Shop Vacuums: Meet the 6 Great Must-Have Wet and Dry Vacuums of 2023

Today’s shop vacuums are far sleeker, better designed, and less expensive than their earlier counterparts.
Today’s shop vacuums are far sleeker, better designed, and less expensive than their earlier counterparts.

Shop vacuums were invented because life can get messy – and then it can get really messy. Also known as wet and dry vacuum cleaners, shop vacuums are modern cleaning wonders, indispensable for homeowners, DIY enthusiasts, and business owners alike.

While traditional household vacuum cleaners are suitable for everyday cleaning tasks, a shop vacuum can deal with cleanup after accidental spills, flooding, or a dusty workshop, saving you valuable time and effort in the process.

The first notable advances in the evolution of modern shop vacuums came in the 1950s and 1960s when inventors began experimenting with modifying existing vacuum cleaner designs to accommodate wet cleaning capabilities.

The early models featured larger capacities, stronger motors, and specialized filtration systems to handle a wider range of debris. While these early iterations laid the groundwork for future innovations, they were often bulky and lacked the refined features that modern shop vacuums offer.

Below is our list of the 6 best shop vacuums you will find on the market this year.
Below is our list of the 6 best shop vacuums you will find on the market this year.

The Best Shop Vacuums Available Online Right Now!

Today’s shop vacuums are far sleeker, better designed, and less expensive than their earlier counterparts. With these advances in design and technology has come a wider range of options and models for just about every kind of consumer there is.

With that wide variety comes the frustration of choosing the best shop vacuum for your particular needs. For example, you may want the power of a high-capacity shop vacuum but not its cumbersome bulkiness.

To help you choose, we did our research on the best shop vacuums on the market today and selected five that are a cut above the rest. Below is our list of the 6 best shop vacuums you will find on the market this year.

1. Vacmaster VBV1210 Shop Vacuum: A Star Performer

The Vacmaster VBV1210 is a large, powerful shop vacuum – one of a few that are of a decidedly bigger capacity and power than the others on this list. Vacmaster obviously designed this vacuum for shops and large spaces. We were pleasantly surprised to find that VBV1210 also doubles as a blower.

With a rich history that spans several decades, Vacmaster has established itself as a leader in the industry, making vacuums for both residential and commercial cleaning needs. The company has been manufacturing wet and dry vacuums since the 1980s, and so we expected much from the VBV1210.

Out of the box, this blue and black shop vacuum comes with a 7′ x 2-1/2″ hose, two extension wands, a utility nozzle, a crevice tool, a nozzle designed for cars, a concentrator nozzle, a blower adapter, a noise diffuser, a standard cartridge filter, and a foam wet filter.

Impressive Power and Versatility

The Vacmaster VBV1210 is a sturdy-looking shop vacuum with a polypropylene tank that holds up to 12 gallons of dust, waste, or water. The motor will give a range of vacuuming tasks a formidable five-horsepower kick. On initial testing, this vacuum sucked up a gallon of liquid in two seconds flat. We were quite impressed.

We used the vacuum’s 210 mph blower function on a leaf-strewn patio with excellent results, too. The tank might be too large for tight spaces, though, as it did prove to be a tad difficult to move around.

But that is not to say that it was not portable. You can move the vacuum around on four 360-degree casters, which are fast and easy to install. While they did fall off when we lifted the unit to take it upstairs for more testing, we don’t think that would be too much of a problem once you are aware that it can happen.

The nozzles and the long hose come in handy when vacuuming in tight spaces. We used the crevice nozzle to suck dust and cobwebs from the corners in the ceiling of our test attic with great ease. We also managed to vacuum otherwise unreachable crevices between bookcases in our test living room and cabinets in the kitchen.

The VBV1210 handled itself well in all our tests. The unit can hold sizeable amounts of debris or water, and it cleaned out our rather spacious test living room without a single extra pass. We even used the vacuum to suck water from the floor of a shower in our test home, which it accomplished within a few seconds.

One thing to note here is the use of the sound diffuser. We subsequently used it during testing and observed a marked decrease in the unit’s suction power.

We made no scientific measurements.  We didn’t need any. That much became clear when we tried cleaning our test garage with the VBV1210 and it didn’t do quite as well as it had when the diffuser was not attached. We simply weren’t getting as much debris as we eventually did with the diffuser detached.

High-Quality Performance

Overall, and minus the diffuser, we were well pleased with the VBV1210’s performance. We think this shop vacuum is powerful enough to help you get water out of a flooded basement if you ever need to do that. There is a large drain port at the bottom of the tank, which means you do not have to lift the unit to empty it.

The heavy tank has a rack for attachments, which should be helpful as you acquire more accessories for the unit.

We encountered no problems installing the cartridge filter, which remained clean after much of our first few tests. This Vacmaster will work more than well for fine dust, such as ash, drywall, and soot. But the manufacturer suggests you buy a separate dust filter. You can find those online.

Our final verdict? We think the VBV1210 is a high-quality, robust, and feature-rich shop vacuum that provides exceptional performance and versatility.

Whether you need to clean a large area, remove debris from your workshop, or deal with liquid spills in the kitchen, you can be confident that the VBV1210 will handle it without a hiccup. It gets five stars from our staff. We all think it deserves the most prominent spot on our list.

Vacmaster VBV1210 Shop Vacuum

2. DEWALT 9 Gallon DXV09PZ Wet and Dry Vacuum

Not everyone needs a big 16-gallon dry and wet shop vacuum around their home or business, and the DEWALT 9 Gallon DXV09PZ Shop Vacuum hits the midsized sweet spot right on the mark. It is small enough for you to use on windowsills, shelves, and cabinets, but powerful enough to clean out your workshop after a day’s sanding work.

DeWalt has become a prominent and trusted brand in power tools. Over the years, people have come to expect much from the company, from its pioneering radial arm saw to its advanced line of shop vacuums. This reputation led us to anticipate much from the DXV09PZ.

This vacuum comes with an accessory bag, a filter, a floor nozzle, a utility nozzle, a crevice nozzle, a brush, a hose, an extension wand, and two disposable filter bags. That is quite a lot of auxiliary pieces and, chances are, you will use all of them just vacuuming your workshop. We certainly did.

The Sweet Spot

This shop vacuum is of a size that should be a good fit for most shops and garages with easy portability to carry to the job site. DeWalt fitted this vacuum with four 360° rotating caster wheels, which do offer good mobility in tighter spaces.

Of course, the lack of larger wheels means that cords and debris will sometimes be an annoyance. But, other than that, we moved around freely while testing this unit.

We were fortunate enough to get our hands on a manometer for our testing and, in our suction force test, this model registered 4 lbs and 7 oz of pull force.

That’s about equal to other models in the DXV09PZ’s size class. But the CFM rating is a bit low compared to the others. The vacuum is far from ineffective, though.

Our more practical tests involved vacuuming a rather messy workshop, and this DeWalt vacuum performed quite well with that task, sucking up wood chips and fine sawdust with equal efficiency.  We also managed to clean out a test garage within an hour with this shop vacuum.

It’s easy to use, too. Converting the DeWalt 9-Gallon Wet and Dry Shop Vacuum to its blowing mode is a simple matter of attaching the hose to the motor exhaust. In seconds, you’ve got yourself a low-power blower.

Superior Build Quality

There is no questioning the superior build quality of the DXV09PZ shop vacuum. Everything about this model speaks of tough reliability. The individual components are rugged and robust. Our test unit was like a little battle tank. There were no flimsy latches or ill-fitting pieces.

In fact, everything about this shop vacuum is fixed together tight and practically seamlessly, from the canister to the accessories and from the housing to the cord. You might find other models of a similar capacity from other manufacturers that are cheaper, but the build quality on this Dewalt machine would be hard to beat.

By our measure, the DeWalt 9-Gallon Wet and Dry Vacuum scores high on all the most important counts. For the money it will cost you, you get a 9-gallon unit that strikes a balance between power output and CFM and water lift.

Sure, its performance statistics on a manometer won’t look too impressive, but in real-world testing, we say the DXV09PZ shop vacuum makes more than just a convincing argument for itself. It is a well-built piece of equipment that’s a step or two ahead of the competition in terms of quality.

DEWALT 9 Gallon DXV09PZ Wet and Dry Vacuum

3. Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 Wet and Dry Vacuum: A Big Workhorse

When we decided to curate a list of the best shop vacuums on the market for you this year, the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 Shop Vacuum was among the first to pop on our radar. We had heard and read much about this particular model – and most of what we heard and read was good.

This was not too surprising as the Craftsman line of tools has been around since 1927. Craftsman tools were initially a line owned by Sears Holdings. The Craftsman brand is now owned by the Stanley Black and Decker Company, which is, of course, world-famous for producing some of the best quality power tools in the industry.

Given the largely positive customer response to the product, we were eager to find out how well the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 with its enormous 16-gallon capacity would stack up against other heavy-duty shop vacuums on this list.

As Good Outdoors as It Is Indoors          

Out of the box, the CMXEVBE17595 comes with Craftsman’s proprietary 2-1/2 in. x 7 ft. POS-I-LOCK Dual-Flex Hose, two extension wands, a utility nozzle, a car nozzle, a wet nozzle, a pleated paper filter, and a dust collection bag.

The Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 is ready to use out of the box. The only accessories we needed to attach were the wheels, handle, and hose holding bracket. Assembly is minimal. You’ll need a screwdriver, but that is all. The package provides all the screws you’ll need.

The CMXEVBE17595 ‘s 12-amp motor packs a considerable 6.5 horsepower rating, and we immediately liked the unit’s long, 20-foot power cord. We didn’t need to look for a suitable extension cord throughout our testing of this product. The provided power cord was long enough for all our tests.

We first put this shop vacuum to work in our workshop, where it made quick work of debris that consisted of metal nuts and bolts, sawdust, wood shavings, concrete dust, plaster, and even a little mud that our shoe soles dragged in from outside.

Next up was the kitchen. To make things a little more challenging for the CMXEVBE17595, we splashed a few glasses of water and debris on the kitchen floor, generally making an outstanding mess of the place. None of it was a problem for this shop vacuum.

Finally, we dragged our test unit outdoors to see how well it would perform in our garden. The CMXEVBE17595 picked up wet leaves and sticks as easily as it did indoor debris. It even cleared a few puddles without a problem. We were very impressed, of course.

If you’re looking for a high-capacity shop vacuum that can support some serious debris cleanup, then we recommend that you consider the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Shop Vacuum.
If you’re looking for a high-capacity shop vacuum that can support some serious debris cleanup, then we recommend that you consider the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Shop Vacuum.

A Strong Contender in Its Class

Now, the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 was among the strongest contenders for a place on our lineup and had easily nudged out lesser models of the same high capacity. This is one well-designed product and provides extras you won’t find on others in its class and price range.

We thought the built-in storage on this shop vacuum was a thoughtful design feature – and so did many of this model’s fans. “One major thing I loved about it is the location pads around the base and top that allows for storing all accessories on the unit, says one satisfied customer. “This is really a nice touch, and it saves storage space.”

With its 7-foot hose and 20-foot power cord, its great performance, and its raw cleaning power, this shop vacuum has more than enough grit and suction to clear a larger room or garage.

If you’re looking for a high-capacity shop vacuum that can support some serious debris cleanup, then we recommend that you consider the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Shop Vacuum.

Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 Wet and Dry Vacuum

4. Ridgid RT1400 Shop Vacuum: Heavy Duty Satisfaction

The Ridgid RT1400 Shop Vacuum is another top contender in the heavy-duty shop vacuum category. This tool has earned high praise from homeowners and professionals everywhere. So much so, in fact, that we rank it among the best that the industry has to offer.

Founded in 1923, the Ridgid Tool Company has been delivering cutting-edge solutions for the needs of professionals across various trades for a hundred years. With a comprehensive portfolio that encompasses pipe and tubing tools, diagnostics, and pressing equipment, the company’s vacuums are also among the best you can buy right now.

We were quite excited to find out if the company’s flagship RT1400 shop vacuum deserves the reputation it has earned since Ridgid introduced it to the market.

After a few delays in acquiring a test unit, the package finally arrived at our offices on a Friday afternoon. We spent a few hours off our weekend testing the unit, making sure we learned everything there is to learn about its capabilities in the time that we had.

Impressive Power and Performance

The Ridgid model RT1400 professional wet and dry vacuum is a 14-gallon 6. 0 Peak HP industrial-strength shop vacuum. Out of the box, you’ll find several attachments, including a hose, a utility nozzle, a wet nozzle, a crevice tool, a car nozzle, and a fine dust filter.

The RT1400 also comes with a full lifetime warranty, which immediately won high marks from our staff of reviewers and testers.

We first tested the shop vacuum’s performance on a test car’s interior. The Ridgid RT1400 has incredible suction strength due to its 6.0 peak HP motor, which made picking up all kinds of debris inside a car a simple matter of pointing the nozzle.

We used this shop vacuum on a rubber floor mat, the car carpet, and the car seats, all with satisfactory results. To be frank, a car seemed too easy for the RT1400. So we then rolled the RT1400 into a particularly messy test garage, one which had as much junk and rubbish to match what you’d find in a diner at closing time.

The RT1400’s utility nozzle alone picked up dirt, sand, pine needles, dog hair, food crumbs, sawdust, and a variety of other unnamable debris in a matter of minutes. We decided to up the challenge a bit and took a hose to the garage to see how the unit did with wet debris. It cleaned out the wet garage with as much ease as it did when it was dry.

We spent the afternoon testing the unit inside our workshop, where it picked up metal debris, nuts and bolts, coins, sawdust, and wood shavings with uniform ease and rapidity.

Simple and Easy to Use

The Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System featured on this shop vacuum allows for quick installation or removal of paper filters. The heavy-duty locking hose means you don’t have to worry about the hose pulling loose, too.

We were all quite satisfied with the performance of the RT1400 and could understand why it has been getting rave reviews. We loved its power – so much so that we had fun testing whether the suction force would be enough to pick up small tools and the like.

We were disappointed to find that the RT1400 does not have a blower function, though. We would have thought that a must for shop vacuums these days. The wheels on the unit were of poor-quality plastic, as well, and the design doesn’t ensure that they stay locked in. The plastic wheels did pop off a few times while we were moving the vacuum around.

But if you’re in the market for a high-capacity shop vacuum for your home, workshop, or business establishment, then you would do well to take a look at the Ridgid RT1400.

This model gets high marks from our team for its power and performance. You simply cannot go wrong with it on those terms.

Ridgid RT1400 Shop Vacuum

5. Ryobi P3240 18-Volt ONE+ 3-Gallon Wet and Dry Vacuum: Efficient and Effective

There has been some debate among our staff as to whether we should include cordless, battery-powered shop vacuums on our list simply because they are a class all their own. When we finally decided that we would for the sake of readers who are looking for smaller, portable wet and dry vacuums, the Ryobi P3240 18-Volt ONE+ 3-Gallon Shop Vacuum was among the first models we considered.

By our account, the P3240 was also the best of the bunch of smaller shop vacuums – including models from Craftsman and Bosch – that we considered for this list. We based our opinion on the results of a series of tests on portable shop vacuums and on the opinions of a few professionals.

Ryobi Limited is a Japanese manufacturer of components for automobiles, electronics, and printing equipment. The company also produces power tools and other equipment, many of which have earned the praise of both consumers and industry experts. After testing the P3240, we certainly understand why.

Efficient and Portable

Out of the box, the Ryobi P3240 comes with a washable filter, a crevice tool, a utility nozzle, and a hose. Our test unit did not include a battery and a charger. We had to order those separately.

Long before we received our test unit, we knew that the biggest criticism against this shop vacuum was its rather limited battery life. But then among its biggest selling points for the Ryobi Cordless 3-Gallon Shop Vacuum is the fact that it is an 18V One+ product.

This means that the batteries which power any other Ryobi 18V One+ product will work in it along with more than 100 other One+ tools. We managed to borrow another battery for our tests, and the system worked as promised.

We should mention that one of the first things we noticed was how much easier it was to find a storage area for the P3240. The hose fits snugly on top of the unit since it is extendable and because the unit is compact, we could easily fit it under the shelves in the office pantry.

We were surprised at how well this comparatively little unit did its work. We hadn’t quite expected it to be as powerful. The Ryobi P3240 has a 45 CFM suction capacity. That may not sound like much, but it was enough to clear our workshop of sawdust, chunky wood chips, nails, and other debris.

When put to slightly heavier tasks, this machine showed no signs of weakness sucking up heavy items ranging from machine nuts, washers, and bolts.

Some might argue that this amount of power may not be enough for heavy vacuuming tasks. They would be right. But it should be enough for spot-cleaning your workshop and your place of business.

We tested the Ryobi’s capacity to suck up spills and were pleased to find that it can suck up about a dozen glasses’ worth of water from the floor within seconds. We poured about a gallon of water into a small trough and found the P3240 could suck the trough practically dry in a little less than five seconds.

Good Performance at an Attractive Price Point

We then used the P3240  to clean an unused room in our offices – one that was coated with a thin layer of dust and dirt. We finished that job fast and found that the canister was not even half full. It was quite easy to move around, too, weighing less than 10 pounds with the 3-gallon canister.

We liked this tool. That said, the Ryobi P3240 does have some issues. The battery will last you about 20 minutes. That may be enough to clean a small apartment, but not much more. You can buy an extra battery or use Ryobi’s patented battery-sharing feature if you want to work a little longer, but even then, you should know that it takes a couple of hours to charge each battery.

There is also the fact that the nozzles that come with the unit do not cover much in terms of area. We found that frustrating as, given the battery’s limitations, we thought that the unit’s design should have at least tried to compensate with nozzles that cover a wider area.

Nevertheless, the Ryobi P3240 sells at an attractive price point and will efficiently and effectively clean both wet and dry debris. If you are looking to buy a portable shop vacuum, we say the Ryobi P3240 would be your best bet.

Ryobi P3240 18-Volt ONE+ 3-Gallon Wet and Dry Vacuum

6. DeWalt ‎DCV517M1 20V Cordless Handheld Shop Vacuum

There are so many handheld shop vacuums nowadays it can be difficult to tell them apart. The DeWalt ‎DCV517M1 20V Cordless Hand Vacuum is one of them, but it stands alone in its class. DeWalt, a renowned name in the power tools industry, has also made a significant impact in the vacuum cleaner market with its exceptional line of products.

The DCV517M1 cordless shop vacuum’s handheld is designed to make things easy. It’s easy to carry around at just a tad over 7 lbs., and the tool’s 46 CFM and 65 total air watts make easy work of picking up smaller particles like sawdust and drywall dust. It will also sweep up larger debris like small screws and nails and wire cuttings.

Best for Cars

Apart from the battery and charger, our test kit came with six other attachments. These can be used to adapt the vacuum to handle much more types of debris and spills than your usual hand vacuum. These accessories include a flexible hose, a round brush, and a gulper brush. You get a crevice nozzle, a handheld extension tube to extend your reach, and a floor accessory for larger areas.

People who buy the DCV517M1 use it primarily for their cars, although it worked fine in our woodworking workshop. This compact shop vacuum has a wide utility nozzle that is excellent for rubber floor mats and seats. The hose also has a slender, angled nozzle that can be used to clean under car seats.

While the DCV517M1 shop vacuum does require recharges after each use, we found that a full charge is sufficient to clean several cars during our testing period. It stays charged when you don’t expend all its power and so you can use it to clean one car repeatedly for a few days before you need to recharge.

You will find that a LED light conveniently is located on the vacuum’s handle to illuminate darker areas, which we thought was a useful feature. We wished DeWalt had chosen to include an accessory for cleaning carpets. We were surprised that it didn’t. The narrow hose opening limits the size of debris that this vacuum can handle, too.

Good HEPA Filter, Good Product!

The DCV517M1 does sweep up small amounts of liquids as advertised. This vacuum has a half-gallon capacity. We imagine that this should be enough even for families that usually travel with little ones in the backseat.

The DCV517M1 is also easy to empty and comes equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which captures and retains fine dust particles, allergens, and other microscopic debris.

This is particularly beneficial for families with kids who have allergies or for people who work in environments where air quality is a priority, such as construction sites or workshops.

Overall, we think the DeWalt DCV517M1 Handheld Shop Vacuum is an excellent little tool fit for your car and maybe even for some use from time to time in your workshop. It does everything a portable shop vacuum does, and it does it with satisfactory aplomb.

“It’s compact, lightweight, portable and I only ever need to clean small dusty messes, which this vacuum is designed for,” says one satisfied customer reviewer. “It slides across hard floors like it’s on rollers.”

DeWalt ‎DCV517M1 20V Cordless Handheld Shop Vacuum

How to Choose the Right Shop Vacuum

Choosing the right shop vacuum can make a significant difference in your cleaning and maintenance tasks, whether you’re a professional tradesperson or a passionate do-it-yourself enthusiast. With numerous options available in the market, it’s essential to consider several factors before making a purchase.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to evaluate the suction power of the shop vacuum. Suction power determines the vacuum’s ability to efficiently pick up debris, dust, and other particles. Look for a vacuum with a high horsepower rating or an efficient airflow system.

Consider the capacity of the vacuum tank. The tank’s size determines how much debris and liquid the vacuum can hold before needing to be emptied. Filtration is another critical factor to consider, particularly if you will be working in environments where fine dust particles or allergens are present.

Mobility and maneuverability are essential aspects, of course, especially if you anticipate using the shop vacuum in various locations.

Assess the accessories and attachments included with the shop vacuum. These can significantly expand its versatility and make cleaning specific surfaces or hard-to-reach areas more convenient.

Durability is another crucial factor to consider, particularly if you intend to use the vacuum in demanding environments or for extended periods. Look for models constructed with high-quality materials that can withstand rough handling, accidental drops, and exposure to various elements. A durable shop vacuum will have a longer lifespan and provide reliable performance throughout its usage.

Finally, consider your budget when choosing a shop vacuum. Determine the features that are essential for your cleaning needs and find a balance between price and functionality.

While it can be tempting to opt for the most affordable option, investing in a reliable and durable shop vacuum may save you money in the long run by avoiding frequent replacements or repairs.



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