Not everyone needs a massively powerful wet/dry vacuum cleaner in their garage or workshop. Sometimes, depending on your hobbies, you just need something that can do a shop-vac wet/dry job in a less-than-traditionally-sized shop-vac package. This is particularly true if storage space is an issue, or if the area that needs regular vacuuming is very small and requires you to maneuver your vacuum and attachments in a tight space. So how do you pick the best small shop vac? Check out the following buyer’s guide and product reviews. There is sure to be something here for anyone’s small shop-vac needs and budget.
Shop-Vac All-Around EZ 1.5 Gallon Wet And Dry Vac
Armor All AA225 2.5 Gallon, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum
WORKSHOP WS0400VA Wet/Dry Vac
Based on the above criteria, here are our recommendations for the best small shop-vacs currently available. Take a look at what we have for you:
Nobody makes shop utility vacuums quite like Shop-Vac, and their longstanding reputation for quality and utility is what has made them a household name for the better part of six decades Their Shop-Vac Model 2030100 lives up to its illustrious name by being one of the most portable Shop-Vacs currently available for consumer use.
Perfectly suites for cleaning up sawdust and debris in the garage or workshop, this little shop vacuum is equally useful for cleaning up big spills in the kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else you need a wet/dry cleanup. The Shop-Vac 2030100 has a 1.5 gallon capacity and a 2 HP peak motor, providing plenty of power and volume for storing waste.
Additionally, the 2030100 is fitted with reusable disc filters that come in a wide variety of filtration levels, and it includes a foam sleeve for more efficient wet vacuum functionality, too. Better still, this model is wall mountable for convenient storage inside your home or workspace so it doesn’t get underfoot or in the way when not in use. If compact size and reliability are your primary concerns when buying a small utility vacuum cleaner, the Shop-Vac 2030100 is definitely worth checking out.
For the more accessory minded user who prefers not to have to carry their shop vac from place to place, the Shop-Vac All-Around EZ comes with built-in casters and a wider variety of cleaning accessories that allow it to tackle any cleanup job you can throw at it.
With an included 7 foot hose, two extension wands, a bare/carpeted floor nozzle, gulper nozzle, crevice tool, and a round brush, the All-Around EZ clearly provides everything you need to tidy up messes both in the house and the workshop. Furthermore, it is wall mountable to conserve space in the house or shop, so you don’t have to worry about tripping over it or finding a place to put it when it is not in use.
Best of all though, it is filter bag compatible and comes with a foam sleeve for protecting your dry filter when doing a wet cleanup. Shop-Vac also offers a wide variety of accessories for and filtration options that you can purchase separately to customize your All-Around EZ to fit your specific needs. This lightweight and portable utility vacuum definitely offers more for your money than similar models in its class, so give it a look when you start shopping for your small shop-vac.
“Heavy duty” and “compact” are generally considered mutually exclusive terms, but this is definitely not the case with the Vacmaster VF408 utility vacuum cleaner. In addition to a 5 peak horsepower 2-stage motor, this miniature powerhouse also has a 4-gallon collection tank that can handle even large spills and wet cleanup.
Furthermore, this VF408 comes with three extension wands, a round brush, crevice tool, and flat floor attachments for its 7 foot hose. It also has a foam filter sleeve for better wet cleanup, a dust collection bag, and HEPA exhaust filter to keep dirt, dust, and debris inside the collection tank rather than spreading them back into the air.
Better still, all filters are washable, and accessories can all be easily stored right on the vacuum housing to keep everything you need in easy reach. With its large rear wheels and versatile front casters, this little utility vacuum makes maneuvering outdoors or over any flooring surface easy. If you already know you will be doing some heavy duty cleanup around the shop on a regular basis but don’t want to have to store a larger shop vac, the Vacmaster VF408 definitely deserves a first look.
Designed with the automotive user in mind, this handly little shop vac is an ideal size for use in and round your car or truck. Its 2 peak horsepower can pick up virtually any mess you may have in your car, and its 2.5 gallon capacity ensures that you won’t spend more time emptying the tank than you do actually cleaning up messes in your car, shop, or home.
Additionally, Armor All includes numerous accessories that are ideal for anyone who needs to deep clean the upholstery and small spaces in their car, even if they are cleaning up a wet mess. There is a gulper nozzle, two different style crevice tools, a round brush, and a detailing brush for getting really stubborn dirt and grime out of tight places. It also has a reusable cloth filter with a reusable foam sleeve for easier wet/dry cleanup, and it has a built in overflow shut off to keep your cleaned up messes contained.
What makes this an excellent car, shop, or home utility vacuum though is the fact that it has a 10 foot power cord and a 6 foot hose, meaning that you won’t need to worry about having enough reach to get anywhere in your car while you are cleaning. If you enjoy doing your own car work or just need a handy shop vac for around the house, definitely checkout the Armor All AA255.
Another heavy duty yet compact utility vacuum cleaner, the Workshop WS0400 is a miniature cleaning dynamo that is ready to help you keep your workspace clean no matter how big a mess you have made.
Additionally, the Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System makes it easy to go from dry to wet vacuum cleanup with the correct filter, and the WSO-400VA also features an auto-shutoff feature to prevent your shop vacuum from accidentally overflowing and spilling the mess you just cleaned up all over your freshly cleaned floor or worktable.
Best of all though, the Workshop WSO-400VA has a 5 HP peak motor and 4 gallon capacity, so you can generally spend more time getting the mess up with fewer passes than vacuuming the same area over and over again between frequent breaks to empty the tank. All in all, this is a solid compact shop vacuum that can handle big jobs despite its small size. Don’t overlook it in your search for that perfect small utility vacuum.
For my money, I’d definitely purchase the Shop-Vac All-Around EZ 1.5 Gallon Wet And Dry Vac. It’s wall mountable, got plenty of power, and come with all the accessories I’d ever need to clean up wet and dry messes around the house or out in my garage. Best of all, it has casters and an 18 foot cord so I can drag it around the kitchen or workshop without having to worry about unplugging it and plugging it in elsewhere to get a mess cleaned up. When you do decided to purchase a small utility vacuum to use around the house, give the Shop-Vac All-Around EZ 1.5 Gallon Wet And Dry Vac a first look. It is definitely an excellent value given both its features and its price point.
While the number of features and differences in technical specifications can be intimidating, finding the right small shop vac for you boils down to just a few simple feature categories. Here are the primary features and capabilities you want to examine closely when it comes to buying a small shop-vac:
The primary thought process for buying a shop vac is so that it will occupy less space when not in use and be easy to maneuver. To that end, you want to check out the actual dimensions of any small shop vac you are considering for purchase and make sure it will be small enough to store easily in your workshop or garage, and that it will still be easy to lift, carry, and move around in a smaller workspace. That determination is going to be up to you, your knowledge of your workspace, and a tape measure.
Capacity is going to be the trickier of these two considerations, as knowing the average amount of cleanup you need to do with this small shop vac can be complicated. If you are mostly cleaning up wood shavings or sawdust, those both tend to be higher volume, and you may fill up your shop-vac faster than you anticipate. However, if you need to clean up other shop waste that is more powdery in terms of consistency, you may not need quite so much capacity thanks to the lower density. Plan to purchase the adequate capacity for your typical cleanup jobs.
How much suction and airflow does your small shop-vac really need? If you are generally only performing dry low-density cleanup, then you probably don’t need quite as much. On the other hand, if you are looking at high density and potentially wet cleanup, then you will need to consider getting something with a little more “oomph”. That being said, there are three specifications you want to pay attention to in terms of power:
Sealed Pressure: Cleaning wet messes means that you need higher sealed pressure power. If your potential small shop-vac is over 75 SP, it is considered to be a high-end utility vacuum.
CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute): The finer the debris, the higher you want your CFM. This is the measure of how much airflow your vacuum can process via its largest intake.
Air-watts/Air Power (AP): Tend to pick up more heavy/solid debris like screws, nuts, and bolts? Go for the model with higher AP, as it will do a better job of lifting and pulling those items into the storage tank.
The filter for your shop-vac is as important as any of its technical specifications. After all, if you install the wrong kind of filter for the cleanup at hand, you are more than likely going to just spread that water, dust, and other debris back out into the air again anyway. Here’s a quick guide to picking the right filter for your small shop-vac
Large Low-Density Debris: General household filters are fine for this kind of job.
Moderate Density Debris: Stick to medium filtration levels or finer for this kind of stuff if you want it to stay in the tank and not spread all over the shop.
Small/Fine Debris: Definitely purchase a filter with a fine filtration level to contain powdery substances like plaster or fine plastic shavings.
Wet Debris: Get a foam sleeve for whatever filter you already have installed.
HEPA filters are good choice if you suffer from allergies, and a HEPA collection bag is a good idea when cleaning up after pets that shed fur. Collection bags in general—while not essential for dry cleanup—make a big difference when it comes to emptying out your tank after tidying up around your work area. Also, if your shop vac doesn’t include the right filter for your regular cleanup, get the correct filter yourself and make sure you change or wash it as needed between cleaning sessions. A shop-vac only functions well when it is also maintained in good working order.
I have a passion for clean floors and living areas, so it is no surprise that I know a lot about vacuum cleaners and how to clean different surfaces. Sharing this knowledge gives me a lot of pleasure which is why I started this blog and I hope everyone who needs help will find the help they are looking for here.