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If you’re wondering how does a wet dry vac work here’s the answer: The Wet Dry vac In many ways is similar to the regular canister cleaner, It’s designed to take care of both dry debris and dust as well as water and other liquid spills. Mostly It’s used for heavy duty work, primarily in commercial properties, even though more recent, compact designs and models in various shapes and sizes have been designer by manufacturers for regular household and domestic usage.

A wet and dry vacuum is just wonderful for any working environment, including your home, even if it’s not necessarily a working environment, just like regular top rated vacuums. Don’t forget it has the added bonus of easily being able to take care of liquid spills and leaks or wet, damp patches. It will loyally take on anything you throw at it – dirt, liquid waste, sawdust, nails, cereal you name it, regardless of

Vacuuming Carpet - How Does A Wet Dry Vac Work?where it’s located, indoors or out. Seeing all the impressive capabilities of this device it can be hard not to ask yourself ”How does a wet dry vac work?”

You might be wondering why it’s capable of vacuuming wet surfaces and rough, sharp types of debris. Well, this is because the electrical parts of the vacuum are housed separate and insulated from the integral workings of the unit. It makes the vac as safe as it can be to use without

risk of damage to the wet dry cleaner or electrocution. On top of all this it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, even though the filters will require cleaning and, possibly, replacing. Especially after long, extended periods of use.

How Does A Wet Dry Vac Work? – Design

It’s important to know how to properly maintain and use a wet dry vac, as it is not only capable of vacuuming liquid, damp waste or dirt, it is also a multi faceted, handy tool for work in and outside of your home.

The way a wet dry vac works is honestly quite simple. Unlike a regular vacuum cleaner, instead of a bag it usually has a multiple bucket system that’s meant to separate the solids and liquids in to different chambers.

Dirt is vacuumed though the intake port of the unit, travels along the airflow inside of the tube. The strength of this flow significantly reduces as the debris and liquid reaches the buckets and allows them to freely fall out of the stream of air and straight in to the appropriate chambers A.K.A buckets.

Then, through a motorized fan, the air current is drawn and exits through an exhaust port, usually on the top of your cleaner. Because it allows the debris and particles to fall inside of the bucket and dissolve into the water, the air that’s then expelled will have noticeably less dust than any standard vacuum cleaner.

In very rare occasions you might have a wet dry vac with a filter located somewhere around the input at the start of where you plug in your hose, in which case there’s two possibilities – One is that when doing wet work like dealing with a spill of water, tea, soda or anything of the sort you’d be advised to remove the filter, the other is that the filter is optimized to sift both air and wet messes, in which case you’re free to vacuum freely as long as you remember to clean the filter.

But these are just that though – rare occasions and unless you went out of your way to get yourself a really specific, odd type of wet dry vac then the chances are that you simply don’t have a filter at the input and don’t have to worry about it. If you did though, it would make even more sense for you to be asking how does a wet dry vac work, that’s for sure.

How Does A Wet Dry Vac Work? – Strengths And Weaknesses

The wet dry vac definitely draws its strengths from it’s simple yet, in most cases, durable and smart design. I always like to say that the beauty of the shop vac lies in the fact that it draws power and efficiency through simplicity and smart design. This is not only a sound philosophy to exist by for a vacuum but also for a human being in general.


The main strengths of the shop vac have to be simplicity, (yes, this is a strength) durability, utility (due to, you know, being able to take care of both wet and dry messes along with debris that would in most cases absolutely destroy your regular vacuum cleaner) and power, since just as previously mentioned, they are capable of much more than your average home vacuum.


The weaknesses of the wet dry cleaner, especially when compared to regular vacuums are almost non existent, as most if not all are easily avoidable by simply shopping wisely and putting in research to make the right call. Nonetheless, we will mention some of the main problems most people have when shopping on impulse. The main ones would have to be size and noise.

Other Functions

Some models of the wet dry vac have a function that allows it to be used as a blower as well. These are capable of shooting out air with great force, along with being able to suction it. This function can be great for blowing leaves off your lawn or dust/debris into piles to make it easier to gather up after.

Almost every vacuum comes with different accessories. Some brush attachments may be used for scraping off settled dust particles, sucking them into the hose as soon as you scrape ’em off. Others have a narrow DeWALT 16 Gallon Poly Wet Dry vacending made for reaching every nook and cranny that otherwise might be a real pain.

There’s also a bunch of different accessories meant for cleaning mats, carpets, car seats and so on. Wet-Dry Vacs Can bu used for vacuuming and buffing wood floors as well, with a specially designed buffer brush accessory. The more high end Wet-Dry vacs will usually come along with a whole set of brushes. These can include brushes for cleaning floor tiles, a wide path head and a spinner scrubber.

How Does A Wet Dry Vac Work – The Types


These don’t have the performance or capacity of the bigger models, but they definitely are a lot easier to carry around and store for emergency use.


The handheld vacs are wonderful for moving around or if you don’t have too much space in the house available, just remember that the smaller it is, the more capacity and performance you sacrifice.


These vacuums are a great middle ground, performance and compactness will be generally good for almost any situation. This is the most optimal choice for most at least medium sized homeowners, perhaps with a workshop present as well. It will successfully replace your regular vacuum along with being to deal with much more than it ever was.


The biggest cleaners are more often than not the best equipped for the job. They are the most thorough at cleaning, as well as the quickest, Plus they are guaranteed to have the most capacity, which means you won’t have to clean it out as often. Keep in mind, because of their size they tend to get quite heavy and bulky. Vacs of this size are more often than not industrial ones and

How to use a wet dry vac – Usage

With a simple press of a button you’re able to change how the vacuum functions. Because the unit vacuums both dry and wet debris it uses different types of filters.

For liquids like water you use the foam filter, and for dry debris and dust you use the paper filter. You should do your best at swapping out these filters when switching from one task to the other.

Liquid Filled vacuumIf you’re going to be using the cleaner to vacuum liquids, then you should always try to empty the bucket straight after you’re done working, to avoid the building up of stagnant water.

It’s important to get yourself into the habit of cleaning out the inner bucket regularly, as it’s quite easy to forget about it and end up with a stinking, dirty vacuum, and nobody wants that. Trust me. To do this just put a hose in some water and turn the cleaner on, the inner chamber is then to be emptied one it’s filled.

Uses Of A Wet And Dry Vac

What makes the Wet Dry vac special is its versatility. On top of cleaning up Fine layers of dust, suctioning liquids and picking up hard debris it can do loads of other things:

+Unclog your baths or sinks by switching the unit over to blower mode and the force of the air should free the obstruction with no problem.

+Usually wet/dry vacs come along with accessories for buffing and cleaning for wood floors + taking care of almost all kinds of debris. You can also use them like any ordinary vacuum for cleaning upholstery and curtains.

+Cleaning out fireplaces is a breeze with one of these bad boys. They will suction ashes without a single problem. Just make sure they’re cold.

+You can easily use the blow function to clear away snow.

+It works great for taking care of most household problems related to water for example a bursted pipe flooding.

+If you’re not a carpet cleaner owner then the wet dry vac will work just fine, not even that, great for cleaning your favourite carpet. It will remove stains, marks and mildew once you’ve applied your trusty detergent.

Use As A Blower: How Does A Wet Dry Vac Work

+Blow away leaves and debris with ease from your lawn, blow them in a neat pile ready for collecting. Paths can also be easily cleared using this great function.

+Clean up rough, sharp debris that would destroy your regular vacuum cleaner, like wood shavings, screws and nails. This is especially useful for DIY workers and enthusiasts.

Buying Tip

Chances are, if you’re looking up ”How does a wet dry vac work?” You’ve either recently purchased one or are looking to buy one, and if the latter is the case, then here’s some buying tips to help you make a choice you won’t later regret when shopping for that chosen model to serve you for the following years!

The Wet Dry vac is a relatively uncomplicated invention, but it works wonders for heavy duty cleaning. The efficiency and versatility are unmatched by any standard cleaning device. The super long power chord is also a big plus. They mostly share this trait because they were originally mainly built for machine shop and industrial work environments.

Before making any quick impulse purchases you regret later please do yourself a favor and look through the specifics of the vacuums you’re most interested in and see how they stack up against what your actual needs are. We’ve gotten into much large detail on this topic on many other articles so we won’t get so deep into it on this one, but nonetheless we will give some key points to put you on the right track to purchasing the right wet dry vac for you!

Size and weight

Look at they weight and size of the device first, followed up by power. These two will give you a solid base for whether it’s worth looking at the specific model you’re viewing at the moment at all. There’s no point in buying a twenty pound vacuum with a 15 gallon tank and incredible suction power if you’re living in a one story two bedroom apartment and all you’re looking to do is basic cleaning. Not only will it be a hassle to drag around and store, but the sound will make your neighbors hate you!

We recommend you choose a model with a 2½-inch hose instead of a 1¼-inch hose because they have a tendency to clog a lot less and work quicker, for obvious reasons. Make sure you get a machine based on what YOU need it for. Keep in mind how you’re going to store it and how often and far you’ll need to move it.

Hose length, filter type and REVIEWS!

After making sure the hose length is enough to reach wherever your toughest to reach spot in your place of residence might be, and the filter matches up with your needs (You’ll need one with a HEPA filter if you’re an easily irritable/allergic person). Scroll down to the reviews and look for ones that actually seem like they come from a person who has at least half a brain and don’t consist of mindless product bashing or hate speech, likely coming from rival brands (Yes, seriously, this is an actually rampant problem on all online marketplace-type websites).

You can learn incredibly much about all the intricacies of a product just by looking at the reviews, which many forget to do. If there’s a serious problem with the product, it’s sure to be a recurring theme in the reviews as more than one person is sure to experience it. If you see however a single one star review stating that the product is simply ”bad” without much of an explanation you can be sure this is either an idiot, troll or a rival company plant.

How does a wet dry vac work – Conclusion

The answer to the question ”how does a wet dry vac work?” is that it combines simplicity and efficient design to make a device that both industrial workers, workshop owners and regular homeowners are all very grateful for. The device uses its motor to suction air through the hose along with any debris or liquid and sends it into the tank, where the debris and water all drop to the bottom and the excess air is blown through the exhaust, where before sending it out it runs it through a filter to ensure that you’re not shooting dust and dirt particles back into the air of your home, workshop or wherever else you might be!

Our Recommended Wet And Dry Vacuum Cleaner:

Shop-Vac 5989300 Wet Dry Vacuum Review

Here’s some Other Wet Dry Vac Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

What Is A Wet Dry Vac? – Explanation & More – MyWetDryVac

How To Clean Your Carpet With a Wet Dry Vac

A Shop Vac Buying Guide – What To Look For By MyWetDryVac

How Does A Wet Dry Vac Work