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The Best 4 Shop Vacs (or Wet Dry Vacs) of 2023

May 21, 2024

We have added additional long-term testing notes for our pick, the Ridgid 12-Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Vac HD1200.

There are messes and then there are messes. For the latter, your best bet is to break out a wet/dry vac. These heavy-duty vacuums suck up water, sawdust, nails, and screws with equal vigor. We’ve been testing and using them for years, and our favorite is the Ridgid 12-Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Vac HD1200. We also have a recommendation for a more compact, cordless model for smaller messes.

The Ridgid HD1200 is capable, powerful, and well reviewed. For the size, this vac is easy to lug around, and it comes with a great selection of attachments.

This wet/dry vac (aka “shop vac”1) has a large capacity and a powerful motor for sucking up debris. And with its four casters, well-positioned handle, and manageable weight, this model isn’t that difficult to drag through a basement or clunk up a flight of stairs. The Ridgid 12-Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Vac HD1200 comes with two wand extensions and three nozzles (one for general use, another for wet spills, and a small one for detail work). They all store on the vac and out of the way—a smarter design than that of many competitors’ accessory caddies. This Ridgid vac is regularly sold on the shelves of Home Depot (where it has thousands of mostly five-star online reviews). And extra filters, hoses, and nozzles are easy to get in an emergency, as long as you have a Home Depot nearby. The 12-gallon Ridgid is the vac I saw most on job sites and used the most often throughout a 10-year construction career, and it’s the one I’ve owned at home for years. Ridgid gives the vac minor upgrades and tweaks every few years, so the models have changed, but the core positives of the vac have always remained constant.


This is a more powerful version of our pick, with a slightly larger capacity and motor. It’s widely recommended, but it costs more and is noticeably heavier than Ridgid’s 12-gallon model.

If you can’t find our pick or you just want a more powerful option, we also like the Ridgid 14-Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Vac HD1400. This vacuum has more capacity and a more powerful motor than the 12-gallon HD1200, but the identical hose should suck up the same debris. The HD1400 is not our pick because it weighs about 21 pounds (versus the HD1200’s 17 pounds), so it’s a little heavier and bulkier, especially on stairs (and remember, that’s the vac’s weight when empty, not including all of the debris you suck into it). The HD1400 is also more expensive. User reviews for this model, like those for our pick, are extremely positive.

This small vac can be used either with a DeWalt 20-volt battery or plugged into an outlet. It’s extremely portable, but it doesn’t have the suction power of the others.

If you’re looking for something smaller and more portable, we like the DeWalt DCV581H 20V 2-Gallon Cordless/Corded Wet/Dry Vac. This is a much smaller vacuum than the Ridgid models (it doesn’t even have wheels), and it doesn’t match their capabilities on larger areas. But it’s a real champ with little messes around the garage, in the house, or in the basement. Because there’s also a cordless option and this vac is so light, you won’t have a problem using it in a crawl space, a tight attic, or an outbuilding that needs a little tidying, like a potting shed. The capabilities of the DeWalt are limited by the small motor and hose diameter. We had no problem sucking up wood shavings, drywall dust, and little bits of this and that, but this vac couldn’t suck up anything heavier, like a nail or a screw. There was also the risk of larger items getting caught in the narrow hose. The 36-minute runtime really impressed us, though, and it was far longer than that of any other cordless options we tested. This vac makes the most sense if you already have some other tools in the DeWalt 20-volt line up. If you’re just starting out, however, you’ll need to get the kit that comes with the battery and charger; this raises the cost quite a bit and, we think, really compromises the value of this tool. But the good news is that this vac also works with an outlet, so it’s still an option, even if you may or may not be adding other DeWalt tools in the future.

The Greenworks vac is larger and more powerful than the DeWalt vac, but it doesn’t have a corded option.

Another cordless option we like is the Greenworks 40V 3-Gallon Wet/Dry Cordless Vac. Compared with the DeWalt vac, the Greenworks vac has a larger capability—3 gallons versus 2 gallons—and stronger suction. But it lacks a corded option, so the 15 minutes of run time is all you have before a recharge. Because this is a smaller vac and really designed for minor messes, we found the 15 minutes to be plenty of time for any single mess we dealt with. The Greenworks vac comes with two nozzles—one for general use and a crevasse tool—which both tuck into an onboard storage compartment. We also like that the hose, when stretched out, becomes translucent, so it’s easy to see where a blockage is. Through the course of testing and using the vacs around the house during a small renovation, this became our go-to vac, even though it does sometimes have a high-pitched whine. The Greenworks vac normally costs around $200, which we think is a fine price, given that it comes with a battery and charger.

The Ridgid HD1200 is capable, powerful, and well reviewed. For the size, this vac is easy to lug around, and it comes with a great selection of attachments.

This is a more powerful version of our pick, with a slightly larger capacity and motor. It’s widely recommended, but it costs more and is noticeably heavier than Ridgid’s 12-gallon model.

This small vac can be used either with a DeWalt 20-volt battery or plugged into an outlet. It’s extremely portable, but it doesn’t have the suction power of the others.

The Greenworks vac is larger and more powerful than the DeWalt vac, but it doesn’t have a corded option.

I spent 10 years in construction, building high-end homes in the Boston area. On every single one of those days, I was involved in the daily cleanup. Ninety percent of the time, that meant pushing around a wet/dry vac, also known casually as a “shop vac” (though that’s also a brand name). I’ve vacuumed up nails, water, sawdust, insulation, spilled coffee, dumped-over bags of concrete, puddles of paint, and plenty more. On those job sites, I also learned from other pros who’ve spent years doing their own cleaning up, and that experience taught me a lot about the methods, techniques, and occasional limitations of a wet/dry vac in the field.

At my house, I also have my own workshop, which I keep clean with a wet/dry vac. I’m also a serial renovator, so a wet/dry vac is always at my side while I’m installing bookshelves, replacing windows, relocating kitchen cabinets, and pulling up old floors. Additionally, through my construction work and at my own homes, I’ve dealt with at least a half-dozen flooded basements and have found wet/dry vacs to be instrumental in removing water and cleaning up.

Whether you want to get a wet/dry vac for a flooded basement or general garage cleanup—or you're simply someone who has a DIY mentality—it will clean the worst kinds of messes most floors ever see. These vacs can’t deal with a foot of standing water in your basement, but they can take out a puddle—not to mention broken glass, small chunks of wood, gravel, nails, and other objects that even the best vacuums designed for the home can’t handle. A wet/dry vac can be a huge aid in an emergency, and it is also a great addition to any garage or basement, to deal with the spills and messes of a DIY lifestyle. These tools tend to last years, and they’re durable enough to get banged around a little—or a lot.

Recently, cordless models have appeared that emphasize portability over power. These are more for quick, little messes, like clean-up after a minor repair or home upgrade. In the cordless category, we prefer the smaller models in the 2- to 3-gallon range. One of these might be the only wet/dry vac you need for a smaller home or an apartment. They also nicely complement a larger, corded wet/dry vac, especially if you’re someone who takes a hands-on approach to your house.

Wet/dry vacs are not terribly complicated items, but there are a few elements to keep an eye on when choosing one: size, included attachments, availability, hose diameter, and general ergonomics (which basically boils down to where the handle is placed).

Size: For general home use, we think the 12-gallon size offers the best balance of size and power. A 12-gallon canister will be able to clean up some pretty substantial spills, and during regular use, it probably won’t need to be emptied all that often. For general workshop maintenance cleaning, I can sometimes go months before I have to empty out the canister. This is nice, since tipping the contents out into a trash bag can be awkward and a little messy.

For all of the large-size benefits, 12-gallon vacs are still going to be manageable for most people to maneuver around their homes or down a set of basement stairs. (It can still be awkward, but it’s doable.) As a vac’s size increases, maneuverability naturally becomes more difficult.

But if you want a smaller vacuum, we recommend going cordless. The best of these are in the 2- to 3-gallon range. And because they’re powered only with a battery, they embrace speed and portability. They don’t have the power of the larger models, but they do have enough for most general messes, and they’re just so easy to carry around.

Attachments: At the very least, a full-size wet/dry vac should come with two wand extensions (so you can vacuum standing up) and three nozzle ends: a utility nozzle, a wider wet nozzle (which often has a small rubber squeegee), and a crevasse nozzle (sometimes referred to as a car nozzle). These tips are the three most useful, and they’re the ones we’ve found we actually use. Other nozzle ends, like the brush nozzle, can be nice, and some vacs come with a range of utility nozzles (but we’ve found that these don’t get used as often). The three tips we listed are likely to be doing the bulk of the work.

Availability: A wet/dry vac’s availability is important for a few reasons. For one, you might only realize that you need one in an emergency. So being able to buy a wet/dry vac on the fly is essential. Another reason local availability is helpful is that you’ll likely have access to additional filters as well as replacement nozzles and hoses. Typically, we don’t place such high importance on this kind of access to these replacement parts. But, as we said, a wet/dry vac is a tool that is often pressed into action due to an emergency, like a partially flooded basement. Therefore, it’s unreasonable to think that you have everything on hand at all times—even if you already own the vac.

Hose diameter: Full-size wet/dry vacs are powerful enough to suck up nails and chunks of wood, and for this larger debris, a too-narrow hose diameter can pose an issue. The hoses we like have a 2½-inch diameter, the largest we’ve found. And hoses of this size have the greatest chance of sucking up all kinds of debris. When we tested vacs with smaller hoses, we found that with each step down in hose size, the capabilities were reduced, no matter how powerful the motor. Cordless models tend to have hoses with a smaller diameter, and that’s part of the sacrifice that comes with their extreme portability.

Ergonomics: The general ergonomics and usability of a wet/dry vac are also important. Once filled with water or debris, a wet/dry vac can get really heavy. So a good handle is critical, as are the connection points between the top and bottom of the canister. A wet/dry vac should have casters that move smoothly, storage for attachments and additional wands, a spot to wrap the cord, and a place for the hose to rest.

In past years, the bulk of our testing involved simply using the wet/dry vacs as they’re meant to be used: cleaning up messes in the basement, water in a garage, and construction debris in the workshop. We’ve placed vacuums in the hands of a number of Wirecutter staffers, and we continue to get their feedback.

In 2022, we tested a number of cordless wet/dry vacuums, and we tested these in much the same way. But in order to get a sense of how they compared to one another as well as to the corded vacs we recommend, we also ran a couple of structured tests. We tested runtime, by installing a fully charged battery in each vac and using it until the battery drained completely. We made sure to run this test while the vac was in active use and not just sitting there running, in case the battery drain increased when the vac struggled with larger cleanups.

To test the comparative suction of the vacuums, we filled a bucket with 2 gallons of water and timed how long it took each vac to empty the bucket with the nozzle fully immersed in the water. We would have liked to have used a larger amount of water, but the smallest vac we tested has a 2-gallon capacity, so we stuck with that.

And as we said, we also just used the cordless vacs as they’re intended to be used: From sucking up a mouse nest in the attic to cleaning up spilled kitty litter in the basement, we were all over the house with these tools. We also used them as part of a minor home renovation, tidying up all of the little bits of debris that occur when cabinets are moved, outlets are shifted, and walls are framed.

The Ridgid HD1200 is capable, powerful, and well reviewed. For the size, this vac is easy to lug around, and it comes with a great selection of attachments.

As a result of our lengthy experience using wet/dry vacs and the testing we’ve done, we have found it’s tough to beat the Ridgid 12-Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Vac HD1200. It offers good capacity, and it comes with all of the right nozzle ends (and there are spots to store them, so they stay out of the way). The Ridgid HD1200 vac is readily available on the shelves of Home Depot, where you can also get new filters, replacement hoses, and additional nozzle ends. This wet/dry vac was the one I most often saw during my construction career. I’ve been using one at my house for years, and I’ve never had any problems with it (other than the hose that I melted on a propane heater, but that was my own fault). The HD1200 is a newer model, with an improved center-mounted handle for easy carrying and a larger, glove-friendly on/off switch. So far, this model has exhibited the same quality we’ve come to expect from similar Ridgid vacs over the years.

The HD1200 has enough power to clean up the type of debris that could damage your home vacuum. One tester who used it to clean up her basement said it “sucked up spider webs, dirt, limestone/efflorescence rubble, screws, concrete chunks up to the size of a ping-pong ball, centipede graveyard, and paint chips without complaint.” This is a testament to the power of the suction and also to the wide, 2½-inch hose, which is a standard size for a corded 12-gallon vac. This tester did clog the hose a couple of times on “golf ball-sized concrete chunks.” But that’s bound to happen with any wet/dry vac, and this shows the HD1200 has the power and capability to lift those sorts of objects into the hose. In fact, the HD1200 is so powerful that the tester said it was pulling loose plaster off the walls, so she had to be careful in certain areas.

This Ridgid vac has a 12-gallon canister, which is the sweet spot between capacity and maneuverability. With the HD1200, you won’t have to stop and empty it as often as you would with smaller vacs. Compared with the larger sizes, this Ridgid vac isn’t too bulky to empty out, and most people will be able to haul it up a set of stairs with the aid of its conveniently placed upper handle. The HD1200 stands about 2 feet high, with a diameter of about 20 inches (approximately the same as on other 12-gallon models). But we need to note that if you have strength, balance, or mobility issues, it can be tricky to get one of these up and down a set of stairs, and so we have more-portable cordless recommendations below.

The Ridgid HD1200 comes with three nozzle ends—all we’ve ever needed. There is a wide dry nozzle, a wet nozzle, and a small crevice nozzle (for corners and detail work). Other models might come with more options, but I’ve found that they just tend to get in the way or lost over time. We especially like how the Ridgid nozzles can be stored at the base of the drum, just over the casters, so they’re not in the way while the vac is in use (the two wand extensions are stored there as well). On other models, like many of the Shop-Vacs, the accessories are on a caddy up at the top; this causes trouble when the hose is moving back and forth over the vac during a cleanup. On construction sites, I’ve often seen these caddies get thrown away as a result of frustration—and then, a month later, all of the accessory nozzles are lost.

One of the distinctions of the Ridgid vac is that the hose actually clips to the vacuum and the wand attachments, creating a very stable connection. Some other models have only a pressure-fit connection, and these come loose all the time as you lead the vac around by pulling on the hose.

Although Ridgid vacs come in other sizes (many of them great), we think the 12-gallon size offers the best balance of capacity and mobility. It’s usually competitive on price, too, both within the Ridgid lineup and against similar models from other brands. At a little over 17 pounds, this vac is more manageable on stairs than some larger, more powerful, also-popular versions.

Even with normal use, the filters get clogged over time, and there are only so many times you can bang the dust out of them before you need a new one. Home Depot stocks a number of use-specific filters compatible with several types of wet/dry vacs, including HEPA filters and ones specifically designed for fine dust. Additional nozzles and replacement hoses are also available. I’ve lost a number of nozzle ends and have irreparably damaged a hose, so easy replacement parts are important.

There are only so many times you can bang the dust out of these basic, all-purpose replacement filters for dry debris. The two-pack is usually a better deal per filter.

Years of personal experience also informed this recommendation. And this vac is similar to the one I’ve spent countless hours using at home and on lots of job sites during my construction career. I’ve never had any problems with it, and I’ve never found another wet/dry vac that was noticeably better. The 12-gallon Ridgid hits all the marks.

A number of staffers have been using our pick since we first published this guide. And they report that it continues to hold up, even though they occasionally use it for some nasty work.

Senior staff writer Signe Brewster has been using the vacuum for a year and a half. She said that aside from having to replace a ripped filter—which bit the dust (pun intended) while sucking up chunks of concrete and limestone—she continues to use the Ridgid HD1200 without issue.

Editor Joshua Lyon has been using the HD1200 extensively, preferring it over our upright vacuum pick, to clean up dust from many cardboard boxes as he unpacks after a move.

Senior staff writer Tim Heffernan has recently been using the HD1200 and is impressed with its versatility as a compact option for multiple spaces within his Queens co-op apartment. The vacuum has reinforced our points on its ease of storage and versatility for use in smaller non-garage-y spaces. He has highlighted it easily cleans up damp and dry dirt, pumice stones, perlite, wet pine needles, cat litter and any random bike maintenance crud spilled on the balcony.

Water damage in the home requires immediate attention. Knowing what to do—and how to be prepared—saves time and money.

This is a more powerful version of our pick, with a slightly larger capacity and motor. It’s widely recommended, but it costs more and is noticeably heavier than Ridgid’s 12-gallon model.

If the 12-gallon Ridgid vac isn’t available, or if you feel like you can handle a larger-size vacuum, we also like the Ridgid 14-Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Vac HD1400. This one is nearly the same as our pick, just with a higher price, a larger capacity, and a slightly larger motor. It should pull up the same water, dust, and dirt, perhaps a touch more aggressively. The main reason the HD1400 isn’t our pick is that it’s a hair above 21 pounds when empty, roughly 3 pounds more than the HD1200 weighs (about 17 pounds). Getting our pick up or down some stairs is manageable; it’s not as easy with this model, especially if this vac is full. The HD1400 has the same handle, switch, hose diameter, and accessories as our pick.

This small vac can be used either with a DeWalt 20-volt battery or plugged into an outlet. It’s extremely portable, but it doesn’t have the suction power of the others.

If you’re looking for a smaller vac that’s a lot easier to move around, we like the DeWalt DCV581H 20V 2-Gallon Cordless/Corded Wet/Dry Vac. This vac is substantially lighter and more compact than the Ridgid models we recommend. It lacks wheels, so it has to be carried like a duffel bag, and it doesn’t have the power of the larger models. But considering how this vac is intended to be used, its portability more than makes up for that. This is not a vac you’re going to use to clean your entire garage floor or to clean the dirt out of a 1,000-square-foot flooded basement. However, for minor renovation work around the house or for vacuuming out the car, this model has plenty of power.

A rare, important advantage with this DeWalt is that it can be powered with a 20-volt battery or via the attached power cord. Since wet/dry vacs are often used in an emergency, the cord provides a nice back-up power source, in case you don’t have a battery on hand. This also means you can keep using the vac long after the battery is dead. And you also have the cordless option for working in a remote location or during a power outage (if you have charged DeWalt batteries on hand).

You get the best value from this vac if you already own compatible DeWalt batteries. If you don’t, having to buy a battery and charger makes the investment a little steep for what you’re getting.

The most notable feature of the DeWalt is its compact size. Most people will have an easy time carrying it around by the top handle. The hose stretches out to about 5 feet—2 feet less than the hose included with either of the Ridgid picks. But because the vac is so easy to maneuver, the shorter hose isn’t a distraction. Cleaning up high—like if you’re sucking cobwebs off a garage window—is not a problem with the DeWalt vac because you can just hold it.

The DeWalt vac’s power is decent, but this model clearly doesn’t have the suction of the corded Ridgid vacs (or even the cordless Greenworks vac, which we’ll get to next). This is really a tool meant for small messes, like drywall dust, sawdust, and wood shavings; it can’t handle larger messes involving screws, rocks, nails, or small blocks of wood. A regular home vacuum can handle most of these items, and that’s great. But if you’re constantly vacuuming up smaller messes in the basement, garage, workshop, and on the back deck, we prefer a vac like the DeWalt, which is built to be knocked around a bit. In our timed test, the DeWalt vac sucked out 2 gallons of water in 11 seconds—more than twice as long as it took the next weakest vacuum (the cordless Greenworks vac). That lines up with the DeWalt vac’s given CFM number—indicating suction—of 31, which is half that of the Greenworks vac. This isn’t an extremely high-powered tool, but it really is convenient to use.

The diameter of the hose is also much smaller than that of the hoses on the larger wet/dry vacs. The DeWalt’s hose is only 1¼ inches wide, compared with 2½ inches for the hoses on the Ridgid models and 1⅞ inches for the hose on the cordless Greenworks vac. The DeWalt vac’s smaller hose, along with its overall power, really limits what this vac can suck up.

The good news is that the vac’s slowness is compensated by its extended runtime. On a fully charged 5Ah 20-volt battery, we got about 36 minutes of runtime; this is staggering compared with runtimes of other cordless vacs we tested, which were all in the 9- to 17-minute range. So the DeWalt vac might not clean as fast, but with that kind of runtime, there’s no need to rush.

The DeWalt vac has a wide utility nozzle and a crevasse nozzle, both of which are smartly stored on the tool (the crevasse tool slides into the handle of the vac). There is also a clip the hose fits into, so it’s out of the way when stowed.

One downside to the DeWalt vac is that the blower port (which blows out all the air the vac is sucking in) is on the canister’s side and not the rear, where we would have preferred it. There were a few times we shifted the canister and accidentally blew dust and debris all over the place, since we forgot the blower port was on the side. On the other vacuums we recommend, the blower port is located opposite to the vac port; this makes more sense to us.

As a bare tool, with no battery or charger, the DeWalt vac usually comes in at a reasonable price. But if you are also buying a battery and charger with it, the price can jump considerably, to one we think is pretty steep if this is the only cordless DeWalt tool you plan to own. This vac really makes the most sense if you’re already fully invested in the DeWalt 20-volt platform (or you plan to be in the future).

The Greenworks vac is larger and more powerful than the DeWalt vac, but it doesn’t have a corded option.

Another cordless option we like is the Greenworks 40V 3-Gallon Cordless Wet/Dry Vac. This one is larger and more powerful than the DeWalt vac, but it doesn’t have a cord, so the battery is the only option. As much as we like the DeWalt vac and appreciate its cord for backup, we enjoyed using the Greenworks vac more, mostly because of its suction power (which seems to be at the halfway point between the weaker DeWalt and the full-size Ridgid vacs). So the Greenworks vac can handle things like little blocks of wood and some nails and screws. We also like that when we stretched out the hose, it became translucent, so it was easy to see the location of any clogs. Like the DeWalt vac, the Greenworks vac has two nozzles and smart onboard storage. For a cordless wet/dry vac, we think the Greenworks vac is a decent value. This model is normally around $200 with the battery and charger, so if you need a vac with those included, it’s considerably less expensive than the DeWalt vac.

As a vacuum, the Greenworks model is really functional and can handle medium-size messes—like small nails, little bits of wood, shavings, dust, and general debris—without much issue. This vac struggles with larger items, due to both the diameter of the hose (1⅞ inch) and the suction power, which isn’t as good as you get with the large corded vacs. Like the DeWalt vac, this vac isn’t intended for big-time cleans. But for little projects around the house, it’s really great.

We got about 15 minutes of run time on a single charge. This might not sound like a lot, but for the way a wet/dry vac is typically used, we never noticed it as a hindrance. The DeWalt vac’s run time is more than twice as long. But since the Greenworks vac is more powerful, with the larger hose, we think you could accomplish more with it over the course of a single charge.

This vacuum can be powered only by the Greenworks 40-volt battery, but it comes included. Greenworks’ 40-volt platform is large and includes mostly outdoor power equipment like mowers and string trimmers.

We also looked at two larger cordless wet/dry vacs, the Ryobi 40V 10-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac and the Greenworks Pro 60V Wet/Dry Vacuum. Each has its high points but also plenty of limitations. Couple these limitations with the high cost, and we’ve come to the conclusion that for a full-size wet/dry vac, it’s best to stick with the Ridgid corded option, at least for now. For the cleaning power you’re getting with a cordless option, we don’t think the value is there just yet.

The 10-gallon Ryobi has the same general look as our corded Ridgid picks, but its hose has a smaller diameter, and its suction power feels on a par with that of the 3-gallon Greenworks vac we recommend. Our tests showed a relatively short run time of about 9 minutes on high. The Ryobi 10-gallon vac has two speeds. But the low speed (which extends the battery life) is less powerful than on the cordless DeWalt, and we couldn’t even suck any of the water out of the bucket in our suction test.

Many of the same things can be said about the 9-gallon Greenworks vac. This one takes two batteries (which are not included) and seems to have just a little more suction than the smaller Greenworks vac we recommend. It also has a 1⅞-inch hose and a standard set of attachments. As a bare tool, the vac usually costs about $200; the batteries and a charger add about another $430, bringing the total investment to well over $600. This is awfully steep and really puts this vac out of contention, unless you already have some 60-volt Greenworks batteries around. This model can be run off a cord as well, but in that case, why not just get one of the more-powerful Ridgids for considerably less investment.

However, even if you already have Ryobi or Greenworks batteries lying around, we’re not convinced these vacs are worth the cost. It’s tough to justify a full-size wet/dry vac that doesn’t offer a full amount of suction power (limited by both the motor and the hose diameter). If you’re going to have a big, hulking wet/dry vac to use for cleanup, just get the one that’s cheaper and more powerful, even if the portability is a little more limited due to the power cord. We think a smaller model, such as the 3-gallon Greenworks or the DeWalt, would make a nice complementary vac for the quick little stuff. And if you’re someone who needs to vacuum the garage floor or you deal with a wet basement, we don’t think it’s worth it to fiddle around with the limitation of the full-size cordless models.

The DeWalt DCV580H is the same vacuum as the one we recommend except that it doesn’t have the cord. It can be powered only by a DeWalt 20-volt battery. The price difference between the two is usually only $30 or so. We think the upgrade to the cord is well worth the additional cost.

There are plenty of other wet/dry vacuums available, most notably from Shop-Vac, a company so well known for its wet/dry vacuums that its name has become synonymous with all wet/dry vacs. In most ways, Shop-Vac models are going to deliver the same thing as the Ridgid vacs. They have similar features and comparable suction strength. However, on the 12-gallon model, the accessories are bunched at the upper rear of the vac, instead of stored on each caster, and we’ve found they get knocked off much easier this way. The Shop-Vacs models’ availability is also a little more scattered, so you may not be able to get one in an emergency at a place that is as convenient as Home Depot. They also tend to be a little more expensive. But if you need a wet/dry vac asap, and it’s easier to get a Shop-Vac than a Ridgid, the Shop-Vac model should be just fine.

Ridgid’s largest size, the 16-gallon HD1800, can hold a lot of debris (and it comes with large wheels and a dolly handle). We think it’s overkill for around-the-house work, but if you have the space to store it and have big enough messes to deal with, it’s a fine machine, and one we’ve occasionally seen good deals on.

The 3-gallon WD3050, Ridgid’s smallest vacuum, is very portable. But it’s not as powerful as the 12-gallon version, and it needs to be emptied more often. For this smaller size, we like the cordless options. They’re more expensive, but in our opinion, if you’re going with the portable model, why not fully embrace the portability and get a completely untethered vacuum?

There are also high-end vacuums from Fein, Festool, Bosch, and others that focus on dust collection. But these are more of a workshop tool than a garage tool, and they are quite expensive.

This article was edited by Harry Sawyers.

Doug Mahoney

Doug Mahoney is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter covering home improvement. He spent 10 years in high-end construction as a carpenter, foreman, and supervisor. He lives in a very demanding 250-year-old farmhouse and spent four years gutting and rebuilding his previous home. He also raises sheep and has a dairy cow that he milks every morning.

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