Features, Uses, Prices, and Review of the Top Models

If you're a do-it-yourselfer who spends a lot of time in the garage or shop with your many home projects, you may have already discovered that wet-dry--or shop--vacuum cleaners, are almost indepsensible. And if you've ever had a major water leaking problem in your home, dropped a bag of fireplace ashes on your carpet, or dropped dishes or glasses in your kitchen which sent glass flying everywhere, you've probably also discovered they are very handy to have around the house to take care of the spills that your standard household vacuum cleaner can't easily take care of. If you're needing to replace your current model, or have discovered (the hard way) that you need a wet or dry unit, we present information here that should help you decide on the best wet-dry or shop vacuum cleaner for you and for your household. We'll review the top-rated models, including features and prices, so that you can make an informed decision based on your needs and on your budget. Come with us as we explore wet-dry vacuum cleaners!

Why Would I Need A Wet or Dry Vacuum Cleaner?

Even if you're not a do-it-yourselfer who has messy little projects going on in your garage or shop, you may still find many uses for a wet-dry vacuum cleaner around the house. If your toddler decides to dump a bucket of sand or dirt on your floor, you could sweep it up--eventually--if it were on your kitchen linoleum; or drag out your full-sized household vacuum cleaner if the pile of sand was on your carpets. This job is much too big for a hand-held or stick vacuum cleaner. Most of us want the dirt up in a hurry, before the toddler decides to track it through the rest of the house. Your shop vacuum can easily and quickly get rid of the mess in a short amount of time. Wet-dry shop vacuums are usually stronger than household vacuum cleaners, too. And you're not bending down with the broom and dustpan, then leaving some of the sand behind because a broom just can't take care of the whole mess.

Or, your bathtub, kitchen sink, dishwasher, or washing machine has overflowed, leaving your floor awash with water. Do you have enough towels to mop up the floors? Do you really want to take a mop and bucket and spend a lot of time trying to get rid of the water? This is where the wet-dry vacuum cleaner really shines! It'll suck up that water in no time at all! A large-capacity tank will mean that you don't have to stop and empty it very often.


Here are the basic features of a wet-dry vacuum cleaner which you'll find handy both in your shop or in your home.

Wet or dry pickup
Larger capacity dirt recepticle
More suction
Larger hose allows easy pickup of larger spills
Some models will hook up to and provide power for power tools

Top Makes and Models

According to Consumersearch.com, here are the top-rated makes and models, their best features and price ranges:

Ridgid WD1850 Pro Utility Shop Vac
Consumersearch rates this one as the top shop vacuum for general use. Average price is about $150, carries a lifetime warranty, and features a 16-gallon capacity. Experts and owners alike say this is the best wet-dry vacuum for home and shop use. This model features a fairly quiet motor, is easy to move around, and has a sensor to tell when the filter needs cleaning, plus an automatic shut-off when the maximum liquid level is reached.

Shop-Vac All Around 971-02-00
This one has a small, 1.5 gallon capacity, but it also has a small price tag at around $50. It's rated the top portable shop vacuum by Consumersearch. Don't plan on using it for major spills because of the smaller hose and small capacity. If you only plan to use it for smaller spills or on a tight budget, this one gets good reviews.

Festool Cleantec CT 33 HEPA
If money is no object and you are looking for the most powerful wet-dry vacuum cleaner, this one is for you. Prices average just under $500, but features include a variable speed motor which makes it ideal for using with your power tools; a separate holding tank with drain for liquid spills; and an anti-static hose and self-cleaning filter. Has excellent power and durability, and if you expect some major cleanups chores, larger hoses are an option.

Fein 9-77-25 Turbo III Dust Extractor
If there's a woodworker in the household, this one gets top marks for that type of pickup. Woodworking experts give this model top ratings. Has a quiet motor and a good-sized hose that doesn't clog when vacuuming, and an attachment that collects dust from your power tools. It's also a little on the spendy side, at $350.

Ridgid WD5500 store-N-Go Shop Vac
Consumersearch rates this one as the best wall-mounted shop vac. Has a 5-gallon capacity, good suction and power, and a long 21-foot hose for reaching far-off places. While it's hung from the wall, it can also be removed from the wall to become a portable vacuum. It's $100 price tag and life-time warranty are also plusses.

Ridgid Pro WD4550 Pro Pack Shop Vac
You can use this toolbox-shaped model to easily vacuum out your car, or take it to a job site. It weighs in at 15 pounds but is still portable, features a 4.5 gallon tank; and hose, attachments and cord all fit neatly inside the lid. Like the other Ridgid models, this one also features a lifetime warranty, and averages about $100.

Parting Thoughts

If you're looking for a wet-dry shop vacuum for your shop, garage or home, you should find something to fit your needs and your pocketbook. We only had room to feature the top-rated models, but there are a lot more on the market than these. Be sure to check out usual vacuum cleaner review sites which we've been using: Vacuumwizard, Consumersearch, Smartguider and Howstuffworks to get even more information on these and other wet-dry shop vacuum cleaners.

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