The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (2024)

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (1)

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The best shop vacs do what your everyday vacuum cleaner can't, tackling the really tough messes — wet or dry. These heavy-duty cleaners can take on water from a burst pipe, sharp nails, screws, piles of sawdust from a DIY project and more.

Over the past few decades, the experts in our Cleaning Lab have tested hundreds of vacuum cleaners — the best robot vacuums, top-performing HEPA vacuums, the best handheld vacuums, stick vacuums and, yep, shop vacs too. When testing shop vacs, we conduct all kinds of evaluations to assess performance, durability, ease of use and overall value. Below you'll find our top-tested models, plus more information on why you might need a shop vac, what to consider when shopping for one and how we test wet/dry vacuums.

1

Best Overall

DeWalt 10-Gallon Shop Vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (11)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (12)Good tool storage
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (13)Very easy to operate
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (14)Extra-wide nozzle for fast cleaning
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (15)Cord is a bit hard to wield

This 10-gallon shop vac from DeWalt is tried and trusted. This brand a big hit with our experts due to its solid performance and reliability throughout years of testing — its cordless drill and circular saw also make our recommended lists — and the shop vac offers both a powerful and effective clean.

Carolyn Forté, executive director of the GH Institute Cleaning Lab, put this electric corded model through its paces during an extended at-home test. The machine performed superbly across the board, showing serious suction power thanks to its 5.5 horsepower motor and extra-wide 10-inch nozzle.

"There was no scattering or snowplowing [of debris] during repeated dry tests,” Forté said, which involved vacuuming up oatmeal and baking soda. “I was impressed!” We also found that the shop vac is very easy to operate, great for those who might not have as much experience with this type of machine. The 360-degree wheels roll smoothly, the lid is easy to put on and take off and an onboard accessory pouch keeps tools and attachments in order.

The cord is a bit of a nuisance, but at 20 feet long it provides good range, and the machine’s handle doubles as a cord wrap for tidy storage. Like all electric shop vacs, you definitely hear the DeWalt when it’s running at full tilt, “but it's not as high-pitched or irritating as other models we’ve tested,” says Forté.

Power Type: Electric corded | Air Flow: 90 CFM | Capacity: 10 gallons | Hose Length: 7 ft | Weight: 23.15 lbs

2

Best Value

Hoover 6-Gallon Shop Vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (16)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (17)Impressive cleaning power
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (18)Compact design for easier storage
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (19)Construction is a bit rickety

In the category of vacuums, there's simply no bigger name than Hoover, so our experts were particularly excited to try this battery-powered shop vac.

Our testers found that this vac's 6-gallon tank provides decent cleaning capacity for most homeowners. But, keep in mind that it's not built for serious job sites since it's constructed with less rugged materials. However, a downside our engineer did notice while testing was that “one of the latches that locks the lid in place kept falling off." Also, the storage bands that hold accessories aren’t as effective or user-friendly as other systems, and there’s no drain plug.

That being said, the Hoover handled the primary task of sucking up wet and dry debris quite well, though testers dinged it for the absence of a squeegee on the wet attachment since it left the surface slick even after several passes. Overall, for the at-home DIYer, this Hoover shop vac is a solid value, especially if you already own the brand's ONEPWR battery and charger.

Power Type: Battery | Air Flow: 65 CFM | Capacity: 6 gallons | Hose Length: 7 ft | Weight: 23.7 lbs

3

Best Battery-Powered

Ryobi 40V 10-Gallon Shop Vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (20)

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (21)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (22)Impressive suction power
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (23)Quiet operation
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (24)Drain plug
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (25)Lid is a little harder to get on and off

Ryobi's 10-Gallon Shop Vac had no trouble acing our tough tests, from cleaning up 2 gallons of water in under 10 seconds to picking up dry debris. “It was very good at sucking up spilled water from our test surface, thanks to the squeegee on the wet vac attachment, which left the surface completely dry,” said Alec Scherma, a test engineer at the Good Housekeeping Institute. It's cordless so you can use it in places where you may not have access to a wall outlet, and it features a collapsible handle, quick-release latches, on-board storage spaces for accessories and more.

Our experts have now tested several products from Ryobi’s 40-volt line of battery-powered products, from leaf blowers and leaf vacuums to lawn mowers, and we've been consistently impressed with their performance. This Ryobi comes loaded with features and accessories, like dual-extension wands, a wet filter and a drain plug, which makes it easy to empty the tank, especially when it reaches the 10-gallon capacity.

The cordless battery-powered design is a big convenience, particularly since it’s a bulky machine, though the lid is a bit tricky to take on and off. Finally, we found the Ryobi to be quieter than the other shop vacs we tested, even at its higher speed.

Power Type: Electric corded | Air Flow: 80 CFM | Capacity: 10 gallons | Hose Length: 8 ft | Weight: 16.2 lbs

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4

Best Large-Capacity

Craftsman 16-Gallon Shop Vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (26)

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (27)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (28)Extra-large tank
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (29)Wide, flexible hose
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (30)Doubles as a blower
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (31)Requires a lot of storage space

If you need a machine that can handle some hefty tasks, this large-capacity pick from Craftsman may just be your new best friend. With its 6.5 horsepower motor and 16-gallon tank, this electric-corded Craftsman shop vac can do a whole lot. “It saved me during a flood that otherwise could have led to catastrophic damage to my basem*nt,” says one tester who evaluated the machine at her home over the course of six months.

Whether you're pumping water or vacuuming dry debris, our experts found that this model delivers impressive dry and wet vacuuming, aided by its flexible hose. Thanks to a built-in blower port, you can easily take it outside to clear small piles of leaves and grass clippings from the garage or driveway. Other convenience features include onboard organizers for the hose, accessories and power cord, as well as an oversized drain plug, essential when sucking up large spills. Just note that it does take up a lot of storage space.

Power Type: Electric corded | Air Flow: 190.8 CFM | Capacity: 16 gallons | Hose Length: 7 ft | Weight: 26 lbs

5

Most Versatile

Stanley 8 Gallon Shop Vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (32)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (33)Multi-purpose cleaning
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (34)Rugged stainless steel tank
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (35)Relatively short power cord

The compact design, stainless-steel construction and bevy of accessory tools make this corded-electric Stanley shop vac one of the most multi-functional models on the market.

After reviewing this model's specs and technical data, our experts were impressed. It’s one of the few shop vacs that comes with a floor brush in addition to the usual wet/dry nozzle and crevice tool. There’s also a dust collection bag, which is good for keeping the air clear when vacuuming living spaces.

The 10-foot power cord is shorter than others and its 8-gallon capacity isn't the largest on this list, but if you’re looking for a mid-sized shop vac to tackle minor messes all around the house, this Stanley is a solid option, especially at this price.

Power Type: Electric corded | Air Flow: 85 CFM | Capacity: 8 gallons | Hose Length: 6 ft | Weight: 12.76 lbs

6

Best Heavy-Duty

Ridgid 12-Gallon Shop Vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (36)

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (37)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (38)Rugged construction
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (39)Impressive air flow
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (40)Doubles as a blower
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (41)Power cord is shorter than some

DIYers will definitely want to take a look at this 12-gallon shop vac by Ridgid that's specifically geared towards regular people (as opposed to their commercial-grade shop vacs). It still has a ton of heavy-duty features, including the 5-horsepower motor capable of moving air at a rate of 144 cubic feet per minute — twice that of other shop vacs.

Many pros swear by Ridgid as a maker of quality tools that are built to last, and we tend to agree, having had favorable experiences with the brand’s cordless vacs, cordless drills and more. While the power cord is on the short side at 15 feet, the comfort-grip handle and 360-degree casters allow for easy maneuverability.

The shop vac can also be converted into a blower to handle small piles of leaves or blow sawdust off a workbench. Ridgid also touts a patented sound reduction technology that controls air flow for quieter operation.

Power Type: Electric corded | Air Flow: 144 CFM | Capacity: 12 gallons | Hose Length: 7 ft | Weight: 22 lbs

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7

Best Handheld

Craftsman 2-Gallon Portable Shop Vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (42)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (43)Portable design
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (44)True HEPA filter
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (45)Less capacity and sucking power

You can take your vac wherever you need to go — no wall outlet necessary — when you snag a portable shop vac like this 2-gallon version from Craftsman. Portable shop vacs are designed for smaller jobs, like clearing crushed cereal from the back seat of the car or cleaning up minor messes in a home studio or wood shop.

Given its limited airflow (35 CFM), this Craftsman has more in common with handheld vacuums than other shop vacs in this round-up. “But it still did a decent job sucking up screws and nails in our tests, plus its 20-volt battery pack can be used to power other Craftsman tools from cordless drills to hedge trimmers,” said Scherma.

Like all shop vacs, it’s rated for both dry and wet spills, and its true HEPA filter, good for capturing 99.7% of dust and allergens, isn't something you'd find on a typical shop vac.

Power Type: Battery | Air Flow: 35 CFM | Capacity: 2 gallons | Hose Length: 7.8 ft | Weight: 9 lbs

8

Best Compact

RYOBI ONE+ 18V Cordless 1 Gal. Wet/Dry Vacuum

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (46)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (47)Lightweight
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (48)Longer battery run time
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (49)Highly portable
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (50)Limited air flow
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (51)Smaller capacity

You already know our experts are big fans of Ryobi’s ONE+ platform, and the brand's more portable mini shop vac is no exception. It runs on the same 18-volt battery as the other products, so you don't have to purchase and store another battery.

It does have a small 1-pound capacity and limited airflow (45 CFM), but our experts say it's a handy addition for smaller cleaning jobs like cleaning your car's floor mats or occasional hobbyist DIY projects. On the upside, the battery run time is longer than we see with more powerful models, plus the integrated tool storage on the 6.5-pound housing makes it extremely easy to carry the vac from room to room. Not to mention, it's cordless for improved maneuverability.

Power Type: Battery | Air Flow: 45 CFM | Capacity: 1 gallons | Hose Length: 5 ft | Weight: 6.5 lbs

9

Best for Dust

Vacmaster Pro 8 gallon Certified Hepa Filtration Wet/Dry Vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (52)

Pros
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (53)Long hose and power cord for maneuverability
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (54)Great suction power
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (55)True HEPA filter
Cons
  • The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (56)Heavier than most

From our extensive testing of traditional vacuums and air purifiers, we know that high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are best at capturing dust and dirt. So if you’ll be using your shop vac to clean up a lot of dusty job sites, it’s important to find a model with true HEPA filtration. (In order to make the true HEPA claim, it must be able to capture and retain 99.97% of all contaminants down to 0.3 microns in particle size.) This 8-gallon Vacmaster fits the bill, making it a great pick for home renovations, woodworking and other projects that generate a lot of airborne dust.

The model has great suction power to help too. It's capable of tackling 125 cubic feet per minute. It's one of the heavier models on our list, so you may not want to reach for this one unless you have a serious job on your hands. On the upside, though, our experts like the longer-than-average 10-foot hose and 30-foot power cord for impressive reach.

Power Type: Electric corded | Air Flow: 125 CFM | Capacity: 8 gallons | Hose Length: 10 ft | Weight: 27.71 lbs

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How we test shop vacs

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (57)

When it comes to the wet/dry vac category, our experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute's Cleaning and Home Improvement Labs have a solid sense of all the leading brands, especially having tested vacuums and power tools for decades.

We hone this knowledge by attending trade shows and industry events throughout the year as well as running a variety of different brands and models through our rigorous testing process both in-Lab and at home with consumer testers. Using that expertise, we identified the most promising shop vac models available for sale right now.

Hands-on testing and evaluations for shop vacs took place in our Lab, where we performed controlled tests designed to measure performance on over a dozen models. Dry vacuuming tests included sucking up a mixture of oatmeal, baking powder and rice from both bare and carpeted surfaces, as well as an assortment of screws, nails and other hardware from the same two surfaces.

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (58)

To measure wet vacuuming performance, we had each vacuum suck up 2 gallons of water from a bucket, then 2 cups of water spread across a wood floor. We also evaluated shop vacs in testers’ homes to get a sense of their performance and ease of use under real-world conditions.

We considered the range of accessories and utility of any onboard storage features, the presence of a drain plug for quick draining, battery runtime (where applicable) and noise level since it impacts user experience.

What to consider when shopping for a shop vac

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (59)

✔️ Power type: Shop vacs can either be corded electric or battery-powered. Here are the pros and cons of each:

  • Corded electric: Until fairly recently, all shop vacs plugged into the wall. Overall, the most powerful machines are still corded electric, and this option also gives you the greatest range of sizes, styles and prices. They also run indefinitely, assuming you have a power source. The downside is you’re tethered by the cord.
  • Battery powered: The power-tool battery revolution has found its way to shop vacs. Eliminating the cord means total portability and easier storage. Our tests have found that the best battery-powered shop vacs have suction performance almost equal to corded models. But because of their high-powered motors and increased suction capabilities, shop vacs use a lot of power, so the run time on the battery is limited, with some heavy-duty models maxing out at around 30 minutes.

✔️ Capacity: This is determined by the size of the tank (a.k.a. “canister”), which can range from as small as 2 gallons all the way up to 18 gallons. Our experts recommend a tank size between 6 and 10 gallons for the average homeowner. If your main intention for the shop vac is to clean out the car, a 2-gallon model will do the trick. On the other hand, if you’re a serious DIYer with a workshop in the basem*nt, or if flooding is a constant issue, a larger shop vac might be in order.

✔️ Cost: You can spend as little as $50 for a shop vac or more than $500. While cost is largely determined by capacity, with most under-$100 models having 5-gallon tanks or smaller, quality and convenience factor in as well. Our experts say it’s worth spending more for a shop vac with casters so you can move freely throughout the room. Multiple shop vac attachments also make things easier, including extension shafts for increased reach and a squeegee nozzle for getting the last bit of wet spills.

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What do people need a shop vac for?

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (60)

For most small, household messes, you can easily use a classic everyday vacuum cleaner like a stick vacuum, upright or canister to get your home back in tip-top shape. If you have a bigger job or something involving a lot of liquids, a shop vac may be a lifesaver. For tasks requiring you to pick up larger or sharp objects like screws and nails, a shop vac will be able to suck them all up and you'll avoid destroying your regular vacuum cleaner. These wet-dry vacuums are also great for pumping large quantities of water or sucking up big spills.

What's the most powerful shop vac?

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (61)

Though corded wet vacs still generate the most power, those that run on rechargeable batteries are quickly closing the gap. If you’re going for maximum sucking power, it’s also important to check the airflow, measured in CFMs, or cubic feet per minute. The most powerful shop vacs boast between 100 and 150 CFMs (sometimes more!), middleweight models are in the 75 to 100 CFM range and compact vacs come in between 30 to 50 CFMs.

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Why trust Good Housekeeping?

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (63)

Dan DiClerico has written about vacuum cleaners for more than 20 years, reviewing hundreds of models from every leading brand, as well as newcomers to the space. Prior to becoming a home expert, he worked on various construction crews, where shop vacs were part of the everyday clean-up. In his role as director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, he works closely with other product experts on staff to develop our testing criteria for shop vacs. Dan has also served as a consumer advocate on the vacuum committee for ASTM International, the organization that creates voluntary consensus standards across a wide range of materials, products, systems and services.

Carolyn Forté has tested and reviewed hundreds of vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners, mops and other major (and minor) home appliances as executive director of the Home Care & Cleaning Lab. She oversees all of GH's testing around handheld, stick, upright and canister vacuums. She is an active member of the ASTM Committee on vacuum cleaners and chairman of its consumer information sub-committee.

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (64)

Dan DiClerico

Home Improvement & Outdoor Director

Having written thousands of product reviews and how-to articles on all aspects of home ownership, from routine maintenance to major renovations, Dan (he/him) brings more than 20 years of industry experience to his role as the director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. A one-time roofer and a serial remodeler, Dan can often be found keeping house at his restored Brooklyn brownstone, where he lives with his wife and kids.

The Best Shop Vacs of 2024, Tested by Experts (2024)
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