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Wet/dry vacuums Buying Guides

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Getting started

Major brands are pushing stackable and cordless wet/dry vacuums and other new designs as they try to get wet/dry vacuums out of the basement and into the kitchen and living room. But cleaning ability should be your primary concern. The largest models generally delivered the quickest, most thorough cleaning and the most capacity, and they tended to be the best equipped. But you may need a smaller, lighter vacuum--perhaps even a mini-sized model--if your home is shy on storage space or has more than one level. We checked how well the vacuums picked up dust that simulates wood flour, and how much of that dust they leaked into the air. Screws, wood pieces, and other heavier debris were a more demanding test of suction, and a one-gallon spill tested wet-cleaning ability. Finally, we judged ease of use of each vacuum's features and accessories.

Don't buy capacity claims

Most of the manufacturers overstated the fluid capacity of the vacuums we tested, some by as much as eight gallons. While those claims may correlate with the size of the vacuum's collection area, our measurements are based on actual vacuuming until each vacuum's internal float rose high enough to block further suction.

Do use hearing protectors

All of the wet/dry vacuums we tested were loud. Some reach 85 decibels, the level at which we recommend wearing earplugs to prevent hearing damage.

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Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Getting started

1. Getting started

2. Types

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