Using a regular vacuum cleaner to remove stubborn dirt and debris can be challenging. Nonetheless, a shop vac can fix this problem with absolute ease. It does so by offering plenty of sucking power that could even accommodate wet pieces of waste. 

There are a lot of considerations when purchasing a shop vac, though. It needs to have plenty of power, a strong build, and an appropriate capacity. 

The five small shop vac cleaners listed here were reviewed by our team of professional and home appliance and equipment experts. Despite their size, they offer sufficient power to execute the task expected from them. 

Once you are ready and have found the best choice, be sure to click the buttons below to see their best deals on Amazon! With that, here are five of the best options that we rounded up especially for you.

Best Small Shop Vacs Comparison & Rating

Small Shop Vacs

Features

Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac, 5 Gallon, Beast Series, 5.5 HP 1-7/8" Hose Jobsite Vac (VFB511B0201), Black
  • 5.5 HP
  • 13.5 pounds
  • 320 W electric motor
Shop-Vac 2036000 2.5-Gallon 2.5 Peak HP Wet Dry Vacuum, Small, Red/Black
  • 2.5 HP
  • 8 pounds
  • collapsible top handle
Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
  • 4 HP
  • 13.4 pounds
  • 6 gallons in capacity
Vacmaster VBV1210, 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum with Detachable Blower, Blue
  • 5 HP
  • 26.7 pounds
  • 210 MPH
DeWALT DXV06P 6 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac, Yellow
  • 4 HP
  • 14.77 pounds
  • ultra-durable rubber casters

1. Vacmaster Professional Wet/Dry Shop Vac

Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac, 5 Gallon, Beast Series, 5.5 HP 1-7/8" Hose Jobsite Vac (VFB511B0201), Black
Specifications:
96% Overall

Dimensions

17.8 x 12.5 x 17.1 inches

Weight

13.5 pounds

Peak HP

5.5 HP

Color

Black

97%
features
94%
performance
96%
ease of use
95%
quality
Pros:
  • Provides five gallons in capacity.
  • Made of highly durable polypropylene.
  • Offers a peak output of 5.5 HP.
  • Comes with integrated hose storage.
  • The cord length is 18 inches.
  • Convertible into a blower.
  • Runs on a 320 W electric motor.
  • The On/Off switch is shielded from dust.
  • Comes with a nine-piece hose and wand kit.
Cons:
  • The wand can be too short for those over 6-foot tall.
  • Does not come with wheels which limits its convenience feature. 
Final Take:

This is an excellent small shop vac with a powerful 5.5 HP motor. With the wand kit, you can vacuum any surface or corner you need. It comes with a high water lift motor, as well. This will be helpful in picking up everything from dust to water. The compact size makes this shop vac easy to carry everywhere. It can also be converted into a blower by simply placing the hose in the appropriate port.

2. Shop Vac 2036000 Wet Dry Vacuum

Shop-Vac 2036000 2.5-Gallon 2.5 Peak HP Wet Dry Vacuum, Small, Red/Black
Specifications:
95% Overall

Dimensions

12 x 11 x 12.5 inches

Weight

8 pounds

Peak HP

2.5 HP

Color

Red

93%
features
96%
performance
95%
ease of use
94%
quality
Pros:
  • Comes with a collapsible top handle.
  • Reaches 2.5 HP in peak output.
  • Includes a complete accessory set.
  • Features a rear blower port.
  • Comes with a free wall mount.
  • Has a six-foot power cord.
  • Features a large on/off switch.
Cons:
  • Does not come with an instruction manual.
  • It can be quite loud when working.
  • A prolonged operation can make the motor quite hot.
Final Take:

This is an excellent shop vac to have both at home and in your store. It comes with a compact design that will even allow you to hang it on a wall. The handle can be folded and brought up to make the machine easier to carry around. You also get a tool holder, a foam sleeve, a wall mount, and more. If you want to convert this vacuum cleaner into a blower, you just need to transfer the hose to the back.

3. Stanley SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum

Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
Specifications:
93% Overall

Dimensions

13.8 x 13.8 x 20.47 inches

Weight

13.4 pounds

Peak HP

4 HP

Color

Black

95%
features
92%
performance
93%
ease of use
92%
quality
Pros:
  • Boasts as much as 6 gallons in capacity.
  • Peaks at 4 HP in output.
  • Perfect for cleaning liquid spills.
  • Works as a leaf or dust blower.
  • Comes with up to 16 feet of cleaning reach.
  • Features a 6-foot hose.
  • Comes with a 10-foot power cord.
  • Includes multiple wands, nozzles, and vacuum heads.
Cons:
  • The hose can clog up quickly when vacuuming on a large scale.
  • The size of the hose is not so impressive as it limits the performance of the vacuum. 
  • Not top heavy which causes it to move around.
Final Take:

This is an excellent shop vac for both home and business use thanks to its 4 HP. This allows it to suck in both wet and dry items. It also has a considerable capacity of six gallons, which can accommodate a lot of debris. With the foam filter and reusable dry filter, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up the vacuum cleaner. It also comes with a user manual that is informative and easy to understand.

4. Vacmaster VBV1210 Wet/Dry Shop Vac

Vacmaster VBV1210, 12-Gallon 5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum with Detachable Blower, Blue
Specifications:
93% Overall

Dimensions

18.44 x 20.52 x 24.49 inches

Weight

26.7 pounds

Peak HP

5 HP

Color

Blue

96%
features
90%
performance
91%
ease of use
93%
quality
Pros:
  • Convertible into a blow that goes 210 MPH.
  • Comes with a 19-foot cleaning reach.
  • Features integrated accessory storage.
  • Includes an extra-large drain port.
  • Comes with a full set of vacuum accessories.
  • Includes a powerful crevice tool for cleaning corners.
  • The blower is detachable and portable.
Cons:
  • Generates a lot of noise.
  • The plastic parts become brittle when left exposed to cold climates.
Final Take:

This is a powerful shop vac with a whopping 5 HP of suction. The detachable blower will generate 210 MPH of wind, which will clear off both leaves and dust. The large on/off switch will ensure that you will have no trouble locating it. The storage for the cord and the accessories maintains neatness and organization. The wands and accompanying accessories all have a tight fit and won’t fall off easily, as well.

5. DeWALT DXV06P Poly Wet/Dry Vac

DeWALT DXV06P 6 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac, Yellow
Specifications:
91% Overall

Dimensions

15.5 x 19.5 x 16.5 inches

Weight

14.77 pounds

Peak HP

4 HP

Color

Yellow

94%
features
91%
performance
90%
ease of use
89%
quality
Pros:
  • Useful for both wet and dry vacuuming.
  • Peak power is at 4 HP.
  • Comes with ultra-durable rubber casters.
  • The length of the power cord is 10 feet.
  • Has a built-in blower port at the back.
  • Accommodates 6 gallons of waste.
  • Includes a complete set of wands, nozzles, filters, and a dust bag.
  • The switch is waterproof.
Cons:
  • The hose tends to overcoil due to the non-rotating connection.
Final Take:

This reliable shop vac from DeWalt is worth getting with its peak 4 HP of power alone. Its crevice nozzle is useful for cleaning under the couch, behind car seats, and more. It also comes with both a hose strap and a cord wrap for keeping everything tidy. The rubber casters provide 360-degree rotation and a smooth motion. Its wattage of 135.5 W also means that this shop vac is efficient.

Best Small Shop Vacs - Buyer's Guide

horsepower

Shop vac cleaners can wildly differ in how much horsepower they are able to generate. They can be as low as 2.5 HP or as high as 5. Even at the lower end of the spectrum, this type of vacuum cleaner can suck up more dust, dirt, and such compared to their regular counterparts. With that said, it would be best to make sure that you are getting the horsepower that is needed for your home or business.

capacity

How much your shop vac can hold will depend on its capacity. Small shop vacs can accommodate around 2.5 gallons of waste but this can go up to 5, 8, and so on. You will need to be the one to decide what the vacuum capacity needs to be for your particular uses.

Material

High-quality shop vacs are typically made of premium plastic that is made thick and durable. This is to ensure that the contents and the housing will last a long time. Polypropylene is a popular choice due to its sturdiness and lightness, thus reducing the machine’s weight.

size

The size of the shop vac is not always directly proportional to the capacity, but the two qualities do often influence each other. High-capacity shop vacs are often bigger, so be sure to take this into consideration. If you need a compact and small shop vac, 2.5 to 6 gallons would do the job.

attachment and features

Different shop vacs come with different features, attachments, accessories, and so on. Some will have extra slots and ports while others come with bonus tools like leaf blowers and dryers. You could choose the standard shop vac with only one function, but you will always have options.

Best Small Shop Vacs - FAQs

What’s the difference between a shop vac and a regular vacuum?

A shop vac is a lot more robust and powerful compared to regular home or car vacuum. Ranging from one to five horsepower of peak output, these machines are designed for more challenging cleaning jobs. They also have more solid builds and are designed for longer, more demanding uses.

Can shop vac also suck up liquids?

Many shop vacs are designed to be able to handle wet or liquid substances, but not all of them. This is why it is advised to check if the vacuum you are thinking of getting has this feature. Even then, they may vary in degree of the amount of wet materials they can handle relative to their capacities.

How big should my shop vac be?

This would depend on your needs. Smaller units can go as low as 2.5 gallons while bigger ones can go as high as 13 gallons. You will need to consider what you will be using the vacuum for and the size of the area you plan to clean. For small apartments or offices, smaller shop vacs should suffice.

Is shop vac appropriate for home use?

There should be no reason for you to not get a shop vac for your home, especially if it is the smaller variety. You can count on it to be a lot more effective at sucking up dirt than your regular vacuum cleaners. This will allow you to spend less time passing over corners or areas that are difficult to access.

Author

Santi Bongco is an editor at SolidSmack which is the leading site for 3D CAD, robots, cool product designs, and other technologies. For the past seven years, he taught robotics and developed innovative 3D printer ideas with his students. He also helped in developing some innovative digital ideas and products for various digital marketing businesses and big companies in Asia. Now, aside from exploring buffet restos in California, he enjoys leading groups of our in-house experts in trying some of your favorite products and electronic brands to write insightful reviews for you. PS: He loves reviewing appliances and taking them home to personally ‘try’ them.