Everyone needs a good shop vac. You need a clean workspace and a regular vacuum cleaner doesn’t always do the job. Hard work equals a messy shop littered with scraps of materials that can turn your work area into a hazardous workspace. You need to keep your station clean and ready for the next project.
A shop vacuum is just as important to your work as any other tool, maybe more so depending on the types of materials you work with. You don’t want a floor covered in scraps and shavings of materials that you can trip over or that will damage other tools. It’s unsafe and can slow down your work.
Shop vacs aren’t just for professional garages, they’re also the perfect addition to your home or garage to use around the house. More powerful than a regular vacuum cleaner, shop vacs can handle pretty much anything you drop on the floor.
Shop vacs come in various sizes that are measured in gallons. More gallons means they can clean up more. They also have different size motors that will determine just how much your shop vac can pick up. Every shop vac we’ve reviewed is powerful enough for most jobs, but you may have to choose a heavy-duty model from this list for big jobs.
Our Top Picks:
Best Overall: STANLEY Wet/Dry Vacuum (Check price on Amazon)
Best 16-Gallon: CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP
Best 12-Gallon: VACMASTER Professional Beast Series
Best Small Shop Vac: TACKLIFE 3-in-1
Best Reach: VACMASTER Red Edition 12 Gallon
Best Overall Shop Vac: STANLEY Wet/Dry Vacuum Stainless Steel Tank
You’ll be using your shop vac extensively, so you need one that can withstand the daily grind of keeping your shop or home clean from debris, shavings and anything else you spill on your workspace. The Stanley shop vac 5 gallon wet/dry vacuum is tough enough for just about anything you happen to drop while working on projects at home. It has a 4HP motor that is powerful enough for most tasks and it has vacuum attachments that will save the day when you make a mess.
This 3-in-1 shop vac has 3 functions: wet, dry and blow. Not only will it give you maximum suction power for wet and dry cleanups, but you can also convert it into a power blower for even more cleaning options. You get a lot of use out of this type of shop vac due to the versatile design. The shop vac filter is washable and reusable. The Stanley wet dry vac is truly a multi-functional cleaning tool that makes a great addition to any garage or home.
DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry/Vac/Acc
Large work spaces sometimes require a big shop vac. The DeWalt 16 gallon WetDry/Vac/Acc can handle large rooms with big messes. You won’t have to keep stopping to empty this large shop vac. You have 16 gallons to clean up your spills, shavings, debris and other litter before you have to empty. The sturdy 6.5 HP motor provides plenty of power for even the toughest jobs and the suction power is significant.
The accessories included make this 16-gallon shop vac a complete set. You get a silencing muffler that helps with the noise, a hose adaptor that’s great for cleaning out crevices and hard to reach spots and 3-disposable filter bags.
Some large shop vacs are hard to maneuver, but the large rear wheels allow for easy turns. The power cord is 20 feet long so you don’t have to keep moving the plugin and the built-in accessory storage bag makes your job easier by keeping all the accessories in the unit. No one wants to waste time searching for shop vac accessories, the DeWalt 16-gallon makes life easier.
Craftsman 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac
The Craftsman 16-gallon wet/dry vac is easily one of the best shop vacs on the market. The heavy-duty build and 6.5 HP motor is perfect for large work projects. It has plenty of power to keep your workstation clean and ready to go. You can also clean leaves from your garage entrance with the built-in blower port. Home garages accumulate all types of clutter and this large shop vac does a great job at cleaning up.
To improve mobility, Craftsman used Dual-Flex technology to give this shop vac 180-degree rotation of the 2 ½ inch diameter hose at each end to prevent kinking. This makes your job substantially easier as you don’t have to stop to unkink your hose. You get tons of accessories with the Craftsman 16-gallon shop vac such as: 2 extension wands, car nozzle, wet nozzle, utility nozzle, Pos-I-Lock Dual-Flex hose, qwik lock filter plus collection bag for dust. This is one of the most complete shop vac packages you will find.
Vacmaster Professional Wet/Dry Vac 12-Gallon
The Vacmaster Beast Series wet/dry vac is a high-performance shop vac that was made for tough projects. It’s 12-gallons and has a 5.5 Hp motor that can handle pretty much anything in the garage, shop or at home. It has an interesting flat top design that allows you to store tools you need for the project on top of the shop vac. This is a handy option for those who like to keep a few tools close by while working. The integrated on-board storage helps keep track of your hoses and vac accessories for when you need them.
The extra large drain port was made for those who don’t have time to wait and need to empty their shop vacs quickly. The tank itself is designed with Polypropylene and can take impacts and is resistant to corrosion to help your shop vac work longer.
The Vacmaster Professional 12 gallon wet/dry vac is the perfect choice for those who want extra power and a larger tank for big messes.
TackLife 4 Gallon Shop Vacuum
TackLife makes great products. The 4 gallon shop vacuum has 3 functions in 1: dry suction, wet suction and blowing function. The dry suction will take care of materials such as dirt, dust, sand, shavings, sawdust, metal remnants and other messes. Clean up liquid spills with the wet suction function and the blowing function makes quick work out of leaves and other debris that finds itself in your garage or home.
You basically get everything you need in this shop vac. It has a 4.5 Hp motor and has an automatic shutoff that will power off the shop vac when the water reaches ⅔ of the storage capacity. This keeps the motor safe and secure. You will find that you don’t need to empty this shop vac often due to the 15L capacity. You can clean up large spaces without stopping to unload. The extended hose makes it easy to maneuver as well and you have more than 20 feet range to get in the corners of your shop. Plus, the 4 swivel wheels makes cleaning up a breeze.
You get plenty of accessories with the Tacklife vacuum including 3 extension tubes, HEAP filter, 5 foot hose, floor brush, bristle brush, crevice nozzle and more.
Vacmaster Red Edition 12 Gallon Shop Vac
The Vacmaster Red Edition shop vac delivers a 5.5 Hp motor that is more than enough to clean garages, homes and workshops. Not only does it vacuum, but you can also convert it into a blower to give you even more cleaning options. The 12-gallon tank is built tough and has a large drain port so you can empty it easy. The 360 degree swivel casters make it easy to move around your shop or porch and the 27-foot cleaning reach helps you reach all corners of the room without having to replug. The on-board hose and accessory storage keeps the shop vac and all pieces together so you don’t have to search for parts.
Vacmaster Red Edition gives you options in the form of 2.5 gallon, 6 gallon, 9 gallon and 12 gallon shop vacs. We like the 12-gallon, but your needs may be met by a smaller shop vac.
Jerome is an avid outdoorsman who moonlights as an attorney when he’s not creating the world’s greatest online content.