How To Choose The Best Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuum cleaners can be reliable, especially if you’ve got yourself a good one. If you read our vacuum cleaner guide, that surely is your case. But there are times you are confronted with a wet mess your regular vacuum can handle. Times like that, you need a wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

These types of vacuum cleaners belong in a class of their own. They are designed for heavy-duty use. They tackle mess the take-no-prisoners style, which is to vacuum anything in its path.

Whether it is dust, debris large and small, a mound of sand, or a fireplace full of ash, everything gets vacuumed.

As the name implies, these wet and dry vacuums can tackle wet messes too. From a wet spill to an overflowing bathtub, none stands a chance against wet and dry vacuum cleaner models.

These vacuum cleaners have powerful suction which is why they are capable of sucking up even the larger debris. They are especially used for cleaning in construction sites which explains why they generally look tough and they truly are.

These vacuum cleaner types are gradually finding their way into homes.

A wet and dry vacuum cleaner is versatile and is often sold along with attachments that extend its applications. They are mostly affordable despite their capabilities.

You will find wet and dry vacuum cleaner models in small medium and large sizes rated by their capacity in gallons. The power of their motor is rated in horsepower (HP) and they are generally more powerful than regular vacuums.

As you read on, you will learn more about wet and dry vacuum cleaners and how you can choose one that best suits your needs.


CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac, Heavy-Duty Shop Vacuum with Attachments

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The Wet And Dry Vacuum Experience

A wet and dry vacuum cleaner is something you will most likely find in the power tool section in a departmental store. Honestly, these things are power tools.

Before now, most parts of wet and dry vacuum cleaner models were made of metals. With the advancements in the plastic industry, ABS and other tough plastic materials are now being used. This drastically reduced the cost and weight of wet and dry vacuum cleaners.

Look at a wet and dry vacuum cleaner as the type that will give you everything these fancy regular vacuum cleaners will give and more.



Let us do a little comparison here. If your regular vacuum cleaner looks like a model, a wet and dry vacuum cleaner looks like the Incredible Hulk.

We are not trying to say that they are ugly, no offense to Hulk. What we are trying to point out is that these things look tough. They don’t just look it, they are!

These vacuum cleaners are designed for heavy-duty use. Some of them are built with stainless steel shells while most are constructed with strong, high-impact plastics. These heavy duty materials are used from the body down to every other part.

They will vacuum sawdust, plaster debris, small bolts and nuts, microscopic dust and allergens, pools of water, you name it, they will take it in.

Some regular vacuum users have complained about their vacuum “resting in peace” after they mistakenly sucked in a crown cork.

The mere sight of these vacuums will tell you how strong they are. They don’t care to look good, they just want to eat dirt! Take these vacuums through all the tough applications you can and they can’t wait to go again.

A wet and dry vacuum cleaner will last you for decades, only a few of the regular vacuum cleaners will go that far. You can tell from their warranty duration.

If you check that of a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, you will often see warranty in decades or even lifetime.

Even though these vacuums are built for heavy-duty and tough usage, you must still follow the manufacturer’s instruction for maximum benefit and durability.


Powerful Suction

Stanley 5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum, 4 Peak HP Stainless Steel 3 in 1 Shop Vac Blower with Powerful Suction, Multifunctional Shop Vacuum W/ 4 Horsepower Motor for Job Site,Garage,Basement,Van,Workshop

Most wet and dry vacuum cleaner models sport a double stage motor that has copper winding. This is responsible for their high suction power.

There is another reason the suction power of a wet and dry vacuum cleaner is way stronger than that of a regular vacuum. The EU regulation limits for suction power in a vacuum does not to apply to them.

That is understandable considering the fact that they are designed for industrial purposes.

The power of a wet and dry vacuum cleaner motor is rated in horsepower, generally, the higher the rating, the better. If you want one for your home, a maximum of 5 HP will do if you will be using it heavily.

Anything higher than that will be overkill. You don’t want to rip your carpet in the name of trying to clean it. That might seem like an exaggeration but trust us, it isn’t.


Clean Wet Mess

Tineco iFLOOR Cordless Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner and Mop, Powerful One-Step Cleaning for Hard Floors, Great for Sticky Messes and Pet HairIf you have kids and pets, or a clumsy adult in your home, you probably get wet messes every now and then. If we may ask, how do you clean up such a mess?

You go manual with a mop or something. You definitely don’t go for your vacuum unless you plan to buy another.

Regular vacuum cleaners aren’t built to handle wetness. If you try it, the machine will most likely short circuit since there is no protection for the internal components. They are just not built for that.

On the other hand, a wet and dry vacuum cleaner has a waterproof tank that protects the other internal components. That way the water you vacuum will not reach the circuits and other sensitive parts.

When your kids or pets spill liquids on the floor, you can just use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner to suck it up. Problem solved. In the same way, you can use it to empty a clogged sink or bathtub.

If you just mopped your hard floor, you can use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner to dry it.





Asides from being able to vacuum wet and dry messes, they way you can use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner is almost limited to your imagination.

The fact that is designed more like a canister vacuum cleaner gives it a good reach into different areas in your home. You can also use it for off the floor cleaning.

The versatility of wet and dry vacuum cleaners begins to impress with its outdoor applications. The fact that this vacuum is capable of sucking in most types of debris makes it usable in many ways. You can use it in a workshop to collect sawdust, for example.


Convenient Features

Stanley 5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum, 4 Peak HP Stainless Steel 3 in 1 Shop Vac Blower with Powerful Suction, Multifunctional Shop Vacuum W/ 4 Horsepower Motor for Job Site,Garage,Basement,Van,WorkshopApart from the attachments you get to use with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, there are some other features that can make your experience more pleasant.

Wet and dry vacuum cleaner models also have an internal switch that will automatically shut off the vacuum once the tank is full. This prevents any mess that will be created by an overflow.

Some models too work as a pump; they allow you attach a conventional hose and use it to pump out water.

These models have swivel hose fittings that make mobility a lot more convenient. That takes away most of the directional limitations with using the hose.

On-board storage is another common feature on wet/dry vacuums. Some come with attachments and they can be stored on the canister for easy access.

Wet and dry vacuum cleaners are noisy but some brands fit their models with mufflers in order to reduce the noise. Some of them use noise regulators.

Some also have wall attachments that let you hang the vacuum on the wall to save space and for easy access.


Fireplace and Grill

If you own a fireplace or you enjoy making barbecue, you know how much work it is to clean them out. With a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, it can become an easy stuff. These machines can easily suck up cold ashes quickly so you won’t have to do it manually again.



Household flooding is a common mini disaster which can cause a lot of damage if not quickly handled. A wet and dry vacuum cleaner can help you vacuum the water and avoid prolonged damage. How effective it is will depend on the power and capacity of the vacuum.



Some wet and dry vacuum cleaner models have a blower port that essentially reverses the vacuuming function. You now use these vacuums to blow leaves off your lawn, blow wood chipping to a side for easier collection, etc.

If you are vacuuming and it happens there are areas you can’t reach, you can use the blower to push the dirt into the open.

Once that is done, get it back to vacuuming and suck up the dirt. That sounds like a nice trick, right?

There are times your sink gets clogged, that can be a hassle most times. You can use your wet and dry vacuum cleaner to blow into the pipe to clear the clog.

RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ 3 Gal Project Wet/Dry Vacuum and Blower with Accessory Storage (Tool-Only- Battery and Charger NOT included)


On average a wet and dry vacuum cleaner is relatively affordable considering the values they have to offer. They certainly can do way more than regular vacuums but they are not as nearly as expensive.

You can easily find a 1500-watt (more than a Miele C1 Turbo Team) wet and dry vacuum cleaner for less than $100. A wet/dry vacuum with this much power can suck up almost anything.


Some Downsides

The most noticeable issue with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner is the noise. That is almost expected with something with so much power.

Vacuum cleaners are noisy generally, but these ones are noisier. They are loud enough that you might need some hearing protection. Some of them are as high as 85 decibels, that is the extent you require ear protection.

Size might also be an issue, that is if you go for the higher capacity ones. But the small ones are small enough to be handheld. Those ones are easier to tuck away but if you have enough space for storage, these beasts are worth having.



Types of Wet And Dry Vacuum Cleaner

Wet and dry vacuum cleaner models are generally designed the same way. What differentiates them most times is their size and performance. Due to that, we will categorize them based on size and tell you what you can expect from them.

You will often see wet and dry vacuum cleaner models rated with peak horsepower and capacity. The peak horsepower is the maximum power of the motor and the capacity is how much debris it can hold in its tank.

These are generally the factors that are used to determine the size of a wet and dry vacuum cleaner.



Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum

These types are small enough to be handheld. They are perfect for tackling the small wet and dry jobs around your home and garage. They are often between 1 to 4.5 HP and 2 to 6 gallons tank capacity.

When we say small jobs, we definitely mean more than the small jobs you will often do with a regular stick or handheld vacuum. These ones are small but still powerful.

You can use them to clean your car interior, RV, boats, etc. You can still use these small ones to clear debris in your workshop, through the drain in your kitchen, etc.



Stanley Shop Vac SL18115P, 5 Gallon Peak 3 Horsepower Wet Dry Vacuums, Blower 3 In 1 Functions 20 Feet Cleaning Range For Garage, Carpet Clean, Shop Cleaning, Car Detailing with AttachmentsThis is where the real heavy-duty work begins. A wet and dry vacuum cleaner with 5 to 6 peak horsepower will fall into this category. They often have a tank capacity of around 8 to 14 gallons.

With that much power, there is nothing stopping you from vacuuming the entire house. You can also use this type for outdoors, in the garage, and workshops.

The tank capacity also allows you to do some heavy cleaning without having to empty the tank often. With a 14 gallon tank, you can deal with all sorts of dirt and debris all day before needing to empty.








DeWALT 12 gallon Poly Wet/Dry VacThis is the level where we categorically tell you, “don’t try this at home”. A wet and dry vacuum of this type possesses power in the excess of 6 HP.

Using this type at home would probably start destroying things rather than cleaning them.

And on top of that, your electricity bill will surely discourage you from trying it again.

This is the wet and dry vacuum cleaner you will find with commercial floor cleaners.

They are the types that are more suited for offices and warehouses.

They have a large capacity often reaching 18 gallons or more. That type of volume is ideal for heavy-duty construction sites for clearing mess and draining water.



How To Choose The Best Wet And Dry Vacuum Cleaner For Your Need

If you want a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, it means that you need some powerful suction and you’d like to do some wet vacuuming. There wouldn’t be much of a problem choosing a wet/dry vacuum since most of them do basically the same thing.



Depending on the type of vacuuming you want to do, you need to pay attention to the performance ratings of the vacuum of your choice. This is what will determine if the vacuum is capable of pulling off the jobs you need it for effectively.

We mentioned earlier that the power of the motor in these vacuums is measured in horsepower. A high horsepower does not entirely indicate its performance but is a good measure of what it is capable of.

If you need the wet/dry vacuum for medium to heavy work, you should not settle for any less than 4.5 HP. Vacuums with that power will have a capacity of 6 gallons and above.

Still on performance, you should look out for the power draw too. As the name implies, it is the amount of power the vacuum will be using up.

For a household use, be sure not to go beyond 12 amps even though more is better. A power draw of more than 12 amps might trip the circuit in your home. That much power draw is often present on the large wet/dry vacuums but is worth watching out for.



DeWALT 12 gallon Poly Wet/Dry VacWhile the horsepower of a wet and dry vacuum cleaner can be used to gauge the suction power (to some extent), sealed suction is used to measure how well it can lift water without airflow.

The sealed suction is measured in inches of water the vacuum can lift. For decent water lifting, you should look out for 50 inches or more.

More on the suction is the air flow which is measured in cubic feet per minute. This is the best rating you can use to compare similar vacuums.

It is a function of how well it can pull in air while considering the restriction of the filter and bag.

To get an effective wet and dry vacuum cleaner, even for the small size, you should go for more than 90 cfm. The higher the cfm the better the suction power of the vacuum.

Furthermore, the air watt rating is a combination of the sealed suction and air flow. If you are torn between two similarly configured wet/dry vacuum, you can use this rating to tell them apart. A model with 250 air watts or more is good enough.



DeWALT 12 gallon Poly Wet/Dry VacMost wet/dry vacuums come with attachments but it is possible that the ones that come with it do not meet all the needs you want. Attachments alone are available for purchase which will allow you to extend the types of cleaning you can do.

Still on attachments, you can get a hose coupler that lets you attach two hoses together so you can have a longer reach.

There are hose adapters too that let you attach a hose of a certain diameter to a smaller one.

You can also watch out for some other features such as wall attachments that let you hang your vacuum on the wall to save storage space.

There are several attachments available that you can go for to make your usage of a wet and dry vacuum cleaner more effective.



Budget is something that is inevitable for most of us. We all try to get the best product for our needs for the least price possible.

If you have been buying regular vacuum cleaners and want to make a switch, you might not have much of a problem with the pricing. We were serious when we mentioned earlier that wet and dry vacuum cleaner models are affordable.

Look at it this way, speculatively, a wet and dry vacuum cleaner with the same capability as a regular vacuum will probably be half the price of the regular vacuum.

If we do that estimate with some of the premium brands, we will be talking about one-tenth of the price. So, price really isn’t a major problem when choosing a wet and dry vacuum cleaner that will fulfill your needs.


You have done great getting this far with us. It is our hope that you now have all the information you need to confidently choose a wet and dry vacuum cleaner for your needs.

Whether you need it for your household, for your business, or just something you can use for occasional heavy-duty mess, this article will help you choose right.

With your new found knowledge, which brand and model will you go for? Truth be told most brands that make wet/dry vacuums do a good job with them. If you choose to opt for any of the models we featured, you would still have chosen right.

What is most important is that you choose a vacuum that will meet all your needs and not hurt your pocket. That is our aim here and we sincerely hope that we are doing that.