lady vacuuming the floor using shop-vac

What's the best shop vac on the market today? Find out what makes a good shop vac great, as well as what you should be looking for. Also, you can check out our list of the top seven shop vacs to find the right one for you.

Think of it this way: Buying the best shop vac is not splurging on a luxury purchase. Basically, you're not looking for flashy features or useless robot helpers. Instead, you're looking for a heavy-duty machine that's going to do some serious work.

It should be remembered that shop vacs perform vital functions to your work. For example, like a stethoscope for a doctor or clippers for a barber. Because of this, choosing the best shop vac should be a careful and involved process. In order to help you choose wisely, here's our list of the seven top shop vacs on the market.

As has been noted, when we talk about shop vacs here, we're referring to wet/dry vacuums. Not only do they keep your workshop clean, but they collect debris from the floor. These may include water, metal shavings, wood chips, and more. If something's small enough to fit in the hose, then your shop vac can handle it.

Best Shop Vac Comparison Table (for Reviews in Brief)

We also review each product in detail below. Furthermore, you can click on a product name or image in order to see the review in detail.


​Image & Rating



As can be seen, this classic has it all: A 12 gallon capacity, 6.5 horse power, and plenty of accessories.

All in all, a slimmed-down little dynamo of a 6-gallon, 3 HP shop vac.

To sum up, a popular, versatile pick that's jam-packed with extras.

If you need a high-end filtration system for fine particles, this shop vac is definitely the right choice.

stainless steel wet dry shop vacuum

This is unquestionably the Top Gun of shop vacs with its powerful 6.5 motor, and a 16-gallon drum capacity.

All things considered, minimalist's dream of a shop vac with a compact, lightweight, and durable design.

In brief, this dream of a high-capacity shop vac is a breeze to use, and easy to maneuver for its size.

Best Shop Vac for 2019: The Top 7 (Our Reviews in Detail)

All in all, our top pick is from Shop-Vac themselves. This model has it all, and also a 6.5 peak horsepower rating. Now, this number isn't a firm indicator of capability. However, it does hint at what this machine is capable of. Firstly, it maintains power very well and can suck up just about anything you need to be removed.

Secondly, it has a 12-gallon capacity, so you'll can go much longer without having to empty it out. That can help you clean faster, although this does increase its size and bulk significantly. Plus, it has an eight-foot hose, ensuring that you'll be able to get to where you want to be to clear out debris. The airflow can also be reversed, effectively turning this machine into a leaf blower.

On top of all that, it comes standard with a 22 and ½ inch extension wand, a 14-inch floor nozzle, a 120-degree elbow, crevice tool, 8-inch utility nozzle, ergonomic elbow grip, blower nozzle, concentrator nozzle and 18-foot power cord. A powerful and reliable machine with just about every accessory you might need.


  • ​6.5 peak horsepower
  • ​12-gallon capacity
  • ​Packed with features


  • ​Some complained about the suction
  • ​Some say the parts are cheap and break easily

If you are looking for a smaller wet/dry vac with roughly the same capabilities as our top pick, then this craftsman is definitely worth a look. It only has a six-gallon capacity, but this significantly reduces its size and weight. This model is much more versatile and easy to use in a workplace as it can be easily carried and fits into tight spots.

The main drawback to this is of course power. Its capacity is halved, which means that its power is roughly half that of a 12-gallon model as well. Still, it performs smoothly and relatively quietly, and it is easy to disassemble and operate.

The only avoidable drawback with this model is its lack of extras. It has a few like a floor squeegee for wet pickups, and a multipurpose utility nozzle, but other models come with more. In an age of more, customers are just used to getting everything they might need instead of just everything they will probably need.


  • ​Powerful motor
  • ​Great price
  • ​89% rated it 4 stars and above.


  • ​Few attachments (although you can buy them separately)

When it comes to versatility, this model has most others beat. This handy shop vac comes with a wide array of  add-ons, a whopping eight in total. It's got everything you need to complete just about any job. The motor also detaches from the housing, so you can use it as a leaf blower.

The VacMaster 12 gallon comes with all of this at a pretty reasonable price as well. Furthermore, it comes with a robust two-year warranty. 

As you might tell from its name, it is only really lacking in the power department. Not only is its peak horsepower low, but its sustained sucking power is average at best. This makes it suitable for less heavy-duty jobs. If you have a lot of messes to clean up that aren't heavy debris, then this model is a choice worth considering.


  • ​Versatile
  • ​Quiet
  • ​Lots of attachments


  • ​Some say it needs a longer cord
  • ​Not powerful enough for heavy jobs

Buyers mention that you need to screw the casters onto the chassis (screws included). In addition, the Vacmaster doesn't work as well with outlets on #15 breakers and needs ones that run off a #20 breaker. Kitchens and bathrooms typically have these for running appliances. 

This model isn't as powerful or versatile as some of the others. However, it does exactly what its name says it does. The Dustless Technologies 16006 has a sophisticated, multilayered filtration system that removes fine particles from the exhaust. Although it may not be the best shop vac overall, it's definitely the best at what it does.

If you're sanding drywall or working with other dusty materials, then this machine is one of the best choices out there. This machine will stop particles from getting kicked up into the air where it can get breathed in and cause damage to lungs. It also comes with an impressive 12-foot wire frame hose, a healthy smattering of extras and a 12-gallon capacity.

Another key point is, this one suffers from a lack of power. This can be attributed to the complex filtering system at play. But still, the result is weaker and slower cleanups when compared with many others. Furthermore, this model is quite pricey.

Still, you can hardly put a price on healthy lungs. Other shop vacs may do the job quicker and cheaper, but few are more thorough than the Dustless Technologies 16003.


  • ​Fully certified HEPA rated at .3 microns of filtration
  • ​Complete containment of dust


  • ​Pricey
  • ​Only 3.1 Horsepower
  • ​Frequent complaints about the plastic holding clips for the lid

However, it's ideal for people who work with anything involving dust or toxins. This includes concrete and drywall, as well as lead paint and asbestos removal.

stainless steel wet dry shop vacuum

If you want a large model for some heavy-duty tasks, then this model may be the best shop vac for you. For example, this wet/dry shop vac has a powerful 6.5 horsepower motor that picks-up about one gallon of water per second. 

The WORKSHOP WS1600SS Vac also features a durable 24 gauge stainless steel drum, providing a sleek, professional appearance. Additionally, its ergonomic handle, mobile design, and large rear wheels provide a stable platform for portability. For that reason, this shop vac is easily transported across rough terrain to include stairs. 

This shop vac comes with a modest array of accessories, including several nozzles, and a couple of arm extenders. It also features an accessory bag mounted on the handle to keep all those attachments close at hand. 

Likewise, the WORKSHOP Vac features a 7-foot long hose and a 20-foot power cord providing plenty of reach. Likewise, the WORKSHOP Vac's dual-flex locking hose offers 180-degree flexibility at both ends for easy maneuverability.


  • 6.5 peak horsepower 
  • 16-gallon drum capacity
  • Ergonomic, portable and easy to maneuver


  • Attachment bag and handle makes emptying the drum a bit tricky
  • Replacement bags are a bit pricey
  • Some minor assembly is required

The WORKSHOP WS1600SS Vac a good value for the money beyond a shadow of doubt. 

If you are looking to go the opposite direction, this minimalist shop vac is a fine choice for home use or workshoppers on a budget. It only has a six-gallon capacity and is not as powerful as others in its class, but it makes up for that by being compact, lightweight and durable.

Even among other six-gallon models, buyers praise this VacMaster as small and maneuverable. Its quality components and stainless-steel chassis make it weather and damage resistant so you can bet it will keep working after other wet/dry vacs fail. It’s ergonomic and easy to use, and it comes with decent accessories and storage considering its size and weight.

It may not perform like a top of the line shop vac, but it also doesn't cost nearly as much. This sleek and durable model is one of the best shop vacs for homes, apartments, backups or even cars. It's that portable.


  • ​Compact and lightweight
  • ​Ergonomic, portable and easy to maneuver
  • ​Sleek and durable


  • ​Not as powerful as some of the others

If high capacity is your main concern, then check out the Koblenz WD-16K US and its 16-gallon capacity. It's one of the few models out there that can boast a capacity that high.

This is great for long haul jobs and busy workplaces, but it may end up being too much for some. Higher capacity means bigger storage compartments which lead to heavier and bulkier machines as well as slightly reduced power. Yet several reviewers say it works great and fits in tight spaces.

If you can get past that, the Koblenz WD-16K US is a breeze to use. It has rugged casters and moves around easily for its size. In addition, it has many removable components that you can take apart and wash with minimal effort.

It also comes with a good selection of accessories, although onboard storage could be better.


  • ​Holds 16 gallons but fits in small spaces
  • ​Moves around easily
  • ​Easy to take apart and wash


  • ​Attachments tend to fall off caddy.

Best Shop Vac: A Buyer's Guide

You've seen our top picks, so by all means, you can now make decisions of your own. When looking for the best shop vac, it is important to keep in mind what jobs you are going to be using it for.

On the one hand, power and high capacity are great for heavy-duty workplace applications. These include construction sites plus industrial and commercial workshops. The need is there, and professional hands know how to get the most out of them.

However, if it's home use you are looking for, then you should certainly consider going smaller. In fact, these can work for small garage workshops as well. The six-gallon models seem underpowered, but if you are just sucking up spills, sawdust, sand or a bit of dirt, then it should be as much as you need. Don't underestimate how important ease of use and versatility are. You want an affordable jack of all trades for your home and a powerful beast in your workplace.

Here's a Video from YouTube on How to Use a Wet/Dry Vac

Featured image: CC 2.0, One Nutty Mama, Flickr.


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