How To Choose Your Perfect Wet Dry Vac

How To Choose Your Perfect Wet Dry Vac

While vacuums are designed to clean up different kinds of messes, Shop-Vac® Wet Dry Vacs take it to the next level. Our favorite thing to hear? “Wait…you don’t just have vacuums?”

Our answer? No, we have so much more. A vac for your business, a vacuum to clean your car, one for your DIY workshop or to blow up your pool toys. Each vac and accessory is designed with a specific purpose in mind. Think of it like you had one customized just for you. So, let’s make sure we get you that perfect fit…

Here are a bunch of things to take into consideration:

Size / Capacity

If you have a large mess to pick up, and you have space to store it, you’ll want to purchase a vac with a large capacity tank. You won’t have to empty the tank as often and cleanup is a heck of a lot easier. If you are limited on space, living in an apartment for example, look into a smaller, portable vac that will be convenient to store.

Another factor? Not just the size of your standard mess, but the weight of it. A lot of water is heavy. Go for a larger vac in that case…just remember you have to be able to lift it!


Forgive us…this is where we get a little geeky for vacuums. Join the club? When we say performance, we’re talking specifically about the suction and airflow.

The first thing that comes to mind is probably peak horsepower**, but peak horsepower** ratings aren’t the only numbers you can use to compare two units. There are three readings that can give you a better understanding of performance.

  • Sealed Pressure (SP) – While this measurement is key for all vacs, it’s especially important if you anticipate using your vac to pick up water. This is best described as suction pressure, measured in inches of water, meaning how many inches the vacuum will lift a column of water up a glass tube. How do you know what a good rating is? Anything greater than 75 is considered the high-end of utility vacuum cleaners.

  • Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) – Picking up fine debris, such as wood chips or dust? You want a higher CFM rating, which measures the maximum airflow the utility vacuum can achieve at its largest opening.

  • Air-watts or Air Power (AP) – Picking up heavy debris, such as nuts and bolts? This is the amount of power that becomes airflow at the inlet for the dirt. This rating is important if you’ll be picking up heavy debris, such as nuts and bolts, in which case you would want one with higher air watts.


Use the wrong filter and you could have dust or water blowing back into the air. The filter you need is often based on the type of debris you are picking up.

If you or someone you live with has allergies, we suggest using a HEPA cartridge filter or HEPA collection bag, regardless of what type of debris you anticipate cleaning up most frequently.

Remember, if the vac you’ve been eyeing up doesn’t come with the filter you need, look at the additional filters available and take your Shop-Vac® experience to a whole other level.

Hose Size

Don’t forget to consider hose length. It’s a delicate balance -  make sure you are able to reach all the places you want to clean, but also remember a longer hose reduces suction.

  • Large debris – Purchase a vac with a 2.5-inch-wide hose, with anything smaller, large debris is likely to get stuck, and then you’ll lose suction

Does your dream vac not come with the right hose for you? No worries. We have hoses available to purchase as accessories.

Blower Port / Detachable Blower

If you have a lot of fall yard clean up to do, or have hard-to-reach areas to clean, you may want to consider a vac with a blower port and/or a detachable blower. Our detachable blower makes a great leaf blower, so purchasing a vac with a detachable blower is like buying two tools in one! If you have hard-to-reach areas to clean, purchasing a vac with a blower port would be helpful, as you can blow the dust to a place that is easier to clean up.

Tank Drain

Are you planning on picking up a lot of water? If so, you’re going to want a tank drain. This additional opening in the tank of the vac allows you to easily empty the tank into a drain. It’s sure to make your life easier.

You may also want to consider one of our pump vacs. They move large amounts of water (with help from your garden hose) by pumping it out through your standard garden hose to a drain or another location.

Plastic vs. Stainless Tank

This one is simple – there are benefits to both. Our plastic tanks are lighter and won’t dent. Our stainless steel tanks are more durable and easier to clean. Whichever is more important to you will be your perfect fit.

So, there it is. Our guide to picking your perfect vac. And if you want even more special features you can accessorize. But we’ll save that for the next blog…