Best Shop Vac and Wet Dry Vacuums Tested for 2024

Best Shop Vac Reviews

The best shop vacs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, power levels, and price points. Nearly every store that sells tools also sells wet dry shop vacuums. These handy tools range from larger-capacity units to smaller, portable models. My picks for the best shop vac for 2024 come from years of hands-on use and testing literally dozens of models. After all, I own a 2600-square-foot shop where Pro Tool Reviews tests hundreds of tools each year. That involves a LOT of cleanup! My picks include a range of categories to address a variety of needs and applications.

Best Shop Vac Top Picks

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What Do I Mean By “Shop Vac”?

Shop Vacs are like Kleenex, Bandaids, and Sawzalls. The Shop-Vac brand became so synonymous with wet dry shop vacuums that people started calling all of them Shop Vacs. The Shop-Vac brand is still around, though it went through a rough period and was sold off to Great Star Tools in December 2020.

Shop vacs usually have a larger diameter hose, and they don’t typically arrive HEPA certified (though some do). You don’t normally find automatic filter cleaning, and the motor tends to be smaller, so there’s less overall power. Those are the main differences between what I consider a shop vac vs a dust extractor. Those aren’t all the differences, of course, but it’s a good start.

These shop vacs run the gamut from compact wet-dry models to larger vacuums destined for woodworkers in the shop. So, what makes a good wet-dry shop vacuum? It depends on your needs. It’s going to be a balance of portability, airflow (CFM), suction power (water lift), and capacity for the most part. Add in included accessories, storage, and hose/cord management to bring it full circle.

How you weigh each of those categories differs from job to job and person to person. I’ve compiled my list of the best shop vacs for 2024 and you can decide which one best fits your needs.

Best Shop Vac Overall

Milwaukee Modular Wet/Dry Vacuum and Air-Tip Accessories

Milwaukee Air-Tip vacs

The best shop vac overall has to have the best balance of everything, and Milwaukee nailed it, but not with just one vac. They created an entire modular system that lets you customize what you need. Choose from single-battery, dual-battery, or corded powerheads. Then add 6, 9, or 12-gallon canisters. From there, you can go with a standard filter, wet foam filter, or HEPA filter.

Then there’s the Air-Tip line of trade-focused accessories that are cross-compatible with almost any hose size.

While there’s not just one vac that fits every need, Milwaukee has designed a system that is far greater than any one model thanks to the sum of its parts.

Vac Prices: $249 – $799

Air-Tip Prices: $17.99 – $119

Best Cordless Shop Vac

EGO 56V Cordless 9-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

There are a lot of quality cordless options today, but EGO set itself apart from the crowd as the best cordless shop vac this year. This 56V battery-powered wet dry has impressive performance with 110 CFM and 100 inches of water lift. It’s not just about the muscle, though. There’s a filter cleaning mechanism that I typically don’t see on shop vacs and you can operate it via remote control.

Add thoughtful accessory storage and a 9-gallon capacity, and you get the model that’s shaking up the cordless wet dry vacuum landscape.

Price: $299 bare tool, $499 kit with a 5.0Ah battery and charger

Best Heavy-Duty Shop Vac

Vacmaster 8-Gallon Industrial Wet/Dry Vac VK811PH

Best Heavy Duty Wet Dry Shop Vacuum

The Vacmaster VK811PH Industrial Wet/Dry Vac gets my best heavy-duty shop vac nod for several big reasons. First, this shop vac had the highest-tested water lift in its price class at 106 inches (based on my testing). Even with that kind of pull, it still manages 125 CFM of suction.

I also think the 8-gallon canister is the sweet spot for commercial maneuverability and capacity. Large rubber back wheels let you get over bumpy thresholds without marring surfaces. The hose measures a somewhat tame 10 feet, but it’s still enough to work with in most situations. I also like the metal accessories and excellent cord management. It’s even HEPA-rated.

Price: $231.99

Best High-Capacity Shop Vac for Construction

Ridgid 16-Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum HD1800

Best High-Capacity Shop Vac for Construction

Ridgid vacuums are all over jobsites for a good reason: they’re a great value and have a ton of suction for the price. There are several excellent options in the line and the Ridgid 16-gallon NXT is my top pick as the best shop vac for construction.

With 6.5 peak horsepower and 184 CFM, it’s the strongest model in Ridgid’s lineup. Plus, the 16-gallon canister holds more debris than most models, the cart design makes it easy to move around your workspace, and the accessory set includes nozzles to tackle just about any mess you have to deal with.

Price: $159

Best HEPA Shop Vac for Dust Collection

Bosch VAC090AH 9-Gallon HEPA Dust Extractor

Most top-rated HEPA vacuums fall into the dust extractor category rather than the shop vacuum class. The design of the Bosch VAC090AH involves a robust build quality that gives the canister a tight seal while the HEPA filter and bag take care of finer dust collection. It does excellent work ensuring harmful silicon dust particles don’t make it into your breathing space.

Priced around $545, the Bosch VAC090AH provides particle capture down to the HEPA-rated 0.3 micron level. It features both HEPA filtration and automatic filter cleaning every 15 seconds. This keeps your filter clean and usable for longer and the cycle time didn’t lose suction during testing. You also get advanced features like power actuation to turn on the vacuum with your corded power tool.

Price: $545

Best Portable Shop Vac for Car Cleaning

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Packout 2.5-Gallon Wet/Dry Vaccum

Packout Vacuum

When it comes to portability and cleaning vehicles, nothing beats a small-capacity cordless model… if it has high enough performance. Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel 0970 uses a brushless motor to produce 50 CFM and 47 inches of water lift in a 2.5-gallon size that’s Packout compatible.

You could go smaller and have more maneuverability around the vehicle, but I like the performance level of this model and the Packout interface is really handy to make storing and transporting your mobile detailing gear easier.

Price: $199 bare

Best Value Shop Vac for Home Use

HART 8-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum VOC812SF 3701

Best Value Shop Vac for Home Use

HART has an impressive range of vacuums that covers everything from the wet/dry shop vacs we’ve been talking about to standard upright vacuums and plenty in between. With 6.0 peak horsepower dialed in to deliver 100 CFM and 89 inches of water lift, it has excellent performance for the price. Plus, the stainless steel canister gives it a great look and its cart-style base makes moving the vac easier.

Price: $79

Best Wall Mount Shop Vac For Woodworking

Rikon 60-101 Wall-Mounted 1 HP Dust Collector

Wall Mounted vacuum Rikon 60-101

For a true wall-mounted shop vac I presume you may want to do more than simply clean up some floor space. For connecting woodworking equipment to a shop-wide vac system without hitting four figures in price, I like the Rikon 60-101. As my pick for the best wall-mounted vacuum, it collects up to 99% of shop dust as small as 1 micron.

It features all-metal construction and the motor’s 10-inch impeller creates 800 CFM of suction using 4-inch ductwork (up to two devices). With 5-inch ducting, you can get up to 1100 CFM for single-tool use. This system can handle pulling dust and wood chips from bandsaws, table saws, jointers, planers, and more.

Price: $674.99

Best-Selling Shop Vacs

I love checking for the latest updates on the best-selling wet dry shop vacuums. While they may not be the highest performing, it’s a great way to see the most popular high-value or low-cost models, along with what’s on sale.

Best-Selling Wet Dry Vacuums at Amazon

Acme Tools Best-Selling Shop Vacs

Best-Selling Shop Vacs at Home Depot

Lowe’s Best-Selling Wet Dry Vacuums

Best Shop Vac — More Recommendations from Brands We Trust

Best DeWalt Shop Vacuum: 9-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum DXV09P-QTA

DeWalt has several wet/dry vacuum options that avoid reaching up into dust extractor pricing and we’re impressed with their build quality. Among the choices you have, I recommend the 9-gallon model for the best balance of capacity, performance, and price. It boasts 5 peak horsepower with 90 CFM and 70 inches of water lift. At $144.99, it’s an excellent upgrade if you’re looking for better durability than lower-priced models.

Even better is the upgraded Stealth Sonic version. It’s effectively the same vacuum on a foundational level, but it offers 50% quieter operation. If noise the noise level is one of your pain points, it’s worth spending a bit more to get this one.

Price: $199.99

Best Flex Shop Vacuum: 1.6-Gallon Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum FX5221-Z

Flex only has one vacuum on its 24V system at the moment. The compact 1.6-gallon design has surprisingly good performance for its size with 41 CFM and 42 inches of water lift.

It goes beyond the basics with two modes to run for higher performance or higher runtime and has a button to activate the Reverse Flow Function so the vac can clean the included HEPA filter. The basic physical design strays away from tradition, but in a refreshing way that makes sense.

Price: $119 bare

Best Greenworks Wet/Dry Vacuum: 60V Pro Hybrid Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

Greenworks stands out with its hybrid battery/AC ability. While it’s incredibly convenient to run completely cordless, there are times when you don’t want to be limited by runtime.

With that in mind, the Greenworks 60V wet/dry vacuum is my top choice from the brand’s offerings. Its performance is excellent among battery-powered options (90 CFM/36 inches of water lift), the overall design is solid, it has excellent capacity at 9 gallons, and you have the hybrid power option.

Price: $199.99 (does not include batteries or charger)

Best Hilti Shop Vacuum: High-Suction 17-Gallon Wet/Dry Construction Vacuum VC 300-17 X

Hilti isn’t a name you necessarily think of in a conversation about shop vacuums. With a focus heavily on construction, they don’t have what you would consider a traditional shop vac. That said, their vacuums are excellent if you need one on the level Hilti develops them for.

The best is Hilti’s VC 300-17 X, which uses two turbines to produce a monstrous 300 CFM designed to help contractors remain Table 1 compliant. Capable of holding up to 159 pounds of dust, it has the automatic filter cleaning and HEPA design concrete contractors need.

Price: $2029

Best Makita Shop Vacuum: 18V LXT 2-Gallon HEPA Wet/Dry Vacuum XCV11

Makita is another brand that primarily focuses on dust extractors rather than what I would think of as shop vacs. However, they have a deep line of vacuums ranging from dust extractors to commercial cleaning and even models that can detect the trigger pull of a cordless tool.

Moving closer to the entry point of the line the brushless 2-gallon XCV11 offers 57 CFM and 27 inches of water lift in the higher of its 2 modes. That performance level is useful for cleaning up light debris such as sawdust and dirt, or adding active dust collection to your power tools while maintaining relevant runtime for the single 18V battery it uses for power.

Price: $224 bare tool, $499 with two 5.0Ah batteries and a charger

Best Ryobi Shop Vacuum: 40V Cordless 10-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum RY40WD01

Ryobi had a major vacuum expansion in 2022 that’s great for you, but complicated matters for us. With several great models to choose from on both the corded and cordless sides, picking the best wasn’t easy.

In the final analysis, I chose Ryobi’s 40V cordless 10-gallon shop vacuum thanks to its cordless power source with 80 CFM and 50 inches of water lift. Using a 6.0Ah battery, you can get up to an hour of runtime. It’s a strong contender alongside Greenworks for the best overall cordless shop vac, but the one thing it lacks is an AC option.

Price: $199 bare, $308 with a 4.0Ah battery and charger

Best Shop-Vac Brand Shop Vac: 12-Gallon 6.0 HP Stainless Steel Wet-Dry Vacuum 5761311

We can’t have a best shop vacuum guide without including the brand that gave the category its notoriety. Shop-Vac has you covered across a wide range of sizes and power levels. It’s the 12-gallon 6.0 HP stainless steel model we prefer above the others.

The canister has a generous capacity without being as bulky as the 16-gallon models, the 6.0 peak horsepower motor provides 100 CFM with 66 inches of water lift, and it looks good, too. It’s an excellent all-around design to clean up your shop, car, garage, and all those messes life likes to throw at your home.

Price: $129

Why Buy a Wet-Dry Shop Vacuum?

Wet-dry shop vacuums (or Shop Vacs as the industry knows them) are the cleanup workhorses from house to jobsite. Their ability to clean up a variety of wet and dry messes from inside the house to your car to your jobsite makes them incredibly versatile. While they’re typically not as powerful or refined as portable jobsite dust extractors, they’re also much less expensive, starting at less than $50. Unless you really need all the extra bells and whistles of a dust extractor, they’re definitely the way to go.

Best Shop Vac Buying Guide – What We Look For

Corded or Cordless?

My personal preference still falls to corded shop vacs. Many manufacturers, however, have smaller-capacity vacuums designed for very portable use. Some manufacturers even make cordless shop vacs with higher CFM and water lift capabilities. These cordless vacs can truly help your jobsite cleanup since you get to skip hunting for an outlet. Run times keep getting better as well, making them more practical than ever.

Dust Extractor or Shop Vac?

When considering between choosing a dust extractor or a shop vac we recommend looking at what you hope to achieve. A shop vac typically thrives at picking up materials like wood chips and debris. It often has a wider nozzle to handle these tasks without easily clogging. A dust extractor, on the other hand, focuses more on removing airborne particles like concrete dust.

Airflow (CFM)

Airflow simply reflects the amount of airflow running through the nozzle over a set period of time. As an acronym, CFM stands for “cubic feet per minute”. The higher the CFM, the more air it’s pulling through the hose.

Water Lift (Suction Power)

Water lift is typically measured in inches and it helps us understand the vacuum’s ability to move heavier objects. The higher the water lift, the greater the suction power, and the heavier debris it can move. If you’re primarily collecting sawdust, you don’t need a ton of water lift. If your debris involves chips or materials or nails and screws, you need more.

Capacity

Clearly, the capacity you need depends upon the application for your shop vac. When comparing similar models in an application, factor in the amount of material a vac can take in. We also look at how efficiently it stores material. A shop vac with a well-designed filter can outperform another model in terms of realistic storage capacity.

Keep in mind shop vacs measure capacity by the overall size of the canister. The filter takes up part of the room, so the dry capacity is smaller. The wet capacity is smaller still to avoid the risk of pulling water up into the motor. Most quality models have a float valve of a sort to close off the motor when the water level gets high enough.

Portability

Not every shop vac qualifies as a “portable” tool, but even larger units need to transport from the tool crib or shop to the job site. Look at the wheels, handle design, and more to understand which models present the best portability for maneuvering and transport.

Accessory Storage

Accessory storage consistently presents a problem for some wet-dry vacuums. No matter how much attention manufacturers pay in this area, it seems you can’t help but snag a hose or drop a nozzle. Some vacuums, however, at least address accessory storage in a way that gives you a fighting chance to ensure those flooring tools, brushes, and extension nozzles are there when you need them.

For larger models, you can store most, if not all, of the accessories inside the canister when it’s not in use.

Cord Management

Many shop vacuums include some form of cord wrap, but some are better than others. Consider how easy the shop vac makes managing the cord when you plug it in and when you’re done for the day.

Price and Value

For many folks, setting a budget is the first step to eliminating options due to price. Consider the price of the vacuum and weigh it against the performance and features of the tool along with the warranty, depth of line (for cordless products), included accessories, and other priorities you may have.

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