Why would you need a wet and dry vac for your home?
It may seem like overkill to have a wet vac at home that is more commonly found in workshops or construction sites. But the fact is, your regular vacuum is limited to what it can do.
Modern wet dry vacuums are ergonomically suited to use at home. And you don’t need to wait for a flood or broken pipe to use one. You can be ready for just about any eventuality that your regular vacuum can’t handle.
Have you ever had a window left open during a rainstorm soak your rug or sofa? Maybe you broke a glass and your regular vacuum usually leaves small shards behind. Or, you have a blocked drain and calling a plumber for such a small job seems like a waste of money.
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re probably realizing the many other possible uses for a wet-dry vacuum for domestic use.
Before we dive into what are the best wet dry vacuums for your home, let’s take a moment to investigate what a wet-dry vacuum is and how it works.
If you don’t have time to read everything you ever wanted to know about wet dry vacs and just want to read my picks for the best ones, then here’s a short list. You can read more detailed reviews of each further into the article.
- Numatic Charles Wet and Dry Bagged Vacuum Cleaner
Best Wet and Dry Vacuum for Home – An old reliable brand that has a deserved reputation for being a good hoover. Use it as an everyday vacuum as well as wet/dry.
- Draper Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner
Best Wet and Dry Vacuum for Pets – With many accessories that works well on pet mess as well as a powerful suction motor and you have a must have tool for pet owners.
What is a Wet Dry Vacuum?
Also commonly referred to as a shop vac, a wet-dry vacuum is a bucket vacuum that can handle cleaning up water just as easily as dry debris.
Their power and versatility make them indispensable in a work site where your debris is much more extreme than what you normally find in a home.
Because they have such heavy-duty capabilities, they are often overlooked when buying a vacuum for home use. But, after reading this article, I believe you will find that there are many good reasons to keep a wet-dry vacuum for home in your cleaning arsenal.
How Does a Wet Dry Vacuum Work?
A wet-dry vacuum is very similar to cylinder vacuums that you pull around, rather than upright vacuums.
The concept is very similar except that the cylinder is a bucket. Instead of using a vacuum bag, the wet and dry cleaner usually uses a two bucket system that separates the liquids from the solids into two different chambers.
When the debris or water enters the cylinder, the air flow slows down and lets gravity handle the rest. Heavy liquid falls out from the slow-moving air into the wet bucket, and lighter debris continues onto the dry bucket.
Air that flows through the filter and out of the vacuum is usually cleaner than many domestic vacuums permit since the dirt and dust get absorbed by the water. After a thorough cleaning of a workshop, the air may actually be cleaner than in your home!
Some wet dry vacs also have a blower option to blow air out rather than suck it in. This is helpful if you want to clear an area outside of leaves or debris. Where it really comes in handy, however, is to unblock clogged drains as I mentioned.
The blower function also comes in handy when inflating balls or rafts or other things like that.
How to Maintain a Wet Dry Vacuum
A vacuum that is exposed to the rigours of an industrial site needs a little more maintenance than your typical home vacuum.
Regular maintenance will keep your vacuum in good working order. Don’t be scared off, I am only talking about taking a few minutes occasionally. It’s all very simple, really.
- Clean filters after every use. The owner’s manual will give you the specific directions for your model. Keeping your filters clean will keep fine dust away from the motor extending the life of your vacuum considerably.
- Replace filters as needed. Again, refer to your owners manual about the frequency necessary to replace them.
- Always empty the bucket after every use, especially true when you vacuumed anything wet. Clean with soapy water after every 5 or so uses to prevent bacteria.
- Disconnect hose from body when not in use to prevent the hose from cracking at the connecting point.
What to Look for in a Wet Dry Vacuum
Professional shop vacs can be very basic without any frills or accessories. When buying a wet-dry vacuum for your home, your needs may be a little more refined, so here are a few things to consider when you are looking for a good wet-dry vac.
A crevice tool is really indispensable in your home. If you don’t have one with your wet vacuum you may find yourself missing one. Spills are not always in wide open areas. A crevice tool can make sure you covered all of your ground.
A brush tool for more delicate surfaces might not seem like it would belong, but let’s not forget, the wet-dry vacuum for your home will need to do many of the things that your regular vacuum does. Including removing cobwebs from your ceiling or dusty surfaces on cupboards.
Car nozzles also come in handy, though they aren’t often included and must be purchased separately.
Wet dry vacs can range in size from the large industrial ones to small handheld ones. What size you need depends on how often you will need to bring out the big guns.
For most households the medium size one will fit most needs. These are easier to store so you will be more likely to use it often. Large ones that are kept in a basement will likely only be used in an emergency.
Then there are the small hand held ones that are only meant to handle small cleanups that you wouldn’t want to use your traditional vacuum for.
Most shop vacs will come with filters to get you started, but if you use your vacuum often for big jobs, you will need replacements.
Replacing filters can be an unexpected expense so if you think you will be getting a lot of heavy use out of your vacuum, consider getting washable filters for wet dry vacuums. They aren’t cheap but last considerably longer than the non-washable kind.
Obviously filters are an integral part of any vacuum, but they are essential in keeping your wet dry vacuum in working order.
The size of the hose and nozzle don’t need to be quite as wide as what you would need in an industrial area, but you should think about what you will be vacuuming. A too narrow hose will limit you considerably when you do find yourself needing to clean up some larger debris.
You may not need a hose that can hoover up tennis balls, but it’s better to have a big hose and not need it than need one and not have it. I won’t expand on that analogy any further, thank you.
Now that you understand more about the ins and outs of wet-dry vacuums, let’s get into what wet dry vacuums are best for you.
Best Wet Dry Vacuum for Your Home
Charles Wet and Dry Bagged Vacuum Cleaner
- Lightweight at 7.1 kg
- Very quiet 72dB
- Wet/dry/blower functions
- Traditional accessories like crevice tool and brush attachment
- HEPA anti allergen filter
- Compact size
- Tool cleaner attachment
- Switching from wet to dry requires opening the body and switching filters
Before I get into all the details about this wet dry vac, let me point out that we are talking about the best wet dry vac for household needs. That is a lot different than professional needs. Yes, there are more powerful wet dry vacs out there, but for household needs the Numatic is ideal.
He may look silly, but Charles manages to get the job done.
It probably comes as no surprise that Numatic would get the top place in a “Best of” vacuum review, but how many expected it to be a wet-dry vacuum?
As is the case with his famous brother, Henry, there aren’t too many frills with this wet dry vacuum, but its performance is what counts.
15 litres dry and 9 wet, Charles is a nice medium sized wet-dry vacuum. It also has a blower function.
The cleaning wand is made out of rustproof aluminium and is lightweight. The hose itself is very sturdy and locks tightly to the body. Charles comes with two-floor head attachments. One for wet and one for dry. The dry attachment looks like your typical floor head for a traditional vacuum and works on any surface, floor or carpet.
You’ll also have a brush attachment for delicate surfaces and a crevice tool for the edges and hard to reach areas.
At only 7.1 kg, it’s actually lighter than most upright vacuums and even some cylinder vacuums. It is very manoeuvrable, as most dry vacs are, by way of castor wheels. Unless you are seriously deep pile rug, then the Charles glides over most surfaces.
It’s even quieter than most vacuums. You won’t feel like you are in a workshop with a roaring vacuum since it is only a 72dB vacuum.
The suction is the real star, however. It boasts a 1200 watt twin flow motor and can handle just about anything you throw at him. A nice addition is the HEPA filter to remove a lot of the dust that could end up back in circulation after hoovering.
The only downside is that to switch from wet to dry requires a bit of a process by opening up the body and switching the filters around. It only takes less than a minute, but a toggle would have been preferred.
You may like more accessories and bells and whistles from your household hoover, but you will get more use out of the Numatic Charles as an everyday vacuum. It won’t sit in the basement waiting for the call up to handle a heavy-duty operation like unblocking a clogged drain. It will be available for most jobs since it will likely be stored in a closet for easy access.
Runner Up for Best Wet Dry Vacuum for Your Home
WD2 Tough Wet And Dry Vac
- Strong suction
- Very lightweight 4.2 kg
- Compact for easy storage
- 1200 watt motor
- Very loud
- Not many accessories
Another no frills but useful wet dry vacuum for your home is the Karcher WD2, and like the Numatic Charles, gets the job done.
Though much louder than the Charles, it is still useful for your everyday household needs. It can do triple duty in the workshop, garden or dining room.
It is very compact and can be stored in most closets for easy access. It’s also lightweight at 4.2 kg. This is ideal not only for manoeuvrability around furniture but also considering how heavy it gets when full of water.
For accessories, it is very basic. A floor head, a crevice tool and the hose. You may want to add a brush tool or another floor head for use on a carpet. Though the extension tubes are longer than most so you have a large cleaning radius.
The suction is very good and the motor is a robust 1200 watts. The capacity is 12 litres.
If your home vacuuming needs are basic and you like having a jack of all trades tool, then this fits the bill. If you like a bit more refinement in your vacuuming, then definitely consider the Numatic Charles.
Best Wet and Dry Vacuum for Pets
Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner
- Lightweight at 3.8 kg
- Powerful 1000 watt motor
- Includes many accessories for cleaning after a pet
- Washable filter
- 10 liter capacity
- 1.5 meter hose
- Convenient shoulder strap
- Needs to be opened and filters switched to go from wet vac to dry
- No blower function
Having a pet means cleaning up more than just stray pet hair. Many times the mess you need to clean after your pet can be wet. And stinky.
A must have tool when you have pets is a wet and dry vacuum. It need not be your primary vacuum, but it should be kept handy and will become an essential tool.
Because you aren’t trying to replace your regular vacuum, this doesn’t need to be an all in one tool. It does, however, have so many uses beyond cleaning after your pet that it will pay for itself many times over.
It is compact, yet powerful. Small enough to fit in the back of a closet, yet strong enough suction to remove even the biggest accident your pet could surprise you with. The 1000 watt motor on such a compact vacuum means you can get a professional clean up in your car. It only weighs 3.8 kg so you can carry it around anywhere.
As for accessories, you have pretty much everything you will need and all kept on an on-board tool holder. It comes equipped with a crevice nozzle, an upholstery nozzle (perfect for pet beds and stains on your furniture or car) a mini cleaning kit and brush. Basically everything you would need to clean up after a pet.
The filters are foam and washable to save you money on replacements. And the suction is strong enough to even handle wet dog hair.
As is the case with other wet and dry vacuums, to switch from wet to dry or vice versa means opening up the unit and switching the filters.
Using a wet and dry vacuum to clean up after a pet is ideal as it prevents the stain from penetrating the upholstery or carpet. When you rub the mess off, you are really actually rubbing it in. With a wet vac, you can soak the mess with water and hoover it right up before it has a chance to get absorbed.
Runner-Up for Best Wet and Dry Vacuum for Pets
Cordless XR Wet and Dry Vacuum
- Compact and cordless
- Lightweight at 5.5 kg
- On board tool holder
- Comes with crevice tool
- 2 meter length hose
- 7.5 liter capacity
- Bower function
- Not many pet accessories
Another great wet and dry vacuum for pets is the DeWalt wet dry vac. It isn’t as specialized as the Draper for pet hair and mess cleanup, but it can handle the job.
A benefit to this vacuum is the fact that it is not only lightweight but cordless. You never know where your emergency will take place, so having an option to be far from a socket is nice.
Since pets come with dander, dust mites and bacteria, the washable HEPA filter is a welcome addition. It traps 99.7% of allergens in the cylinder and out of the air.
One of the things I love best about this robust little wet dry vacuum is the fact that the filters don’t need to be swapped when switching from wet to dry. Not to mention the suction is very strong and can easily clean up wet dog hair.
And it has a blower function. This might not be used in any pet clean up, but it is a nice to have feature for other uses like unclogging a drain or blowing up inflatables.
All in all I would consider this a handy, compact wet-dry vacuum that can also be used to clean up after pets.