How to Choose Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner?

Wet and dry vacuum cleaner is an essential tool for home and garage that provides versatility in cleaning solid debris and wet messes. It is designed so as to safely and efficiently suck liquid spills and other solid waste. It is different from conventional vacuum cleaners that only suck dust, dirt and other solid messes. Wet and dry and vacuum is often referred to as shop-vac, but it is pertinent to mention that shop-vac is a renowned brand of wet and dry vacuum cleaners and many other brands also manufacture wet and dry vacuum cleaners.

Wet/dry vacuum works like the conventional vacuum cleaners, however it has been designed in a way to specifically handle wet messes and liquid spills, alongside dry debris. So, you may consider it to be more versatile and multi-purpose appliance for your home or a working environment in workshop.

Now, if you are looking to purchase a vacuum capable of handling solid and liquid waste; we will try to summarize the key features and specifications to look for, in a wet and dry vacuum cleaner before actually purchasing it. We expect after reading our article, you may come out well equipped with the basic specifications and buying considerations; ultimately answering a question i.e. how to choose a wet and dry vacuum cleaner?

Let’s discuss the important things to consider before buying wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

Power and Size of Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner

Two important parameters that a potential buyer should know include tank capacity and suction power. Tank capacity corresponds to quantity of waste material it can handle before it needs to be emptied out. Power of wet and dry vacuum cleaner is measured by suction power (horsepower), sealed pressure and cubic feet per minute. Let’s understand these terms in context of dry and wet vacuum power capacity.

Tank Capacity

Wet/dry vacuums are available in variety of sizes ranging from handheld to industrial sized vacuum machines. Tank capacity being measured in gallons is available in range of 2 gallons up-to 20 gallons.  Small sized vacuums usually have storage capacities up-to 06 gallons. They are recommended for domestic small cleaning jobs, where storage of machine is also an important consideration.  High end vacuums have capacity up-to 20 gallons, they are used on commercial scale and taking care of heavy messes.

Horsepower (HP)

Peak horsepower indicates the performance of dry/wet vacuum. It is the laboratory test value of motor’s output measured in horsepower. But it is pertinent to mention here that, peak horsepower isn’t the sole deciding factor to choose a best wet and dry vacuum. Other parameters also hold significant importance and are discussed below.

Sealed or Static Presure

It is measurement of suction pressure and it explains how well a wet and dry vacuum can suck up liquids. It is measured by testing how high a vacuum can lift column of water in a tube. Greater the height of column, greater will be sealed pressure and such type of wet and dry vacuum is rated as high powered vacuum.

Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)

CFM is gauging maximum airflow at largest opening of a vacuum. This number is critical if you are looking forward to pick small fine dust particles. You must target a wet and dry vacuum with high CFM rating in order to effectively pick fine dust particles.

Airpower (AP)

Airpower rating depicts the ability of wet/dry vacuum to pick up large debris and messes. It indicates maximum airflow available at the inlet port of vacuum.

Features to Consider


When looking for a new wet and dry vacuum, it is important to know your needs. If you are to use a vacuum in your home and you need to use it frequently, then it is recommended to choose a light vacuum that is easy to maneuver and also offer convenient storage.

Type of Filtration

Type of filter employed by shop-vacuum is one critical machine component. Therefore, a potential buyer should check the type of filter incorporated by their favorite manufacturer. HEPA filters are recommended for homes with inhabitants that suffer from frequent dust and pollen allergies.

Hose Size

Hoses are available in diameter ranging from 1 to 3 inches and in different lengths. Large diameter hose enables collection of large debris, whereas long hoses enable access in tight spaces but at the cost of reduced suction pressure. Therefore, you should look for a desirable hose size as per your specific requirements.

Plastic/Stainless Tank

Wet/dry vacuums with plastic tank are relatively lighter in weight therefore easy to move around. Whereas vacuums with steel tank are heavier, but at the same durable than plastic body tanks.

Additional Attachments

Manufacturers offer various attachments with vacuum machines that add ease and versatility to cleaning experience. Additional tools include different type of nozzles targeted to perform cleaning on specific type of a surface. Other attachments include tools like crevice tool, extension wands and upholstery brushes designed to clean in tight spaces.    

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can we use wet and dry vacuum over carpet?

Wet and dry vacuum cleaners can clean dry and wet messes from variety of surface types. Removing stains and dirt from your carpet is quite a tough task. A wet and dry vacuum cleaner can be used to clean your favorite carpet but it requires following steps to be carried out in a sequence, so that you get a clean carpet without damaging it.

  1. As a first step, you should ensure that your specific wet/dry vacuum is capable of handling different types of liquids including carpet cleaners. Now, remove the furniture and other items from carpet so that you may maneuver the vacuum machine over carpet easily.
  2. In second step, use a regular vacuum cleaner to dry clean your carpet.
  3. If your vacuum machine doesn’t support detergents and carpet cleaners, you may use water as a cleaning agent. Once you have selected your cleaning solution, use a spray bottle to wet your carpet. Let the cleaning agent do its work by giving some time.
  4. Now use your wet and dry vacuum to clean this wet carpet with multiple passes. If the cleaning solution requires rinsing, you may sprinkle water with spray bottle and vacuum clean again with wet and dry vacuum.
  5. In the last step, you may air dry your carpet outdoors if needed before placing back onto the floor.

How a wet and dry vacuum is different from a regular vacuum cleaner?

A vacuum cleaner is a must have appliance for your home, as it effectively cleans your floors and carpets giving a tidy and healthy experience.

Regular vacuum cleaners are meant to pick dry dirt, debris and pet hair from floors and carpets. While, a wet and dry vacuum is capable of handling dry dirt, debris as well as wet spills making it a versatile cleaning machine. A good wet and dry vacuum can give you freedom from professional carpet cleaning services.

1 thought on “How to Choose Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner?”

  1. At the beginning, I was still puzzled. Since I read your article, I have been very impressed. It has provided a lot of innovative ideas for my thesis related to Thank u. But I still have some doubts, can you help me? Thanks.


Leave a Comment