If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Regular vacuums can handle a limited amount of dry materials like dust, crumbs, dirt and debris. But when things get messy involving liquids and sticky spills, that’s where a wet/dry vacuum really cleans up. These are not only a step up from traditional vacuums in terms of what they can handle, but also include cutting-edge new tech features too, keeping your home connected while cleaning. Here, we’ve picked some of the best wet/dry vacuums for cleaning any space.
Wet/Dry Vacuum Buying Guide
Storage: Especially in a small apartment or garage, space is everything. A vac that can quickly fold up and hide away in a corner or under a bed not only saves space, but is also easy to grab at a moment’s notice when a mess appears. Most include some type of dock, where it can clean itself with just a tank of fresh water, and have the brush ready for your next job.
Noise: Vacuums require a powerful engine to generate the suction needed, and the result is usually pretty loud. While this might not be bad with noise-cancelling earbuds in, other people in the house (as well as adjacent neighbors) may not appreciate the 3 a.m. cleaning spree. Luckily reduced noise options have gotten better in recent years thanks to improved tech and a more efficient internal cleaning process.
Assembly: Setting up your vacuum the first time, even if it’s confusing, isn’t so bad as long as it’s a one-time thing. But if you’ll need to take it apart regularly to empty out the tank or change the filter, that’s when putting it back together can be a pain if things don’t line up or click in properly.
Weight: Some of the super-powerful shop vacs aren’t really made with weight in mind, since they’ll mostly be staying in one spot. But if you’ll be using this all around the house, you’ll need something that can be easily carried from room to room.
Surfaces: Take a quick look at the surfaces in your home and make sure the vac you’re eyeing can handle them. Generally common surfaces like tile floors, marble and wood won’t leave marks behind, but it’s always best to check before purchasing.
Damage: These inevitably will be slammed into tight corners and baseboards to catch crumbs and other messes, so durability is non-negotiable. A vac that gets damaged or misaligned with regular usage isn’t going to cut it for the long run, and this is a purchase that should last you years at the very least.
Emptying: With traditional vacs, dumping out the dust is a messy job, creating a cough-inducing cloud and re-circulating the vacuumed particles right back into the air. These vacs can offer perks like self-cleaning, and separating the dirty water into its own tank for easy emptying down the drain (toilet is best, since it’s the widest), keeping the nastiness factor to a minimum.
Attachments: Most vacs will include at least a few of these, and while they may seem like unnecessary extras, they can absolutely come in handy depending on the job. For awkward places and hard-to-reach heights, it’s a huge help, and a powerful suction brush tool is particularly perfect for pet hair.
Cord vs. Cordless: A cordless vacuum is a great machine for cleaning, never worrying about untangling or running out of slack ever again. But the advantage of a plugged-in cord is unlimited run time, which is often better for bigger houses that cover more ground than a cordless might offer.
Liquid Cleaning Solution: Generally, brands have their own cleaning solutions designed for use with their vacuums. And while it may sound like one more thing to worry about adding to your shopping list, most connected vacs can automatically order more when it gets low. Some can work with just water, using steam to power through stains and avoiding the chemicals altogether.
For the really excessively stubborn stuff, like bubblegum or dried glue, that’ll still require old-school elbow grease. But for the majority of messes, these options really clean up.
1. Tineco Floor One S3 Cordless Hardwood Floors Cleaner
This cordless vac is the ultimate cleaning machine for small homes and apartments, providing the option to vacuum and mop all at once. With up to 35 minutes of continuous runtime, cables and cords are a thing of the past. Simply return it to the charging base once you’re done and watch it fuel back up.
The Tineco glides on pretty much every hard surface, almost as if it’s pulling itself, fearing no mess as it goes. The iLoop Smart Sensor inside actually detects wet or dry messes automatically, and adjusts accordingly, dishing out the best method of cleaning up, monitoring the mess until it’s done.
A digital LED control panel tells you stats in real time, including battery and power levels, while dual tanks keep clean water and solution separate from the nasty dirt soup it sucks up. It’s also lightweight and holds a decent amount of dirt before it needs to be emptied. The device alerts you when full, and has a self-cleaning feature with the touch of one button.
2. Bissell 2554A CrossWave Cordless Max
This all-in-one mop and vac comes with up to 30 minutes of power, and the 10.5-inch wide front is especially great at catching loose pet hair that hides in hard-to-reach places.
Controls are simple, and allow for different speeds of spinning the brush, depending on how tough the mess you’re tackling is. Spray the solution of water and cleaner to soak the brush, and you’re ready to roll.
It has WiFi for alerts and ordering replacement filters and formula too. When you’re done, return it to the charging station, where self-cleaning flushes out dirt, debris and hair, leaving it fresh and ready for next time.
3. Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum
This rugged, 4-horsepower, 6-gallon wet/dry vacuum from Stanley is ready for serious cleaning jobs, whether that’s in the house or outside. At 13.4 pounds, it’s a great option to store in your garage or basement, and it’s easy to start cleaning by hooking up the included attachments for any mess you might encounter.
Stanley made it easy to clean from far away, too, with a 16-foot range, thanks to an included hose and its attachments, including a crevice nozzle for hard-to-reach areas of your home. It conveniently has four wheels so you can move it around wherever you’re cleaning, too.
4. Shark VACMOP Pro Cordless Vacuum Mop
Shark is known for its well-built array of appliances, and chances are there’s probably one in your home right now. This minimal vacuum is budget-friendly while still being tough enough to really attack stubborn spills.
At under 5 pounds, it’s the lightest of the bunch here, while still utilizing Shark’s strong suction capability. Spray as you go, blasting sticky spills with the cleaning solution and breaking them down before the vac slurps them up.
Along with the light weight, it’s also cordless, making it super simple to carry and maneuver around the house. It’s also got headlights to see dirt under dark spaces, so no crumbs escape. When you’re done, the pad detaches and is fully disposable, and the unit refuels with a magnetic electric charger.
5. Proscenic P11 Smart Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
You may already be familiar with Proscenic’s robot vac, and their P11 puts that quality and ease of use into a handheld unit. The 450W brushless motor has some muscle to it, spinning at over 70,000RPM, along with 3 adjustable suction modes that work best for hard floors, carpets, pet hair and floor washing. When it hits carpet, it’ll kick into auto-mode, and crank up to 30000pa of suction. It’s also not bulky, allowing it to slip into tight spaces, and you can monitor all sorts of stats in the company’s app when you link it over Bluetooth.
The big advantages to this model is all of its separable (and washable) incarnations – instantly go from a fully assembled vac to a handheld, and still be able to use the attachments to reach and pick up dust at all angles. The 4-stage HEPA filtration system ensures that minimal debris is being sent back into the air you breathe, while the brush slices up hair so you won’t need to ever go back and unravel it.
When you’re done, charge it up via the AC plug (no designated base is needed) and it’s ready to go again in about 120 minutes.