive models, but it doesn’t skimp on essential items. 

What We Like

  • Weighs less than 10 pounds

  • Can be wall-mounted

  • Includes blower port

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited hose length

  • No extension wands

16 Gal. 6.5-Peak HP NXT

Most average-sized shop vacs give you 5 to 8 gallons of debris capacity, but choose a large capacity shop vac if you have heavy messes to clean up or don’t want to empty the canister as often. Ridgid has equipped this shop vac with a 16 gallon canister, the largest in their wet/dry vacuum line-up. It’s powered by a 6.5 peak horsepower motor for serious suction of wet or dry debris. 

What We Like

  • Large, 2.5-inch diameter hose

  • Locking hose and attachments

  • Drain port for quick cleaning

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited blower capacity

CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17250

A portable shop vac should be easy to carry but powerful enough to lift both dry and wet debris from your home, car, yard, or workshop. The Craftsman 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac fits the bill, with an ergonomic handle and a total weight of just 7.3 pounds. As a result, it’s easy to carry up and down stairs, unlike some wet/dry vacs with wheels. It’s also small enough to store in a closet or under the sink.

What We Like

  • Total reach of 15 feet

  • Onboard storage for accessories

  • Blower port

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited attachments included

  • Filter bags require replacement

Milwaukee M18 2 Gal

Put the power of a shop vac to work anywhere with the help of a cordless model, like this compact but powerful version from Milwaukee. The M18 2 Gallon Cordless Wet/Dry Vac runs for at least 30 minutes on the power of a lithium ion battery. It can pick up dry or wet messes—just be sure to remove the HEPA filter before sucking up liquids. 

What We Like

  • 6 foot hose for greater reach

  • 30+ minutes of runtime

  • 32 inches of water lift

What We Don’t Like

  • Hose diameter of only 1.25 inches

  • Not compatible with other brand vacuum attachments

What to Look for in a Shop Vac

Capacity

Shop vacs come in small (2-6 gallons), medium (6-14 gallons), and high capacity (14-18 gallons). The medium capacity will suit most needs — it’s sufficient for most indoor and outdoor cleaning tasks homeowners face.

Air power

Air power, or air-watts, refers to the suction power of your shop vac. A higher air power is important if you plan to vacuum heavier objects like nuts and bolts.

Tank

In addition to size, you’ll be faced with another choice: plastic or stainless steel tank. Plastic tanks are lighter and less prone to dents, but stainless steel tanks are easier to clean and more durable in the long run.

Attachments

Expand cleaning capabilities by shopping for a wet/dry vac with attachments. The type and number of attachments may vary, but some of the most frequently used are a utility nozzle, wet nozzle, and crevice tool. Extension wand attachments might also be important to you if you want to extend the reach of your shop vac into tight spaces or overhead areas to clear cobwebs, dust, and more. 

You should also consider whether or not a shop vac has onboard attachment storage. Some models feature a toolbox-like top that stores attachments. Other models have snap-on storage for wands, nozzles, and more. Many models, however, lack attachment storage. Consider whether you want or need attachments within reach at all times when using your shop vac.

 

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