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The Best Shop Vacuums for Cleaning All Sorts of Debris
When it comes to cleaning your home, few tools are as reliable as the vacuum cleaner. It uses a powerful motor to suck up air and any debris that comes along with it, making it one of the most efficient ways to clean floors, rugs, and more. These machines are great at removing dust bunnies and dirt that came from outside. But what about when you need to clean up larger particles such as sawdust or non-solids such as juice spills?
For those sorts of messes, you need something more powerful. Introducing the shop vacuum or the wet-dry vacuum, as some people call it. With some of the most reliable shop vacuums of 2024, you can clean just about anything, whether it be mounds of sawdust from a DIY woodworking project or the daily messes and spills of life. Let’s take a look!Show contentsComparing the Top Shop Vacuums of 2024
Buying Guide: Shop Vacuum
- Craftsman Shop Vacuum - Best Overall
- Stanley Shop Vacuum - Best Accessories
- Vacmaster Shop Vacuum - Most Affordable
- Armor All Shop Vacuum - Most Portable
- DeWalt Shop Vacuum - Most Reliable
Buying Guide: Shop Vacuum
Are you looking for a vacuum that can get rid of any spills or dust regardless of size? If so, you may want to look into buying a shop vac. This guide will cover everything you need to know about purchasing a shop vac for your home.
What Is a Shop Vacuum?
A shop vacuum is a type of vacuum cleaner that offers more power and adaptability than regular vacuum cleaners. Also known as wet/dry vacuums, shop vacuums can suck up both solids and liquids without damaging the device as it places everything inside a large tank. It can also suck up larger solid debris such as nails and sawdust without issue, a feat that wouldn’t be possible with a regular vacuum cleaner.
Why You May Want To Get a Shop Vacuum
They’re more powerful than regular vacuums
Regular vacuum cleaners are great, but they have their limitations. There are two major elements of any vacuum cleaner: its horsepower and its capacity. In terms of both, regular vacuum cleaners don’t really offer that much. They’re great for cleaning small particles and dust, but for anything remotely large they fall short because of their lackluster power and capacity.
Shop vacuums pack more of a punch. They boast stronger motors and have larger capacities thanks to their big tanks. It’s worth noting that shop vacuums have better specs because they’re made to handle whatever the user wants to suck up. So, if you don’t really care about cleaning anything other than dust with a vacuum cleaner, then the shop vacuum may be a little unnecessary. But if you need to clean up large particles and liquids on a regular basis, shop vacs are surprisingly convenient.
They’re more versatile than regular vacuums
Versatility is another feature that makes shop vacs better than regular vacs. When you’re cleaning a room with a regular vacuum, you first have to wipe up any liquid and sweep any large particles or small items with a broom and dustpan. This is because such items cannot go inside the vacuum cleaner without possibly damaging the device.
You don’t have to worry about any of that when it comes to shop vacs. All you need to do is turn the device on and let the vac handle the rest. While there are some limitations to this, the strongest and most powerful shop vacs can suck up pretty much anything that fits inside the vacuum cleaner’s tubes and pipes.
Things You Can Clean With a Shop Vacuum
Dust and dirt
Dust and dirt are the main culprits of a messy home. They’re small and difficult to see when isolated, but when they start piling up they’re almost impossible to miss. More importantly, they can cause allergies in some people and even cause sickness if the dust or dirt carries any bacteria or viruses. You’ll want to get rid of these small microparticles as often as you can.
Both regular vacuums and shop vacs can clean up dust and dirt pretty easily. Shop vacs do have a stronger motor than regular vacuums but when it comes to something as small as dust specks the difference doesn’t really matter that much.
Larger solid particles
Aside from dust and dirt, shop vacuums can also clean up larger particles and smaller items. This can range from sawdust to small items like nails or some leftover chips in a couch cushion. These are the types of debris that you’d normally have to sweep before using your regular vacuum cleaner. With a shop vac, you can suck it all up just like that.
This last one is pretty interesting since you’d normally never think of sucking up liquids with a vacuum cleaner. Shop vacs can suck up anything, be it wet and dry. You can clean up juice and water spills, oil spills, or anything that you would normally wipe away with a cloth or towel. Depending on the attachment you use, you won’t leave behind a trace of particles, making shop vacuums one of the best tools to use for all-around cleaning.
Tips When Using Shop Vacs
Empty the tank regularly
Just because a shop vac can have gallons worth of space doesn’t mean you should only empty the tank sparingly. Depending on what you sucked up with the shop vac, you may have organic material inside, and this can decay and leave behind a bad smell that may be difficult to remove. If you’d rather not deal with that, it’s a good idea to empty the tank after every use, especially if you only use the tank sparingly.
If you use the vac daily and you don’t suck up anything organic or decayable, you could empty the tank once every few days or even once a week. Just be sure that you don’t fill the tank up too much before emptying it.
Use the right attachments for the right job
Vacuum cleaners come with an array of attachments, and you can use many different attachments for your shop vac. Some are great for cleaning up liquids (such as the squeegee attachment) whereas others may be better for solids (like the brush attachment). Using the right type of attachment will ensure that you clean as effectively as possible.
To save yourself the hassle, try planning out the order in which you use your attachments. For example, you could clean all the liquids in the area first with the squeegee attachment and then swap to the brush attachment for cleaning up larger solid particles. This can help save time and effort so you don’t have to constantly switch between attachments. Be sure to also clean the attachments regularly to ensure they don’t end up dirtying the room instead of cleaning it.
Comparing the Top Shop Vacuums of 20241– Best Overall
The Craftsman Shop Vacuum is a beast of a shop vac. It’s got a 16-gallon capacity that can hold both solids and liquids without a problem. You can also get the tanks in other sizes if 16 gallons is too large or small for you. There’s a 12-gallon model and even a 20-gallon one for those who need as much capacity as possible.
Other than the tank size, you can also customize the horsepower of this vacuum. While the 12-gallon model boasts a 6 HP motor, the models with larger tanks feature a 6.5 HP motor. In terms of performance, you can easily empty the contents of this vacuum thanks to its large drain. We’ve chosen this shop vacuum as our best overall choice because of its versatility. It can clean both the home and shop and can be used both indoors and outdoors without worry.2– Best Accessories
For some, just about any wet/dry vacuum will do, but for others, it’s not that simple. You may care about the horsepower of the vacuum or its capacity. Or you might care about the accessories that come with your shop vac. The Stanley Shop Vacuum comes with a handful of accessory combos that you can buy alongside the vacuum itself.
While getting the vacuum alone is a good deal, you can also get this vacuum with a combination square, a sprayer, a variable angle strap clamp, or a protectant. These additional tools are pretty niche and you won’t always use them alongside the vacuum, but they’re nice options to have if you’re looking for one of these tools while also in the market for a shop vacuum.3– Most Affordable
The Vacmaster Shop Vacuum is a great budget purchase if you need a simple vacuum that works. This shop vacuum has two size options: the 5-gallon vacuum is the cheapest, while the 8-gallon model is a great alternative if you need more space.
One great feature about this shop vacuum is the fact that it provides you with quite a bit of reach. You can reach up to 15 feet from the vacuum itself with the included attachments, allowing you to get pretty far from the vacuum without actually having to move it. For those who have used vacuums before, you’ll know that extra reach is an underrated yet much-needed feature, whether the vacuum be a shop vac or a regular device.4– Most Portable
The Armor All Shop Vacuum is a very affordable shop vacuum, and for good reason — it’s also the smallest and weakest vacuum with only 2 peak HP and 2.5 gallons of tank storage. While this may seem like a negative selling point for a wet/dry vacuum, what makes this device worth the purchase actually comes down to its design. This vacuum is extremely portable and easy to carry around.
This vacuum doesn’t come with wheels because it doesn’t need them. It’s small enough to carry with a single hand, and you can move the vacuum simply by lifting the device and placing it down. You’ll still need to plug the device into a power outlet, so your range is limited, but because this vacuum is lightweight and easy to carry, it’s a nice device to have when you’re cleaning the house from top to bottom.5– Most Reliable
The DeWalt Shop Vacuum comes from a reliable, trustworthy brand. Along with the large branding that you often see on this brand’s products, you’ll also notice that most of the products come in the iconic bright yellow. This shop vac is no exception. With its signature design also comes the brand’s expected quality standards. The vacuum is durable and made out of tough plastic, so you can use it regularly without worry.
This vacuum is available on its own or with accessories if you’re willing to pay a little extra money. You can also get an extra dust bag if you need something to clean solid dust and debris around the house. At 4 peak HP, it’s got just enough power to handle most cleaning jobs, so unless you need professional-level cleaning this shop vacuum should be more than enough to cater to your needs.
People Also AskedQ: How do I clean my shop vac bucket?
A: First, take the vacuum outside. Then, open the vacuum and release the bucket. Dump the debris out and tap the bucket to remove any dust. Depending on how dirty the bucket is, you may want to wipe it down with a cloth or clean it out with soap and water. Make sure it’s completely dry before reattaching it to your shop vacuum and storing it.Q: Do I need to clean the shop vac filter?
A: Depending on the type of shop vac you have, you may need to regularly clean the filter. If it’s a reusable filter, you’ll want to tap it to release the dirt and debris. You may need to run it under water to remove the dirt. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine how to clean your shop vac’s filter correctly.Q: Why are shop vacuums so loud?
A: Shop vacs are much louder than regular vacuums because they have a huge fan inside and a very powerful motor, both of which produce a lot of sound. We recommend wearing ear plugs or ear muffs when using a shop vac.Q: Are there any safety tips or precautions I should take when using a shop vacuum?
A: When using a shop vacuum it is important to be aware of safety hazards such as electric shock from exposed wires or hot surfaces from the motor housing which can cause burns if touched directly. It is also important not to use the vacuum near flammable materials as these can ignite easily due to sparks from exposed wires in the motor housing or dust particles being sucked into the air intake area of the vacuum cleaner itself.Q: Does the type of attachment and nozzle make a difference when vacuuming?
A: Yes, the type of attachment and nozzle can definitely make a difference when vacuuming. Different attachments and nozzles are designed to pick up different types of debris such as dust, pet hair, large pieces of debris, liquid spills, etc.