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The 8 Best Wet/Dry Vacs for Contractors 

Contractors need lots of equipment to get the job done right the first time. In this list of commercial wet/dry vacs, you’ll learn about the best options on the market for fast cleanup.

Beckie Dashiell

Staff Contributor

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As a contractor, you’re constantly evaluating different equipment and tools. It’s critical to have high-quality items to ensure you can effectively and efficiently complete jobs. One indispensable machine that every home services company needs is a commercial wet/dry vac. 

In this guide, you’ll learn about the importance of choosing the best wet/dry vac, what factors to keep in mind, and a full list of the top options on the market. You can use this information to make the best decision for your business. 

Why You Need a Top-Performing Wet/Dry Vac as a Contractor 

For many projects, versatility is crucial when it comes to cleaning up debris. Many times, you’re dealing with both wet and dry waste, which is why it’s much more convenient to have a commercial wet/dry vac. 

Having to switch between equipment in the middle of a job takes too much time. Every minute counts when it comes to meeting agreed-upon schedules with your customers. Thus, you need a tool that lets you vacuum up mess, no matter what it is. 

While there are many wet/dry vacs available, they aren’t all the same. Since you’re using this for commercial purposes, durability is top of mind. Key to this is the construction of the vacuum and its filter quality. 

With a top-performing commercial wet/dry vac, you can use a single tool to pick up wet and dry debris quickly. For example, if you’re dealing with any kind of water damage during a job, the mess left behind will be a mix. A wet/dry vac makes quick work of this rubbish, so you don’t need multiple tools. 

What your crew is doing isn’t a standard vacuum job. There could be heaps of dust to suck up or wet residue from a plumbing fix. You need a professional vacuum to make quick work of it. When considering performance, you’ll be most interested in this vacuum’s suction power. 

In any situation where you face a mix of debris and garbage, you’ll appreciate the convenience, reliability, and flexibility of a commercial wet/dry vac. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Contractor-Friendly Wet/Dry Vacs 

When you assess any tool for your business, you need to do so objectively. You may be partial to some brands because of past experiences. Those preferences can help you narrow a list, but be open-minded when researching options. 

A proven way to make a great decision for your contracting company is to define the factors that will influence your purchase. 

These can include features, ease of use, quality, maintenance, and cost. Below you’ll find the top things to keep in mind as you consider commercial wet/dry vacs. 

Suction Power 

Suction power performance matters a lot when choosing a wet/dry vac. Since you’ll be using the equipment daily for big jobs, it’s got to have a solid motor to power suction. 

Suction in a wet/dry vac works by a motor that spins a fan or impeller at high speeds. You don’t want this to wear out quickly. 

Most wet/dry vacs are in the 1 to 1.5 horsepower (hp) range. Some have dual motors to double the power, though. 

Dry pickup requires the most power. Wet rubbish will need somewhat less, but liquid or sludge needs forceful suction. 

Capacity Requirements 

The tank size of the wet/dry vac determines how often you’ll have to empty it. The larger it is, the less you’ll need to do this. A larger tank is usually better for increased productivity. 

Alternatively, smaller tank sizes are more straightforward to maneuver. 

Portability and Ease of Use 

A job site can be vast or small. In either situation, you need a commercial wet/dry vac that’s portable. Most of these have wheels that make them easy to glide along flat surfaces. 

The bigger the motor, the larger the body will be, so it may not be as easy to move around. You’ll also need to consider how long the cord is when it comes to portability. 

Ease of use matters in any equipment. Beyond wheels, you may need to focus on different accessories that let you get into smaller spots. Ergonomics on the wands and extension are also a consideration for worker safety. 

Durability and Construction 

A commercial wet/dry vac has to be durable. It’s going to get moved and used a lot. You should expect the construction to tolerate and withstand daily wear and tear without cracking. 

The material of the wet/dry vac will give you an idea of how long it will last. Some are primarily plastic, while others are metal. The construction impacts its durability and cost. 

Additional Features and Accessories 

Wet/dry vacs have various features and available accessories. Depending on the type of work you perform, some may be more crucial than others. Here are some examples: 

  • Multiple hose types: Sometimes, you may need to switch out hoses. One example is an elongated hose, which is useful for large sweeps. It’s also crush-proof and won’t kink. They can be as long as 20 feet. 
  • Wands: You’ll need this to reach narrow spaces. Some are adjustable for more flexibility. 
  • Brush and crevice tools: For nitty-gritty applications, brush and crevice tools do a great job. They can scrub and remove debris that won’t come off with a standard wand. 
  • Bulk pickup tools: When removing large debris, this accessory can make a big job go much faster. 
  • Collection bags: Filters trap debris, but collector bags make dry pickup disposal seamless. 


Purchasing equipment for your business is an investment. The quick and correct completion of jobs depends on your tools. 

However, you likely don’t have a blank check to write. So, you’ll want to evaluate options based on value. 

Consider not only the cost but also the lifespan. Also, think about the equipment’s capacity and features, which can boost the productivity of your crew. 

Maintenance Requirements 

Every tool requires some type of maintenance. With commercial wet/dry vacs, you’ll need to do some things after every use. Emptying the debris after completing the cleanup is key. If you don’t, it will impact suction. 

Another typical maintenance task is cleaning the filter—some may need dusting more often than others. You’ll also have to change filters. The wet/dry vac’s size and performance will determine how frequently you must do this. 

You’ll also need to check and clean hoses, nozzles, and attachments. Again, how often you need to do this will depend on the construction of these accessories and their durability. 


The 8 Best Wet/Dry Vacs for Contractors 

Now, it’s time to meet the contenders to be your new wet/dry vac. You can review their benefits, specifications, cons, and more. This list is entirely objective and based on internal research. 

The criteria defined to create this list include: 

  • Brand reputation 
  • Performance 
  • Ease of use 
  • Reviews 
  • Warranties 
  • Features 
  • Type of vacuum (walk-behind or stationary) 
  • Value for the price and total cost of ownership 

Viper Shovelnose SN18WD 

The Viper Shovelnose is a walk-behind wet/dry vac with a front-mount squeegee and significant airflow. Coming from Nilfisk Advance, the Viper has one of the best warranties available. 


  • It includes a durable contractor tool kit: 9-foot hose, 24-inch squeegee, crevice tool, dusting brush, wet and dry pickup tools, and stainless-steel wand. 
  • The capacity is 18 gallons and provides a 90-inch waterlift, demonstrating its prowess as a commercial wet/dry vac. 
  • It’s versatile, with the ability to vacuum and scrub, earning a high cleaning productivity rate. 


  • Its large appearance and structure prevent it from getting into narrow areas. 
  • It’s pricier than smaller models. 

Reviews posted on a dealer website were all at the top of the range. Users said it was smooth and sucks the floor dry. 

Tennant/Nobles V-WD-24P 

The Tennant/Nobles V-WD-24P vacuum has versatility and durability features that many users appreciate. With a 24-gallon tank, operators will be able to dispose of massive jobs before needing to empty the drum. It’s also relatively easy to control, with wheels that swivel and move as required. 


  • The tank is substantial but also compact and made from very durable polyethylene. 
  • The suction is significant with a 100-inch waterlift, driven by 118 cubic feet per minute (CFM). 
  • The purchase includes a 16-foot hose, 40-foot power cord, aluminum/plastic wand, air flor regulator wand, and wet floor tool. 


  • All other accessories are extra, so you’ll pay more than the base price for a squeegee, dual filtration system, dust floor tool, flat lance, and round brush. 
  • The shell is plastic, which could impact long-term durability. 

Minuteman 390 Series 

The Minuteman 390 Series may be the king of wet/dry vacs, with its incredible 55-gallon painted tank. Additionally, it has a patented self-sealing intake. With this feature, you have a positive vacuum seal even when it swivels. 


  • Its tank is huge, which means you’ll empty it a lot less, and its filter is self-cleaning, keeping it free of dirt and dust buildup. 
  • It has powerful airflow at 115 CFM, with a dry capacity of 7.5 cubic feet and a waterlift of 105 inches. 
  • It has a unique design compared to other models with its drum-like appearance. 


  • Because it’s large, it’s also heavy at 127 pounds and more challenging to move around. 
  • It’s one of the most expensive options on this list at approximately $2,100. 
  • There are no standard accessories, so you’ll pay additional fees for tool kits. 

Mercury Storm WVP-20 

The Mercury Storm WVP-20 has a robust dual motor with a combined 2.67 horsepower (HP) and 225 CFM. It’s also a walk-behind wet/dry vac but has a design that makes it easy to use and roll around. 


  • It’s very compact but has a 20-gallon drum weighing only 63 pounds. 
  • Features like a 10-foot hose, chrome-plated steel wands, and a sturdy vacuum head demonstrate its durability. 
  • It includes a five-piece tool kit, including a crevice tool, squeegee, scalloped bristle floor accessory, and two wands. 


  • The tank capacity is lower than others, and it’s only 15 gallons for wet waste. 
  • The squeegee extends from a hose, so it’s not front-facing like larger models. 

Online reviews state that it’s easy to push on job sites and large enough to limit stopping and dumping. Users praised its steel wands as being more dependable than plastic ones. 

Vacmaster Professional Wet/Dry Beast 

If your contracting business needs a smaller commercial wet/dry vac, the Vacmaster Professional Wet/Dry Beast will do the trick. While it only has a 5-gallon tank, it still has 102 CFM of suction power. It’s the first stationary vac on the list. 


  • Its compact size and light weight of only 13.5 pounds make it easy to use, transport, and maneuver into small spaces. 
  • It has onboard storage to keep the hose and attachments organized and secure, along with curved metal brackets to keep things in place. 
  • It includes several accessories like a wide utility nozzle for bigger jobs, a narrow crevice tool to get in the tightest corners, and a flatter nozzle to get between objects. 


  • It has a small tank, so that could mean more emptying, which could impact productivity. 
  • It doesn’t have a brush nozzle, which is a feature that often comes in handy. 
  • There are no wheels, so you’ll have to pick it up to take it to another area to work. 

Comments from purchasers on the Vacmaster website gave it mostly positive ratings. A highlight of the product reviews included its powerful performance yet compactness. 

Kärcher NT 22/1 

The Kärcher NT 22/1 delivers industrial suction in a battery-powered machine. As a result, it may be the most agile and mobile commercial wet/dry vac on the list. It also features a semi-automatic filter cleaning system. 


  • It’s cordless, quiet, and lightweight yet delivers comparable airflow to corded versions. 
  • Its performance specifications include airflow of 121 CFM and a waterlift of 61 inches. 
  • The accessory pack includes a crevice nozzle, a fleece filter bag, and a paper, flat-pleated filter. 


  • It’s relatively small, with a capacity of only 5.8 gallons. 
  • When the battery runs out, you’ll have to wait for a recharge to keep using it, which could be inconvenient. 
  • It doesn’t have a front squeegee, as all accessories fit on the hose. 
  • Even though its filter is self-cleaning, it still needs manual attention after use. 

Users praised it for its exceptional suction power and appreciated the convenience of not having a cord. 

Shop-Vac 6.5 Peak HP 

Shop-Vac is one of the most recognizable manufacturers of wet/dry vacs. The company designed the Shop-Vac 6.5 Peak for contractors. Its versatility and durability are key reasons why it’s considered one of the best. 


  • The stainless-steel body ensures it will withstand regular use without failing in durability, which can be a problem for plastic vacuums. 
  • The model has some distinct features, such as a tank drain, blower feature, nanofiber cartridge filter, and tool storage basket. 
  • Powering the Shop-Vac unit is SVX2 motor technology at 6.5 HP, enabling a 110-CFM airflow and a 50% increase in suction power. 


  • It’s on the smaller side at 16 gallons, which could mean more trips to the garbage. 
  • Some users complained that there was no handle, making navigating more challenging. 
  • The cord reach could be longer, which would come in handy in large spaces. 

Customers who purchased the model noted it was an improvement over previous models. They shared that it had strong suction power and durability. 

RIGID 16 Gallon NXT 

The RIGID 16 Gallon NXT wet/dry vac has many characteristics that appeal to professionals. It’s a newer edition to the brand’s vacuum lineup, with upgrades to the power switch, latches, hose storage, and performance. With an ample drum, cart, long-lasting motor, and multiple accessories, it has earned its place on the list. 


  • The vacuum has a cart for transporting with large rear wheels that enable smooth operation. 
  • The drum’s polypropylene construction creates a rugged exterior to withstand the high demands of job sites. 
  • Accessories lock together from the hose to the wand to the floor tool, ensuring nothing falls off while in use. 
  • It has a peak HP of 6.5 and an airflow of 184 CFM. 


  • There are many optional accessories that would be useful, with some included in the initial purchase. However, there are other upgraded hoses and nozzles that will cost extra. 
  • It has a 16-gallon drum, which is about the middle of the road for a commercial wet/dry vac. Other options with similar specifications are larger. 

According to reviews on the company website, it has an average of 4.7 stars. Those users leaving their experience cited its super strong suction, ease of transport, and warranty. 


Top Tips for Maximizing Wet/Dry Vac Performance on Job Sites

  • Clean the filter, nozzle, wands, and other accessories thoroughly after each use to ensure optimal suction. Keep in mind that the cleaning process for dry and wet filters is different.

  • Remind workers to take safety precautions when using any equipment to avoid accidents.

  • Replace the filter based on the manufacturer’s recommendations or if you observe it to be past its useful life.

  • Store your wet/dry vac in a dry and cool place after you’ve emptied the waste and checked all accessories.

  • Remove any debris from the drum after each use, and avoid storing the wet/dry vac with liquid inside, as it could cause mildew or mold. 

  • Oil the casters and wheels of the vacuum to improve mobility and maneuverability in any situation.

Beckie likes words! Whether she’s creating content or working on the shortest of short stories, she’s always thinking about craft. In her downtime, she contributes to her mission of filling up her camera roll with as many photos of her cats as possible. They hate it.

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