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Best Shop Vac: Top Ten Choices for You to Consider

Do you have a lot of debris to clean up?  Perhaps you need a more effective way to clean up leaves, or maybe you have large puddles that need cleaned up.  If you find that you are constantly trying to clean up messes that appear in your yard, patio, deck, or house, a shop vac may be what you need.  Unlike a regular house vacuum, a shop vac is more powerful and can clean up large debris.  Also known as a wet/dry shop vac, it is made to clean up puddles of water.  Shop vacs have many unique features that help make cleaning easier, including extension wands, drainage spouts, and dust bags.  So get ready to tackle every mess with a powerful shop vac.  Today I am reviewing the top ten best shop vacs on the market, as well as a simple guide for choosing the best one.  Enjoy!

The Best Shop Vac on the Market Today

In the chart below, you will find our top 10 rated shop vac options. For a more in-depth review of each model, please click on "Read Review."

Product Image

Product Name

Rating

Review

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WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1200VA Heavy Duty

4.5 out of 5

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Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

4.3 out of 5

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Shop-Vac 5895200 Wet/Dry Vacuum

4.3 out of 5

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Craftsman 12004 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

4.4 out of 5

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Vacmaster 12 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

4.4 out of 5

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​VacuMaid GV30 Wall Mounted Garage Vacuum

4.6 out of 5

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Vacmaster Beast Series Wet/Dry Vacuum

4.4 out of 5

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Shop-Vac Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum

3.9 out of 5

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DEWALT Cordless/Corded Wet-Dry Vacuum

4.1 out of 5

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Shop-Vac 5870400 4-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

4.2 out of 5

Top Ten Rated Shop Vacs of 2018

  1. WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1200VA Heavy Duty
  2. Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
  3. Shop-Vac 5895200 Wet/Dry Vacuum
  4. Craftsman 12004 6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac
  5. Vacmaster 12 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
  6. VacuMaid GV30 Wall Mounted Garage Vacuum
  7. Vacmaster Beast Series Wet/Dry Vacuum
  8. Shop-Vac Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum
  9. DEWALT Cordless/Corded Wet-Dry Vacuum
  10. Shop-Vac 5870400 4-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

Different Types of Shop Vacs

There aren't many types of shop vacs on the market.  They are all very similar, except that their sizes vary.  Therefore, you will need to choose which size will fit your needs, and how much storage you have.  Let's take a look at the different sizes/types available on the market.

Mini Size

Mini sized shop vacs are made for small jobs.  They are not large, and can easily be picked up.  But just because they're small doesn't mean they're not heavy-duty.  Mini sized shop vacs will still sweep up wet and dry debris.  Many people use this type inside the house to clean up messes such as spilled pots.  If you are limited on storage, the mini size shop vac is a good choice.

Small Size

Unlike the mini shop vac, the small shop vac is slightly bigger in size.  It is made to clean up larger messes than the mini size one does.  Because the small shop vac is larger, it requires wheels in order for you to move it.  The mini shop vac on the other hand does not have wheels, since it can easily be picked up.  If you are looking for a shop vac that is slightly bigger than the mini vacuum, but not so huge you have to find a large storage space for it, the small sized shop vac is what you're looking for.  The best small wet/dry shop vac is the Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum.

Medium Size

The medium size is the size in between the small and large shop vac.  It is made to clean up larger messes, and it is heavier than the small shop vac.  It will require more storage space, but it is more powerful.

Large Size

The large size is the largest size available, and it is considered the best shop vac for cleaning large messes.  Whether you're cleaning up soil that is on the ground or a large amount of water that spilled, the large shop vac will clean it all.  It is powerful and can clean almost anything. Keep in mind that a large shop vac will take up more room and it is heavy.  If you are low on storage, this may not be what you're looking for.

Advantages / Reasons for Buying

There are many advantages and reasons for buying a shop vac.  They are very handy to have around, and can be useful when you have a large mess that needs cleaned up.  Let's take a look at why you should buy a shop vac for your home.

Cleans Up Large Debris

Unless you bought a mini shop vac (mini shop vacs are still powerful, but can't hold as much debris), a shop vac can clean almost anything.  Not only can it do that, but it can clean large debris.  Whether it's soil, leaves, water, etc., the shop vac will always be there waiting to clean up the mess.

Cleans Up Water

A shop vac is not like your regular house vacuum.  It is designed to clean up water, even if it is a large puddle.  Keep in mind that your vacuum will be very heavy when it is full of water.  But why not take a break from wiping spills with paper towels when you have a shop vac to do the job for you?

Makes Cleaning So Much Easier

Imagine not having to kneel down every time you needed to clean up spilled water, or bending over as you sweep dust into a dustpan.  Well, if you have a shop vac around that dream can become a reality.  Shop vacs often come with extension wands so that you don't have to bend over as you clean.  If your shop vac doesn't come with an extension wand, you can buy one.  Besides making cleaning easier, shop vacs can also make cleaning quicker.  Of course, how quick it cleans will depend on how big your shop vac is.  But all in all, shop vacs make cleaning much easier.

Considerations When Buying

There are many things you should consider before you buy a shop vac.  Here are some considerations to ask yourself before you buy a shop vac.

How Large Do You Want Your Shop Vac?

Shop vacs come in many sizes.  Not only are there mini, small, medium, and large shop vacs, but there are also different hose lengths.  Consider how much needs cleaned, and how big of debris it will be.  Are you planning on sweeping a bunch of leaves?  It's a good idea to get a larger hose so that the leaves can fit in.  Do you plan on cleaning water?  If it is a large amount of water, a large shop vac will work best.  Are you low on space?  Try the small shop vac.  If it is too small, you can always upgrade to a larger one.

Do You Want a Plastic Shop Vac Or Stainless Steel Shop Vac?

There are benefits to both types of materials that shop vacs are made from.  Plastic shop vacs are lighter weight, which makes it easy to move around.  However, they are not as durable.  Stainless steel shop vacs are more durable and easy to clean, but they can be heavier.  Decide which type will fit your needs the best.

 

Pros

  • plus
    Have strong suction capabilities
  • plus
    Can clean up large amounts of debris very quickly
  • plus
    Some can clean up wet messes 

Cons

  • close
    Can be heavy, especially when filled with water
  • close
    Larger shop vacs can take up a lot of space
  • close
    Some can be expensive

Features

Dust Bag Around the Filter

A dust bag helps keep the inside of the shop vac cleaner.  It helps the filter last longer and maintain more suction.  Some shop vacs will come with dust bags, but if it doesn't you can always buy one for around $5.

Hose Lock

A hose lock secures the hose to the canister more securely than a simple press-on fitting.  Not all shop vacs will have this feature, so you'll want to look for one that does.

Drainage Spout

Some shop vacs feature a drainage spout.  This means that you can easily empty water without having to take the lid off.  To get the water out, you'll probably need to attach a pump or garden hose.  Some shop vacs come with pumps, but some don't.  If yours doesn't come with a pump, you can probably find one sold by the manufacturer.

Extension Wands

Extension wands prevent you from kneeling down or bending over in order to clean.  Some extension wands are longer than others, but they should all be long enough so that you can easily clean without bending over.

Shop Vac Tools

There are many shop vac tools that can be used on your shop vac.  Tools include special nozzles for car interiors, a dusting brush, a squeegee to help with cleaning up water, and angled hoses/tubes to help reach places such as rooftops.

Filter

You'll want to look for a pleated cartridge filter, which is found on most models.  Pleated cartridge filters are easier to change and are less prone to dust leaks than a two piece paper-and-foam filter.  Keep in mind that oddly shaped filters may be hard to find.  Before you buy a shop vac, you may want to check if the filter will be easy to find at stores or online.  If not, you may want to go with a different shop vac.

Wall Bracket For Storing Your Shop Vac

If your shop vac is small enough, you may be able to hang it on the wall by using a wall bracket.  This will free up the floor space in your garage or shed.  However, if you have a larger shop vac this won't be possible.

Tool Storage

A nice feature that some shop vacs have is a spot to store extension wands and tools on the shop vac.  This helps keep everything organized. Some models have tool storage on the inside of the shop vac, but most models have the storage section on the outside.

How to Clean a Shop Vac Filter

Now that you've learned all about how a shop vac can be a useful tool at your home, it is time to take a look at maintenance.  Don't worry, shop vacs are easy to maintain.  All you need to do is change the filter and clean the outside of the shop vac once in a while.  Since you probably know how to clean the outside of the shop vac (wipe it with water and maybe soap), let's take a look at how to clean the shop vac filter.

First, it is important to keep your eye out for signs that your shop vac filter needs cleaned.  If you notice that the suction is no longer good or that the air around it is becoming dusty, it is probably time to clean or change the filter.  There is no exact period of time you must clean the filter.  When you need to clean the filter depends on how often you use it and what it is cleaning.  If you are sweeping up large debris often, you'll need to clean your filter often.  After finding out when it is time to clean your shop vac filter, you must consider what type of filter your shop vac has.  Not all filters are the same.  There are reusable dry filters, foam sleeves, and cartridge filter.  There are also different types of cartridge filters.  Find out what type of filter your shop vac takes, and then you can continue on with cleaning it.

Reusable Dry Filter

To clean a reusable dry filter, rinse them under a faucet or hose.  It is very important that the filter is 100% dry before you put it back in the shop vac.  Make sure that you don't machine wash or dry this type of filter.  Only rinse it and let it air dry.

Foam Sleeve

The foam sleeve isn't exactly a filter, but it is part of the filter system.  If you use your shop vac to pick up wet messes or if you use reusable dry filter,  most likely you have a foam sleeve as part of your filter.  If the foam sleeve is extremely dirty, hold it under running water for a couple minutes.  Make sure you rinse from the inside of the filter outward.  After rinsing it, allow it to dry so that mildew or mold doesn't build up.  Sometimes you don't need to wash the foam sleeves.  Shaking it outside is sometimes enough to get the dust to fall off.

Cartridge Filter

Like I said above, there are different types of cartridge filters.  One thing you must never do with any type of cartridge filter is scrub it with a brush or scrub to clean between pleats.  If you do, the filter won't work.  For standard cartridges, remove the filter from the shop vac and shake it.  If that doesn't clean it, rinse it under water.  Make sure you allow it to air dry for about 24 hours.  As for HEPA filters, remove the filter from the shop vac and tap it to loosen debris.  You can also clean HEPA filters by rinsing the outside surface under running water.  Avoid dampening the inside of the filter, and make sure you give the filter plenty of time to dry before putting it back inside the shop vac.

Our Top Pick

Our top pick for the best shop vac on the market is the WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1200VA Heavy Duty.

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Conclusion

I hope this article has helps you choose a shop vac that will fit your needs.  Today I went over the best shop vac, as well as the top ten best shop vacs on the market.   I also went over a simple guide to knowing how to pick the best shop vac for your needs.  I hope now you'll be able to easily find one that will fit your budget and needs.  Happy shopping!