Our product testing team has spent many hours researching and testing the best shop vacs in the industry. While Shop Vac® is indeed a brand of vacuum, it is also the commonly-used term to describe this style of vacuum. Shop vacs are also referred to as bucket vacuums, due to the fact they resemble buckets with a hose attached.

Shop vacs typically feature a high-powered motor, durable hose, and large canister to hold dirt and debris. While all of the shop vacs featured in this article may possess all three of these characteristics, this type of product can vary dramatically. As is the case with all products that we test, our team members formulated our recommendations based on an honest and unbiased review process.

#1 Best Overall: Craftsman CMXEVBE17594

Craftsman CMXEVBE17594

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The Craftsman CMXEVBE17594 has 6.0 peak horsepower (HP) and a 12.0-gallon tank capable of handling small projects in your garage workspace to big projects at your job site. This shop vac features dual-flex technology in the form of its 2.5-in. diameter shop vacuum hose having 180-degree mobility at each end to prevent hose kinking. It should also be noted that this wet/dry vac comes with a three-year limited warranty.

A built-in blower port featured on the wet/dry shop vacuum allows for a quick clean-up process of leaves and grass clippings. This shop vac also features an extra-long power cord that’s a whopping 20.0 ft. in length for easy maneuverability. Furthermore, a Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System allows you to quickly and easily switch between wet and dry vacuum filters.

Key Features

  • Dual-flex technology
  • Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System
  • 20.0-ft. power cord

What’s In The Box?

The Craftsman CMXEVBE17594 comes with the shop vac itself, two extension wands, a car nozzle, a utility nozzle, a general-purpose filter, and a dust collection bag. Additionally, this shop vac includes a 2.5-in. by 7.0-ft. locking dual-flex hose in the box.

Our Experience

Craftsman CMXEVBE17594

Overall Rating5 out of 5
Suction Power5 out of 5
Maneuverability5 out of 5
Versatility5 out of 5

The Craftsman CMXEVBE17594 is our product testing team’s choice for the Best Overall shop vac on the market due to its flawless performance in all of our testing categories.

Suction Power: 5 out of 5

This shop vac had the best suction power of any of the other shop vacs that we tested. Although it didn’t necessarily have the strongest suction, its suction power meant it picked up dirt, debris, and even fine dust without latching onto whatever surface we were vacuuming.

Maneuverability: 5 out of 5

Between the cord length and the freely moving wheels on the bottom of this wet/dry shop vacuum cleaner, this shop vac was extremely mobile. Our team members never had any issues with moving the shop vac itself nor did we ever wish that we had a few more feet of power cord.

Versatility: 5 out of 5

This wet/dry vacuum cleaner performed exceptionally well on all of the different types of materials that we tried to vacuum. From rubber floor mats, to our test vehicle’s carpet, to the car seats themselves, this shop vac worked flawlessly. Additionally, the wide-ranging included attachments were incredibly useful as it meant we could reach messes that were difficult to get to.

What Customers Are Saying

Over 8,300 customers have left reviews for the Craftsman CMXEVBE17594 on Amazon. Customers absolutely agree that this is one of the best shop vacs, which is backed by the fact that a usually unheard of 95 percent of reviewers rate this shop vac 4 or more stars. Just 2 percent of reviewers rate this product 1 out of 5 stars, while 85 percent of reviewers rate it a perfect 5 out of 5 stars.

#2 Best Attachments: DeWalt DXV06P

DeWalt DXV06P

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Our product testing team recognized the DeWalt DXV06P for having the Best Attachments out of all of the shop vacs in the industry. This shop vac has a powerful 4.0 peak HP motor as well as a built-in blower port that produces a powerful enough airflow to blow sawdust and debris from your workspace. This 6.0-gallon wet/dry vac has a large enough storage canister to handle bigger jobs but it’s ideal for smaller-scale do-it-yourself, or DIY, clean up.

This wet/dry shop vac features rubberized casters that are extremely durable and allow for smooth swiveling and ease of movement when you’re trying to maneuver this shop vac around your workspace. For wet messes, this shop vac features a drain port to easily drain any liquid that you’ve vacuumed up. A 10.0-foot power cord means that you may need an extension cord, but you’ll still have plenty of room to move around with this shop vac.

Key Features

  • Rubberized casters
  • Tank drainage port
  • Built-in blower port

What’s In The Box?

Included in the box with the DeWalt DXV06P shop vac itself are a range of nozzle attachments including a utility nozzle, floor nozzle, and crevice tool nozzle. This shop vac also comes with a 1.88-in. by 7.0-ft. hose, two extension wands, washable/reusable cartridge filter, disposable filter bag, and a mesh accessory storage bag.

Our Experience

DeWalt DXV06P

Overall Rating4.8 out of 5
Suction Power4.5 out of 5
Maneuverability5 out of 5
Versatility5 out of 5

Our product testing team named the DeWalt DXV06P as the shop vac with the Best Attachments due to the sheer number of nozzle attachments included and how useful they are.

Suction Power: 4.5 out of 5

This shop vac had solid suction strength and our team members had no issue picking up dirt, grime, and pet hairs with this product. While we didn’t have many concerns about this shop vac’s suction power heading into testing due to glowing customer reviews, this shop vac still exceeded our expectations.

Maneuverability: 5 out of 5

The maneuverability of this shop vac was one of its best characteristics. The rubberized casters meant that the wheels on this shop vac were more free-flowing than any of the other shop vacs that we tested and the 10.0-ft. power cord left plenty of cubic feet for us to work within.

Versatility: 5 out of 5

This shop vac was extremely versatile as it worked efficiently on a number of different surfaces. However, it’s the quality and number of attachment nozzles that really make this shop vac so versatile. Our product testing team felt that the utility nozzle was hands down the best nozzle attachment of any shop vac we tested.

What Customers Are Saying

The Dewalt DXV06P has nearly 4,200 customer reviews on Amazon at the time of publication. Only two percent of reviewers rate this shop vac 1 star, while eighty-four percent rate it a faultless 5 stars – which speaks to customers’ general satisfaction with the product. A huge number of reviewers, 94 percent to be exact, rate this poly wet/dry shop vac 4 stars or higher.

#3 Best Size: Stanley SL18116P

Stanley SL18116P

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The Stanley SL18116P was awarded the Best Size shop vac in the industry by our team members due to its 6.0-gal. capacity in a compact body. This shop vac features a 4.0 peak HP motor giving it enough suction power to suck up wet and dry messes alike. This shop vac offers three-in-one function as it has both wet and dry capabilities as well as a built-in blower port. It should be noted that this shop vac has a maximum current of 7.0 amps, a maximum suction of 85.0 in., and a noise level of 80.0 decibels.

This shop vac has over 16.0 ft. of cleaning reach thanks to a 6.0-ft. hose, 10.0-ft. power cord, and three extension wands so you won’t have to worry about where wall outlets are during your cleaning process. Additionally, swiveling casters mean you can easily wheel this shop vac around your workspace. A large on/off switch features a waterproof design for safe and quick access. It should also be noted that this shop vac has a sealed pressure capability of 50.0 in. of water.

Key Features

  • Offers three-in-one functionality
  • Waterproof on/off switch
  • 16.0 ft. of cleaning reach

What’s In The Box?

Upon purchase of the Stanley SL18116P, you can expect to receive the shop vac itself along with a number of other accessories. Accessories that are included in the box include a 1.25-in. by 6.0-ft. hose, three extension wands, a gulper nozzle, a crevice nozzle, a floor nozzle, a foam filter, a dust bag, and one reusable dry filter. Although it’s not possible to physically include this in the box, a 12-month warranty also comes with the purchase of this product.

Our Experience

Stanley SL18116P

Overall Rating4.3 out of 5
Suction Power4.5 out of 5
Maneuverability4 out of 5
Versatility4.5 out of 5

The Stanley SL18116P is our team’s choice for the Best Size shop vac in the industry due to its large capacity and overall compact design.

Suction Power: 4.5 out of 5

This shop vac has exceptional suction power for its size. With a smaller motor compared to other shop vacs that we tested, we didn’t expect much from this shop vac. However, we were pleasantly surprised when this shop vac picked up the faintest traces of dust and the smallest crumbs of food with ease.

Maneuverability: 4 out of 5

While this shop vac is relatively easy to maneuver due to its compact design and swiveling casters, our team members did feel that the 10.0-ft. power cord slightly restricted our movement. However, you’ll only encounter issues with the power cord length if you’re trying to vacuum the side of the car that’s furthest from your power outlet.

Versatility: 4.5 out of 5

This shop vac worked well on a variety of surfaces, from our test vehicle’s carpet to the car seats in our test vehicle. The gulper nozzle was particularly effective for vacuuming on both car carpet and on rubber floor mats while the crevice nozzle allowed us access to the most difficult-to-reach nooks and crannies in our test vehicle.

What Customers Are Saying

The Stanley SL18116P has over 7,000 customer reviews on Amazon. Most reviewers are pleased with this wet/dry vacuum, as 92 percent of reviewers rate it 4 stars or higher. A total of 77 percent of customers rate this shop vac a faultless 5 stars, while 3 percent gave it 1 star.

#4 Best Value: Vacmaster Red Edition VOM205P

Vacmaster Red Edition VOM205P

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Our product testing team named the Vacmaster Red Edition VOM205P the Best Value shop vac in the industry for its high quality and affordability. This shop vac has 2.0 peak HP and a built-in blower port with 65.0 cubic feet of air moved per minute (CFM) airflow. The tank is built to last as it’s made from durable polypropylene and is big enough for smaller-scale clean-up jobs with a 2.5-gal. capacity.

This shop vac is easy to carry, operate, and store as it weighs only 6.2 lbs. and is significantly smaller than all of the other shop vacs that we have tested. A hook and wall mount bracket also adds to this shop vac’s ease of storage. Although this shop vac is smaller than most, it features 14.0 ft. of cleaning reach. The manufacturer states that this shop vac has suction for household cleanup in the product description making it great for homeowners.

Key Features

  • Weighs only 6.2 lbs.
  • Features a hook and wall mount bracket
  • 14.0 ft. of cleaning reach

What’s In The Box?

Customers can expect a number of parts and accessories included in the box when they purchase the Vacmaster Red Edition VOM205P. Upon purchasing this product, you can expect to receive a 2.5-in. by 7.0-ft. secure fit hose, four caster assemblies, two foam wet filters, a cartridge filter, two hose storage brackets, two extension wands, utility nozzle, floor nozzle, crevice tool, air/noise diffuser, and an operator’s manual.

Our Experience

Vacmaster Red Edition VOM205P

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Suction Power3.5 out of 5
Maneuverability4 out of 5
Versatility4.5 out of 5

We named the Vacmaster Red Edition VOM205P as the Best Value shop vac for its high build quality and affordable price point.

Suction Power: 3.5 out of 5

This shop vac had the least suction power out of all the shop vacs that we tested. This is to be expected though, as this shop vac has a smaller motor and is designed for small-scale cleanups rather than large job site projects. However, it should be noted that this shop vac has surprising suction power for its size.

Maneuverability: 4 out of 5

Our product team appreciates that aspects of this shop vac make it extremely portable, such as its lightweight and compact design. However, a short power cord means it will not easily reach far-away messes.

Versatility: 4.5 out of 5

This shop vac worked well on all of the surfaces that we tested it on. It easily picked up dirt and debris off of our test vehicle’s rubber floor mats and efficiently vacuumed pet hairs that were stuck deep in our car’s carpet. Additionally, we had no issues vacuuming the upholstery and car seats in our test vehicle.

What Customers Are Saying

Over 3,700 customers have left reviews on Amazon for the Vacmaster Red Edition VOM205P. A whopping 87 percent of reviewers rate this shop vac 4 stars or higher. Only five percent of reviewers rate this product 1 star, while most customers can’t praise this shop vac enough and rate it a perfect 5 stars.

#5 Most Powerful: Ridgid RT1400

Ridgid RT1400

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The Ridgid RT1400 has a 6.0-peak horsepower motor, making it a clear choice for the Most Powerful shop vac on the market. A two-stage motor creates high-lift suction as well as more efficient airflow. This shop vac features a professional locking hose that won’t pull loose during use and a smooth interior surface of the hose reduces the chances of clogging. Additionally, the sturdy cart and push handle featured on this shop vac means it can travel easily through rough job site terrain.

A Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System allows users to install or remove filters quickly and easily without the use of power tools or fasteners. The large 14.0-gal. capacity of this wet/dry shop vac means it’s great for professional, contractor, or industrial use. The fine dust filter captures 99.5 percent of dust particles for superior filtration. It should also be noted that this shop vac is compatible with high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) compliant dust collection filters.

Key Features

  • 14.0-gal. capacity
  • Compatible with HEPA filters
  • Two-stage motor

What’s In The Box?

Customers who purchase the Ridgid RT1400 can expect a number of accessories included in the box. You can expect to receive the shop vac itself, two extension wands, hose, utility nozzle, wet nozzle, crevice tool, car nozzle, and fine dust filter. Additionally, a lifetime warranty is included with this product although it isn’t physically in the box.

Our Experience

Ridgid RT1400

Overall Rating3.8 out of 5
Suction Power4 out of 5
Maneuverability3.5 out of 5
Versatility4 out of 5

The Ridgid RT1400 was named the Most Powerful shop vac by our review team due to its unequivocal suction strength.

Suction Power: 4 out of 5

If you’re noting the fact that this was named the Most Powerful shop vac, but it holds only 4 stars for our suction power testing category, let us explain. While this shop vac had more suction power than any other shop vac, it was actually the most difficult to use due to its suction strength. This shop vac would frequently suction itself to any of the surfaces we tested it on making it difficult to effectively vacuum with.

Maneuverability: 3.5 out of 5

Our team members want to take the time to speak on our difficulty to assemble this shop vac as your average consumers. Several members of our team tried and failed to properly attach the wheels to this shop vac making it a struggle to move around. Hammers, screwdrivers, and sockets were used by relatively handy members of our team to no avail.

Versatility: 4 out of 5

This shop vac was undoubtedly versatile. With the shop vac’s two-stage motor it made picking up dirt and pine needles a breeze regardless of what surface we used this shop vac on. Our only difficulty was the shop vac suctioning to our rubber floor mats and test vehicle’s carpet. However, it did suction itself to the car seat notably less than other surfaces.

What Customers Are Saying

The Ridgid RT1400 has only 30 or so customer reviews on Amazon, but the majority of reviews left by customers are positive. A total of 60 percent of reviewers have no issues with this shop vac and rate it a faultless 5 stars, while 10 percent of reviewers rate it 1 star. More than 80 percent of all reviewers in total rate this product 4 stars or higher.

How Do I Use A Shop Vac?

Operating the best wet/dry vacs is fairly simple. Attach the appropriate nozzle, and point the end of the long hose towards the mess. The type of mess you’ll be cleaning should help inform what type of shop vac you need – a cordless wet vacuum probably isn’t the right choice for a woodworking shop.

Whether it is a portable shop vac or a more heavy-duty stainless steel model, customers should also follow the manufacturer’s directions for replacing the vacuum filter. These filters prevent clogs and ensure the motor isn’t overexerting itself. The best shop vacs come with filters, although you can purchase more at hardware or home improvement stores.

Shop Vac Buyers Guide

Before rushing to your favorite retailer to grab a new shop vac, we recommend reviewing some of the following.

Corded Vs. Cordless Shop Vacs

As evidenced by these shop vacs’ names, one comes with a cord while the other doesn’t require a cord.

  • Corded: This type of vacuum requires you to plug it into a power outlet. A corded shop vac generally has more suction power than its counterpart.
  • Cordless: This type of vacuum is battery-powered, usually via lithium batteries. It generally won’t have the suction power of corded shop vacs, but it does allow for complete freedom of movement. Additionally, chargers aren’t always sold with the car vacuum.

Nozzle Attachments

In general, you can expect your shop vac to come with a couple of different nozzle attachments. However, there is no standardized list of shop vac nozzles so the nozzle attachments you receive depend on which manufacturer you purchase your shop vac from. How you choose to use your shop vac will ultimately determine which nozzle attachments you’ll need.

From our experience testing the best shop vacs, we feel that two nozzle attachments are must-haves: a crevice nozzle and a wet/dry nozzle. A crevice nozzle will always be useful to have around as it will be your best bet of reaching the tightest nooks and crannies. Regardless of how much wet vacuuming you’ll be doing, a nozzle with wet/dry capabilities can always come in handy as it is able to handle just about any mess.

Power

The power ratings for shop vacs are commonly measured in horsepower (HP), but that is just a  measure of power output for a device. When it comes to suction or blowing, we look at two metrics: 

  • Airflow: Measured in cubic feet-per-minute (CFM), airflow measures the amount of wind flowing through the hose. A higher CFM indicates a more powerful airflow.
  • Water lift: This measurement of suction power details a shop vac’s ability to move larger or heavy items. Similar to CFM, a higher water lift means more suction power. 

How We Tested

The shop vacs in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon for top products, looking at factors like Prime shipping eligibility, customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices.

Our team ordered the five shop vacs that best met these standards for testing. A team member tested each product on a car, taking note of how well the shop vac sucked up messes, how easy to move around it was, and its ability to efficiently vacuum different surfaces. Each shop vac was given a rating out of five stars based on this criteria.

Shop Vac Testing Process

After researching the products through Amazon, the second bout of testing consisted of testing each of the five shop vacs against the following criteria:

  • Suction Power: The suction power of a shop vac is one of its most important traits. Testing involved seeing if the shop vac could pick up dirt, sand, pine needles, dog hair, food crumbs, and a variety of other messes in both wet and dry conditions. Shop vacs that quickly and efficiently vacuumed up messes scored best in this category.
  • Maneuverability: Maneuverability is one of the main selling points of a shop vac compared to a traditional or regular vacuum cleaner. We tested this by cleaning a hatchback from front to back and noting how easy it was to move the shop vac around our testing vehicle and its ease of access into nooks and crannies.
  • Versatility: Versatility is an often-overlooked characteristic for shop vacs. We tested this by using the shop vac on a variety of surfaces, including rubber floor mats, car carpets, and even on upholstery. Shop vacs with helpful attachments tend to score best in this category.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test more than 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. A team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, cordless wet/dry vacuums,  and much more.

Frequently Asked Questions: Shop Vacs

*Data accurate at time of publication.