Most people just use a vacuum for dry messes and a mop for wet ones, but that’s not your only option. A wet dry vacuum cleaner can handle both. This versatility, combined with their compact canister design, makes them a great all-purpose cleaning tool—and while it might seem like a pricier piece of equipment, the truth is they can be very affordable.
You might not be quite sure what to look for in a wet/dry vac if you haven’t shopped for one before. You’ll basically be considering the same factors as you would for any piece of cleaning equipment. Consider the needs of your home before you think about anything else. You want to make sure you buy a vacuum that has the reach to tackle even your larger rooms, so you don’t have to stop and move to a different outlet mid-cleaning. Think about what kind of floors you have in your home, as well.
Pretty much any wet dry vac can handle hard, smooth floors without a problem, but carpet may be a different story. If you have particularly thick carpets, pay attention to the wheels on the base of the unit to make sure they’ll be able to maneuver throughout your home.
If you want the best wet dry vac under $100, you should look toward getting a smaller canister size. You may need to empty it during a particularly large job, but you’ll get a higher quality level for the same price compared to larger models. Check out the four wet dry vacuums below. You might be surprised what all $100 or less will get you.
We’ll start with a vacuum that tops our list for convenience. This Vacmaster model combines portability and power and throws in a full accessory package to make it an even better value. You’ll get everything you need in the box to clean up any mess in your home, hassle-free.
The 12-gallon capacity on this wet/dry vac is enough to clean up any mess around your home, and makes it suitable even for some businesses. It pairs this capacity with a 5 horsepower motor that generates plenty of suction power. This motor is also put to good use by the detachable blower, which is a handy extra feature that makes this vacuum as useful in your yard as it is inside.
It’s easy to use in standard vacuum mode, too. There’s a 12-foot cord and a 7-foot hose, which combined give you plenty of reach for most rooms. You’ll find it’s very maneuverable, even when it’s full, and slides over hard floors like a breeze. Carpets can be a bit trickier. Low-pile carpets are no problem, but it doesn’t roll as easily on thicker materials. It is relatively light, too, and has a convenient handle on top for carrying, so as far as portability goes it’s a winner.
Combining multiple applications into the same tool is always a great way to increase the value. The Vacmaster VBV 1210 functions beautifully as both a vacuum and a blower, making it an excellent buy for whole home cleaning.
- Includes 11-piece accessory package with a variety of tools and nozzles
- Strong suction power
- Easy to move and maneuver
- Converts quickly into a handheld blower
- Large drain port on the bottom for easy emptying
- Wheels are on the small side and don’t handle thick carpets well
- Requires a lot of power and may not run reliably on older outlets
OUR TOP PICK
Another great option if you’re looking for a 2-in-1 vacuum and blower is this handy little model from Shop-Vac. It’s the best wet dry vac under $100 for a workshop or garage because it’s durable, powerful, and super-compact for easy carrying and storage.
The design of this Shop-Vac unit is different from the model above. Rather than having a detachable blower, the hose can be plugged into a port on the back. This is perfect for tasks like clearing sawdust from a workbench but makes it less ideal for outdoor applications like clearing away leaves.
The blower isn’t the point of this list, though. It’s the vacuum we’re concerned with—and in that department there’s a lot to love about this little thing. The motor generates a consistent high level of suction. The 7-foot hose gives it a nice reach, and it has all the basic tools you need for cleaning all the surfaces in your home.
The smart design of this vacuum is what really sells it, though. There’s tool storage built right in on the vacuum so you can keep all the pieces together. Wide-spaced wheels prevent tipping during use and the lid latches securely to the tank. They’ve also put carrying handles on both the top and the sides. Details like those are what make this vacuum so user-friendly and such a great buy.
- Compact and lightweight
- 5 horsepower motor means high air pressure both sucking and blowing
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Convenient carrying handles on the top and sides
- 10-piece accessory package with on-board storage for tools
- Designed not to tip or spill
- Relatively small tank capacity
- Blower isn’t as versatile
Fireplaces and grills can be tricky things to clean out effectively. Fine ash can clog the filters on some vacuum cleaners, or slip through them altogether, blowing back into your air. This ash vacuum from PowerSmith is designed specifically to deal with the challenges of post-fire clean-up, and it can even clean up warm ash without trouble.
Don’t ignore it if you don’t have a fireplace, though. The same things that make it great at cleaning up ash are benefits for cleaning other things, too. The 2-stage filtration also makes it perfect for cleaning up the dust left behind by construction projects, woodworking—anything that leaves behind fine particles you don’t want ending up in your air.
In terms of the build, it uses a metal canister with precision welding on the seams; the hose is also metal-lined. This is all to protect the vacuum from heat but has the added benefit of making it a more durable piece of equipment. Even the nozzle and other accessories are all-metal, a rare feature to find in a vacuum at this price level.
Given all of these professional-level features, it’s a bit surprising that this vacuum is so unobtrusive. The motor has a relatively quiet operation, despite its high power. It’s also the lightest option on the list, at only 13 pounds, and is quite compact, making it easy to use or store anywhere. Sturdy, reliable, and easy to use—that’s what you get with this vacuum from PowerSmith.
- Heat-resistant hose ideal for cleaning stoves and fireplaces
- 2-stage filtration captures even the finest particles
- Metal canister with sonic-welded seams for maximum durability
- Hose and nozzles built as durably as the vacuum
- Quiet motor
- Lightest option on the list
- Motor can get pretty hot after sustained use
- Lack of a carrying handle makes it more difficult to transport
So what’s the best wet dry vac under $100?
It really depends on what you’re looking for. In terms of overall value, we’re pretty sold on the Shop-Vac 5989300 for its stainless steel construction and impressive horsepower. It’s the most all-around useful, too, since it still includes the blower option as well as the main suction, even if it’s not in a detachable, lift-away form.
The truth is, though, all three of the models above will be the right choice for somebody. Since they all cost around the same amount, the price is likely to be less of a factor than the features unless you’re on a super-tight budget. Whichever way you go, you’ll get a reliable vacuum cleaner that truly can handle whatever messes your home throw at it.