A traditional vacuum isn’t equipped to clean dust, pet hair, debris reserves, and all of the other spills and odds and ends you find on your garage or workshop floor. However, the best small shop vacs take cleaning power to the next level. You may know them as wet/dry vacuums, and they’re very versatile and powerful. The best shop vacs can easily handle all of the debris in your workshop or garage without clogging, and the smaller ones are extremely portable and easy to take from point A to point B to clean up all of your spills and messes. In turn, this can keep your area clean and ready to use.
Since there are so many of these vacuums out there, deciding which is the best small shop vac can be a challenge. This is especially true if you’ve never bought one before. So, I’ve picked out 10 of the best small shop vacs on the market and reviewed them for you. You can use these reviews to see which one is best for your needs. The buying guide will give you the criteria you want to look for when you start shopping to allow you to pick out a versatile option that will last for years to come.
The best small shop vacs are versatile and durable, and they can easily help you tackle wet or dry projects around your home or office.
BISSELL Garage Pro Shop Vac – Top Pick
The top pick for the best small shop vac goes to Bissell. This tool packs a lot of power in a slim and upright design that makes it perfect for cleaning out your garage or workshop floor and then storing neatly into a closet. It has a 12-amp motor that can handle both wet and dry messes, and this adds a layer of versatility to this machine that ensures it won’t clog in the middle of cleaning up. You get three styles to choose from when you order to help you customize your choice depending on what your needs are for the best small shop vac. This is a four-gallon tank that is semi-translucent to allow you to see when it’s getting full.
You get seven versatile attachments when you order this best small shop vac that allows you to easily clean messes on your cheap flooring in your entertainment area, in your garage or workshop, or in your car. There is a wall mounting kit included in each purchase, and the extra-long hose will stretch up to 32-feet to give you maximum maneuverability. There is an extension wand too, and the power cord is five-feet long. The Helix system with dual filtration will trap and lock dust, and you can convert it to a blower.
- 12-amp motor
- Can convert to a blower
- Seven attachments
- 32-foot hose
- Double filter system
- Cleans wet and dry messes
- Three styles available
- Power cord is only five feet long
Shop-Vac 3942300 Wet/Dry Vac – Step-Up Pick
The step-up pick for the best small shop vac comes from Shop-Vac, and this is a wall-mounted wet/dry system that comes with a five-gallon tank with a four peak horsepower motor. You get the convenience of being able to clean your workshop, garage, car, or anywhere you need a hands-free vacuum. This is a great pick because you get an 18-foot lock-on hose, 12-inch nozzle with squeegee and brush, 1.25-inch diameter extension wands, gulper nozzle, round brush, collection bag, crevice tool, tool storage bag, cartridge, and a foam sleeve all at a decent price point. Since you can fit the accessories into a storage bag, this helps to ensure that you don’t accidentally lose anything while staying organized.
This best small shop vac features a durable build with a thick plastic body that resists wear and tear to make it a very durable choice. The wall mount system helps to keep this shop vac out of your way when you’re not using it, and it’s a good choice for tight garages or workshops where floor space is at a premium. You can clean up wet or dry messes with this best small shop vac without worrying about clogging up the motor or damaging the internal compartments, and the bag makes cleanup a breeze.
- 18-foot lock-on hose
- Wall-mounted system
- Huge range of accessories
- Storage bag
- Thick plastic body design
- Cleans wet and dry messes
- Easy to set up
- Runs very loud
Stanley Wet Dry Vacuum – Mid-End Budget Pick
Anyone who is building a garage and looking for high-quality tools to fill it without breaking their bank should look at Stanley’s best small shop vac. You get a slightly larger capacity at four gallons, and this allows for continuous cleaning without having to stop and empty the dust collection bin constantly. It’s very easy to use, and all you have to do is close the vacuum’s cover, connect your hose, and plug it in for it to be ready to go. It comes equipped with a four horsepower motor that is powerful enough to easily suck up a broad range of wet and dry debris, including dirty water.
This best small shop vac comes packed with features and accessories that make it easy to justify the price point, including a 15-foot cleaning reach. The power cord is 10-feet long and the hose is five-feet long, and this allows you to clean without having to move it around a lot. This product can work over 300 hours without failing, and you get an extra-large drain port that makes it easy to empty debris out. There is a large transfer switch that is easy to operate, and you get accessories in each order like a super flexible hose, an extension wand, three floor nozzles, a crevice nozzle, dust bag, foam filter, and a reusable dry filter.
- 12-month warranty
- Comes with a lot of accessories
- Extra-large drain port
- Four horsepower motor
- Four-gallon capacity
- Larger transfer switch
- Long reach
- Easy to dent the outside
Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Vac – Bargain Budget Pick
This bargain budget pick features the best small shop vac that comes in a micro size. It’s a one-gallon machine that runs one one horsepower at peak levels, and this makes it an extremely portable choice. It’s a wet/dry vac that comes with a bracket for mounting it on the wall, and it has a wall-mounted tool holder to keep everything neat and organized. The fold-down top handle makes moving it from point A to point B easy. You get a slightly thicker body design that resists wear and tear, and it has large clips to make it easy to take off and reattach the top to the canister to empty it out.
This best small shop vac runs on a standard 120-volt plugin, and it has a six-foot power cord to help extend your reach. You get 1.25-inch accessories with this product that includes a four-foot 1.25-inch hose, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, wall mount bracket for the accessories, tool bag, wall mount bracket for the tool bag, disposable collection filter bag, and a foam sleeve. When you purchase this product, it comes equipped with a two-year warranty against defects or damage. The bright red coloring on this micro shop vac make it easy to spot in a crowded garage or workshop.
- Micro size
- Wall-mounted storage system
- 1.25-inch accessories included
- Six-foot power cord
- Two-year warranty
- Very portable and lightweight
- Flip up carrying handle
- Disposable bags are expensive
CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac – Best for Cleaning Your Shop
If you’re trying to keep your workshop tidy, this best small shop vac from Craftsman can help you quickly and easily clean up any debris you have littering the floor or worktable. This is a heavy-duty vacuum that comes equipped with a 6.5-peak horsepower motor that can easily suck up bigger debris like wood scraps, screws, or water. You get a built-in blower port on the rear side of this best small shop vac that helps you blow grass clippings, sawdust, or leaves out of your garage or workshop outside where the wind can take them away, and there is a simple trigger switch to flip between the vacuum and blower functions.
This best small shop vac comes with an oversized drain that lets you quickly and easily empty the liquids without splashing them all over yourself. There is Dual-Flex technology on this shop vac that makes the 2 ½-inch diameter hose flex to a full 180° to help resist kinking while allowing you to reach a variety of areas. There is a host of accessories included when you purchase this best small shop vac, including a seven-foot Dual-Flex hose, utility nozzle, two extension wands, wet nozzle, car nozzle, dust collection bag, and a Qwik lock filter.
- 6.5-peak horsepower motor
- Heavy-duty design
- Built-in blower port
- Oversized drain
- Dual-Flex hose technology
- Lots of accessories
- Very stable base
- Too large to get into smaller areas
Shop-Vac 5989300 Vacuum – Best for Cleaning Your Car
This best small shop vac is portable and powerful, and it comes with a five-gallon stainless steel tank that will resist rust, corrosion, wear, and tear without breaking down. It comes with a maneuverable full circumference dolly that makes it easy for you to move around your shop as you use it without accidentally tipping it over, and you get both top and side carrying handles to make it very easy to transport or move over debris. It uses four wheels attached to a wide square base to make it a more stable choice, and you can switch it from a vacuum to a blower by flipping a switch.
If you want accessories, this best small shop vac delivers. It comes with 1.25-inch diameter accessories, including a seven-foot hose, crevice tool, three extension wands, floor nozzle, gulper nozzle, foam sleeve, cartridge filter, and a filter bag. These accessoires add flexibility to this best small shop vac as you can use them in your garage, workshop, house, office, or car without a problem. There is also onboard accessory storage to keep all of the pieces together, and you get a three-year warranty against defects or damage from the date of purchase.
- Stainless steel tank
- Five-gallon size
- Onboard accessory storage
- Broad base
- Several carrying handles
- Very maneuverable
- Three-year warranty
- Tool holder isn’t stable
Stanley 3 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum – Best for Working in Your Garage
If you’re making a porch swing bed in your garage, you’ll need the best small shop vac to help get rid of the sawdust and debris. This is a small-capacity product that is three gallons. This makes it easy to store between uses, and all you have to do to get it up and running is to close the cover, connect your hose, and plug it into a power source. It has a 3.0 horsepower motor onboard that makes it easy to suck up a host of different debris like garbage, sawdust, wood chips, and dirty water without clogging or losing suction power. It weighs in at 8.65 pounds, and this makes it a very lightweight and portable design.
This best small shop vac works well in your garage, workshop, upholstery, housework, car, hotels, offices, and more. You get a 10-foot cleaning reach with a six-foot power cord and a four-foot hose that allows you to reach into all of the small nooks and crannies to pick up all of the piled-up debris There is a long life cycle on this vacuum that allows it to run flawlessly for 300 hours. The extra-large drain port makes it easy to empty your dirty water without spilling it, and you get the four-foot hose, 3:1 gulper crevice nozzle, foam filter, gulper nozzle, and a non-woven filter with a clamp ring when you order.
- 12-month warranty
- Large drain port
- 10-foot cleaning reach
- Long life cycle
- Very portable and lightweight
- 3.0 horsepower motor
- Cleans wet or dry messes
- Power cord is slightly short
Shop-Vac 5895200 Wet/Dry Vac – Best for Small Cleanups
Anyone who has smaller cleanup projects to worry about should look at this best small shop vac. You get compact power with a wet/dry vacuum that packs the power of a full-sized vacuum into a small handheld model. It has a 2.5 peak horsepower motor with a 2.5-gallon tank that makes it easy to tackle small cleanup projects around your home, office, garage, or workshop. It’s extremely portable, and this makes it easy to pack this product up and put it in your car, or you can easily move it around your space to clean every area to keep it neat and tidy.
You get a host of accessories to improve your cleaning power with this best small shop vac, including a seven-foot hose, dual surface nozzle, two extension wands, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, wall mount bracket, and a round brush. The wall mount system helps you keep everything organized, and it can save floor space if it’s at a premium. It has an eye-catching pink and grey color scheme that makes it easy to spot when you need it, and the wide base makes it very stable when you pull it around. You can choose from two sizes when you order this product.
- 2.5 peak horsepower motor
- Two sizes available
- Very stable design
- Lots of accessories
- Wall mount system included
- Compact design
- Easy to transport
- Suction power isn’t that great
Shop-Vac 1.5 Gallon Vac – Best for Small House Cleanups
If you’re taking on projects around the house like refinishing your hardwood floors, this is the best small shop vac for your money. This is a wet/dry vacuum that won’t clog or stall out when you use it, and it packs in a large amount of power due to the two horsepower motor. It has a 1.5-gallon tank on it, and it comes with accessories that help you reach into small areas of your space. The accessories include a seven-foot hose, dual surface nozzle, two extension wands, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, wall mount bracket, and a round brush. You can also convert this best small shop vac into a blower.
The turquoise and grey color scheme on this best small shop vac is unique, and it makes it easy to pick out when you’re in a crowded or cluttered space. The compact design is easy to pick up and move around, or you can put it in your car and take it with you. There is a wide handle on the top of this shop vac that makes it easy to pick up and carry, and the latches that hold the canister and the top together are very wide. There is onboard tool storage to keep everything neatly in one spot, and it’s easy to get a replacement filter when yours fails.
- Wet/dry vac design
- 1.5-gallon tank
- Unique coloring
- Large carrying handle
- Compact and lightweight
- Onboard tool storage
- Rear blower
- Can clog easily on large debris
Armor All AA255 Utility Vacuum – Best for Specialized Spills
The final product on the best small shop vac list comes from Armor All, and you get a 2.5 gallon tank made out of durable polypropylene. This material resists wear and tear, and it has a thicker design that resists cracking or breaking. The two peak horsepower motor is powerful enough to pick up wet messes or a range of dry and damp debris without it clogging up or losing suction power. The 10-foot power cord increases your reach, and you can easily wrap the cord around the vacuum when you finish using it to make storage easy. This also helps prevent the cord from fraying.
There is on-board hose and accessory storage on this best small shop vac that is great for small spaces, and it’ll help you keep track of all of your items. With the flip of a switch, you can turn this vacuum into a blower with a rear blower port that your hose connects to. There is a built-in noise and air diffuser that allows this best small shop vac to run quietly when you use the blower or vacuum, and there is no assembly required when you get it. Instead, it’s ready to go out of the box.
- 10-foot cord with cord wrap
- Blower function
- Accessory storage features
- Built-in air and noise diffuser
- 2.5-gallon tank
- Compact design
- Sleek black and orange coloring
- No wheels on the bottom
Best Small Shop Vac Buying guide
A shop vac works just like a standard vacuum does, but it allows you to pick up bulky debris like wood scraps or nails. It can also help you clean up wet messes if you were to spill on your hard flooring or if you need to suck water out of the carpet you just installed. It’s a multi-purpose vacuum that works well for home or business use, and the following buying considerations will help you narrow down your top pick for the best small shop vac.
Tank Size and Capacity
Since the driving purpose for getting a shop vac is to clean up small messes, everyday debris, and messes in your car, having a tank with a smaller capacity is usually more than enough. To be a small shop vac, the tank sizes range from 1.5 to 6 gallons. If you plan to use your new vac to clean up larger messes around your workshop, garage, or home, you may want a larger tank capacity of 8 to 14-gallons. This is a great size if your home floods regularly because it has powerful suction to get rid of liquids.
The biggest shop vacs have tank capacities that range from 14 to 18-gallons, and you will typically see these in large workshops. Make sure you note how heavy yoru shop vac will be when you fill it. If you don’t, you could get a product that is too heavy to lift to empty.
Wet/dry vacuums give you the opportunity to take on small and large cleaning projects without worrying about clogging up the hose or ruining the motor. They’re portable, lightweight, and durable.
A lot of shop vacs come with a durable plastic body, and it’s the most popular pick. This is because plastic is generally a lightweight material that reduces the overall weight of the vacuum. In turn, you can easily haul it from room to room or outside on your patio to clean up after an outdoor movie night on your big screen. Metal tanks are also available, and they’re nice to use in construction sites or auto body shops due to their durability. However, they’re also extremely heavy and bulky.
How powerful you want your shop vac to be will largely depend on the types of debris you want it to pick up. The more horsepower your shop vac comes equipped with, the stronger the suction is. If you want to make sure you have enough suction power for a variety of cleanup jobs, it’s always a good idea to go for a shop vac with a higher horsepower.
Features and Accessories
Do you need your shop vac to convert to a blower or are you content with a vacuum? Some of the best small shop vacs come with built-in liquid pumps, different hose lengths, different hose widths, and a blower feature. You can also get shop vacs with car cleaning brushes, specialized allergy filter systems, cartridge filters, special filter bags, and extension wands. This about which jobs you plan to use your shop vac on and pick the model that has the accessories and features to best handle it.
Having a powerful cleaning tool like a shop vac on hand can help you keep your workshop free or debris, neat, and tidy for the next time you want to fix or build something.
Do you plan on using your shop vac to clean your yard or garden walkways or just around the house? The answer will help determine your power source. Some come with power cords that are excellent for cleanup tasks around the house or workshop. Other shop vacs have batteries that make it easy to move away from conventional power sources and still get the suction power you need like out in your yard or on a job site.
Does your shop vac come with storage options? Some have wall-mounted systems that hold both the vacuum and any accessories it comes with. Others have on-board storage options or accessory bags. Think about how much storage space you have for your vacuum and all of the components that come with it. This will help you narrow down a size.
The best small shop vacs are versatile pieces of equipment that you should have in your garage or workshop. I’ve highlighted 10 great options for you, and you can use the short buying guide to help you narrow down your options and pick the best small shop vac for your wants and needs.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.