Shop vacs are no ordinary vacuums. They are specially designed for bigger jobs than your average household. Specifically for cleaning up heavier dirt deposits and larger debris, which is recommended for health reasons.
A dust-free environment can also increase productivity, yet that added performance need not mean a bigger noise. Your job site requires regular cleaning but not at the cost of your hearing.
A garage or workplace can be a noisy environment anyway. You want a shop vac that is quiet yet formidable, the decibel level is high enough, but you should not have to shout.
The noise created by a shop vac can get truly annoying considering how often it can be used.
Wearing earplugs should be a last resort as these can be uncomfortable and you may be drowning out crucial instructions on the shop floor.
Having a quiet shop vac can keep your job site clean while still keeping the noise relatively low. Thankfully, there are several models available that can maintain a dust-free workplace without adding to the noise.
Read our guide to find out which quiet shop vacuums you should be looking for.
Best For Dust Collection
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You would expect a lot of noise with a high-performance turbine. Especially one that can deliver formidable suction of 98.4” static water lift and 151 cubic feet per minute flow rate. Not with the FEIN Turbo II Vacuum Cleaner which delivers a measly 66 dB.
This is a wet/dry vac that comes with an auto-start plug, ready for when you and your power tool need it.
You can also rely on the reach with 13’ of hose and an 18’ cord to get into the corners, which we liked in our testing. With an 8.4 gallon capacity and by-pass cooling, this is a quiet vac that should last and last.
- 66 dB Noise Level – The high-performance turbine still comes with a low 66 dB noise level
- Auto-Start Plug – The vacuum will turn on as quickly as the tool does which is great for dust extraction appliances
- Long Cord Sizes – A hose length of 13’ and an 18’ cord to match the large size of your workplace
- By-Pass Cooling – This is a durable design that is enhanced with by-pass cooling
- One Suction Option – Though the suction is formidable, it is not variable
Best For Versatile Capacity
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The CRAFTSMAN 16 Gallon Quiet Shop Vac is a heavy-duty vacuum, so you should be surprised at how quiet it is. At just 72.36 decibels (to be exact), the 16 gallons capacity is fit for most jobs.
If you wanted to go higher, you could opt for the 20-gallon model yet 16 gallons should be enough in our experience of this product. There is also a 12-gallon model available if you wanted to go smaller.
It is a wonder that such low noise can be met by a 6.5 Peak Horsepower motor that makes little work of the bigger jobs. Dual-Flex Technology comes with 180-degrees of mobility with a hose that is unlikely to kink.
That means you can do your vacuuming quickly and an oversized drain hole makes for easy liquid emptying. Not only will the quiet shop vac move well, but it also has a blower port for ridding your workplace of leaves and grass.
- 16 Gallon Capacity – For large worksites, 16 gallons should be more than enough capacity
- 6.5 Peak HP Motor – Feel confident with large cleanup projects with a powerful motor for great suction
- Dual-Flex Technology – A 180-degree rotation hose and means less chance of kinking
- Oversized Drain Hole – Easy emptying of liquids with an oversized drain hole
- Blower Port – No problem getting rid of leaves and cut grass with a built-in blower port
- Not Easy Finding Replacement Parts – It can prove difficult to find replacement parts for this particular shop vac
- Heavy Weight – At 26 pounds, this is one of the heavier models out there
Best For Ease-Of-Use
Some shop vacs are made for job sites and have that power and durability in mind. One such shop vac is the Ridgid WD1450 14-Gallon 6-Horsepower Wet/Dry Vacuum.
This is an ideal vacuum for heavy-duty cleanup tasks while being easy to manage. Of course, that performance comes from a 6.0 Peak Horsepower motor yet it is the usability that impressed us in our testing.
The dual-flex locking hose offers a full 180 degrees of mobility, so you can move across the work floor swiftly. A large carry handle means that the shop vac can be moved around easily.
There is even storage space on the vacuum for its lengthy power cord. Putting it away is simple enough and replacing the filter is too. A Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System means no tools are necessary, with replacing the filter is a quick and painless task.
- Polypropylene Drum – Durable construction means that the vacuum can take a hit
- Carry Handle – Easy to move around with a large carry handle and storage space for the power cord
- Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System – Replacing your filer will be quick and secure with the Qwik Lock system
- Dual-Flex Locking Hose – Enjoy 180 degrees of mobility, which includes both ends of the hose
- Noisier Than Several Vacs – A noise level of above 80 dB may be a little too loud for your workplace
Best For A Quiet Cordless Shop Vac
Discreet vacuuming is difficult to find yet the Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ 6 Gal. Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum delivers. With only a six-gallon capacity, you may find yourself emptying the vacuum quite often.
However, a removable top makes this model easy to empty as you can simply tip out the contents. Thankfully, the wheel design makes this a vacuum that is difficult to tip over which we liked in our experience of this product.
With 80 CFM, this is still a formidable vacuum that is battery-powered for true cordless use (though the charger is not included). The compact design makes this a vacuum that you can easily store with several carry handles for ease of mobility.
Though you can find shop vacs with bigger capacity, this might be just the quiet operator you want.
- Compact Design – Storage is really easy as the shop vac is so small
- No-Tip Wheel Design – The wheels are sturdily built making it tough to knock the vacuum over
- Several Carry Handles – Easy to pick up, move around and store
- Removable Top – The vacuum quickly turns into a bucket for easy emptying once the top is removed
- Battery Operated – Having to charge the batteries regularly may prove onerous, especially without a charger included
Best Small Quiet Shop Vac
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The Bosch 1.6 Gallon Vacuum is one that is built for convenience. Take it with you to another job site, in your vehicle or simply bring it out when necessary, at only 10.2 pounds this is a lightweight option.
Using an 18V 6.0 Ah battery, the vacuum gives a consistent performance with a reassuringly long runtime which we enjoyed in our testing.
A washable HEPA filter should collect 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. Keeping your workspace dust-free is one thing but keep it uncluttered too as this quiet shop vac can also be stored easily.
There are also handy designs; LED lights to let you know when it is time to replace the battery and a semi-transparent container. All that with up to 51 CFM of airflow.
- Excellent Runtime – The vacuum can deliver up to four minutes per battery Amp hour and a 24-minute runtime
- Semi-Transparent Container – You can easily see how much you have sucked up and when it is emptying time
- Battery Indicator – An LED light system shows you when to recharge the battery
- Lightweight – At only 10.2 pounds, this is easy to carry
- Attachment Kit – Includes a crevice nozzle, a floor nozzle and three extension tubes
- Battery And Charger Not Included – Neither the Bosch 18V battery nor the charger is included
Few quiet shop vacs are designed as well as the Festool CT 26. For one, that 26 stands for 26 liters, which indicates an excellent German construction. That equates to 6.9 gallons and should be more than enough for a large workplace.
The vacuum uses a tool-triggered auto-start, so the cycle starts when the tool is plugged in. Greater efficiency from not having it on constantly and a locking brake to keep it in place which we liked in our testing.
As if that was not enough, the vacuum comes with an anti-static hose to reduce dust buildup and any nasty static charges. There is also a self-cleaning filter bag with a collapsible design to ensure dust cakes cannot occur. A consistent suction force with little noise, just what you want in a quiet shop vac
- Tool-Triggered Auto Start – The vacuum is ready to go once the tool is plugged into the outlet socket
- 6.9 Gallon Capacity Container – A huge 6.9 gallons can be contained which is superb tank capacity
- Self-Cleaning Filter Bag – No more dust cakes which can reduce suction with a collapsible bag
- Locking Brake – Park the vacuum to stop it drifting with a locking brake
- Anti-Static Hose – Reduced chance of dust buildup on the hose
- Variable Tool Speed – The variable speed for tools feature only works with Festool equipment
Best For Quiet Performance
Best For Quiet Performance
There are two main factors that may swing your decision on the Makita VC4210L Wet/Dry Vacuum. One is the gigantic 11-gallon capacity which makes it well suited to woodworking and concrete job sites.
The second is just how quiet it is. You may ask yourself, how does this shop vac only operate at 60 dB? Mainly due to a motor chamber that is built from sound-absorbing materials.
A truly nifty design. Durable too with wide-set rear wheels and enhanced steel caster front wheels for mobility and stability.
A three-stage filtration system makes light work of dust particles. The main flat Nano filter can capture a staggering 99.95% of particles that are .2 microns or larger. Then there is a HEPA-certified filter for 99.97% of particles .3 microns and larger.
An Automatic Filter Cleaning system means that the filters will keep working for longer too, which we enjoyed in our experience of this product.
- 60 dB Operating Sound Level – At just 60 dB, few shop vacs are quieter than this one
- 11 Gallon Capacity – Ideal for picking up larger particles from a woodworking or concrete job site
- Automatic Filter Cleaning – A longer filter life is assured with automatic cleaning
- Three-Stage Filtration – Nano and HEPA-certified filters are used to improve efficiency
- Large Wheels – Steel casters and wide rear wheels make this a mobile and stable shop vac
- Large Design – With such a huge capacity, the shop vac can be difficult to find space for
Best For A Compact Design
When you consider compact quiet shop vacs, you should not compromise on performance. You will not with the Nilfisk ALTO Aero Wet and Dry Vacuum. A maximum of 127 CFM should be enough for most workspaces, not to mention the 6.6-gallon capacity.
German engineering comes with its own guarantees for reliability and durability, which is a feature we liked.
Nilfisk has also come up with a ‘push and clean’ feature which means limited loss of cleaning performance with a semi-automatic filter cartridge. As well as being durable, you can also rely on the HEPA certification for the smallest particles. Create a dust-free environment as 99.97% of particles at .3 microns or lower will be captured.
- Compact Design – With a flat top and curved design, the vacuum is easy to store with a range of positions for the nozzles, power cord and nozzles
- Washable PET Fleece Filter – Reusable filter which still offers a minimum efficiency of 99.9% filtration
- 127 Maximum CFM – Even though the design is compact, the CFM is still a sizable 127
- Push And Clean – Maximum efficiency from filter cartridge cleaning that is semi-automatic
- Potentially Clogging Hose – Some users have reported that the hose can clog occasionally
Best For Wet And Dry
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Such designs as the DeWALT DXV10P 10 gallon Quiet Poly Wet Dry Vacuum fit the bill for a quiet shop vac. A two-stage motor operates 50% quieter yet still provides 5.5 peak Horsepower.
This vacuum is built for most jobs and its three-in-one functionality makes easy work of dry debris, wet materials and small particles. Sawdust is no match for the built-in blower port making it ideal for woodworking sites.
Then there are the features that make this quiet shop vac so easy to use. A built-in tank drain for easy removal of liquids and a washable cartridge filter for everything else.
Few vacuums work as well in wet conditions and the water-resistant design is a great bonus for peace of mind. DeWALT even provides an accessory storage bag for easy organizing, a nice feature we liked in our experience with this product.
- Built-In Tank Drain – Liquids can be easily removed with the tank drain
- Two-Stage Motor – Offering up to 50% less noise when operating
- Powerful 5.5 Peak Horsepower Motor – Ideal for heavy-duty cleaning jobs
- Washable Cartridge Filter – The filter is reusable and washable for all types of debris
- Water-Resistant Design – Don’t worry about getting the vacuum wet as it is built for water resistance
Lack Of An Upholstery Brush – While this vacuum works great in a workplace, it will not perform as well on furniture[amazon box=”B07BYH6SWX”]
Best For Wall Mounted Shop Vacs
If space is at a premium, consider the Vacmaster Beast 5 Gallon Shop Vac. Easily detachable from wall brackets, you can save on space without skimping on power.
Though it is easily portable, the vacuum provides 102 CFM and 82.6” water lift which is comprehensive considering its size.
There are two types of filters includes. A fine dust cartridge filter works really well for dry vacuuming then a foam filter for liquids.
For sawdust and other debris, there is a blower feature which was a handy feature we liked in our testing of this product. With a wide range of accessories including a utility and car nozzle, this is an ideal vacuum for a busy workplace or a vehicle.
- Portable – Easy to pick up and transport between your workplace and vehicle
- Wide Range Of Accessories – A utility nozzle, crevice tool, car nozzle, noise diffuser, a foam wet filter and fine dust cartridge filter are included
- 25 Foot Cleaning Reach – A 7-foot hose and 18-foot power cord means you should get into the difficult to reach corners
- Durable Polypropylene Tank – An impact-resistant design that also combats corrosion
- Accessories Storage – With so many accessories, you may find it difficult to store them
Finding the best and quietest shop vacuum can be a chore. You desire a shop vac that can do a reliable job yet not create a bombastic amount of noise. Many motors simply cannot avoid making a din yet that can be controlled.
Certainly, protecting your ears should be a priority in what is typically a noisy work environment anyway. Creating a dust-free area should be effortless and quiet.
While the noise level may be the first figure you look for, some manufacturers make it particularly difficult to find. Instead, try to ensure that the shop vac still provides good suction power.
There is also functionality to consider, a vacuum that can handle dry debris, as well as wet materials is ideal for most cleanup jobs. However, you may not want to suck up everything in your workplace. Having a blower option also means you can rid the workplace of leaves, grass and sawdust.
The capacity of the shop vac is also important, so you know you can clean up effectively without having to empty it first.
Washable and reusable filters and also handy to ensure the task of sucking up dust remains formidable without coming at an extra cost. There are certain accessories you may be interested in too, such as nozzles for your upholstery and floor.
Once you have decided on your quiet shop vac, you need to make sure you can find a home for it. Whether mounted on your wall or in a dedicated space, having rigid wheels and carry handles should make it easy to move.
The noise levels are what you are looking for in a particularly quiet shop vac. These will be louder than the vacuum cleaners you have in your home but not too loud.
Learning about decibel measurements proves very handy here as you may not know how loud a certain noise level is. For instance, 55 dB is super quiet and indicates a shop vac that, when operating, should not intervene with a normal conversation.
The further up you go, the more disruptive the noise level can be. Between 65 and 70 dB should be considered a medium noise level and the average for the market.
That is usually a noise level for traffic, so you should be looking for a vacuum with a lower noise level than that. A noise level above 75 dB will largely be considered as loud.
You may want to consider how noisy your workplace is, if you have to wear noise-canceling headphones anyway, then you can likely go for a higher noise level.
Certainly, if you do desire a vacuum that packs in a performance then you may not mind an increased noise level.
This is something to consider if you appreciate that the vacuum may not be operating for a prolonged period of time. Anyone subjected to a noise level above 85 dB for hours can suffer hearing loss.
That’s why blenders, hairdryers and power tools can hit 90 dB. While that may be loud, they probably will not be operating for that long. You should also look out for a noise diffuser that can also enable a quiet operation in your shop vac.
Wall Mountable Vacs
A lot of workshops and garages have significant wall space. Should you prefer your floor to remain relatively clutter-free then a wall-mountable vac is for you.
These quiet shop vacs typically come with brackets, so you can easily place them onto the wall ready for your next use.
Having them off the ground is certainly a benefit and they remain easily visible. There should also be brackets included to store additional accessories and attachments to keep everything together.
The space that you work in may have all sorts of different types of debris. Your vacuum should be expected to pick up dust yet having the functionality of a wet/dry vac can make a big difference.
Considering the material you work with, a cleanup task may involve larger particles as well as wet debris. Having a shop vac that can suck up all of that is great peace of mind.
These types of shop vacs tend to have long cords and a variety of attachments to ensure that whatever material is involved can be sucked up. Considering how damp the surroundings may be, you should expect large wheels for enhanced mobility.
The smallest quiet shop vacs tend to be cordless, and for good reason too. Powered by a battery, they are usually relatively lightweight and easily portable with carry handles. Though they often have a particularly limited run time, for a small workspace or a vehicle that could be ideal.
Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers decide that they do not need to include batteries and chargers. If you do decide to go cordless then take this into consideration. The runtime may be sufficient that you can keep it charged at short notice.
This is an added expense though. As they are cordless, this may be a good option if you want to ensure a dust-free environment without having to rely on power sockets in the great outdoors.
The size of the hose does not just concern its length, but also its diameter. For quiet shop vacs with a larger capacity, you will likely find that the hose diameter is bigger. That is not quite an invitation to suck up larger bits of concrete but will be useful in a cleanup operation.
The diameter of the hose will determine the size of debris it is best suited for. One and a quarter inches is ideal for fine debris in a vehicle. Going up to one and a half inches which is for general use and medium-sized debris.
Larger hoses will usually have a diameter of around two and a half inches which can vacuum up leaves. The thickness of the hose may also be something to check as it can determine the suction capacity. Too thick and it could prove tough to handle, too thin and it can easily come loose.
If you are unsure of the length of hose you may need, look at the workspace you will be using it in. Are there tables and chairs that populate the floor? Having a longer hose may mean not having to move the shop vac that far to reach certain places.
Ensuring that the hose does not curl up too is helpful as you will not be found having to drag it around. The hose should also be rigid in its attachment, sturdy enough not to fall off yet flexible enough to move around easily.
What can also help the length of the hose is whether it is particularly resistant to kinks. It can get particularly annoying when the suction power cuts out because the hose has kinked. Having to go back to return the hose to its correct position can become burdensome too.
If you happen to operate in a particularly dusty environment then an anti-static hose is certainly beneficial.
The cord length of your quiet shop vac is something to consider depending on the size of your workspace. Getting across the floor without having to put the plug in another socket makes a cleanup task so much easier.
A few extra feet may also mean that the cord does not become a tripping hazard if you are vacuuming on the other side of the floor. Having said that, it may be an idea simply to use an extension cord.
There are certain measurements for the power of a shop vac and that may even be more important than how quiet it is. A simple one to look out for is how many amps the motor itself has, 10 amps is usually a solid performance.
After that, it is how the motor translates to the vacuum’s suction power that could make all the difference. CFM is the volume of air that the vacuum can suck up in a minute, which is handily measured in cubic feet per minute.
This is especially significant for picking up fine dust particles and sawdust.
Peak Horsepower is a general way of measuring simply how powerful the motor is. A Peak Horsepower of 5.5 is frequently a good benchmark to aim for. Any quiet shop vac with a Peak Horsepower of above 6.6 will be worth your attention.
There is also the AirPower rating which indicates how easily the vacuum will pick up heavy objects. That includes things like bolts and screws that may be commonplace on your floor.
There is also the sealed pressure, also known as water lift, which is based on how high the vacuum will lift a column of water when in a tube.
That may sound confusing but is the best indicator of how much suction the shop vac will have. Certainly, look out for a water lift rating of 75” or over.
The filters can be telling in ensuring how dust-free your workspace is. You may not need it to be totally spotless yet you will appreciate how more efficient it can be without constant spluttering. There are two types of filters to look out for; foam filters and cartridge filters.
This is particularly important for the cleanup tasks you are expecting. A foam filter is best used on water and various other liquids whereas the cartridge filter is more for general use and dry debris.
You should change the foam filter before moving on to dry debris. There are also filters available for fine, medium and large debris which is worth remembering to ensure a dust-free environment.
One filter to look out for is a HEPA-certified filter. These are especially important for a dust-free environment as they can collect between 99.95 and 99.97% of particles that are .3 microns or larger.
Keep an eye out for a Nano filter too, one of those is able to capture an even more impressive 99.95% of particles that are .2 microns or larger. Maintaining your filters is also ideal and you may be interested in an automatic filter cleaning system.
Having washable and reusable filters, or an automatic filter cleaning system is certainly better than paying for new ones.
For general peace of mind, you should be expecting a warranty of around three years for a shop vac. This is definitely something to check if you are expecting to get good use of your vacuum.
A general rule to consider is that the longer the warranty, the more confidence the manufacturer has in their product. You may even find a five-year warranty which is something you should not have to rely on yet is good to know.
Some shop vacs can carry a considerable weight and their portability really matters. Having one carry handle is useful, having several carry handles should make easy work of storing and moving the shop vac.
Having dedicated on-board spaces to store various accessories and the hose is another handy feature. Not only can that reduce the storage space, but it also means that certain accessories are easily accessible.
The wheels also figure in how portable the shop vac is. Due to the expectations of a busy workspace, a lot of shop vacs come with sturdy, even multi-size wheels to get around. Swivel wheels are a particularly good option, as is rubber casing for that extra durability.
Considering how large the tank capacities can be, the best quiet shop vac should be difficult to tip over yet easy to move.
Many manufacturers also boast of how maneuverable their shop vacs are. That has something to do with the casters and the swiveling wheels.
As a guide, 180 degrees is helpful, 360 degrees is excellent for getting around. This really comes into play when you need to move quickly in tight areas.
The capacity of the vacuum, or its tank size, can vary. Finding the right size for your workspace may wholly depend on how big the space is that needs to be cleaned. It can also depend on how often you want to empty the tank.
For a smaller workspace or a vehicle, you could be looking at a mere 1.6 gallons for tidying up. However, there are quiet shop vacs that have a capacity of up to 20 gallons though these need a larger storage space.
Which material the tank is made out of will have an obvious impact on the overall weight. That is why most tanks are constructed out of plastic for a versatile, inexpensive, and, most importantly, lightweight design.
Plastic also makes for a robust build and the vacuum should prove easy to clean and resistant to dents and scratches. If you are searching for a water-resistant quiet shop vac then look no further than a plastic one.
Alternatively, stainless steel tends to be more expensive and is almost certainly heavier. While these quiet shop vacs remain robust, they can easily suffer from scratches and dents. However, they are relatively easy to clean and will not take too long to dry.
The idea of having a shop vac that can also be used as a blower was not even contemplated until recent years. Having the option of a blower is really useful, particularly if you work in a woodworking shop.
This could also be a feature to consider for those hard-to-reach areas you just want to clear. Instead of having to vacuum in sawdust, you should be able to blow it into a space where it can be swept up and reused.
If you are already keen on recycling your sawdust or making sure that you can deposit it separately, then look out for a blower option.
You may also have a workspace that has large particles. Without a sweep, you could use the blower option to move these out of the workspace and save capacity in your tank for smaller particles.
For all that tank capacity, you may also want a shop vac that proves easy to drain. This is particularly important for liquids as you should not expect to get wet. A lot of shop vacs come with a large drain port which makes this less troublesome than it could be.
Imagine if you have to drain a water breach in your basement, having a large capacity combined with easy drainage will make the job so much easier.
Several wet/dry shop vacs will have the capability for ensuring the parts stay dry. Some will automatically shut down which is certainly better than having the vacuum repaired.
While attachments and accessories are a nice thing to have, these should not make or break your decision. You can always shop around for a specific suction head yet a lot of manufacturers do provide them.
These can include a utility nozzle, vehicle nozzle, crevice tool and a noise diffuser. All might have a particular use in your workspace.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Make A Shop Vac Quieter To Use?
Some shop vacs can be excessively noisy, especially the heavy-duty models. One simple way to reduce the volume for yourself is to attach a longer hose attachment to the vacuum. The further away you stand from the motor, the quieter it will be for you.
Most of the noise is made from the suction power from the air outlet. If you wanted to contain the air coming out of the vent then cover it with a piece of cloth.
Ideally, you should measure the cloth to ensure it matches the dimensions of your air outlet. Make sure the cloth is properly attached too and you may want to poke a few holes in to let some air out.
Do not forget to ensure that the air filter is clean. This should be a regular habit to get into and it should be clean before every use. If only a limited amount of dust can get through the filter then the vacuum has to work extra hard to suck it in.
Can I Use A Shop Vac Without The Filter?
This largely depends on what you intend to vacuum up. Typically, a shop vac without the filter should only be used for liquids. Without the filter, you can really shorten the lifespan of your shop vac.
You can also ensure that you have several filters available which can make certain cleanup jobs easier. Certainly, a HEPA-certified filter can ensure that the environment is dust-free. However, you may want a different filter for more general use.
What Are The Main Differences Between A Shop Vac And A Regular Household Vacuum?
The main differences between a shop vac and the vacuum you use at home are primarily linked to where you use it. That may sound simple yet the average household is likely to have smaller dust particles to pick up. Pet hairs, food debris and dust are likely to be sucked up by a regular vacuum.
Particular shop vacs come with easy drainage solutions where the top can be removed and the contents tipped out. You should certainly expect a shop vac to suck up liquids and many come with the water lift measurement that indicates their suction power.
While you should probably try to mop up excess water, a shop vac can certainly make the workplace floor dryer.
There are also built-in drainage options that make the task that much easier. However, a shop vac should be expected to make light work of heavy-duty cleaning jobs.
This can include a mix of liquid, dry debris and larger items such as screws. That is why a shop vac is generally more powerful, and louder.