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A clean workspace is an efficient workspace. It’s not enough to keep all of your tools in their proper locations. Scraps of material, spills, paint, and countless other things can quickly turn a workspace into a disaster area, especially if you lack the means to clean up the difficult messes.
A shop vac is an indispensable addition to any home or garage since it takes the performance of a vacuum and turns it up to 11. Shop vac is the name for both the typical shop vacuum and a specific brand of vacuums available today.
Shop vacs come in many different sizes, typically measured in gallons. The larger the vacuum, the more it can clean up. The power of the motor will also affect how much it can suck up. You should decide on the power and size you need based on the size of the space you want or need to clean. All of these top-rated options will get the job done, but bigger jobs may need one of the heavier-duty picks on our list.
Best Overall: DEWALT 16 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac/Acc
A good shop vac should be able to suck up a wide variety of things such as spills, debris, even snow. For the absolute best choice, you can only go with the namesake brand: the DeWALT 16 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac/Acc. This shop vac is on the larger side for extra tough messes or bigger rooms you may need to tackle. Sixteen gallons will give you plenty of space to suck things up before having to empty it. The 6.5 HP motor is also powerful enough to handle many different types of debris and messes you may encounter while using this option.
The accessories with this option include a large eight-inch utility nozzle, crevice tool for hard-to-reach spots and several different filters to keep small things from damaging the insides. In addition to the vacuum, the powerful blower is capable of cleaning up messes both in the workshop or outside. The hose is seven-feet long for extra reach around normal sized rooms.
Runner Up, Best Overall: Ridgid 14 Gal. 2-Stage Commercial Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum with Fine Dust Filter
Need something on the larger side for even bigger messes and rooms? The Rigid 14 gal. 6.0-Peak HP is one of the largest shop vacs available on the market. Despite the size, the unit is easy to maneuver around with four caster wheels, a top handle and a seven foot-hose. The exterior is constructed of high impact plastic for extra protection. On the inside, a six-horsepower motor is powerful enough for common messes around the home and garage.
The vacuum’s filter system is designed to suck up fine particles such as dry wall dust. The three layer filter is easy to replace and will help remove dangerous dust from spaces after large projects or disasters. Accessory wise, this option comes with several different nozzles to use in hard-to-reach spots like cars or on liquids. It also comes with a three-year warranty.
Best Budget Shop Vac: Stanley 8 Gallon 6 Peak Horsepower Industrial Stainless Steel Vacuum
Some expensive shop vac options aren’t suited for smaller spaces or projects. Since it’s pointless to spend more on something that will be overkill for your needs, save some money with a smaller vacuum. The Craftsman 12004 Six-Gallon shop vac comes with a three-horsepower motor for small spaces and jobs. While you may not clean up an entire garage in one go, this vacuum is powerful enough to keep around for small projects or single room/apartment cleaning tasks.
A seven-foot hose and ten-foot power cord will give you a 17-foot reach while using this vacuum. Take it outdoors and reverse the motor to activate the lawn blowing function for areas like the patio, yard or driveway. The motor is capable enough to even handle heavier materials such as dirt and wood scraps.
Best Six-Gallon Shop Vac: Vacmaster 6 Gallon 3 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum VQ607SFD
A six-gallon shop vac is small enough to almost be considered portable. Despite the small size, this type of tank is still convenient for taking care of small to medium messes without having to empty it. The Vacmaster Stainless Steel vacuum is the perfect option if storage space is a premium. The smaller size of the vacuum also makes it easy to store in places such as small apartments, offices, and the garage.
For the size and price, this vacuum is more durable than comparable options. The stainless steel construction is weather-resistant. The lid is reinforced with heavy duty tank clips to prevent air from leaking. Moving the vacuum is also meant to be comfortable with a contoured control handle and sturdy, all-direction casters.
Best Eight-Gallon Shop Vac: Vacmaster 6 Gallon 3 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
Increasing the size of the storage tank on a shop vac will allow you to work longer without having to empty it. The Stanley Pro Stainless Steel sits in the middle of small and large shop vac options with an eight gallon tank. Eight gallons is common for most shop vacuums capable of handling common messes around the home without many storage issues. Better still, the 6.5-horsepower motor can tackle larger, heavier materials you may encounter around the house or garage.
The air filters on this vacuum are good if you expect to find harmful molds, mildew and bacteria in the dust you need to clean up. Like other shop vacs, this one can handle both dry and wet matter, so you can reach for it the next time you encounter a large spill. A secondary, portable one-gallon vacuum is included as well for smaller messes or harder-to-reach areas.
Capacity Shop vacs come in small (2-6 gallons), medium (6-14 gallons), and high capacity (14-18 gallons). The medium capacity will suit most needs — it’s sufficient for most indoor and outdoor cleaning tasks homeowners face.
Air power Air power, or air-watts, refers to the suction power of your shop vac. A higher air power is important if you plan to vacuum heavier objects like nuts and bolts.
Tank In addition to size, you’ll be faced with another choice: plastic or stainless steel tank. Plastic tanks are lighter and less prone to dents, but stainless steel tanks are easier to clean and more durable in the long run.