What are the Most Important Features of Wet Vacuum Cleaners?

Updated on April 16, 2020 by Joseph D. Nielson

Table of Contents

What are the Most Important Features of Wet Vacuum Cleaners? Featured Image

Cleaning a house can be a time consuming and complex task, especially when trying to get the job done using the wrong equipment. Trying to clean mud out of a carpet with a basic vacuum is like running a race without shoes, it will get done eventually but the process will be far from fun.

To take on any mess that hits the floor traditionally requires more than one cleaning tool. Having a wet vacuum cleaner is the answer to your floor cleaning problems by saving time, energy and effort without compromising efficiency. After all, not many people are confidently reaching for a standard vacuum to suck up a bowl of chilli that got knocked off the counter.

Understanding what the determining factors are for a quality wet vacuum cleaner can be a challenge for new buyers. With a variety of makes and models, there are important features to consider that will help find the best fit for your needs before simply investing in a hopeful decision.

1. Suction Power

The suction power of a vacuum cleaner is referring to the power of the motor. More specifically, the design and filtration system will determine the amount of pressure difference created between the vacuum interior and the atmosphere.

Simply put, the higher the suction power is the more powerful the vacuum cleaner will be. This means getting a more effective cleaning without having to go over the area several times.

Quick Tip: Match Suction to Surface

For spaces with mixed flooring, such as hardwood and area rugs, choose an option with adjustable suction. Being able to increase or reduce suction power will help prevent damage to delicate surfaces during cleaning.

2. Filtration

The capability of a vacuums filtration system will determine how well unwanted particles are being trapped in the filter. Filtration is essential to make sure the vacuum cleaner is not just rearranging dirt by collecting some particles but letting others pass through right back into the atmosphere, like dust mites. [1] 

To help reduce the amount of dust released back into the air, the vacuum cleaner needs to have a quality high-performance filtration system.

Manufacturers have designed various types of filtration systems over recent years, including disposable filters, cyclonic separation, reusable filters, HEPA filters, water filters and odor filters. It’s important to note that some vacuums have just one filter, while other models come with multiple filters and produce better air filtration.

Image of vacuum with filter out on

Quick Tip: Look for HEPA Filtration

The recommended choice is to find a vacuum cleaner option with HEPA filtration. Those with asthma or allergies will especially benefit since a HEPA filter will trap 99.97% of dust particles. [2]

3. Capacity

The capacity of the vacuum cleaner’s dirt bag or canister will determine how many times it can be used before needing to be emptied or replaced. For models with water tanks, the capacity affects how frequently you will need to empty or refill the tank.

Having greater capacity could mean saving a considerable amount of time during vacuuming. For those that prefer using one of the markets best cordless stick vacuums, the trade off for a light-weight model will likely be less capacity.

To find what capacity will work best for your needs remember, ‘higher capacity is heavier’ and ‘lower capacity is lighter’.

4. Safety Features

Even when it comes to cleaning, safety is always first. Whether you have kids, pets or may personally be a bit clumsy, there are wet vacuums available with important safety features to consider.

To help reduce the possibility of accidents within the home, look for a vacuum model that has the option to lock the wheels and brush roll. There are also safety lock options that will completely cut off the power supply to the vacuum.

Another key safety feature is a retractable power cord, which will reduce the chance of tripping or stepping on the plug.

5. Weight And Size

The evolution of the wet dry vac has produced a wide array of models, designs and sizes. Depending on your specific cleaning needs, there are highly capable options both big and small to compare.  

Handheld wet vacuums are the smallest and lightest options, while drum vacuums are the largest and heaviest choice.

For compact spaces a small light-weight wet vacuum can be easier to maneuver, and get areas such as upholstery and drapery. Open concept areas will have more flexibility with options to choose from, like canister or upright vacuums.

Taking on heavy duty jobs, such as cleaning the garage, will benefit from a larger and heavier model like a drum vacuum. Larger capacity and more power are guaranteed, but make sure to find a model that has wheels because it will be heavy.

Quick Tip: Consider Your Space

It is important have an understanding of how portable you need the vacuum cleaner to be for your specific space before you can buy accordingly.

6. Bagged Or Bagless?

The choice to go bagged or bagless depends entirely upon your preference.

Traditionally, bagged vacuum models have a larger capacity. That means getting more usage from the wet vacuum before needing to replace the bag. The bagged vacuum is also most recommend for people with allergies, because changing the bag has no exposer to the dust and allergens inside.  

On the other hand, bagless models have easy to empty canisters and don’t require replacement. The bagless vacuum models are also environmentally friendly, and cost effective with no need to buy replacement bags.

7. Attachments and Accessories

Put back the earrings, those are not the accessories you will want to have for your new vacuum. In most cases, a good vacuum cleaner choice will likely come with attachments and accessories included at the time of purchase.

Attachments and accessories play an important role to help achieve the best clean with your device in difficult and hard to reach areas. For instance, an attachable nozzle can be used to get into room corners or a on the backs of steps in a staircase.

While doing the due diligence researching different wet dry vacuum models, check for additions such as crevice tools, upholstery brushes, brush rolls, soft brushes and detergent dispensers.

Image of yellow vacuum with a plant and couch

8. Corded Or Cordless?

The decision of whether to choose a corded or cordless vacuum is best determined with your home layout and personal preference in mind.

The main distinction of a corded vacuums is that the device is tethered to a power outlet. This allows the user of the device to clean without having to pause or stop to recharge. However, the vacuum cleaner will only be of use for the amount of space the cord length provides.

Alternatively, cordless vacuums offer portability and the convenience of having freedom of movement. This allows you to use the device from one area to another, as long as the charge will last.

In general, corded vacuums are well suited for cleaning large areas and performing heavier tasks; while cordless vacuum options are great for smaller spaces and lighter tasks.

9. Power Consumption

Always check the power rating of any vacuum cleaner before making a buying decision. At least those who want to avoid sending the electricity bill through the roof.

Typical vacuum cleaners will run on approximately 2000 watts of energy, which is a fair amount for a vacuum cleaner in terms of power consumption.

Quick Tip: Look For Power Saving Models

Since a wet dry vacuum is intended to handle messes a traditional vacuum couldn’t, it will require energy for optimal performance so don’t settle to save. Avoid compromising performance with available models that offer lower power consumption with very powerful motors and suction capabilities.

10. Maneuverability And Ergonomics

Ergonomics is what ensures that wet vacuum cleaner is functional and user friendly. Imagine trying to use a drum vacuum without wheels to help move it around, that would certainly not qualify as an ergonomic design.

To ensure better maneuverability of a vacuum cleaner, some essential features are soft wheels, compact and light-weight design, ease of portability and storage, and swivelled brush heads.

Before settling with a choice, make sure to test if the vacuum cleaner will be comfortable to use.

Review of the Most Important Wet Vacuum Features

Deciding on a new wet vacuum cleaner is a big decision that needs a lot of thought and research. Make sure to consider all the different aspects, such as suction, filtration, size and power consumption, that will help choose a device that’s the right fit for your needs.

On a final note, always make sure to have warranty coverage for a wet vacuum cleaner. This type of device will be an investment, so avoid potentially putting additional money towards it down the road.


[1] Chris Woodford (2019, June). HEPA Filters. Retrieved from

[2] DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 96-101 (1996, January). Certified Under 42 CFR 84. Retrieved from

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!