6 reasons to upgrade to a wet/dry vacuum for more cleaning power at home

Indoors and outdoors, liquids and solids - wet/dry vacuums can do a lot. Here are 6 reasons why your cleaning toolkit could benefit from one.

Wet/dry vacuum cleaning rug
(Image credit: Alamy)

Wet/dry vacuums might be something you only associate with the pros – whether that's contractors, tradespeople, or professional cleaners – but they can make a great addition to your essential cleaning tools at home.

If you find the right one, they can clean much more around the house than even the best vacuum. Aside from these 7 things you can clean with a wet/dry vacuum, including liquid spills, pet mess, and outdoor debris, they can also offer a more thorough and effective clean.

So, read on for 6 reasons why you should upgrade to a wet/dry vacuum.

Reasons to upgrade to a wet/dry vacuum 

'While the best vacuum cleaners can cost upwards of $400-600, the best wet/dry vacuums can afford to offer greater value for money, as they're not marketed in the same way,' explains Brian Johnson, appliance expert at MyJobQuote. 'The most versatile wet/dry vacuums work on hard floors and carpet, and range in price between $230 to $380.'

Here are some compelling reasons to make a wet/dry vacuum your next purchase: 

1. To clean up liquid spills

Calming contemporary kitchen with wooden plank kitchen cabinets, white sink, large window, hanging pendant light beside window, shelving beside window

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

Your current vacuum cleaner can handle crumbs, dust, dirt, and other small solids. But a wet/dry vacuum takes it a step further, making light work of sorting out spills –something that even the best Dysons can't do.

'Naturally, you can clean water with a wet/dry vacuum. This can help in situations from a spillage to a small flood,' explains Jennie Holmes, a cleaning expert from ServiceMaster Clean. Being able to clean up liquids can make a huge difference if anything leaks in your kitchen or bathroom, saving time, energy, and a lot of towels in the process. 

2. For more multi-use cleaning

Vacuum cleaner attachments on blue background

(Image credit: Alamy)

Modern vacuum cleaners come equipped with plenty of attachments for various household tasks, but that's nothing compared to what you'd expect from a wet/dry vacuum. 

Jennie Holmes describes them as 'cleaning Swiss Army Knives', explaining that 'wet/dry vacuums are specialist tools that typically combine the roles of multiple pieces of equipment.' To give yourself greater cleaning versatility in one appliance, a wet/dry vacuum might be what you need.

'They’ll clean a drink spill or a puddle from a leak while they can also be used as a usual vacuum," says Jennie. 'The variety of utilities offered by them means that they can upgrade your cleaning routine and provide a streamlined and more efficient solution to whatever you’re facing.'

The RIDGID 14 Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Vacuum at Home Depot comes with a whole set of attachments for different types of cleaning.

3. To clean up your outdoor space

Patio seating area at the rear of a garden with a lawn in front

(Image credit: Future)

Unlike your standard vacuums, wet/dry vacuums can also be used outdoors. Yard, driveway, and patio cleaning can be a tiresome task, but having your own wet/dry vac can be a big helper along the way. You can clean up areas that are puddled with water, as well as sucking away debris left by trees or any outdoor DIY work.

Many models even come with blower attachments, like the WEN 10 Amp Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum at Home Depot, for clearing away things like leaves, branches, debris, and light snow.

4. For more powerful cleaning

A scalloped edge jute rug on the floor beside of a white bed in a bright bedroom

(Image credit: French Bedroom)

Naturally, wet/dry vacuums excel when it comes to spills or wet patches of mud. But the cleaning is much more thorough than that.  

'Conventional vacuums can’t suck up moisture, and using a mop or steam mop can be tricky when there’s grit or other large particles in the spillage,' explained Brian Johnson, appliance expert. 'Wet/dry vacuums take up water, so if you’re using one to mop with, the floor will dry quicker than one cleaned with a conventional mop and bucket.

'Although steam cleaners are good at killing bacteria, they can’t pull dust out of textiles. A top of the range wet/dry vacuum can, making it a good option for freshening up carpets, rugs and sofas,' he adds.

5. To clean up after pets

A dog with a vacuum

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We've found that the best vacuums for pet hair, particularly the Dyson V15 Detect, can be a saving grace for pet hair. But these vacuums aren't always the cheapest and can only do so much when it comes to the other messes that pets make. 

'People with pets and/or children find they’re spending a lot of time cleaning spillages,' says Jennie Holmes, and this is a task that can become a lot simpler with a wet/dry vac. 

Many wet/dry vacuums are capable of cleaning up pet messes but don't forget to clean your vacuum straight after...

6. To help with DIY messes

'If, for example, you’re a keen DIYer who wants a one-stop solution for all clean-up while also being able to clean around the house and garden or your car – it’s perfect,' says Jennie Holmes.

Thanks to their robust and more powerful design, wet/dry vacuums can handle much bigger messes than the average vacuum. This larger debris can include plaster, paint, brick dust, sawdust, fireplace ashes, and coal dust.

Wet/dry vacuums can offer a lot more than regular vacuums in terms of functionality and cleaning power. And as they're marketed less, you'll find higher-end options that are much cheaper than their vacuum cleaner counterparts like, say, the best Shark vacuums.

Dan Fauzi
Home Tech Editor

Dan is the Home Tech Editor for Homes & Gardens, covering all things cleaning, smart home, sound and automation across the Solved section. Having worked for Future PLC since July 2023, Dan was previously the Features Editor for Top Ten Reviews and looked after the wide variety of home and outdoor content across the site, but their writing about homes, gardens, tech and products started back in 2021 on brands like BBC Science Focus, YourHomeStyle, Homes & Antiques and Gardens Illustrated.

Dan is based in Bristol, UK with a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Magazine Journalism. Outside of work, you'll find them at gigs and art galleries, cycling somewhere scenic, or cooking up something good in the kitchen.