The best shop vacs of 2024

Handle any serious cleaning job with a shop vac that can handle serious crumbs and dirt.

Best overall

Bissell MultiClean Wet Dry Vac

Bissell MultiClean Wet Dry Vac

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Best mini

Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum

Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum

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Best budget

Stanley SL18910P-3

Stanley SL18910P-3

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More powerful than the average Hoover, more versatile than the typical Dyson, and tougher than your pet Roomba, a shop vacuum is a must-have for any household. These cleaning tools can suck up almost anything. But shop vacuums aren’t just for cleaning big construction messes. Even the average homeowner should include one in their armory of cleaning supplies. They can take on even the most hard-to-clean areas, like a fireplace or barbecue pit. A cordless shop vacuum is easily transported out to the car to vacuum impossible corners and crevices between the seats and is powerful enough to pick up the dirt, leaves, and even matted-down pet hair littering the floor of your car. Once equipped with the best shop vac, you can attack any mess thrown at you, whether it’s sawdust in the workshop, a mosaic of Goldfish crumbs under the kid’s car seat, or even the two inches of water flooding the basement.

How we chose the best shop vacs

In short, the best shop vac can do just about anything. Sometimes referred to as bucket vacuums, these machines resemble little R2D2s. Used most often in construction, shop vacuums are durable enough to suck up dust, dirt, and most other debris found at a worksite. We looked at reviews, recommendations, conducted user testing, and performed heavy research while on the hunt for the best shop vacuum. We’ve also written plenty about the shop vac’s cousins, like upright vacuums, so we applied some of that knowledge here.

The best shop vacs: Reviews & Recommendations

Bear in mind that durability may come with unwieldiness. You might want to go all out with the most powerful shop vacuum you can find, but if a lightweight, portable shop vac is enough to handle the job, you’ll have an easier time maneuvering—not to mention, storing it when it’s not in use. Bigger might not be better, so tailor your choice to your needs. We chose five of the best shop vacs to crank up your cleaning game and have your space spotless in no time.

Best overall: Bissell MultiClean Wet Dry Vac

Overall Best

Strong and Multifunctional

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Why it made the cut: This vacuum can power through wet or dry messes on multiple surfaces—you can even detail your car with it.


  • Capacity: 6 gallons
  • Weight: 16.1 lbs.
  • Hose length: 6.5 ft.
  • Power source: Corded electric


  • Two-stage filtration
  • Blower function
  • Easy to move


  • Loud

If you want a wet-dry shop vacuum that handles anything, the Bissell MultiClean vac covers all the bases. This versatile cleaning tool comes with a variety of features and functions, including a blowing function for clearing leaves or blowing up inflatables, a wet suction tool, and a toolkit of different brushes for vacuuming various surfaces and crevices. The tank is on wheels for easy movement while vacuuming, and its balanced body keeps it from tipping over when it’s pulled. This machine is sleek and easy to use for both small at-home messes and bigger shop cleanups.

Best powerful: Ridgid WD1450 Wet Dry Vac

Most Powerful

Strong Suction

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Why it made the cut: A six-horsepower motor and 14 gallons of storage let you vacuum your entire garage … and then some.


  • Capacity: 14 gallons
  • Weight: 25 lbs.
  • Hose length: 6.8 ft.
  • Power source: Corded electric


  • Six horsepower motor
  • Lots of storage capacity
  • Easy to maneuver


  • Expensive

This Ridgid shop vac’s 6-horsepower motor and top-notch dust filters make it one of the most powerful shop vacs on the market. Its 14-gallon tank makes it one of the larger models available, which is great if you have a big job and want to avoid frequent stops to empty the tank. Despite its size, this large shop vacuum is easy to maneuver thanks to its handled tank and a Tug-A-Long hose that stays locked in during use. Another perk? The powerful motor is made with noise-reducing technology, offering a quieter performance than other brands.

Best mini: Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum

Best Mini

Light and Portable

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Why it made the cut: This little shop vac packs a powerful punch—good things sometimes come in small sizes.


  • Capacity: 2.5 gallons
  • Weight: 5.6 lbs.
  • Hose length: 4 ft.
  • Power source: Corded electric


  • Wall mountable for storage
  • Portable
  • Easy to carry and transport


  • Hose length shorter than others on our list

The Armor All 2.5-gallon Wet Dry Vacuum has a 2.5-gallon tank and weighs 5.6 pounds, so it’s light enough to transport out to your car for some detailing or give the couch a quick once over before guests arrive. It has an easy-to-carry handle and a 10-foot power cord to take advantage of its portability. The 2-horsepower motor in this mini shop vacuum strikes the perfect balance between lightweight and power.

Best cordless: Milwaukee 0880-20 Wet Dry Vac

Best Battery Powered

Cordless Efficiency

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Why it made the cut: No cord or plug? That’s not a problem with this sturdy, compact shop vac.


  • Capacity: 2 gallons
  • Weight: 10.1 lbs
  • Hose length: 6 ft.
  • Power source: Battery-powered, cordless


  • Washable HEPA filter
  • Sturdy design
  • Easy to carry


  • Full charge only lasts 20 minutes

This highly rated, battery-powered shop vac is great for car detailing and ideal for travel or minor clean-ups. The design of this vac is different from the typical cylindrical tank—this one is rectangular and looks almost like a toolbox. The body is sturdy and doesn’t tip easily, and the box has a handle for easy carry. It yields a strong suction, and you can expect about 20 minutes of continuous use on one battery before needing to recharge.

Best budget: Stanley SL18910P-3

Budget Pick

Easy and Cost-Efficient

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Why it made the cut: This powerful, budget-friendly shop vac rivals its pricier counterparts.


  • Capacity: 3 gallons
  • Weight: 8 lbs.
  • Hose length: 4 ft.
  • Power source: Corded electric


  • Washable and reusable filter
  • Lots of included accessories
  • Easy to carry


  • No casters to move vacuum around

This Stanley shop vac has a 3-gallon tank and a 3-horsepower motor. With more capacity than mini shop vacs, this vac is performance on a budget. While it may not complete a job as quickly as one of the more expensive models with higher horsepower and a larger tank, this lower-priced option has what it takes to clean up any wet or dry mess.

What to consider when buying the best shop vacs

Shop vacs come in a variety of sizes and efficacy, so the biggest thing to consider is what kind of performance and capacity you’re looking for. Also, consider shop vacuum attachments: different nozzles may be available for cleaning small crevices or for sucking up that flooded basement, or you may need to buy adapters to use the inflation feature (no more manually blowing up giant pool floats!). You can get pretty creative using your shop vac. Here’s what else we recommend when shopping for a shop vac:

Wet dry shop vacs

What really sets shop vacs apart from regular vacuum cleaners is the wet vac feature. Many, if not most, shop vacuums can clear dry and wet messes, which is clutch in some of homeownership’s most difficult-to-handle situations. A wet-dry vac can clean up the jar of applesauce your toddler dropped in the middle of the living room. It can be shoved down the drain in your kitchen sink to retrieve a missing earring. And it can suck up all the water if—shudder—your basement is flooding. A wet-dry shop vac can remove unwanted water from your home, clean out a fish tank, unclog a drain—the list goes on. On top of this feature, many shop vacuums have a blowing function for added versatility—your leaf blower wishes it had that versatility.


Shop vacuums come in a variety of sizes and levels of power, so the biggest thing to consider is what kind of performance and capacity you’re looking for. If you’re purchasing a vac for a construction business, you might want to consider at least a 12-gallon shop vacuum with the capacity to clean up larger, heavier debris.

Wall-mounted shop vacuums are powerful and offer excellent filtration and capacity, although their immobility can hold you back without an extra-long hose and fixtures to stretch your reach. When overall suction strength is your biggest concern, look for a machine with high horsepower.


Shop vacuums aren’t just for big industrial messes. A small shop vac can be a lifesaver for smaller jobs, like crumbs and pet hair. These lightweight micromachines come as small as 1.5 gallons.

The one caveat to mini shop vacs is that the size and weight may come at the expense of suction, as the small body doesn’t allow for a more powerful motor. We looked for a model that brings the most power in relation to its small size.

Battery-powered vs. electric

While most shop vacuums are electric, battery-powered vacs are also available. The electric shop vacs will provide more power for a longer duration of time. Still, a battery-powered vac has the upside of being portable and usable even when you don’t have access to a reliable power source.

On the downside, the batteries don’t last very long, and you’ll be stopping to recharge frequently. Electric shop vacuums will be better for long jobs, like clearing out a flooded basement, but a battery-powered vac is perfect for a quick and easy pickup. Some users recommend them for cleaning up during a long road trip.


Shop vacuums are by nature powerful and versatile, so even a less expensive model will complete a job better than a regular vacuum. The mini vacs are the least expensive models, but you can get a more mid-sized shop vac with a larger tank and more powerful motor at a reasonable price.

A mid-sized shop vacuum, even a cheaper model, ensures you’re ready for whatever small disaster hits your home. For minor floods, clogs, home workshop messes, spills, or pet cleanup (have you ever wished for an easier way to clean the kids’ hamster cage?), a simple budget shop vac will have your home spotless.


Q: How much does a shop vac cost?

The best shop vacs can start at around $30 and reach all the way into the $200 range, depending on their features and capabilities.

Q: What’s the difference between a shop vac and a regular vacuum?

It’s safe to say you don’t want to suck up scraps of wood, nails, screws, pieces of metal, or water with a regular vacuum. Not only does a regular vacuum lack the power to suck up big pieces adequately, but it’s also likely too small and delicate for heavy debris. The shop vac’s powerful motor and its larger, tougher hose are made to handle those nuts and bolts, and its tank can take in water. On the other hand, the regular vacuum is only made for reasonable amounts of dirt, dust, and crumbs in the home.

Q: Can you use a shop vac as a regular vacuum?

You can use a shop vac as a regular vacuum, and accessories and attachments are available to make that easier. However, a regular upright vacuum is easier to move across floors and rugs to clean up day-to-day dust and dirt. While you can substitute the regular vacuum for a shop vacuum in a pinch, they’re best left for the bigger messes that a regular vacuum can’t handle.

Q: Which shop vacuum has the strongest suction?

The suction on a shop vac relies on the strength of its motor. The strongest shop vacs have roughly 5-6.5 peak horsepower. Factoring in some other features, like the quality of the air filters and the size of the tank, sets these vacs apart from each other. The aforementioned Ridgid WD1450 and the Craftsman 12007 are notably among the shop vacs with the strongest suction at 6.5 HP and boast 14-16 gallon tanks, making them the strongest shop vacuums for big jobs.

Final thoughts on the best shop vacs

A shop vacuum is a versatile piece of equipment—the cleaning equipment you never knew you needed. They provide a quick and easy way to clean up the messes you once thought were impossible. Make a list of the features that are most important to you—Do you want them to be portable? Is power the biggest factor? Do you need a shop vac for a car?—and determine which is the best shop vac for you. It’s hard to go wrong, and many affordable options are available. This is a purchase you won’t regret. Happy cleaning!

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Amanda Reed Avatar

Amanda Reed

Updates Writer

Amanda Reed is a commerce updates writer at Popular Science. She makes sure all product round-ups are up-to-date, shares deals happening all over the internet, and reviews various gizmos and gadgets. She lives in Pittsburgh with JunkJunk, a handsome, sad-looking tuxedo cat who only wants wet food and attention.