When you think of wet/dry vacuums, the first thought that comes to mind is those huge shop vacs people keep in their garages or workshops. However, you can clean debris and liquid with much smaller wet/dry vacuums. Handheld wet/dry vacs may not have the same lifting power and capacity as their heavy-duty and commercial counterparts, but they are useful to have around for detailing your car and quickly cleaning up after meals and accidental spills.
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How Do Handheld Wet/Dry Vacuums Work?
Although their shapes and sizes vary, handheld wet/dry vacuums work in a similar fashion to standard handheld vacs. The vacuum contains a motor, which supplies power to the internal fan. This fan moves air through the nozzle, taking liquid and debris along with it.
However, there are some differences. Since liquid is involved, these handheld vacuums must be designed in a way that keeps the liquid away from their internal components. Some handhelds are equipped with a filter cartridge that separates dirt and fluid while others come with a dedicated liquid-collection cup that you must attach to the vacuum’s nozzle.
If you’re going to buy a handheld vacuum, better get a product that can clean both liquid and dry mess.
Our Recommended Wet Dry Handheld Vacuums
VacLife Handheld Vacuum
As strong as it is sleek. This handheld vacuum cleaner by VacLife comes in an attractive black finish with white accents.
A sliding switch provides strong, continuous suction whether you’re cleaning up dust or heavy debris. It’s also designed to extract liquid. Simply attach the rubber jar to the end of the nozzle, and you can use the hand vac to clean shallow spills.
Unlike cordless vacuums that contain nickel cadmium or nickel-metal hydride batteries, this hand vac’s suction won’t weaken as the battery level depletes. The 13.5-volt 2,500 mAh lithium-ion battery provides 30 minutes’ worth of even suction. A user-friendly wall adapter recharges the battery in as little as 3 hours. If you need to replace the battery in the future, VacLife will take care of it at no cost to you.
The 1.95-pound vacuum is equipped with a toggle-power LED spotlight, which protrudes from the vacuum to maximize the light’s reach. A looped handle provides a firm grip, and you also get plenty of attachments to tackle an array of jobs.
The 14.5-inch-long flexible hose proves effective at large-particle pickup thanks to its 1-inch diameter. You also get a brush for dusting and upholstery cleaning as well as a crevice wand to suction within narrow gaps.
For a simple handheld vacuum, the filtration system is rather impressive. VacLife chose to use a HEPA filter to reduce airborne allergens. The filter is constructed from rust-proof stainless steel, making it washable and reusable. Since the dirt cup is see-through, there is no risk of accidentally clogging the hand vacuum.
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DEWALT DXV04T Portable 4 gallon Wet/Dry Vaccum
This DeWalt wet/dry vac is portable yet rugged. Weighing 13.23 pounds, it’s easy for most people to carry.
The innovative toolbox-style wet/dry vacuum is made of polyresin plastic, which means it’s durable and almost impossible to break. A secure-grip hinged handle makes it a breeze to tote the vacuum around job sites or your home, and the strong front latch prevents damage to the filter or bag.
Inside the toolbox, there is a 5-peak horsepower motor that generates suction at a speed of 90 cubic feet per minute as soon as you flip the water-resistant switch. For dust removal, you can insert a 4-gallon paper bag or connect the vacuum to an extractor unit. The filter cartridge traps lung-damaging particles, and it can be washed and reused.
DeWALT integrated smart storage solutions into the toolbox. A compartment on the side opens to reveal a place to store the crevice tool and the utility nozzle. A set of clips on the rear of the toolbox keeps the two-piece extension want in place, and a side wrap tucks away the 7-foot crush-resistant hose and the 20-foot power cord.
You can do more with this vacuum than just suction dry debris. With the included foam filter and the utility nozzle, the wet/dry vac can pull liquid spills at a water lift of 50 inches. If you want to clean your driveway or quickly collect lightweight construction materials, the port on the side of the wet/dry vac lets you turn the vacuum into a blower.
- Portable 4 gallon toolbox design makes it convenient to take to any job 4 gallon Poly container
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Holife Handheld Vacuum
Holife took its most popular handheld vacuum and it made it even better by increasing the suction to 2 kilopascals for a 6-kilopascal total of unwavering suction.
You can now suction 100 milliliters of liquid with the addition of a rubber jar, allowing you to quickly clean a spilled drink at breakfast or water around your pet’s food dishes. You’ll also appreciate that the vents are placed on the side to prevent debris from scattering.
Dust and other fine debris are no problem for the Holife wet-dry vacuum. The motor produces cyclonic suction, which separates dust from large debris.
The handheld vacuum comes with two reusable cloth filters, so you can wash one while using the other and eliminate downtime. The quick-release cup’s 500-milliliter capacity is on par with other similar-sized hand vacuums.
The wet-dry vacuum truly shines when it comes to battery life. Due to its 2,200 mAh capacity, the 14.8-volt lithium-ion battery pack boasts a runtime of 30 minutes and a recharge time of 4 hours. It also has built-in technology to prevent temperature and voltage spikes.
A sliding power switch instead of a trigger helps you conserve battery juice, and the charging base puts the vacuum in an upright position. There is even an indicator light on the handle to let you know when the battery has recharged.
You won’t struggle when maneuvering this hand vacuum. It’s lightweight at 3.27 pounds, and the looped handle keeps your hand from slipping. For auto detailing and around-the-house chores, Holife includes a dusting brush and a crevice wand.
In particular, the dusting brush does a remarkable job of lifting clingy pet hair from upholstery.
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Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum
If you want to skip the all-service car wash, you can clean the interior of your car at home with this handheld wet/dry vacuum by Armor All. As soon as you slide the power switch on the handle, the vacuum produces a lot of suction, as it got a 2.0-peak HP motor.
At 7 pounds, the wet/dry vacuum is light in your hand, but not too light. The handle offers a secure grip, and the 10-foot-long cord gives you more than enough reach.
You also get multiple attachments. There is a soft brush for dusting the dash, a flexible tube and crevice tool to get into hard-to-reach place. Sadly there is no extension tube, something many other handheld wet/dry vacuums have.
The unit is not much louder than your traditional vacuum. The end of the hose rotates, which makes using the attachments so much easier. The Armor All does well with a mix of wet/dry vacuuming. Sand, standing water and carpet cleaning are no problem for this little powerhouse.
The container supports quite a bit of dust, dirt and water, while still being easy to take care of. You can transport the wet/dry vacuum around while cleaning, but we are sure most people will put it down before using.
- 2.5 Gallon Polypropylene Tank
- 2 Peak HP Motor
- 10 Ft. Cord With Cord Wrap
Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet/Dry Vac Portable Compact Micro Vacuum
Shop-Vac’s Micro Wet/Dry Vac is great for the garage, car, and home. Its 1-horsepower motor is strong, producing 44 air watts of suction. There is a simple on-off rocker switch that controls the power to the handheld vacuum, and the 6-foot-long cord offers a large working radius.
To make carrying the vacuum effortless, there is a hinged handle on the top of its body. Since it weighs just 5 pounds, you won’t have any trouble toting it. This wet/dry vacuum comes with two wall mounts – one for the crevice tool and wide gulper nozzle and one for the vacuum itself.
With its 1-gallon capacity, you can get a lot done before you have to empty the filter bag and clean the tank. For wet messes, all you have to do is insert the included foam sleeve, and the 4-foot, the 1.25-inch hose can be used with either two attachments.
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Homasy Handheld Vacuum Cordless
Beautiful on the outside, and powerful on the inside. The Homasy wet-dry vac features a sleek, silver body and a translucent, stormy gray dirt cup.
Inside of the handheld vacuum, there is a 90-watt motor that generates 6 kilopascals of cyclonic suction as soon as you slide the power switch.
Homasy designed the handle to prevent hand fatigue, and they situated the outlets on the sides of the vacuum, which means you won’t have to chase after fine debris like dust. Included with the handheld wet/dry vacuum are a crevice tool and a brush. You also get a rubber jar insert for wet messes.
You can recharge the 2,200 mAh 14.8-volt lithium-ion battery on its tabletop charging base. With this battery, the vacuum can run for 30 minutes and recharge in just 5 hours. The canister detaches with the push of a button, and the cloth filter is washable. For your convenience, Homasy even threw in an extra filter.
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Wet/Dry Handheld Vacuum Buyer’s Guide
Having one vacuum that cleans up dry and wet messes is a convenient time-saver. However, not every hand vac is the same in terms of quality and performance.
To help you get the most out of your hard-earned dollar, we created this short guide to the ins and outs of wet/dry hand vac features.
Wet/Dry Handheld Power Source
You have two choices in terms of a wet/dry hand vac’s power source – a cord or a battery. If you go the cord route, the vacuum may be made to plug into a wall outlet or a car socket. Alternatively, the battery may be nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion.
While lithium-ion is the gold-standard of rechargeable batteries, either two of the other battery types will suffice for cleaning small messes, which is what a handheld vacuum is designed to do.
Run and Charge Time
Although it doesn’t take long to clean up messes like spilled cereal or a small pile of dirt, the run and charge time of a wet-dry hand vac are still important. If the vacuum’s corded, you obviously get an unlimited amount of working time without the need to pause for a recharge.
On the other hand, a cordless wet/dry vacuum should give you at least 20 minutes of run time, and it should take no more than about half the day to recharge. While not necessary, a charging indicator is helpful.
Wet/Dry Handheld Suction
Several factors come into play in relation to a vacuum’s suction power. The motor’s watts or amps tell you how powerful it is, and the air watts it produces lets you know how fast the air moves. Some manufacturers also list their products’ pascals, which is an indicator of their suction strength.
If the wet/dry hand vacuum has cyclonic suction, clogs and premature motor failure are less likely to occur.
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If you’re an allergy or asthma sufferer, it’s best to stick with a handheld vacuum that contains a HEPA filter. Otherwise, a standard filter is acceptable. Some filters are also protected by a cover that keeps large particles at bay.
A lot of wet/dry hand vacs have filters that you can reuse if you wash them, and some manufacturers give you an extra filter, which is a nice bonus.
In terms of how much liquid or dry debris a hand vac can hold, bigger is better. Some wet/dry handheld vacuums have cups that can hold wet and dry messes while others come with a special jar or insert that for liquid containment. There are also some models that collect dry debris in a bag instead of a plastic cup.
Wet/Dry Handheld Reach
Not every mess will be easily accessible, such as those in your car. For hard-to-reach jobs, you need a hand vac with attachments like a crevice tool and a dusting brush. Some wet/dry handheld vacuums come with a hose and length-extending connectors. If the vacuum is a corded model, you’ll want one with a long power cord.
Whether you use your hand vacuum for 1 minute or 10, the vacuum should be comfortable to hold. This means it needs to have an ergonomic handle, and it shouldn’t be heavier than 5 pounds. The placement of the power control and dust-cup release needs to be on or near the handle, so you can reach them without hindrance.
Wet/Dry Handheld Storage
If you’re someone who wants every appliance and tool to have a dedicated storage spot, you have a few options. Many wet/dry hand vacs come with a wall mount, some of which do double duty as a charger.
Others have a tabletop charging base, and a few models also come with an accessories caddy that attaches to the wall or a storage bag.
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The biggest benefit of using a wet/dry vacuum is being able to clean dry and wet messes with one appliance instead of relying on paper towels or sponges to sop up pools of liquid. However, there are more not-so-obvious advantages to owning one of these vacuum cleaners.
Handheld wet/dry vacs are portable. You can use them anywhere, especially those that run on rechargeable batteries. They also tend to have stronger suction than standard handheld vacuums, which is particularly important when you need to clean large debris like pieces of cereal or cat litter.
Every portable wet/dry vacuum is different, but many of them do come with one or more accessories.
For detailed cleaning, there are dusting brushes and crevice tools. Some even come with a hose and tubing joints to extend the hose’s length, helping you reach in awkward spaces.
Manufacturers may address liquid cleanup by including a special collection nozzle or a squeegee insert for quick absorption. Some rechargeable handheld vacs have a charging stand instead of a plug adapter, and many corded and cordless models come with a wall-mounting bracket.
Manufacturers of handheld vacuums use one of three types of batteries in their products – nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, and lithium-ion.
Nickel-cadmium batteries have a decent run time and are less expensive than the other kinds. However, they are harmful to the environment and take a long time to recharge.
Nickel-metal hydride batteries last longer than nickel-cadmium ones, and you don’t have to wait for them to completely discharge before recharging them. Then, there are lithium-ion batteries. These batteries usually last the longest and recharge the fastest. Plus, they don’t reduce a vacuum’s suction strength when their charge is low.
Choosing between a corded or cordless wet/dry handheld vacuum depends on your personal preference. Vacuums with a power cord let you clean for as long as you need without having to stop and recharge the unit.
Some corded handheld vacs are equipped with a pronged cord to use in an electrical outlet while others are made to use with a DC outlet. If you decide to buy a handheld vacuum that plugs into a DC outlet, you’ll need to purchase a separate wall adapter for use outside of your automobile. However, these adapters are cheap.
On the other hand, a cordless wet/dry model allows you to vacuum without limiting where you can reach. The downside to these vacuums is that you must recharge the battery, which may mean pausing a cleaning session from time to time. It’s possible to experience a reduction of suction power when the battery gets low depending on the type of battery in the vacuum.
Do These Vacuums Contain a Filter?
Virtually all wet/dry handheld vacuums have a filter. However, the filtration system varies from model to model. Some of these vacuums contain filter bags while others have a filter made of foam, paper or fabric.
You’ll generally see three types of filters. There are HEPA filters, which are able to trap 99.97 percent of fine dust as small as 0.3 microns. There are also standard filters that are only able to capture coarser particles.
In between the true-HEPA and standard filters, there are HEPA-type or HEPA-style filters. These filters typically trap 85 percent of particles that are 1 micron in size.
A few wet/dry handheld vacuums also have a pre-filter that extends the life of the main filter. However, it’s more common to see filters covered by a mesh cup. Many of these filters are washable, allowing you to reuse them for months before they need to be replaced.
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Last update on 2021-01-22 / Most affiliate links and/or Images from Amazon Product Advertising API