If you like to work in the garage, then you know that keeping the space clean afterward can be a pain. Fortunately, if you have the best small shop vacuum, then your job will be much easier. Whether you’re cleaning up after an afternoon of woodworking or you just want a simple way to clean your car, a small shop vacuum is the best way to go.
Today we’re going to look at some of the best models on the market, as well as go over the most important considerations to make when picking one out for yourself. After getting a new small shop vacuum, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without one.
Armor All AA255
Kicking us off is this remarkable vacuum model from Vacmaster. When you want raw power and reliability, this is a fantastic option. We like the fact that it comes with a sturdy, five-horsepower motor, and that it has four gallons of wet and dry capacity. Also, since the motor is dual-stage, it’s built to last much longer than the competition.
The other thing that we like about this vacuum is the range of attachments you get. These accessories make it much easier to get into crevices, vacuum spills on the floor, and clean practically any surface you can imagine. This also makes it ideal for cars and home cleaning as well. Also, the fact that it comes with extra large wheels means that you can roll it around wherever you go without having to lift a finger.
Other features include a HEPA filter to keep dust trapped inside, a power cord that automatically rewinds for convenience, and a two-year limited warranty from Vacmaster. It’s also super quiet at 72 decibels, making it the perfect choice for any workspace or garage.
If you’re familiar with Armor All, you know that the company makes a lot of high-quality cleaning products for your car. So, it makes sense that they would produce a versatile and robust shop vacuum as well to ensure that your vehicle stays clean all year long. However, while it may work well for your automobile, it’s convenient enough to work just about anywhere.
Although the motor and storage capacity are not as high as other models we’ve seen, the point of this vacuum is to be lightweight and portable. Thus, you won’t get quite as much suction, but it’s perfect for spot cleaning and the occasional spill. We wouldn’t recommend it for people who need a lot of power, but it’s great for regular household upkeep and maintenance.
Some unique features that come with this vacuum include an automatic shutoff feature that prevents overflow into the tank, as well as five different attachments. These accessories are designed mostly for the car, but they will work on practically any surface. Finally, it comes with a two-year limited warranty.
When most people think of shop vacuums, they imagine this company. The brand Shop-Vac is synonymous with these kinds of machines, meaning that you can expect great things from the company’s products. This particular model is built the same way as the Armor All unit above. It’s perfect for spot cleaning and regular household upkeep instead of heavy duty workshop jobs.
Although it does have a somewhat limited capacity, you will be surprised by how well this vacuum works. It comes with four remarkable attachments that make cleaning surfaces (including those in the car) a breeze. Best of all, it has onboard storage so that you will never lose them.
We also like the fact that this model comes with a wall mount so that you can easily hang it up whenever you don’t need it. This makes it even more convenient and allows for more storage space in your garage.
As we mentioned, the brand Shop-Vac is one of the best in the industry, particularly when you get a model designed for high-performance cleaning. This model stands out above the rest, thanks to its robust and reliable motor, large capacity tank, and a wide array of attachments.
Unlike the compact vacuums we saw above, this unit is designed for bigger jobs. So, if you need something a bit more sturdy to help clean up spills and messes on a regular basis, this is a fantastic vacuum to get.
As with the other models, this one can work on wet and dry materials with equal ease. It also comes with a dust bag so that emptying it is much easier as well. The accessories included enable you to work on virtually any surface, and they can all be stored in the rear caddy for convenience. Overall, this is one of the best shop vacuums you can find.
Closing out our list is another compact and portable vacuum. This unit from Workshop is perfect for light cleaning out in the garage or your car, and it is built to last. With a 1.75-horsepower motor and two gallons of cleaning capacity, you can do a lot with such a minimal device.
The features that we like the most on this vacuum are the long 10-foot power cord, the fact that it can clean wet and dry materials, and the price. It’s size and construction mean that you won’t be paying that much, but you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.
Also, this unit comes with a five-year warranty. Compared to everything else we’ve seen, that is remarkable in its own right.
Considering that these machines are designed to clean up a variety of materials and spills, you need to make sure that it can handle everything you encounter. You don’t want it to shut off unexpectedly while you clean, so it’s imperative that you pick one with the right kind of horsepower.
Typically speaking, anything above three HP is decent, but you don’t want to go too high. This will result in a larger, bulkier vacuum, which is the opposite of what we’re looking at today. Overall, between 3-5 horsepower should be ideal.
As we’ve mentioned, we’re looking at small shop vacuums, but that doesn’t mean that they are all about the same size. The important thing to pay attention to is the capacity of the tank. This is rated in gallons, so you want something large enough to enable you to clean everything in one pass, but not so big that it will be cumbersome.
We recommend about 2-5 gallons overall, depending on the size of your workspace. Also, if you are doing a lot of work that needs cleaning up after (i.e., wood carving and sanding), then a larger tank will be better. For casual cleaning, you won’t need anything above 2.5 gallons.
Unlike the upright vacuum that you use in your home, these models all have a tube attached to a base unit. As such, you want to find a machine with a long enough hose that will enable you to reach into every corner of your garage or work area.
When picking a hose size, however, remember that the longer it is, the less efficient it will become. Also, if you have an extra long hose with a minimal motor, then you won’t be able to clean as effectively.
Overall, you want something that is just long enough to be convenient without significantly reducing the amount of suction.
As with all vacuums, you want to have a set of accessories with your machine. These will enable you to clean a wider variety of surfaces, as well as reach into nooks and crannies that much easier.
One frequent use for a shop vacuum is to clean out your car, so if you can get attachments that will make that easier, we highly suggest getting them. The most common types that you should look for are:
One of the great things about a shop vacuum is that it’s not as fragile as a standard upright. This means that you can clean up just about any spill and it won’t affect the device’s performance. That being said, you need to make sure that the vacuum is rated for both wet and dry messes to ensure that you don’t run into problems.
If it’s not rated for liquids, then you could ruin the filter by trying to suck up water or oil. If you’re not sure if you need a wet/dry vacuum, we highly recommend that you get one that can handle both. You never know what kinds of messes you will encounter, and it’s always better to be prepared.
Considering that shop vacuums are base units attached to a hose, you have to move them around differently than you would a regular upright. However, not all models have wheels, which means that you will have to pick it up and move it around by hand.
We highly recommend buying a model with wheels to make things easier for yourself, but the benefit of getting one without is that you can place it on other surfaces (i.e., a work table or bench) without it rolling off. This can come in handy if you have to reach high places with the hose.
When trying to find the best small shop vacuum, we prefer models that come with extra power, cleaning capacity, and attachments. As such, we love the Vacmaster Model the best. With five horsepower, four gallons, and wet/dry capabilities, you can clean almost any mess with this robust and reliable machine. Each attachment makes this vacuum even more versatile, and we appreciate the durable construction and ease of use.
Overall, if you want to keep your work area and car clean, this is the vacuum to have.