There’s nothing more cumbersome than vacuuming floors, but vacuuming is just a single part of regular floor maintenance. If you want a super-versatile tool that both vacuums and mops, then a wet/dry upright vacuum is the best multipurpose tool that lets you indulge your lazy side. In this guide, you’ll see what we’ve picked as the best wet/dry upright vacuums the market has to offer.
Wet/Dry Upright Buying Guide
In this brief guide, you’ll learn all about wet/dry upright vacuums—what they are, why you need one, and how to choose the best model for your home.
What Is a Wet/Dry Upright?
A wet and dry upright is a type of vacuum cleaner that performs both dry and wet cleaning to eliminate all kinds of dirt and stains from floors. It’s well-known for being a highly versatile and incredibly affordable tool. Whether you’re dealing with dirt tracks or spilled milk, a wet/dry upright is the perfect all-around cleaning appliance for your home.
Wet/dry uprights come with a soft brush roll instead of stiff bristles. The soft material soaks up spills while also delivering excellent surface-level cleaning on carpeted floors. However, the lack of a beater brush means it won’t deep-clean carpets down to their fibers’ roots.
Pro Tip. Wet/dry uprights do not deliver as deep of a clean on carpeted surfaces. To get deep into the carpet’s roots, you’ll need a traditional vacuum cleaner with a beater brush and a carpet cleaner with shampoo capabilities.
Other Types of Wet/Dry Vacuums
There are several types of wet/dry vacuums available on the market, uprights being just one of them. Below, we’ll quickly describe various types and how they compare to wet/dry uprights.
Robots are arguably the most convenient type of vacuum cleaner around. Some models are hybrids that come with a wet cloth to pick up tiny quantities of water. Despite their convenience, their vacuum and mop performance levels are no match for a wet/dry upright.
Shop vacs are great for workshops and homes. They come with larger compartments to store wet and dry debris, but you’ll need to purchase filter bags to prevent dust from shooting out of the exhaust. This isn’t as big of a problem in wet/dry uprights.
Wet/dry canisters are the larger, more powerful type of wet/dry vacuum. Their beefier motors allow them to pick up more wet spills and dry debris in fewer passes, and they can come with a wide range of cleaning attachments for upholstery, carpeted steps, and so on. However, they are bulkier than uprights and a lot noisier.
Handheld models are compact and easy to use. However, they can only absorb a couple of milliliters of water at a time, and their dust collection cups aren’t much bigger.
Why Should I Get a Wet/Dry Upright?
The simplest reason why anyone should get a wet/dry upright is that it offers the best of both vacuuming and mopping worlds. In a single tool, you can perform both duties—mopping up spills and suctioning up debris from between floorboards—in a single pass.
Also, wet/dry uprights don’t require collection bags. All of the dirt, hair, cereal, milk, and other floor contaminants get stored inside of a reusable dust bin that’s easy to remove and clean. Plus, these tools are incredibly affordable!
Important Wet/Dry Upright Features
There are several notable features found in a wet/dry upright. Below, you’ll see which features you should consider to make your cleaning experience as enjoyable as it is easy.
Wet/dry uprights are generally a lot lighter in weight as opposed to conventional upright vacs and carpet cleaners. This tool typically weighs between 8 and 12 pounds, so lifting and dragging the nozzle across bare and carpeted surfaces is a breeze. A heavier-duty model will usually weigh more due to its larger motor.
Tank Size Capacity
Wet/dry uprights come with relatively small tank capacities. These tools are more closely related to spray mops than carpet cleaners, so very rarely will you find a model with a tank larger than one liter. Now, this means you will have to empty the dirty tank and refill the clean water tank more often, but in exchange, you get a portable tool that’s easy on the back and hard on bare floors.
Side Bezel Width
To remove dirt lingering on the edges of carpets and walls, try and find a wet/dry upright with narrower size bezels. This will allow you to reach corners without trying to maneuver the floorhead at awkward angles, saving you precious time and energy.
A hair strainer will help at removing larger bits of debris from the tank without clogging your sink. Granted, pulling out long hair and water-logged cereal out of the tank is pretty gross, but it’s not a step you want to skip.
Some of the most premium-grade wet/dry uprights come with their own self-cleaning tray. By mounting the tool on the charging dock, activating the vacuum will deliver a constant stream of water that releases dirt and grime from the brush roller, keeping it nice and fresh and ready for its next cleaning session.
Pro Tip. Make use of the self-cleaning tray every chance you get. If you allow bits of debris to dry, the microfiber brush roller can become stiff and actually leave gash marks on floorboards.
Wet/dry uprights traditionally come with power cords that tie you down to a single wall outlet. You can overcome the problem of limited mobility by using an extension cord, but make sure that you get a correctly sized cord based on how far you want to move.
Alternatively, you can opt for a cordless model that doesn’t tie you down but carries its power source with it. Cordless wet/dry uprights can typically last for 30 minutes and require up to three hours to fully charge.
Some of the more premium wet/dry uprights can connect to the internet and set notifications to your smartphone. You can set up a reminder for the next cleaning cycle, and… that’s pretty much it. There’s nothing too fancy here, but it’s a nice-to-have feature that some buyers might want.
Maintaining a wet/dry upright is pretty straightforward. After vacuuming/mopping your floors, use the filter to strain out all of the debris and toss them into a garbage bin. Next, drain the collection cup in a sink, get it a thorough rinsing, and reinstall it into the wet/dry upright. Also, make sure that you clean the soft brush roll after each use to ensure none of the grime dries and sticks onto the microfiber material.
Generally speaking, corded wet/dry uprights offer more suction power to produce a deeper clean in between tiles, floorboards, and carpeted surfaces. However, being tied down by a power cord can be frustrating, especially if you need to clean multiple rooms in one cleaning session. Cordless wet/dry vacs offer maximum portability, but their limited runtimes are another problem you need to live with. So, choose whichever you’re more comfortable with.
The maximum lifespan of a wet/dry upright varies from model to model. On average, you should get around eight years of use out of the tool, but it ultimately depends on how well you care for the brush roller and whether any leaking occurs in the water tank.
If the brush roller has become so grimy that the self-cleaning tray doesn’t cut it, you can take it out of the floorhead and manually wash and rinse it under a sink. Allow the brush roller to dry thoroughly before reinstalling inside of the wet/dry upright.
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