Dry Vacuum vs. Wet Vacuum Cleaners

Dry vacuum cleaners and wet vacuum cleaners are both vacuum cleaners, however, they operate differently. Understanding the differences is important to ensure you are purchasing or hiring the correct product that suits your needs.

Dry Vacuum Cleaner

A dry vacuum cleaner cleans up dry materials only. These include dust, dirt, and germs. A dry vacuum should never vacuum up wet surfaces. A vacuum can be used on hard surfaces, carpets, and furniture. The dirt from these locations is sucked up and usually collected inside a collection chamber or a bag. If the bag or filter gets wet or damp it will clog up and possibly damage the motor.


Dry vacuum cleaners come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit various applications.

Dry vacuums are effective at picking up dust.

Dry vacuum filtration systems are much better than wet vacuum cleaners for healthier air quality.

The dry vacuums provide a wider selection to choose from compared to the wet vacuums. The range of structures includes the back vac, robotic, handheld, and upright. Vacuums can also be specialised, examples include pet vacuum, car vacuum, industrial, etc…  


When a dry vacuum collects water, the insides of the vac are prone to get damaged.

The dry vacuum doesn’t provide as many functions as the wet vacuum as it can only suck up dry particles.

Wet Vacuum Cleaner

The wet vacuum cleaner is used to suck up dirt, wet areas, or messy incidents like spilt stew you were going to have for lunch. The wet vacuum doesn’t get damaged when collecting liquids due to its filtration system, motor and waterproof container where it stores the collected dirt and liquids.


The wet vacuum easily sucks up water and large amounts of debris due to the large tank it contains.

The wet vac provides a longer hose with attachments to help reach harder locations.

This type of vacuum could be used as a carpet cleaner which will save money. This can be done by using carpet liquid and scrubbing out stains and then using the wet vacuum to suck it up. Although, this is more time-consuming.

Some of these vacuums may have a blowing setting. Even though there isn’t an exact purpose, this setting can be useful to blow the dust off the surfaces and to help clean challenging areas by using the blowing setting to redirect the dirt.


Wet vacuums are heavy thus not great in small busy rooms as it is not so easily moveable and usable.

The wet vac may smell sometimes. This is due to the frequent use of sucking liquids, causing the collection chamber to release some odours. The odour will smell like some sort of wet leakage, for example, toilet water. This issue, however, can be helped by disinfecting the vacuum cleaner and attachments.


Overall, if you’re interested in a vacuum that collects dust and dirt efficiently, a dry vacuum cleaner is for you. However, if you’re looking for a vacuum that sucks up larger and bigger quantities of debris and collects water safely, a wet vacuum cleaner would be recommended. 

Check out the selection of vacuums and wet vacuums we have available to hire here

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