Likewise, there’s no attachments and no hose to pick up larger messes, so if you were hoping for a vacuum that can be used to clean up after water damage,
While standard vacuum cleaners are great for carpets and pet hair, wet messes require more than a regular vacuum. Whether you’ve spilled a drink or are cleaning up a basement or shed following flooding or leaks, you need a product that can quickly move from dry messes to wet spills without skipping a beat.
Wet/dry vacuum cleaners are preferred for their versatility and strong construction quality. Several different types of vacuums typically fall into this category, including shop vacuum cleaners, multi-surface vacuums, and even vacuums that rely on water filtration to keep debris from spewing back into the air. These different types of wet/dry vacuum cleaners range widely in quality, versatility, and ease of use.
To help simplify your selection process, we’ve chosen four wet/dry vacuum cleaners that we believe best represent the wide range of wet/dry vacuum cleaners available in the market today. Following our overview of these products, we’ll also be going on some key features and information you need to know before making your selection. While each of the following vacuums can handle wet and dry messes, only one is going to be right for your home.
Stick | 25 ft cord | Bagless | Foam Filtration | 11 lbs | X Hose | ✓ Brush Roll
Bissell’s one-of-a-kind crosswise product offers wet/dry vacuuming and carpet cleaning in a simple unibody stick design. While the lack of attachments and small debris capacity are disappointing, this unique product is affordable, easy to use, and makes quick work of just about any indoor flooring imaginable.
- Unique brush with multi-surface capability safely cleans carpets and hardwood
- Two-tank system holds used and fresh water
- Smart touch controls make it easy to move from bare floors to carpets without stopping
- Lack of attachments limits this wet/dry vacuum to the inside of a home
- Small capacity means more trips to the sink to refill clean water and dump used water
- CrossWave brush
- Two-tank system
- Attachments: N/A
- Warranty: 2-Year Limited
Differing starkly from all other types of wet/dry vacuums on our list, the Bissell Crosswave is a product that’s specifically geared towards indoor floor cleaning solutions. Operating much like a stick vacuum cleaner, you can use the Bissell Crosswave to vacuum floors, scrub hardwood, and deep clean carpets with heated water. Everything you pick up, wet or dry, ends up in the dirty water bin.
Unfortunately, the bin size on the Crosswave is smaller than most standard stick bins. Likewise, there are no attachments and no hose to pick up larger messes, so if you are hoping for a vacuum that can be used to clean up after water damage, this is not your machine. If, however, you specifically need a vacuum to pick up after pet hair, pet messes, spills, dirt, and just about anything in between indoors, the Bissell Crosswave is an effective solution. For more information on the Bissell Crosswave and other products that are great for multi-surface cleaning, be sure to check out our Best Multi-Surface Vacuum Cleaners article.
Canister | 18 ft cord | Bagless | HEPA + Water Filtration | 35 lbs | 8 ft Hose | ✓ Brush Roll
Featuring vacuuming features alongside the carpet cleaning capability, the Bissell Big Green Complete 7700 is one that’s certainly built for pet messes and a focus on carpet cleaning. However, the vacuum features aren’t strong enough to use in a shop or garage setting.
- Thorough wet carpet cleaning uses heated water and high pressure
- 3-stage filtration will certainly appease pet owners and those sensitive to smells
- Canister design makes it easy to maneuver the smaller nozzle into hard-to-reach places
- Vacuuming functionality is somewhat limited
- Heavy and difficult to move around
- No attachments and poor design for cleaning outdoor locations like garages or sheds
- Built-in heater for effective wet carpet cleaning
- Partial water filtration for total control over air quality
- Attachments: Tough stain tool, bare floor tool, crevice tool, rustic brush, TurboBrush tool, 4” tool
- Warranty: 1-year Limited
The Bissell Big Green Complete 7700 is part vacuum and part carpet cleaner. Much like the Bissell Crosswave, this Bissell product is designed for indoor use with a focus on carpet cleaning. Bissell vacuum cleaners also tend to put a special focus on pet hair, which can be seen in the included attachments. Using these attachments, you can configure the Bissell Big Green to pick up just about anything on the ground and a fair amount of debris above ground as well.
Utilizing 3-stage filtration that’s partially focused on water filtration (more on this in a moment), you can count on the Bissell Big Green to be perhaps the most hypoallergenic vacuum on our list. Much like the Crosswave, though, this isn’t the type of product you’ll want to use in the shop. The capacity and suction power are more focused on removing pet hair and messes than anything else. Provided you keep this product inside, you can be confident that you are getting a floor-to-ceiling clean.
Shop Vac | 12 ft Cord | Bagless | Cartridge Filtration | 19 lbs | 7 ft Hose | X Brush Roll
This classic design from Shop-Vac gives you everything you’ll need in a shop vacuum cleaner. The option of bagged or bagless operation is handy, and the stainless steel will allow you to pick up even sharp and metallic debris. No brush roll and no HEPA filtration, however, limits this product to your basement or shed.
- Stainless steel build designed for hard use and to last for years of debris pickup
- Assembled in USA
- Powerful motor provides excellent continuous suction
- Easy-attach wheels make it easy to move this vacuum around a space
- Attachments are plastic and are likely to be damaged over time
- Top-heavy design can mean pulling too hard on the hose will result in a tipped vacuum
- Narrow hose can easily be clogged by hard debris
- Tank drain allows for easy disposal of wet debris
- Dolly design makes it easy to move the vacuum in any direction
- Attachments: Extension wands, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, floor nozzle
- Warranty: 3-year Limited
The shop vacuum cleaner and Shop-Vac are often confused with each other because of the phenomenal success of the Shop-Vac company in popularizing this design. The Shop-Vac Stainless Steel 5989400 is a product that’s designed for hard use and can be easily taken along to any worksite or cleaning job. If you have to clean up after water damage, this product should definitely top your list. Shop vacuum cleaners, aside from managing to pick up wet and dry messes, are built to clean up residual sawdust, nails, screws, and other messes left about a work shed floor that would otherwise clog up standard vacuums. For more on shop vacuum cleaners and their use, be sure to check out our Best Shop Vacuum Cleaners article.
As a shop vacuum cleaner, this Shop-Vac has no brush roll or effective method to pick up messes or debris on carpet. It also may need periodic replacement of the plastic tools. Provided you’re willing to care for this product, there’s no reason why this Shop-Vac can’t come in handy in your workspace for years to come.
Canister | 21 ft Cord | Bagless | HEPA + Water Filtration | 21 lbs | 6 ft Hose | ✓ Brush Roll
Featuring unique water filtration, the Sirena Total Home Cleaning System S10NA can handle anything from wet & dry messes inside while also working to deodorize your air. It can be expensive and difficult to track down, but this Sirena product is perfect for all home cleaning needs.
- Many different attachments are effective and well-built for their respective tasks
- Very effective on carpets and great for spills and pet accidents
- Deodorizing feature can remove bad smells and even leave your home fragrant
- Expensive when compared to other products on our list
- Often needs to be purchased directly from a distributor network
- May be too bulky and heavy for carrying up and down stairs
- No easy way to turn off the motorized brush roll head
- Sirena Power Nozzle
- Deodorizing Fragrances and included Fragrance Pack
- Attachments: Crevice tool, upholstery tool, inflation tool, floor brush, turbo brush,
- Warranty: 10-year Limited
Much like the Bissell Big Green, the Sirena Total Home Cleaning System uses water as a means to both pick up debris and provide filtration to the air. The idea is that air and debris must first be run through a tank of water before the air can exit the system, which in turn pulls allergens out of the air. The Sirena Total Home Cleaning System can vacuum carpets and bare floors as well as pick up wet messes without so much as a setting change, although you often need to stop to switch nozzles and attachments.
Sirena is a direct-selling company, which means it can be difficult to find Sirena products like the Total Home Cleaning System in the secondhand market—which may be necessary, due to the high price tag. Still, if you don’t mind going through a distributor network and being careful not to use the product in outdoor settings, the Sirena Total Home Cleaning System lives up to its name and provides all of the features you know and love from water filtration vacuums. For more information on these unique and beloved vacuums, check out our Best Water Filtration Vacuum Cleaners article.
As you can see, our wet/dry vacuum cleaner picks range widely in features, attachments, and locations of intended use. While picking up wet and dry messes remains the thread that connects them, you’ll need to be sure of the specifics of your space’s needs before committing to any of these products. Some of the specifics include:
One of the biggest requirements for a wet/dry vacuum cleaner is the ability to reach the mess and clean it where it lies. This comes in large part due to the necessity of an airtight seal to most effectively lift water from carpet fibers and bare floors. This is also why crevice attachments and other thinner nozzles are perfect for wet mess cleaning.
Wet and dry messes can also occur above ground, which is when lengthy hoses are going to be a plus. Shop vacuums, like the Shop-Vac on our list, are usually best for this type of cleaning, but canister vacuums like the Bissell Big Green and Sirena Total Home Cleaning System can also contribute with their lengthy hoses. As for the Bissell Crosswave? This model unfortunately is limited to ground cleaning only.
You may have noticed that two of our picks—specifically the Bissell Big Green and Sirena Total Home Cleaning System—utilize water filtration for some of or all of their filtration. Water filtration is effective both for producing clean air for the room as well as making it easy for the vacuum to switch between wet and dry filtration. Water filtration is also commonly used to purify released air, which can add to the relatively high cost.
Another major selling point of water filtration vacuum cleaners is the ease of debris disposal. Instead of emptying out dry bins or using tank drains, you can simply dump out the dirty water into the sink. Water filtration vacuum cleaners are more commonly recommended for home use rather than for hard use, but their all-in-one nature does mean uncovering new ways to use them each time you clean.
Capabilities Beyond Vacuuming
For some of our products, the classification of “vacuum” just isn’t broad enough for what these products can do. The Bissell Crosswave is a bare floor scrubber and deep carpet cleaner just as much as it is a vacuum. The Bissell Big Green is also a wonderful deep carpet cleaner.
The Shop-Vac featured on our list is a bagged or bagless product that picks up after water damage easily, and the Sirena Total Home Cleaning System can vacuum, deep clean, deodorize, and even inflate your air mattresses. Our point is, these wet/dry vacuums each has something unique and special to offer. These “special features” are worth your thought and consideration before purchasing.
Wet/dry vacuum cleaners are some of the most complex and comprehensive vacuum cleaners available. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to clean your floors with both water and raw suction power and need something light, powerful, and unique, the Bissell Crosswave may be right for you and is the best overall for cleaning just about any floor type. If you’re looking for a carpet cleaner with vacuum functionality that’s perfect for your pets, then the Bissell Big Green is powerful and comes with more than enough attachments.
If you need a tough-as-nails vacuum to pick up tough items like nails and other garage-centric debris, the Shop-Vac can double as your vacuum cleaner as well as your method to pick up stagnant water and water damage. Finally, if you need a product that combines many smaller products into one unique cleaning product, the Sirena Total Home Cleaning System S10NA is a premium product that produces premium results.