An ash vacuum alleviates the stress of making more of a mess while cleaning out your fireplace, fire pit, wood stove, or pellet stove. While they may not appear to be an essential house cleaning tool at first glance, we recommend considering an ash vacuum if you use a wood-burning or pellet stove as a main source of heat during the winter.
We researched a variety of ash vacuums and considered buying factors such as suction power, capacity, design, and overall value. Our favorite is the Snow Joe 4.8-Gallon Ash Canister Vacuum Cleaner because it has an easy-to-use design that will last you through several years of use.
Here are the best ash vacuums on the market.
Best Overall: Snow Joe ASHJ202 5 Amp 4.8 Gallon Ash Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Safety stop switch
Can only pick up cold ash
Our best overall pick is the Snow Joe 4.8-Gallon Ash Canister Vacuum Cleaner because it’s compact, yet powerful enough to clean all types of ash and can hold up to 4 gallons of ashes before needing to be emptied. While this ash vacuum is by no means packed with extra features, you can be sure that its basic design more than delivers reliable suction and filtration. This Snow Joe vacuum has a coarse-dust pre-filter and a fine-dust pleated filter that ensures none of the ash you pick up escapes into your home’s air. It’s also equipped with a safety stop switch which prevents the vacuum from operating if it's not properly fitted with a filter.
Other helpful features include a carrying handle, an inspection window to view any suction blockage, and an onboard cord and hose organizer. It has a 3.9-foot metal-reinforced hose, which is shorter than some of the other models in this roundup, but we think it’s proportionate to the overall size of the vacuum. It’s important to note that it can only pick up cold ash, which may be a drawback if you’re not willing to wait for your fireplace to fully cool down before cleaning.
Despite its lack of extra nozzles or wheels, we think this ash vacuum’s basic design is ideal for homeowners who don’t need a heavy duty model and are just looking for a reliable product. This vacuum’s 5 amperage suction power is more than enough to handle the average mess of a wood stove, fireplace, or pellet stove, plus its lightweight design will make emptying it a breeze. A 2-year manufacturer warranty covers any defaults in operation and design, so you can also feel good about your investment.
Price at time of publish: $50
Best Budget: Pleasant Hearth Ash Vacuum Attachment
Attaches to most household vacuums
Metal sealing ring
Easy to use
Filter specifications unclear
No carrying handle
If you’re not looking to purchase an entire vacuum or want to save some money, we recommend the Pleasant Hearth Ash Vacuum Attachment. This attachment functions similarly to standard canister ash vacuums, except it has an opening over the filter, where you connect the hose of your house vacuum. This attachment has a hose and nozzle that you use to suck the ash into the canister. We recommend having a second person available to ensure the hose on your vacuum stays flush to the attachment’s filter opening. A metal sealing ring also ensures that no particles escape the larger canister while you’re operating the vacuum.
Although this vacuum attachment does come with a filter for the canister, the product listing does not specify what type of filter or how well it filters particles from the air. We wish there were more specifics offered prior to buying. This vacuum attachment also does not have a handle, which could make it difficult to carry, especially if it’s filled to the top with ash. We recommend emptying this canister after each use to preserve its effectiveness and avoid overfilling it. All in all, this attachment is a great lightweight option for households who don’t want to store a larger canister vacuum. It’s also very simple to use and maintain, which is always a plus for household appliances.
Price at time of publish: $30
Best Splurge: Power Smith Heavy Duty Fireplace Warm Ash Vacuum
Five accessories included
Two washable filters
Emptying vacuum may be cumbersome
The Power Smith Heavy Duty Fireplace Warm Ash Vacuum is one of the more expensive models in this roundup, but we think its extra attachments and ability to hold both warm and cold ash make it worth the splurge. This ash vacuum is on a set of caster wheels, so you can drag it behind you as you navigate around your fire pit or fireplace. It also doubles as a blower when you move the hose to the air output at the top of the vacuum.
This vacuum comes with two reusable filters—so you always have a clean one ready to use—plus a crevice attachment, brush nozzle, pellet stove hose, and adapter. The pellet stove hose is especially useful in clearing out a pellet stove with a small ashtray or compartment. Although we appreciate this vacuum’s functionality like its powerful amperage and quiet operation, we wish there was a way to empty it from the bottom, rather than having to flip it over to release the ash. We think emptying this vacuum will be easier if you have an extra set of hands available to flip it over while you scoop out the contents.
Price at time of publish: $120
Best Portable: RIGID WD4070 4 Gallon Portable Vacuum
Storage caddy for attachments
Hose won't come loose when pulling as you clean
Heavier than other models
A portable ash vacuum is useful for avid campers or any homeowner looking for a multipurpose tool. This model from RIGID has large rear wheels that allow you to drag the unit behind you as you clean, and there’s no need to worry about the hose popping out of the vacuum thanks to its “Tug-A-Long” locking design. This vacuum also has an on-board storage caddy for all of its supporting attachments including 2 extension wands, a utility nozzle, and a multipurpose nozzle. It’s equipped with a 3-layer fine-dust filter that can handle everything from drywall dust to fireplace ashes—just be sure the ashes are cool first—and 9 amps of suction power ensure it quickly completes any size cleanup job. A 20-foot-long power cord also ensures that you can reach a mess from across a large room without having to replug the unit.
Despite this model’s portable design, it’s still heavier than other options in this list. This model’s weight is certainly not a deal-breaker but it is a good spec to note for users with limited mobility. We also recognize that this vacuum is more expensive than our splurge pick because of its multipurpose design as a shop vacuum and ash vacuum. However we still think it’s a great investment vacuum that you can be sure will last many years.
Price at time of publish: $130
Best Heavy Duty: Vacmaster VBV1210 12-gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower
Separate wet foam filter
Noise diffuser attachment
Only for cold ashes
If you haven’t ever considered purchasing a larger shop vacuum, also known as a wet-dry shop vacuum, now may be the time to look into its universal functionality. As the name suggests, wet-dry shop vacuums can handle both solid debris such as sawdust and ashes, and also wet messes like damp ashes or water spills. We love this model from Vacmaster because of its large capacity and helpful features like a foam filter designed to handle wet messes. The top of this vacuum also lifts away and functions as a blower, if you’re cleaning up an outside mess. A noise diffuser attachment helps to stifle 10.5 amps of suction power, while four nozzle attachments and two extension rods ensure you can easily clean up just about any mess.
As much as we love this vacuum’s design, it is only able to pick up cool ashes, so you cannot clean up your fireplace or fire pit until the day after it has extinguished. This model is also expensive—a common thread among larger multifunctional shop vacuums—so you may decide that you don’t need all of the features it offers. However, it does have a large drain port, so you can easily empty liquid contents out of its 12-gallon canister.
Price at time of publish: $129
Best for Liquid and Ash: Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
Wide drainage hole
Wet nozzle attachment
Wet filter not included
A wet-dry vacuum is the best option for cleaning up damp ashes that were left overnight in the rain or were doused with the hose to fully extinguish. This model from Craftsman has a 16-gallon capacity and a wide drainage hole to easily clear out liquid contents. We appreciate that this vacuum comes with two extension wands plus three nozzles. One of the nozzles is specifically designed for wet messes, which we find especially appealing for cleaning up wet ashes. Aside from its capacity to handle wet messes with ease, you’ll find this larger shop vacuum is equipped to store all of its accessories onboard including the hose and power cord.
A built-in rear blower port allows you to turn the vacuum’s hose into a blower for outdoor messes such as clearing out leaves in your firepit before use. This vacuum is also set on top of caster wheels, so you can easily slide it to and from its storage place. Be sure to remove the dust bag and cartridge filter from this vacuum before cleaning up wet messes, as this model does not come with a separate wet filter.
Price at time of publish: $152
Best Lightweight: Dewalt 20V Max Cordless Wet-Dry Vacuum, Tool Only
Can be used as a shop vacuum
Compatible with other Dewalt 20V tools
HEPA-rated wet-dry filter
Battery and charger not included
This Dewalt cordless vacuum clocks in at just 8 pounds, so you can easily carry it with you around a campsite, or even leave it in the back of your car for a powerful on-the-go tool. It has a 2-gallon capacity, which is great for smaller dry and liquid messes. Although at 1.6 amps, it has the lowest suction power in this roundup, the 20 volt battery is compatible with all of the other tools in Dewalt’s 20V Max tool line. You must purchase the battery and charger separately, if you don’t already own tools in the 20 volt collection. We love this vacuum’s multi-purpose functionality paired with its easy-to-store and-use design.
The filter is also compatible with both wet and dry messes and has received a HEPA rating, so it filters out even the smallest of particles from the air. We recommend emptying this vacuum after every use to be sure it doesn’t become full mid-cleaning. While its size and capacity may be deceiving, this vacuum could become one of your favorite cleaning tools for your workshop and fireplace.
Price at time of publish: $130
Best for Pellet Stoves: Love-less Ash Cougar+ Ash Vacuum
Vented cuff for pellet hose
Two-part filtration system
Designed with fire-resistant materials
Pellet stoves can be tricky to clean, especially when they have a narrow ashtray or compartment opening. This ash vacuum from Love-less Ash has a vented cuff and pellet hose attachment to ensure all of the fine ashes from a pellet stove are sucked into the vacuum’s canister. A two-part filtration system also ensures no particles escape into your home’s air system. We appreciate this ash vacuum’s durable construction, which includes fire-resistant materials to prevent combustion of any warm and cold ash.
There are only two drawbacks to this vacuum’s design: its price and weight. This vacuum is the heaviest option in our roundup and its carrying handle appears flimsier than some of the other designs we researched. This is also the most expensive vacuum on our list, but we feel that its design and performance, which specifically caters to pellet stoves, justifies its higher price point. All in all, you can expect high performance and filtration from this ash vacuum that’s sure to last many years.
Price at time of publish: $255
Best Filtration: Vacmaster Pro 8 gallon Certified Hepa Filtration Wet/Dry Vac
Caster wheels and large real wheels
Two-stage industrial motor
Sealable collection bag
May be difficult to store
If you’re using your firepit, fireplace, wood stove, or pellet stove very often, it might be worth considering an ash vacuum that’s certified in filtration of small particles. This model from Vacmaster has a HEPA-certified filter with four stages of filtration and 99.7 percent efficiency of clearing out particles as small as 0.3 microns. This vacuum’s industrial design is equipped with caster wheels that lock for stability while cleaning in one place and rubber rear wheels that make it easy to roll to a dumping spot. Onboard storage for the power cord and its many attachments is also included.
We’re impressed with the two-stage industrial motor that ensures long-lasting, consistent performance for many years. A separate wet filter is also included as well as a sealable tear-resistant dust collection bag for easy cleanup. Our only concern with this vacuum is its size, which would make it difficult to store in a smaller home or tool shed. However, if you have the storage space and are looking for a model that guarantees strong filtration, this option is definitely worth considering.
Price at time of publish: $122
Our favorite ash vacuum, the Snow Joe 4.8-Gallon Ash Canister Vacuum Cleaner, may be a basic model but it offers a reliable filtration system and strong suction power to quickly suck up all the ashes in your fire pit or wood stove. It also has a safety stop switch that prevents it from operating without a properly fitted filter. If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative to an ash vacuum the Pleasant Hearth Ash Vacuum Attachment is compatible with most household vacuums and has a capacity large enough to handle the ash output of the average household fireplace.
What to Look for in Ash Vacuums
Size and capacity
You should consider the context of where and how you’ll be using an ash vacuum to determine the size and capacity you’ll need. There are portable and lightweight ash vacuums available with capacities as small as 2 gallons, but most standard ash vacuums range from 4 to 8 gallons in capacity. A portable ash vacuum is a great choice for families who camp frequently and want a reliable option for cleaning up their campfire. Most homes that just use their fireplaces or fire pits during the winter will fare fine with a 4-gallon ash vacuum. If you find yourself in need of a vacuum with a larger capacity, a wet-dry shop vacuum may be your best option as some models also double as blowers for cleaning up other messes.
Engine and power
Most ash vacuums are listed with their amperage to offer consumers an idea of the amount of electricity flowing through the vacuum. While amperage does not directly relate to cleaning power or suction, it can be used to compare the input power of different vacuums. A vacuum that has an amperage closer to 10 will likely be more powerful than a vacuum that measures at 5 amps. The Wet-dry vacuums are sometimes listed with a “water lift” rating, which refers to their sealed suction power, or how much resistance it can handle within the cleaner while the motor is sealed off. Generally speaking, the more water lift, the better a vacuum’s overall suction will be.
Construction and durability
You want to look for an ash vacuum that’s constructed from fire-resistant materials, especially if it’s advertised as capable of holding warm ashes. Some ash vacuums come with reinforced metal hoses that are designed to handle warm embers and most ash vacuums have metal or metal-lined canisters.
Most ash vacuums are designed with a top handle, which helps when transporting them to be emptied. Ash vacuums are also available with caster wheels, especially when they have higher capacities. A vacuum with caster wheels is a great option if you want the vacuum to easily drag behind you as you clean. You should also check the weight listing to be sure the vacuum you choose is comfortable to carry if you have to walk a distance to properly dispose of your fireplace’s ashes.
Do you need a special vacuum for ash?
An ash vacuum is specifically designed with filters that trap ash particulate matter in a canister to prevent their spread into your home’s air. While there are wet-dry shop vacuums that are equipped with filters to handle ash, you also want to ensure that the vacuum you use to clean your fire pit, fireplace, wood stove, or pellet stove is constructed from fire-resistant materials. A fire-resistant canister is an essential component of safely vacuuming ashes, especially if the ashes are still slightly warm.
How often should you clean ashes from a fireplace?
A seasonal deep clean is necessary to ensure your fireplace is ready for the off-season. If you burn your wood stove or pellet stove as a main source of heat during colder months, we recommend checking the stove’s ashtray weekly to dispose of ashes, keeping in mind additional manufacturer guidance for your specific stove. It can be helpful to leave a thin layer of ashes—no more than 1 inch—in your fireplace or fire pit (if properly covered) to help catch sparks and hot embers that burn when you relight it.
What is the difference between an ash vacuum and a regular vacuum?
An ash vacuum is equipped with filters to keep ash particulates out of your home’s air, and they are made from fire-resistant materials that can handle storing ashes. While some modern vacuums are equipped with HEPA certified filters, we do not recommend using them to clean up ashes, as their emptying methods vary from an ash vacuum’s sealed top. Wet-dry vacuums, although not explicitly designed for ash, are equipped with filters capable of keeping ash particulates in their canisters because they are also designed to handle other fine dust like sawdust.
What can you use an ash vacuum for?
You can use an ash vacuum to clean up ashes from your fireplace, fire pit, wood stove, or pellet stove. You should wait 12 to 24 hours before cleaning out ashes, especially if your ash vacuum is only designed to handle cold ash. We recommend properly disposing of any ash you collect after each use of your vacuum to maintain its filter life and avoid a canister overfill.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Emma Phelps is an Updates Writer for The Spruce who has over two years of experience writing about home decor, home improvement, and home design. For this roundup, Emma researched the latest models of ash vacuums and considered popular brands. She looked at each vacuum’s capacity, power, and safety mechanisms while constructing the final list you see in this roundup. Before Emma wrote for The Spruce, she covered similar topics while writing at Southern Living.