Instead of collecting dust and depositing it directly into a bag or filtered chamber, wet and dry vacuum cleaners use a dual bucket system to separate liquids away from the solid debris, safely into a waterproof collector to prevent potential electrocution that can occur when attempting to vacuum liquids with an ordinary vacuum cleaner.
Whether your home is frequented by spilled drinks, pet and child accidents, or spills in the workshop, a wet and dry vacuum can clean up faster than soaking up spills with towels and mops, protecting your towels from ruin and your family from nasty falls on slippery residue.
Outside, wet and dry vacuums make excellent gardeners, with tall extended reach to unclog gutters, remove dangerous slimy rotting leaves, and clean up your patio without fear of damaging your more delicate stick vacuum. Many wet and dry vacs even feature a reverse function for converting the vacuum into a leaf blower!
Wet and dry vacuums make up a fairly small niche of the vacuuming market, but can be hard to research because they are still uncommon luxuries in the home and are usually only reviewed by cleaning professionals.
So we decided to check out the best wet and dry vacuum cleaners on the market and find you the top 7 machines, listed from most premium feature filled models to more basic and affordable cleaners.
Best For Car And Workshop
1. Bissell Garage Pro
A wall mounted wet and dry vacuum perfect for keeping your car and garage pristine
Whether you want to keep your car looking brand new, have a few DIY jobs in the garage to keep tidy, or both, this is the best bagless wet and dry vacuum cleaner available. The Bissell Garage Pro is not the cheapest, but is a beautiful wall mounted machine that will suck up dirt and blow away stray leaves keeping your car and garage neat and tidy.
A 12 amp motor provides a powerful suction for cleaning up wet or dry messes from your garage and car. Seven versatile attachments are included to cover car detail, carpets, stairs, upholstery, bare cement, any surface you can think of. All these attachments fit into an included accessory bag that can hang up under the wall mounted machine, to keep everything out of your work space.
The 15 litre tank takes up such a tiny footprint of 30x30cm up on your wall, where you won’t feel the loss of garage space. The bagless tank is translucent so you can see the level of water and debris at a glance, but also features an LED alert system that will brightly indicate if the water tank or dry tank is nearing capacity.
Ten metres of hose should be more than enough to move right around your car, but the plastic tubing is thick and tough, so you may want to stretch it out under something heavy for a day if you find it to be a little too stiff at first.
While the Bissell Garage Pro is definitely a pricey investment, it is certainly the ultimate premium wet and dry vacuum for keeping your garage workshop and car clean and sparkling.
2. Shop Vac Micro
A great value highly portable wet and dry vacuum that fits a huge suck in a tiny machine
This mini vacuum is a miniature barrel wet and dry vac, a fantastic model, small and affordable with premium features. For those with a combined garage for car and workshop, the Shop Vac Micro is the best shop vac for household and garage use.
This mini but mighty machine mounts to the wall of your garage to take up even less room in your work space, to suck down all sawdust, spills, and unwanted rainwater from your garage. In your car, a spilt slushie, your puppy’s backseat accident, or weeks of muddy shoes traipsing in and out of the backseat are nothing for this little super sucker.
The included bracket fixes to the wall of your garage, where the shop-vac can hang unobtrusively between cleans. A 5.7 metre cord allows you plenty of slack to get in and around the car while mounted to the wall, and when unmounted, the shop vac easily swings around your garage on durable castor wheels wherever you need it.
This model comes with extension tubes, crevice tool, narrow head, and wide head attachments that slot neatly into the back of the machine when not in use. These attachments are nothing fancy, just durable plastic. Disappointingly, it does not come with a brush tool, which could have made a real difference to pet fur in the back seat.
Disposable paper collection bags turn its wet 4 litre capacity into a canister for contained dry pickup, and going without the collection bag may leak some dust back into your garage through the back vents. These collection bags are very reasonably priced and widely available online.
The small size and excellent effective suction of this simple shop vac makes it a great affordable alternative to more premium wet and dry vacuum cleaners for the garage.
3. Karcher WD 4
A powerful all rounder with an extremely easy to use design
For those looking to try a wet and dry vacuum for the first time, the Karcher WD 4 is the best wet and dry vacuum floor cleaner for homes due to its awesome user friendly design.
The stainless steel barrel is fairly large at 20 litres capacity, with a beautifully strong energy efficient motor, strong enough to pick up decently heavy debris like gravel. The 2.2 metre hose is a little on the soft and flexible side, allowing excellent reach and navigation around corners. Unfortunately this high flexibility does mean it can get in the way quite a bit and not feel quite as sturdy as other models.
Our favourite feature we would love to see in all models is the way the separator system for solids is easily unclipped from the main unit, with no need to change filters between wet and dry pickup.
The separator keeps solids in a small container away from the liquids, easily unclips from the base unit and has an easy trigger to eject all solid debris into the trash without touching the filth. This makes it a cinch to keep that power high by removing the solids and clip back in for more vacuuming, without having to empty the much heavier liquids until later.
Another favourite feature is that the tube and floor head can be conveniently sat upright for those few minutes while you move things out the way, or quickly get into corners with the tube.
Step on the wet and dry floor nozzle switch to extend the brush from the vacuum cleaner head, to create friction for cleaning wet spills. There is also a strong blow function to remove sawdust and other dirt.
There are also two brushes and two inserts included for car detailing, but they are a little on the flimsy side. While the WD 4 is a great all rounder, it may not be the best choice if you’re looking specifically for mostly car vacuuming.
All accessories and the cord snap and lock in when in use, rather than gripping on and wearing down over time, and all of them neatly fit into the side of the vacuum cleaner and roll away with an ergonomic handle to be put in storage.
Best For Carpets
4. Pullman A-031B
A simple and effective industrial vacuum and carpet cleaner for the office or at home
Originally designed to cater to commercial cleaning like janitor work and professional office use, the Pullman A-031B is a highly manoeuvrable all rounder that glides over all surfaces and makes short work of all messes.
The 1000 watt motor provides strong and efficient suction that will pick up fairly heavy debris, and easily suck dirt out of high traffic areas. This bypass motor directs air flow around the motor, rather than directly through it, creating more energy efficient air flow with decreased noise.
This model has the option of using paper dust collection filter bags if you prefer to mostly work indoors and want to ensure the least dust leakage possible. Otherwise, the vacuum cleaner works perfectly well without them, as a bagless wet and dry vacuum cleaner.
The included extension rod and hose together extend the reach of the vacuum cleaner to over 10 metres, making it an indispensable tool for carpeted offices and large homes that get heavy foot traffic from visitors, and occasionally have a spill to clean up here and there.
Best For Workshop And Garden
5. Bosch Universal Vac 15
The best wet and dry vac for versatile home use, that attaches to other Bosch tools
Fans of Bosch’s already overwhelming work tool selection will not be disappointed by their latest wet and dry vacuum cleaner, a great workshop all rounder that prioritises practical simplicity and excellent effective suction.
Of particular interest to Bosch enthusiasts, this vacuum cleaner is designed with other products in their Universal range in mind. That means if you have other Bosch Universal workshop power tools like their jig saw or sander, the universal attachment can be used to collect harmful dust and sawdust before it can get near your lungs.
For a household wet and dry vacuum cleaner, the durable materials are perfect to take a little bit of a beating with outdoor garden and path work, while still light and maneuverable enough to be practical for daily use. This machine is perfect for removing dangerously slippery wet leaves from stone pathways, mowing leftovers, and if you’re fast enough, it’s a decent leaf blower to catch leaves before they start to rot.
The 15 litre tank is separated into solids and liquids by the one wet and dry built in cartridge filter, meaning you can switch from liquids to solids without changing anything inside the machine. The filter easily comes out to empty solid waste into the bin, and can be easily washed under running water without needing tools.
Another easy to wash pre-filter covers the cartridge filter, to minimise clogging and improve dust removal. There is also the option of using paper bags to collect dry pick up only, for extra effective removal of dust and allergens.
Attachments and hose all fit snugly into the base unit, which can be easily picked up and stored compactly, thanks to its light 7 kilogram weight and small 40x50cm footprint.
6. Hoover Enigma
An affordable super sized vacuum for super sized jobs
This 2000 watt 30 litre bagless wet and dry vacuum cleaner is excellent value for money, the Hoover Enigma boasts powerful suction and blowing for those who need help with regular large jobs.
The enormous 30 litre stainless steel drum is surprisingly light at only 8 kilograms, and smoothly rolls over all types of surfaces inside and outside. Of course, several litres of liquid will not be so light, but the framework and castor wheels are tough, rolling smoothly even under a full tank.
A huge vacuum like this will be perfect for removing leaves from gutters and yards, vacuuming artificial lawns, or clearing dirt blown into your garage. If capacity is what you need, this is a real bargain.
The filter is washable, easy to remove and replace, and is reported to be excellently difficult to clog, even with wet leaves. The similarly powerful blower function is also there if clogs should occur, and offers strong air flow to act as a decent leaf blower.
There are only three attachments: a regular hard floor brush, a crevice tool, and an absorbing brush to help mop up water. These are simple plastic attachments, nothing impressive, but will get the job done.
The only disappointment is the plastic hose, which is a little on the short side considering the size of the drum. However, the hose has a standard fitting that is easy to replace with a longer one or tougher one, if you decide it to be necessary.
Best For Pets
7. Wet and Dry 4-in-1
A budget option with an array of premium features
This large capacity 30 litre tank sits on a plastic frame made of durable PP non-deforming plastic, with four castor wheels underneath that will flex to varying weight. This quiet machine will see most of its best use as a household cleaner with a hefty capacity to pick up all your pet’s accidents and winter coat shedding, with plenty of room left over to take on outside jobs.
A cyclonic filtration system uses a series of sponge filters to remove dust from air returned to the room, and has the added benefit of muffling the motor somewhat, to keep the noise level reasonable for vacuuming indoors.
For extra quiet, the vacuum features an ultra mute mode for reduced suction power that will still easily suck up pet hair and indoor dust, without freaking out your pets. The vacuum even features a muted blowing function, for blowing your canine pal’s coat dry fresh from the bath!
Included is a paper dust collection bag for dry pick up, three extension wands that lock into the long hose for extended reach, a wet nozzle with insert to help with liquid spills, and a slanted corner tool for stairs and car detail.
How to choose a wet and dry vacuum cleaner
When considering which wet and dry vacuum cleaner to use, you first want to think about where you’ll use it, and also where it is going to live, as most wet and dry vacuum cleaners are heavy and extremely awkward to store. You should also consider your filtration needs for sensitive lungs and for regular liquid pick up.
Indoors, outdoors, or garage?
- For indoors vacuuming, you really want the option of paper bag inserts, that can more effectively trap dust particles and allergens without leaking them back into your home through the back exhaust. You also want to check if there is some sort of wet floor head for mopping up kitchen spills without dragging the standard plastic head inefficiently over your tiles.
- Outdoors, capacity is key, because sucking up dead wet leaves will fill up your tank quickly and leave you with low suction. Prioritise high suction over noise pollution, because even the loudest vacuums are not so offensive outside.
- In the garage, look for a vacuum that can mount to the wall to minimise the space it takes up, and can also convert to leaf blower mode for all the nature that blows into your work space.
There’s no denying these vacuum cleaners are hard to store. If you don’t have space to store it loose in a shed or attic, you may want to look out for cleaners that have storage for accessories in the base unit, or even the rare barrel vacuum that is self standing.
The other option is to mount it to a wall, and as long as you aren’t renting this is ideal. Wall mountable vacuum cleaners usually come with the necessary mounting bracket, and can keep the hose, power cords and extensions neatly coiled around the machine.
While a HEPA filter and dust collection bag is best for asthmatics, dust bags tear and break down when wet, and it can be quite annoying to put dust bags in and out if you plan to regularly pick up liquid spills. Also be aware that dust bags need to be replaced when full, and attract an ongoing cost.
For wet pickup, you ideally want a filter that easily allows water to flow into the main chamber, keeping most solid debris in a separate container that ejects into the bin without you touching it. But this filter is not like a traditional vacuum filter that blocks particles from returning to the room. For saw dust and other fine particles, look for pre-filters and other additional filtration to this main filter, which usually acts as a simple separator of solids and liquids.