The 8 Best Shop Vacs to Buy in 2018

Keep your home and workspace clean with these powerful vacuums

Shop-Vac 9633400 6.5-Peak HP Ultra Pro
Courtesy of Amazon.

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A clean workspace is an efficient workspace. While most people love the look of a clean, organized worksite, it can be difficult to maintain a space. It’s not enough to keep all of your tools in their proper locations. Materials, nuts and bolts, 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 specific brand of vacuums available today. While Shop-Vac, the well known brand, is arguably the king of these tools, it isn’t the only option. 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(s) you want or need to clean.

All of these options will get the job done, but some will be more appropriate for larger, tougher jobs. Check out these top shop vacs.


  • 01 of 08

    Best Overall: Shop-Vac 9633400 12-Gallon

    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 Shop-Vac 9633400. This shop vac is on the larger side for extra tough messes or bigger rooms you may need to tackle. Twelve 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, you can reverse the motor to turn the shop vac into a leaf blower for outside use. The hose is eight-feet long for extra reach around normal sized rooms.

  • 02 of 08

    Runner Up, Best Overall: Ridgid 50348 1400RV Wet/Dry Vacuum with Cart, 14-Gallon

    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.

  • 03 of 08

    Best Budget: Shop-Vac 5986100 Eight-Gallon

    A budget shop vac will usually come with the bare minimum in terms of performance and accessories to get basic jobs done. The Shop-Vac 5986100 is made with the same quality of construction that more expensive Shop-Vac units have. With an eight-gallon tank and five-horsepower motor, it’s on the lighter end in terms of performance. As a starter vacuum, however, the price is hard to beat.

    The main tank is made of stainless steel for extra durability other budget vacuums don’t have. Included attachments include two standard nozzles and extension nozzles. The easy roll casters rotate 360 degrees, so you can pull the unit in any direction as you work.

  • 04 of 08

    Runner Up, Best Budget Shop Vac: Craftsman 12004 Six-Gallon

    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.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Best Six-Gallon Shop Vac: Vacmaster Stainless Steel

    6-gal. Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vac with Blower Function
    Courtesy of Home Depot.

    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.

  • 06 of 08

    Best Eight-Gallon Shop Vac: Stanley Pro Stainless Steel

    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.

  • 07 of 08

    Best 10-Gallon: Shop-Vac 5873410

    A ten-gallon shop vac is the point you begin to enter the “heavy duty” space of these vacuums. Ten gallons will give you plenty of storage to keep on cleaning, making it ideal for small industrial and commercial applications in addition to home use. The Shop-Vac 5873410 is one of the brand’s flagship models, representing both the build quality and capability many people know Shop-Vac for. The standard 6.5-horsepower motor is capable of surviving the abuse of professional applications or giving you all the power you need at home.

    The combination of a 20-foot power cord and 12-foot hose will give you unparalleled reach while working around any room or space. Despite the large size and powerful motor, the unit is quiet enough to be used in crowded spaces or in apartments with neighbors.

  • 08 of 08

    Best 16-Gallon Shop Vac: Emerson WS1600VA

    To maximize the amount of cleaning you can do with a shop vac, nothing beats the massive 16-gallon tank. At this size, the Emerson WS1600VA is the most logical choice if your cleaning needs go beyond typical home use. Professionals will appreciate the large storage capacity and plethora of attachments that make this vacuum versatile around the shop or worksite. To survive the extra level of abuse professional settings can dish, this vacuum cleaner is made of a durable copolymer drum to resist cracking and dents from impacts.

    For accessories, the vacuum comes with a standard set of utility, car, wet and extension nozzles. The on-board filter system features Emerson’s Qwik Lock fastening design to make switching filters quick and simple. For wet applications, a built-in auto shutoff float mechanism will prevent you from sucking up too much to the point of overflowing the unit.