The best wet and dry vacuum cleaner for your car and garage

You'll never look back with a good wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

A wet and dry vacuum cleaner in a car.

by Ryan Gilmore |

A regular vacuum cleaner is a no-brainer in any home but it's only so useful when you turn to your garage or a mucky car interior. These vacuum cleaners may be good for spilt crisps and dust bunnies but won't be able to tackle larger debris or spillages.

Wet and dry vacuum cleaners may seem to be excessive for cleaning your car at first glance. You may think that you own a perfectly good mop for any spillages and a vacuum for everything else, but a proper wet and dry vacuum cleaner will not only transform how you clean your car and garage, but your home as well.

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Why would you want a wet and dry vacuum cleaner?

Even the very best vacuum cleaners for your home are a bit out of depth cleaning your garage. A typical garage will have the remnants of DIY tasks (like sawdust), larger debris and sometimes even liquids that will need to be vacuumed up, something that will ruin a traditional vacuum cleaner.

The same can be said for cleaning your car. A regular vacuum will be good for light tasks, but if you want to make your interior look better than new, or the car is extremely mucky, then a simple vacuum will not cut it.

Wet and dry vacuums are designed to be tougher and more robust meaning you’ll be able to tackle larger jobs with no worry at all. Not to mention it can be sued on spillages safely too. It makes sense to own one if your car does get partially muddy on the inside as a good wet and dry vacuum cleaner will be more effective on the mud while also keeping your regular vacuum cleaner in working order.

The best wet and dry vacuum cleaners

Henry Charles Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner

Editoru2019s pick
Henry Charles Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner
Amazon

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The cute but basic Henry vacuum cleaner may have its place in most homes, but introduce some water into the equation and it quickly becomes useless. Thankfully, the big brother Charles is on hand for dealing with more demanding cleaning, including liquids. While it's important to disclose that it's a wet or dry vacuum cleaner (you'll need to change the filter) we still consider this to be our top wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

The main reason this is our top wet and dry vacuum cleaner is because of the quality, power and operating radius. Henry has a reputation for being tough and the Charles cements this reputation further with a very robust feeling to every surface. Power is supplied by a 1200 watt motor which should be more than enough for any domestic duty. Best of all however is the massive operating radius of 26.8 metres. It's by far the largest here and welcome news for anyone without the luxury of a garage or even driveway who doesn't want to rely on a handheld unit to clean their car.

Aside from that we also like the HEPA filter (allergy sufferers will appreciate this), easy to empty self-contained dust bags and the smiley face too. While it is one of the more expensive domestic wet and dry vacuum cleaners, the quality and incredibly ergonomic design make it worth every penny.

Specifications
Capacity 15 litres
Power 1060 watt
Operating radius 26.8 metres
Weight 9kg

Henry CVC370-2 Charles Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner

The best wet and dry vacuum cleaner for large cleaning jobs
Henry CVC370-2 Charles Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner
Amazon

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Offering a huge 20-litres of capacity, this vacuum cylinder wet and dry vacuum cleaner from Sealey is the ideal option for cleaning larger areas, including your home. As wet and dry vacuum cleaners are designed to suck up larger bits of rubble, you may find that smaller wet and dry vacuum cleaners fill up quicker, not an issue here.

A simple cylindrical design, the Draper isn't fancy but it is effective. Packing a powerful 1250w motor alongside a selection of attachments (carpet head and three extension tubes) the Draper is a great cleaning choice, especially considering the value. While it's burdened with changeable filters for wet and dry cleaning (cloth and foam), it's still a very good choice.

Compared to the Charles, it represents really good value for money even if the design isn't quite as ergonomic. While it may lack the fancy HEPA filter and ginormous operating radius, the capacity is larger and the motor is more powerful. If you're after something really tough and don't want to break the bank then this Draper is the way to go.

Specifications
Capacity 20 litres
Power 1250 watt
Operating radius 3.5 metres
Weight 4.5kg

Ku00e4rcher WD2 Wet and Dry Vacuum

The best wet and dry vacuum for beginners
Ku00e4rcher WD2 Wet and Dry Vacuum
Amazon

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This budget model from Ku00e4rcher is the ideal entry-level model for wet and dry vacuuming. Despite the lower price, it's still a very capable option thanks to a powerful 1000w motor and robust construction. It also features a 12-litre container and a very simple yet effective design that includes attachment storage and carry handle in a compact and reasonably lightweight design for easy storage.

We'd recommend this one for beginners because of its reasonable price and simple filter system. Kärcher has a solid reputation for quality and the WD2 is designed specifically for tough jobs, including cleaning the car, garage and even the garden. What attracts us most however is the clever cartridge filter that allows a user to switch between wet and dry vacuuming without the need to change filters, something several other vacuums require.

While it lacks the power and operating radius of the Charles and doesn't come with any of the extra features you get with premium wet and dry vacuum vacuums, it's still a solid choice and exceeding easy to use thanks to the clever cartridge filter system. It is our top choice for beginners.

Specifications
Capacity 12 litres
Power 1000 watt
Operating radius 4 metres
Weight 4.6kg

Sealey PC100 Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner

The best semi-portable wet and dry vacuum cleaner
Sealey PC100 Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner
Amazon

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If you're after something even more portable than the Ku00e4rcher WD2 then this semi-portable vacuum from Sealey is a very clever choice. Bridging the gap between traditional wheeled wet and dry vacuum cleaners and portable units, this wet and dry vacuum cleaner should be powerful enough for most tasks while being genuinely portable.

It's a very efficient design, offering a 10-litre capacity as well as storage for the attachments in a handheld design. The 3.34kg weight, integrated handle and compact size will ensure that you can get into areas you may struggle too with a more traditional unit. And while the two-metre cord isn't the longest, it still remains a very portable choice.

The 1000w motor is as powerful as the Kärcher's and offers an impressive 90m³/hr airflow. It also has a handy blow function which means it doubles as a leaf blower. While you'll need to change the filters for wet and dry vacuuming it's still a great portable choice, especially if you're rather limited for space.

Specifications
Capacity 10 litres
Power 1000 watt
Operating radius 2 metres
Weight 3.34kg

What you need to know about wet and dry vacuum cleaners:

A person using a wet and dry vacuum for cleaning a carpet
©Photo: Getty Images

What can a wet and dry vacuum cleaner do that a regular vacuum cleaner can’t?

Aside from sucking up liquids from spilt drinks a wet and dry vacuum cleaner will immediately prove itself invaluable for cleaning your garage, car and around the home. A wet and dry vacuum cleaner can be used to:

What should you look for in a good wet and dry vacuum cleaner?

Price: There are plenty of very good models for less than £100 while £150 will get you an exceptional wet and dry vacuum cleaner. Budget for the best you can afford and also look at what extra features are available and how much of a premium they are. If for example you’re needing a carpet cleaner as well, look at a wet and dry vacuum cleaner with a built-in shampooer. Not only could this save you some cash in the long run, but it’ll also cut down on storage space.

Do any research into wet and dry vacuum cleaners and you'll probably stumble across some really expensive models that will look more at home on a building site than the typical garage. These models will be incredibly capable are designed for trade use and will undoubtedly be overkill for most domestic chores. We'd recommend not paying anything more than £200 unless it's for trade use or doubles as a carpet cleaner.

Suction power: Another top consideration for wet and dry vacuum cleaners. Wet and dry vacuum cleaners aren't subjected to maximum power rules which means they'll undoubtedly be more powerful than a regular vacuum cleaner. This means they can clean deeper than a regular vacuum.

This extra power can be a curse however so be careful and don't go straight for the gutsiest model for the sake of power. As wet and dry vacuum cleaners often find themselves put to work on building sites they will be too powerful for domestic work. Some more powerful models can lift carpet for example. We recommend using wattage and price to judge power, stick with a £200 maximum to avoid having to ring the carpet fitter each time you vacuum.

Cleaning radius: As you'll probably settle on a corded wet and dry vacuum cleaner, you'll need to factor in the cleaning radius if you intend to clean your car for example. The cleaning radius is the maximum distance from a plug socket you can still use your vacuum and is the length of the cord added to the nozzle. It's worth factoring this in if you want to use the vacuum to clean away from your house (like cleaning a car in a driveway or using the blower function to clear leaves in the garden).

Capacity: This is how much the vacuum can hold before it needs emptying. As wet and dry vacuum cleaners are designed for more strenuous cleaning than regular vacuum cleaners it's not unusual to see wet and dry vacuum cleaners with 10 to 20-litre capacities. If you're using the vacuum domestically then 20 litres should be more than enough for a deep clean. It is worth noting that most wet and dry vacuums have different capacities for solids and liquids. Finally, factor in how easily the vacuums can be emptied, the best wet and dry vacuums will have a drainage tap for liquids.

Extra features: Some premium wet and dry vacuum cleaners will offer extra functions beyond vacuuming which is well worth considering. Several models we've selected include a blow function which means your vacuum doubles as a leaf blower. This is a welcome feature for any keen gardener and it'll mean you won't need a dedicated leaf blower taking up room in your garage.

Looking past the £150 mark and some wet and dry vacuum cleaners will offer a detergent option which means they double as carpet cleaners. If you’re wanting to remove stains without the bulk of a separate stain remover, one of these is well worth considering. Just remember the added cost and weight.

The type of filter used should also be considered. Most wet and dry vacuum cleaners require you to use different filters for wet and dry vacuuming. While changing the filter is a quick affair in most instances, it should be a factor you consider. Some domestic wet and dry vacuum cleaners offer HEPA filters which will certainly be welcomed by allergy sufferers.

Smaller considerations worth thinking about include noise and weight. A quieter vacuum will be easier to live with and a lighter one will be easier to live with. Even though the majority of wet and dry vacuum cleaners will come with wheels, there will probably be an occasion that you may need to lift it (placing it in the boot of your car for example) and a lighter portion will undoubtedly be welcomed.

Should I consider a portable wet and dry vacuum cleaner?

You’ll probably have noticed how most of these wet and dry vacuum cleaners are corded and quite often on wheels. Mixing the power and usefulness of a wet and dry vacuum cleaner with the portability and easy storage of a handheld would probably suit most peoples needs perfectly. The problem is, there aren’t any worth your money.

We’re yet to try a portable wet and dry vacuum cleaner that compares to a corded model. but don’t worry, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any worth testing. And in the meantime, there are great semi-portable examples (lightweight and featuring a handle yet corded) that practically do the same job without the added burden of hefty batteries and a short runtime.

That’s not to say there are a few that will be ok with very small jobs, but these will struggle with anything more challenging than a spilt cup of tea.

What do professional car detailers use?

Often called valet machines, these wet and dry vacuum cleaners have a built-in shampooer that can remove stains from seats and restore upholstery that may have lost its lustre. They're more expensive but will give a better-than-new finish to most car interiors. If you're serious about detailing and keeping your interior in top-notch condition, a valeting machine is the best choice even if it's a bit pricy.

Draper SWD1500 20L 3 in 1 Vacuum Cleaner With Shampoo Facility

The best professional valeting machine
Draper SWD1500 20L 3 in 1 Vacuum Cleaner With Shampoo Facility

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The Draper SWD1500 is a hefty bit of cleaning kit with a fairly hefty price tag too. For the price however, you do get a lot of features that make this our top valeting choice. For a start is the built-in shampooer which sprays pressurised detergent onto a selected area, much like a carpet cleaner would which makes this ideal for valeting carpets. There are different settings too for effectively cleaning floors, upholstery and even hard surfaces.

Away from carpet cleaning, it excels as a wet and dry vacuum cleaner too. The 1500W motor provides excellent suction and will ensure that the Draper can shift whatever you can throw at it. And if the power is a little much, there are suction settings for more delicate surfaces. It makes use of both a cartridge and anti-foam filter and offers a very reasonable 20-litre capacity.

It also ships with an arsenal of attachments for properly cleaning every possible surface you could imagine including a flexible hose, crevice tool, extendable tube and round brush. It even ships with an ergonomic trigger with remote start-stop function for even easily activating the vacuum and detergent without needing to move.

If you're wanting the best results and don't mind forking out the cash, this is the ultimate wet and dry vacuum cleaner. The sheer power, number of attachments and built-in detergent spray make it incredibly good for cleaning any surface you can imagine.

Specifications
Capacity 20 litres
Power 1500 watt
Operating radius 13 metres
Weight 12.5kg

Is there anything above valeting machines?

Going further than these valeting machines are industrial choices. Designed for cleaning warehouses and businesses, these machines are the ultimate wet and dry vacuum cleaners. Some are even designed to be explosive proof. Needless to say, you probably won't be needing one of these.

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