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What's behind our wet/dry vacuum Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 23 models in wet/dry vacuums to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score mainly denotes dry and wet performance.
  • Weight
    The weight of the unit, in pounds.
  • Capacity
    Capacity is as claimed by manufacturers, and for usable, as measured by vacuuming water until models shut off automatically, in gallons.
  • Dry
    Dry denotes the amount of airflow maintained after vacs picked up 1,000 grams of dust-simulating wood flour, along with the ability to pick up screws, wood pieces, and other heavier debris.
  • Wet
    Wet reflects how thoroughly it removed a 1-gallon water spill and how long it took.
  • Emissions
    Emissions denotes wood flour released while vacuuming.
  • Ease of use
    Ease of use includes changing the filter and using the hose, wands, nozzles, handles, lid latches, and other features, as well as tip resistance when empty.


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Recommended wet/dry vacuums

Recommended wet/dry vacuums are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
Wet/dry vacs are built to handle the toughest household messes. Larger-capacity wet/dry vacuums cleaned best and were best-equipped. If you're looking for information about wet/dry vacuums, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ wet/dry vacuum reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our wet/dry vacuum buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings and wet/dry vacuum reviews to help you choose the best wet/dry vacuum for your needs.

Wet/dry vacuum buying guide

Whether it's sawdust in your basement or a spill in your kitchen, wet/dry vacuums are designed to handle the toughest household messes. Our dusty, watery tests show that some wet/dry vacuums shoulder their tasks with more finesse than others.

Major brands are pushing stackable and cordless wet/dry vacuums and other new designs as they try to get wet/dry vacuums out of the basement and into the kitchen and living room. But cleaning ability should be your primary concern. The largest models generally delivered the quickest, most thorough cleaning and the most capacity, and they tended to be the best equipped. But you may need a smaller, lighter vacuum--perhaps even a mini-sized model--if your home is shy on storage space or has more than one level.

We checked how well the vacuums picked up dust that simulates wood flour, and how much of that dust they leaked into the air. Screws, wood pieces, and other heavier debris were a more demanding test of suction, and a one-gallon spill tested wet-cleaning ability. Finally, we judged the ease of use of each vacuum's features and accessories.

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