The toughest, most versatile shop vacs for any job

The toughest, most versatile shop vacs for any job


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For bigger cleanups. (Amazon/)

Right now, something in or around your home is in need of a heavy-duty clean. Not something that can be handled with a half-hearted Swiffer or a Roomba drive-by—something that needs power, durability, and versatility. Whether you need to clear out a workroom or finally give a thorough clean to your car interior, you likely need a shop vac.

When selecting a model, you should consider the types of cleaning jobs you typically engage in, so that you’re neither underselling yourself nor are you attacking an ant-sized problem with an elephant-sized machine. Here are some options to consider:

Compact and accomplished.

Compact and accomplished. (Amazon/)

This is a versatile shop vac designed for heavy loads. Its high capacity, 16-gallon belly and “Qwik Lock” filter system combine to make cleaning efficient and filter replacement simple, while its caster feet and 20-foot power cord keep it all accessible. It comes with a main hose, a utility nozzle, a wet nozzle, a car nozzle, two extension wands, and an integrated blower for quickly removing sawdust and other small debris. No matter what, it’s ready for any job you throw its way.

Ready when you are.

Ready when you are. (Amazon/)

One of the complaints about shop vacs is that they’re either the vac itself is unwieldy or all the added accessories are. The Vacmaster handles both problems, bringing you a shop vac that optimizes portability without sacrificing power. The hose, accessories, and power cord are all stored on the unit itself, and the 13.5-pound machine has a handle right on top—it’s lightweight, and doesn’t overpack. Its tank is corrosion and impact-resistant, and it easily converts to a blower as well. The “Beast” earns its nickname.

Hard to imagine there’s anything it can’t handle.

Hard to imagine there’s anything it can’t handle. (Amazon/)

This version of the Craftsman has a 16-gallon capacity, but the brand is prepared for bigger jobs, too—the industrial versions can be as big as 55 gallons, but that’s a bit much for most home use. Not only does it have tremendous storage capacity, it also features a built-in oversized drain that makes disposing of liquids as easy as it was to suck it up. The casters roll smoothly and also help store some of the accessories and add-ons. The 7-foot hose gives it ample reach, too.

Sucks up dirt, not space.

Sucks up dirt, not space. (Amazon/)

Sometimes you need power, but just don’t have the luxury of space. This ArmorAll option offers a 2.5-gallon, extremely portable tank that can give you that bump up from a house vacuum cleaner without making you have to set aside a guest room to house it. The best part is the re-useable cloth filter—since the ArmorAll is smaller, it needs to be emptied more frequently. Not having to order and re-order filters is a huge headache avoided. It comes with various nozzle attachments, including the handy crevice tool, and weighs an arm-friendly 7 pounds.


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