9 Best Wet/Dry Shop Vac Reviews – Our Top Picks

Although vacuum cleaners work excellently for day-to-day cleaning jobs, they just don’t cut it when you go outside. Any kind of garage, backyard, or patio needs is too much for home vacuums because you will have to deal with tougher and potentially dangerous messes.

Here’s when wet/dry shop vacs come into play. Although shop vacs are often associated with commercial applications, they can be used to deal with household needs just fine.

Well, if you need a vac that will be able to withstand anything you throw at it, then our Top 9 of the best wet/dry shop vacs might be able to offer something interesting!

9 Best Wet/Dry Shop Vacs Reviewed

Below, we have 9 models from Shop-Vac – a reputable and trusted shop vac manufacturer based in the US. 

Shop-Vac offers a wide range of models intended for light home or business use and even heavy industrial needs. However, we decided to showcase the brand’s lighter-duty vacs. We believe that this is what our readers are looking for.

In our review section, you’ll find the key things you need to know about each shop vac, including specs, features, and even drawbacks. Hopefully, our Top 9 will help you with finding the best wet/dry shop vac for your needs!

1. Shop-Vac MACS-200D (2030100) Wet/Dry Vacuum

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Shipping dimensions: 11-3/4 x 10-3/4 x 11-3/4 inches.
  • Shipping weight. About 6.75 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type R foam sleeve & Type S reusable dry filter.
  • Capacity: 1.5 gallons.
  • CFM: 50.
  • Sealed pressure: 46 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 7.8A.
  • Power cord length: 6 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 4 feet hose, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, wall mounting bracket.
best wet dry shop vac

Up first on our top, we have Shop-Vac’s model 2030100 wet/dry vac. This is a good option for small spaces, and it’s inexpensive and very pocket-friendly too.

Although small, this shop vac offers a good amount of suction – enough for lighter debris like small nails, screws, or fragments of wood. Thanks to the rear blower port, you may also use this shop vac to blow dirt away from your work surfaces.

Out of the box, you are getting two kinds of filters – a foam sleeve filter for wet waste and a dry filter for dry waste. The dry filter is reusable, so you won’t have to replace it after each cleaning session.

Shop-Vac also provides a few attachments with this vac, such as a crevice tool and a wall mounting bracket. When mounted to a wall, the shop vac frees up some crucial floor space and becomes very space-efficient. But if you want to stay portable, then the integrated top carrying handle will allow you to do so.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Very inexpensive.
  • Compact and light.
  • Can be wall-mounted.
  • Converts to a blower.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Nothing to complain about.

2. Shop-Vac J200A (5895100) Wet/Dry Vac

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Dimensions: 12 x 9 x 13 inches (L x W x H).
  • Weight. 10.4 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type R foam sleeve & Type A disposable filter bag.
  • Capacity: 1.5 gallons.
  • CFM: 120.
  • Sealed pressure: 52 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 7.4A.
  • Power cord length: 18 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 7 feet hose, 2 extension wands, dual-surface nozzle, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, round brush, wall mounting bracket.
wet dry shop vac

The Model 5895100 shop vac is a little different kind of beast. While it basically seems like a 2030100 slammed onto a platform with casters, there is a good number of big differences between the two vacs.

The wheeled shop vac is, first of all, much more powerful – the airflow has increased more than double! The sealed pressure change isn’t as significant – only 6 inches – but this difference is big enough to be noticeable in day-to-day use.

We also absolutely love the 18 feet long cord. This certainly isn’t the longest we’ve seen, but 3 times longer than the 2030100’s cord, it allows you to cover more ground without having to plug the vac into another outlet.

Notably, this unit also has auto float shutoff. This feature turns the vac off automatically if it gets overfilled with liquid waste.

Thanks to the casters and carrying handle, 5895100 is very easy to move around as well. You may also mount this unit to a wall if you want to free up some floor space.

Shop-Vac additionally includes many attachments with this vac, including a round brush, a dual-surface nozzle, and a pair of extension wands. You are also getting filters – a foam sleeve along with a disposable filter bag. 

Note that you will need to replace the dust bag after each use – alternatively, you may purchase a reusable dry filter to make your life easier. This is a pretty small drawback, but you should know about it.

Another downside is the hose. It’s rather wimpy and not wide enough for some jobs that one might want to use this shop vac for. It clogs quite easily, so you should be careful with what you are sucking up.

Now, keep in mind that most people didn’t have issues with clogging in this shop vac. But still, don’t overestimate this little unit – it’s rather powerful, but the narrow hose will limit its uses quite severely.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Pocket-friendly.
  • Casters and carrying handle for convenient transport.
  • Attachments galore included.
  • Overflow auto-shutoff.
  • Powerful suction with blower function.
  • Long hose and power cord.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Wimpy hose.
  • You’ll have to replace the dust bag after every use.

3. Shop-Vac MACM-250 (2036000) Wet/Dry Vacuum

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Shipping dimensions: 12-1/2 x 11-1/4 x 13 inches.
  • Weight. 7 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type R foam sleeve & Type S reusable dry filter.
  • Capacity: 2.5 gallons.
  • CFM: 60.
  • Sealed pressure: 56 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 8A.
  • Power cord length: 6 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 4 feet hose, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, wall mounting bracket, tool holder. 
craftsman wet dry vac

The Shop-Vac MACM-250 wet/dry vac essentially is an oversized variant of the 1.5-gallon MACS-200D we reviewed at the very beginning. The two shop vacs share their design and benefits, but MACM-250 offers more power.

After the 120CFM airflow of the J200A shop vac, the 60 CFM of this unit don’t seem impressive. What is impressive though is the sealed pressure – noticeably higher than in both MACS-200D and J200A, the 56-inch sealed pressure allows this shop vac to easily suck up heavier debris.

The tank capacity in MACM-250 is 2.5 gallons too – nearly double the capacity of MACS-200D. If you think that 1.5 gallons won’t be enough for you, then MACM-250 might be an ideal option for you.

Needless to say, this shop vac is noticeably larger than its 1.5-gallon counterpart. But thanks to the collapsible carrying handle, it stays easy to transport.

In terms of attachments, MACM-250 is pretty nice – you are getting the same stuff as with MACS-200D. But although the included attachments are pretty nice, some people may need more. 

MACM-250 has nearly double the capacity of MACS-200D, and we think that Shop-Vac should have provided a longer power cord and a longer hose out of the box. You can do way more work with the 2.5-gallon tank, but the short 6 feet cord and 4 feet hose may hold you back.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Affordable.
  • Pretty strong suction.
  • Easy to carry.
  • Rear blower port.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • The capacity is increased, but you are getting the same short attachments as in MACS-200D.

4. Shop-Vac K250 (5895200) Wet/Dry Shop Vac

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 14.5 inches (L x W x H).
  • Shipping weight. 12 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type R foam sleeve & Type B disposable filter bag.
  • Capacity: 2.5 gallons.
  • CFM: 130.
  • Sealed pressure: 56 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 8A.
  • Power cord length: 18 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 7 feet hose, 2 extension wands, dual-surface nozzle, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, round brush, wall mounting bracket.
stanley wet dry vac

The K250 wet/dry shop vac matches the suction of MACM-250 while delivering much more airflow. It’s thus a way better pick for dust collection. 

As you might have already noticed, K250 is basically an oversized version of J200A. The tank capacity here is at 2.5 gallons, and you are getting a little more airflow and suction pressure. If you like the formula of J200A but want something a little more powerful, then K250 may work just fine.

K250 retains the easy transportability of J200A – it again has integrated casters and a convenient carrying handle. The power cord is 18 feet long as well, allowing you to treat every nook and cranny in the room without having to re-plug the shop vac often.

You are also getting the same attachments with K250 as with J200A, including the wall mounting bracket, extension wands, the long 7 feet hose, and a few others. So in terms of versatility, the two vac models are very similar.

The similarities also carry on to the downsides of the two shop vacs, unfortunately. K250 again comes with a disposable filter bag that needs to be replaced after every use, and the hose width can again be inadequate in some cleanup jobs.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Casters and carrying handle.
  • Comes with many attachments.
  • Quite nice suction.
  • Long power cord & hose.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • The hose tends to clog up.
  • The filter bag needs to be replaced after each use.

5. Shop-Vac Micro MC150A (2021000) Wet/Dry Shop Vac

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Dimensions: 10.25 x 10.25 x 11 inches (L x W x H).
  • Shipping weight. 5 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type MM micro foam sleeve & Type A disposable filter bag.
  • Capacity: 1 gallon.
  • CFM: 50.
  • Sealed pressure: 45 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 6A.
  • Power cord length: 6 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 4 feet hose, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, wall mounting bracket, tool holder.
dewalt wet dry vac

If you want something really compact and inexpensive, then Shop-Vac’s Micro vac is an excellent choice. 

This vac is in many ways similar to the MACS-200D shop vac. Most importantly, the two shop vacs have the same airflow and nearly the same sealed pressure. So in terms of suction, you could expect comparable performance from them.

However, the Micro lacks a key feature – since it doesn’t have a rear blower port, you can’t use this machine to blow debris and dust away. Unless you don’t need the blower function, MACS-200D would be a better option.

The capacity of 1 gallon is very little as well, but if you cannot dedicate much space to a shop vac or just don’t need more than 1 gallon, Micro should be fine for you.

Although the capacity and functionality of the Micro are comparatively limited, you are still getting handy features like wall mounting, a few attachments, and the convenient carrying handle.

All in all, if space-efficiency and pocket-friendliness matter to you the most, you probably won’t find anything better than Shop-Vac Micro.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Very inexpensive.
  • Extremely compact and portable.
  • Excellent for small spaces.
  • May be wall-mounted.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Doesn’t have a rear blower port.
  • No reusable dry filters are available for this model.

6. Shop-Vac ESSSQ550 (5914000) Wet/Dry Shop Vac

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.75 x 17.25 inches.
  • Shipping weight. 16.45 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type CC small foam sleeve, Type D disposable filter bag, Type AA small cartridge filter.
  • Capacity: 4 gallons.
  • CFM: 80.
  • Sealed pressure: 65 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 11.6A.
  • Power cord length: 18 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 8 feet locking hose, 2 extension wands, dual-surface selector nozzle, 10-inch wet/dry nozzle, round brush, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, tool basket.
best wet dry shop vac

Shop-Vac’s ESSSQ550 is the highest-performance wet/dry shop vac on this top. It’s a little expensive, but if you need a heavy-duty machine, this one should be the perfect vac.

At the heart of this shop vac is the heavy-duty 5.5hp SVX2 motor that is advertised to be more long-living than Shop-Vac’s standard 5.5hp motors. This motor is not only durable but also powerful – though it doesn’t produce much airflow, the sealed pressure is the highest on the list. Collecting heavy debris like nails or screws or blowing them away should be no challenge with this unit.

The capacity of this shop vac is at 4 gallons as well. This isn’t that big in shop vac terms, but it’s one of the highest on this list. You won’t have to dump waste too often with this model.

Of course, all this makes the ESSSQ550 shop vac heavy and bulky. Luckily, it’s equipped with a convenient carrying handle on the top, and it also has casters for convenient transport.

Shop-Vac additionally includes a wide range of attachments with this vac, including an 8 feet long secure-locking hose and a high-performance filter system. The latter is comprised of a foam sleeve, dry cartridge filter, and a filter bag that seems to be capable of catching cement dust, drywall dust, and other kinds of fine dust.

As for downsides, our and many other people’s main gripe is the narrow hose. Its diameter is 1.25 inches – the same as in previous vacs. Given how much more capable this vac is, the hose diameter is very limiting. When sucking leaves, for example, you may need to frequently unclog this unit.

This shop vac also rather easily tips over, though once you get the hang of it, you should be able to maneuver it like a pro.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Powerful suction.
  • Heavy-duty motor.
  • High-performance filter system.
  • Has a blower function.
  • The hose securely hooks to the intake port.
  • Includes everything you need to get started.
  • Wheels for convenient transport.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Easily tips over.
  • The small hose diameter holds this vac back.

7. Shop-Vac KA450 (5895400) Wet/Dry Shop Vac

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 18 inches (L x W x H).
  • Shipping weight. 13.6 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type R foam sleeve & Type LL disposable filter bag.
  • Capacity: 4 gallons.
  • CFM: 170.
  • Sealed pressure: 60 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 9A.
  • Power cord length: 18 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 7 feet hose, 2 extension wands, dual-surface nozzle, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, round brush, wall mounting bracket.
best wet dry shop vac

If you liked the previous wheeled shop-vacs but felt that their airflow wasn’t quite good for your needs, then strongly consider KA450. With its 170CFM airflow and sealed pressure of 60 inches, this vac sucks – in a good way. It should be able to easily tackle no matter what you throw at it, be it dust, water, or metal debris.

KA450 also has a large 4-gallon waste tank along with a foam sleeve & filter bag filtration system. Again, you’ll need to replace the bags after every use, but this system works pretty well at capturing debris. If you also add a dry filter, you’ll get much better dust retention and better exhaust air quality.

Other than these, KA450 is very similar to JA200A and K250. You can again mount the vac to a wall, and its transportation is made easy thanks to the casters and the top handle.

The similarities, unfortunately, once again apply to disadvantages– including the hose that tends to clog – but KA450 still stays a solid purchase for the money.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Has a lot of airflow AND suction.
  • A wide range of accessories included.
  • Wheels and handle for convenient carrying.
  • Blower functionality.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • The same clogging hose as in smaller models.
  • The dust bag needs to be replaced after every use.

8. Shop-Vac 2TM350A (3880210) Tool Mate Tool Box Vacuum

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Dimensions: 29 x 14.13 x 13.63 inches.
  • Shipping weight. 20 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type BB Ultra-Web cartridge filter.
  • Capacity: 2.5 gallons.
  • CFM: 135.
  • Sealed pressure: 53 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 7.5A.
  • Power cord length: 18 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 4 feet hose, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, round brush.
best wet dry shop vac

Shop-Vac’s 2TM350A is interesting in that it actually is a two-in-one vac and a toolbox. If you just happen to be looking for both a toolbox and a shop vac, this product might be perfect!

The toolbox is a pretty nice once. Sized at 21.5 x 14 x 13 inches (L x W x H), it’s pretty roomy. Its construction is tough too thanks to the steel and aluminum elements, while the movable dividers and accessory space in the lid deliver great organizability.

The shop vac itself is solid as well. It has great airflow and suction for its size, and it’s very easy to carry thanks to its compactness and lightness. In transport, the vac is intended to be mounted to the side of the toolbox – at the jobsite, you may detach it for unlimited portability.

The accessory set in this shop vac isn’t the best, but it should suffice for most people’s needs. Note, however, that this vac doesn’t include a wet filter. For wet cleaning, you will have to purchase a wet foam sleeve filter separately.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • The vac unit is very compact and light.
  • Toolbox and wet/dry vac two-in-one.
  • Pretty nice airflow and suction.
  • Easy carrying.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Doesn’t have a blower port.
  • Includes no wet filters.

9. Shop-Vac E87S450 (5870400) Wet/Dry Shop Vac

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Dimensions: 16.5 x 13 x 15.5 inches (L x W x H).
  • Shipping weight. 17.99 pounds.
  • Filter system: Type AA cartridge filter & Type D high-efficiency disposable filter bag.
  • Capacity: 4 gallons.
  •  CFM: 175.
  • Sealed pressure: 60 inches.
  • Power source: 120V 60Hz 9A.
  • Power cord length: 18 feet.
  • Included attachments: 1.25-inch x 8 feet locking hose, 2 extension wands, dual-surface selector nozzle, 10-inch wet/dry nozzle, round brush, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, tool basket.
wet dry shop vac

Finally, we have the E87S450 shop vac. 

This is a cheaper and lighter-duty alternative to the ESSSQ550 shop vac we reviewed earlier. If you liked that vac but think that it’s overkill for you, maybe E87S450 will be a better pick.

The airflow and suction are a little bit weaker in this unit, but they should still allow you to easily tackle dust, liquid waste, and even heavy debris. While cleaning, the 8 feet locking hose will stay securely connected to the unit, while the 18 feet power cord will provide excellent freedom of movement.

E87S450 also includes plenty of handy accessories – just like ESSSQ550. However, note that Shop-Vac doesn’t include a wet foam sleeve filter. For wet cleaning, you will need to purchase it separately.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • A good light-duty alternative to ESSSQ550.
  • Strong suction.
  • Secure hose.
  • Comes with plenty of accessories
  • Blower function.
  • Casters and handle for carrying.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • No foam sleeve filters included.
  • Again, it would be nice to get a wider hose.

Things To Look For When Shopping For The Best Wet/Dry Shop Vac

In this section, to help you better understand our reviews, let’s briefly talk about the key things to consider in a shop vac.

Airflow & sealed pressure

First up, consider airflow and sealed pressure (also called static pressure), measured in CFM and inches of water lift respectively. Airflow measures how much air a vac can move in a minute, while sealed pressure measures the amount of resistance the vac’s suction can overcome.

Generally, high airflow is desirable when dealing with light debris such as dust. In contrast, higher static pressure is more useful when collecting heavier objects like nails, screws, or pieces of wood.

A high-performance shop vac will have high suction AND airflow, but if you have a limited budget, then you may need to sacrifice one or the other to make a good purchase.

Capacity

In wet/dry shop vacs, capacity is measured in gallons. The higher the capacity, the more liquids and debris you will be able to collect. 

Try to get a shop vac that’s as large as your cleaning jobs need. Obviously, don’t undersize your vac and get something really small. But also don’t waste money on a huge shop vac if you won’t be uncovering its full potential.

For larger, higher-volume jobs, try to get a bigger shop vac. A high-capacity vac would allow you to avoid frequent emptying, making your job a little more efficient.

Keep in mind that some shop vac manufacturers overstate their models’ capacities, often by several gallons. Sometimes, this is because sellers just give you the volume of the entire vacuum rather than the volume of its buckets. 

If you are shopping online, the only thing you can do to check the actual capacity of the desired vac is reading buyer reviews. There always will be some discrepancies between real and advertised capacities, but they are mostly negligible. If there is anything serious, buyer reviews should tell you about it.

Motor unit type

Wet/dry shop vacs typically have bypass motor units. In these motors, a dedicated fan draws air into the vac for cooling. This cooling air is isolated from the air that’s sucked through the intake hose, so the motor is being kept away from any debris.

Flow-through motors, on the other hand, cool the motor with the air that is sucked through the hose. Using air filters, these motors can keep the internal electronics safe from dust and dirt. However, they cannot protect the electronics from liquids.

The typical wet/dry shop vac will use a bypass-like motor system, as mentioned earlier. Unless the manufacturer came up with some clever design that keeps liquids away from the motor, flow-through systems cannot work in wet/dry vacs.

Aside from the motor type, pay attention to the number of cooling fans in the motor too. This will especially matter for heavy applications. High-power and heavy-duty shop vacs often have more than one fan for more efficient cooling and increased longevity.

Motor horsepower

Motor horsepower isn’t actually a good selection criterion in shop vacs. On the contrary, you could ignore it altogether.

The advertised horsepower specs are usually tested in lab conditions and are therefore unrealistic. In real-world applications, you probably won’t ever hit these numbers, so they aren’t a reliable metric for consideration. You can use horsepower for comparison, but it would probably be better if you considered CFM or static pressure instead.

Wattage & power requirements

Make sure to check the wattage and power specs of the desired wet/dry shop vac. This will give you an idea of how costly the vac will be to run. Besides, you must know what kind of power the vac requires. 

Many people purchase electric tools and devices only to discover that they don’t work with the electrical system in their shop or home. Don’t repeat this mistake.

Most wet/dry shop vacs intended for light commercial or residential use operate on 120V 20A household current. You most likely won’t need to make any changes to your existing power system to run these vacs. 

A handful of shop vacs may require 220-240V power, which will need to be set up by an electrician. Some wet/dry shop vacs may be battery-powered as well, but these are relatively pricey and require frequent charging.

What’s included

Finally, you should pay careful attention to what you are getting with the shop vac. 

Particularly, check out what kind of filters you are getting. Ideally, your vac should include some kind of a dry filter (a paper filter, cartridge filter, or HEPA filter) and a foam sleeve filter for wet messes.

Some shop vacs come with a disposable filter bag instead of a dry filter. For most people, dust bags will work just fine, but you’ll have to replace them after every use. This may not be ideal for some people.

Note that you can combine a dry filter with a dust bag to create a higher-performance filter system. But only do this if a dry filter alone doesn’t provide sufficient filtration.

Aside from filters, check what kind of accessories you are getting. Most shop vacs include a hose, a crevice tool, and a gulper tool. Higher-end vacs can also come with extension wands, longer and more reliable hoses, and additional attachments for added convenience.

Final Words

A shop vac is a big investment, so you should be careful with what you choose.

First of all, answer this question – what are you buying a shop vac for? Do you want to collect dust or maybe get rid of leaves? 

Next, how often will you be using your vac? Does it need to be a heavy-duty unit?

And finally, determine how much you can afford to spend on a shop vac.

Once you have answers to these points, you should be able to relatively easily find the best wet/dry shop vac for your needs. But if in doubt, give our buyer’s guide and suggestions one more good read!

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