What are the best wet and dry vacuum cleaners for your garage? What are the ideal wall mounted garage vacuum cleaner models? And which wet / dry vacuums are suitable for use around the shop or car, regardless of how they are stored?
What are the pros and cons of each of the best types of wet/dry vacuum cleaners intended for use in your home? Which are best for your work bench in the garage? Which garage vacuums are ideal for detailing your car? And which general purpose vacuum cleaners can take on any task you have at hand?
Top Rated Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaners
Shop-Vac 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Wet Dry Vacuum, Model 5986000
This compact shop vacuum’s greatest strength is its $65 price tag. It has a solid, stable base with four wheels so you can pull it around the garage whether cleaning the work bench or car. It weighs fifteen pounds empty, so it is easily maneuvered.
It has a rear blower port for blowing dust off your workbench or leaves out of the garage. It also comes with a seven foot long hose and several basic cleaning tools. The storage rack, though, isn’t very effective.
Its first drawback is the six foot power cord, though you can connect it with an extension cord. The unit advertises that it has 4.5 peak horsepower when it is on its high setting. Standard power generates 3.1 horsepower and around 175 CFM as well. It can clean up small leaves, sawdust and crumbs in the kids’ carseats but it isn’t going to pick up the largest items unless you have it on high power though that sometimes burns out the motor.
Vacmaster 4 Gallon, 5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Floor Vacuum, Model VF408
This wet/dry vacuum has a decent 7 foot long hose and 18 foot power cord. This unit has more reach without adding an extension cord than the Shop Vac we already reviewed. It comes with four wheels; the back two are larger so you can move it easily even if it is full and heavy.
This unit does a good job of trapping dirt and dust inside it due to its HEPA rated cartridge. This garage vacuum cleaner is the better choice for a dusty shop or woodworking bench, since even the on/off switch is sealed against dust. It comes with several tools like nozzles and brushes for picking up sawdust or other light debris, so you can use it for detailing your car, too.
Don’t use it on large amounts of pet fur or heavy debris or it may burn out, even if you change out the filter.
RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner for Car, Model VAC3000
This wet/dry vacuum cleaner costs around $80. This vacuum cleaner has 3.5 horsepower at its peak. Don’t buy this if you need to clean up pet fur or heavy debris off a workbench or your car’s floorboards.
The unit comes with a suite of hand tools for detailing your car or cleaning a workbench. This three gallon wet/dry vacuum has a built in dust pan for quickly pouring out small debris.
It doesn’t have wheels on the bottom. Instead, the unit has a handle on the top. It is easy to carry, but you have to be careful when working with the hose or it may tip over.
The unit allows for quick changes of the air filter and bag. However, the design prevents the bag from filling up the entire vacuum body, so you have more capacity if you do not use the bag. If you’re dealing with wet messes, use the bag despite the lower capacity. If you’re dealing with small, light debris, skip the bag and enjoy the cheap wet/dry vacuum that lets you get all of it hiding around the garage.
DEWALT 18/20-Volt MAX Cordless/Corded Wet-Dry Vacuum, Model DCV581H
The basic model of this wet/dry vacuum cleaner costs around $120. However, this garage vacuum cleaner can run plugged into a standard AC outlet or as a cordless vacuum cleaner if you use a MAX battery. The basic package includes a single battery and does not include a charger for it. If you buy the vacuum with a second battery to make it cordless, it costs around $290. If you buy it with both the battery and battery charger, it costs between $350 and $400. This unit also works with the 20 volt Dewalt batteries that work with other Dewalt tools and both XRP and lithium ion 18 volt batteries.
The compact vacuum is easy to store and transport by carrying it; one weakness is the risk the bottom will erode away if you’re dragging it away. The unit, when empty, weighs only eleven pounds. Yet it has a fluid capacity of around two gallons.
It has a washable, reusable filter. The filter trap is HEPA rated. This unit will take in most of your loose debris and contain it.
The vacuum has a crush-proof five foot long hose. Its only downside is the weak 1.85 peak horsepower and 33.5 cubic feet per minute. This is better than a handheld vacuum cleaner for cleaning your garage workshop or car.
It has a good, two year warranty.
Craftsman Remote Control Wall Mount 5 Peak HP 5 Gal. Wet/Dry Vacuum Shop Vacuum
This is the first wall mounted vacuum cleaner on this list. It has a peak of five horsepower. It has a whopping five gallon wet/dry capacity. The hose is two inches in diameter and 21 feet long; this is a great choice for someone whose main use is detailing a small car or cleaning a large workbench sitting against the wall. If you want to have total coverage of the garage, mount it to the wall in the middle of the garage. Its only weakness is that the tools aren’t quite good enough for the finest spots you may need to clean like grooves in the car’s console.
You can turn it on and off via a remote control, something useful for limiting the noise while you’re crawling around a car trying to clean it.
It comes with a basic one year warranty. The cost is around $150 but varies widely between retailers.
BISSELL Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum, Model 18P03
This wall mounted vacuum cleaner costs around $200 at full price. It can be found on sale for as little as $150. It comes with a variety of tools for detailing your car or cleaning around a workshop. Its biggest attraction is the 4 gallon capacity for both liquid and dry messes. Another benefit is the 32 foot long hose (when stretched out) perfect for work spaces that the Craftsman can’t cover. It is one of the few wet/dry vacuums that can handle carpeting and thick mats in your car as well as smooth plastic and upholstery. The wall mounted unit converts to a blower.
The biggest weakness of this unit is that it doesn’t handle water. It can handle semi-liquid messes like when the baby or dog barfs in the back seat.
WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs 6.5-Peak Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner, Model WS1600SS
This unit costs around $250 at full price. It can be found for around $200 on sale. This garage vacuum is not wall mounted, but instead rolls on two wheels while sitting upright on those same wheels and two forward supports. The manufacturer says this allows you to take it up stairs or rough terrain.
The biggest attraction of this unit is the ability to pick up as much as one gallon of water per minute. You can use this to deal with a water spill, roof leak or spilled chemicals.
The hose for this vacuum cleaner is 2.5” in diameter, so it can pick up larger, light items than some of the other wet/dry vacuum cleaners on this list.
It is a challenge to assemble. One of the problems users face is trying to find replacement bags for this vacuum, since the manufacturer makes a proprietary bag that is hard to find online.
Karcher Multi-Purpose Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner, Model WD5/P
The WD5/P comes with the basic set of tools, a filter and a fleece bag for containing the debris the vacuum picks up. Karcher offers replacement bags and filters for $15 to $20 each. If you already have the WD4 or WD5 vacuum and want an upgrade, the bags and filters for those models also fit this vacuum cleaner. The hose connection point isn’t standard, so you can’t use most other 2.5” vacuum hoses with this model. Conversely, the hose end accepts many 35 mm attachments, even those made by other companies.
The manufacturer says you can use it as a tool outlet, but the tool outlet is only rated for 6 amps. Don’t use this vacuum as a power source for tools that require more power.
Its performance as a vacuum is middle of the pack, but the ability to connect other cleaning tools to it is a plus for some.
Prolux LITE Wet Dry Garage Shop Vacuum
This garage vacuum cleaner costs around $250 for both the vacuum and the entire suite of tools. We’re talking about more than a dozen car detailing tools and several vacuum heads to let you clean your leather or cloth upholstery seats as well as if you’d used an upholstery brush that typically comes with your residential vacuum cleaner. You’ll pay $20 or so less if you don’t buy the extra tools.
It is one of the few wet/dry vacuums on the market to have a hard floor squeegee for cleaning up those dried on stains. And it is one of rare garage vacuums that will clean up your workbench or where the dog threw up on your cloth seats equally well. The downside is its weight – about forty pounds.
The unit has above average capacity and a 32 foot long cord.
The Shop Vac model 5986000 is a good basic wet/dry vacuum if you want a medium power but cheap model. The Vacmaster model VF408 is better for controlling all the dust, debris and dirt you want to clean up by the pound. The Rigid brand garage vacuum cleaner is good for those who need to clean up a lot of dry debris but want something that handles the wet messes, too. The Dewalt model DCV581H is the best choice for Dewalt fans who already have compatible batteries and chargers and want something they can use as either a cordless vacuum or corded wet/dry vacuum.
The Craftsman wall mounted unit is a basic but high capacity model. The Bissell 18P03 vacuum cleaner is the better choice if you want a wall mounted vacuum for taking on more serious wet and sticky messes. The Workshop model WS1600SS is the ideal choice for those who need a garage vacuum primarily for wet messes. The Karcher garage vacuum cleaner lets you use attachments most other vacuums won’t. And the Prolux LITE is the best choice for those who need to clean everything from fine dust to sticky messes sinking into the cloth seats of your car.