A shop vac is good for tough messes around your home that a normal vacuum cleaner can’t handle.
A shop vacuum can be used to clean wet spills, and with them having greater suction, they can be used to pick up odd and heavy items.
Combined with their simple design and pure power, the number of things you can do with them is quite amazing. There are many tips and ideas for a shop vacuum that many miss, so let’s talk about them.
1. Suck Up Water
While sucking up water may be obvious to some, it’s not for most.
Just about any nonflammable liquid can be sucked up with your shop vacuum.
The best part is that it will suck up water and other messes, for example, if you drop a wine glass, your shop vacuum can be used to suck up the wine and the broken glass.
I even use a shop vacuum for sucking up water and other gunk in a boat.
2. Clean Your Gutters
My personal favorite thing to use my shop vac for is to clean my gutters.
You can buy extension hoses that allow you to reach the gutters of your home.* The shop vacuum sucks up the leaves and gunk in your gutters and goes in the tank of the shop vacuum.
Using a shop vacuum for gutters is the best way to clean your gutters.
No need to get on a ladder and no extra mess to clean up either.
I tend to have a lot of pine needles around me, so my gutters are always getting clogged, and using the shop vacuum works perfect!
3. Use As A Duster
Sometimes you need to blow instead of suck, and with many shop vacuums you can turn them into blowers.
Just make sure the tank is empty before you use the blower setting and the filter is in place.
4. Clean Reusable Furnace Filters
Just knowing that reusable furnace filters exist is a huge tip all by itself, but when it comes time to cleans these filters, you can use your shop vacuum.
Blowing the dust off them will make a mess, while a shop vacuum will contain the mess.
5. Unclog Drains
A shop vacuum can be used to clean wet messes when set up correctly, so this means you can use it to unclog sinks and drains.
Just put the hose over the drain and suck up what’s under it.
I’ve used this a time or two when a wedding ring feel down the sink and got trapped in the s-trap of the sink.
6. Inflate Toys & More!
As talked about earlier, a shop vacuum can be used as a blower.
With the blower, you can use it to inflate tools, rafts, buoys, mattresses and more!
Not only that, but you can use it to quickly deflate the items too to make it easier to pack them.
7. Dust Control
If you do a lot of wood working, you’ll tend to get a lot of dust.
You can use a shop vacuum to suck up any dust at the tool you use, or keep it running near you to work as a basic dust filter.
8. Vacuuming Your Car
It’s obvious you can use a shop vacuum to clean the inside of your car.
But if you ever used a vacuum cleaner to clean the floors and trunk of your car, you may notice things like dog hair and other fine items don’t get sucked up easily.
So, this tip is about picking up these items.
To pick up the fine items and hair, use a spinning brush on a drill and move along with your shop vacuum. The spinning brush lifts the dirt and hair, and the shop vacuums powerful suction picks it up.
9. Pet Grooming
If your dog doesn’t mind the sound of the vacuum cleaner, using a shop vacuum to suck up the extra hair as you brush them is a quick way to groom your pet.
Even after a good brushing, a shop vacuum can be used to clean up the mess, as it will handle the hair and dander a lot better than your regular vacuum cleaner.
Let’s not forget, you can use the shop vacuum as a blower for many models to dry your dog after a bath.
10. Picking Up Toys
Small little toys like Legos, Army man, beads, and so on can be a chore to pick up, especially when you need it done quickly before company comes over.
You can use your shop vacuum to pick up these small toys quick and easily.
You could even get a shop vacuum dedicated to this one task and use its tank as a small toy box!
11. Clean Out Small Ponds
If you have a small pond or other small water feature like a bird bath, you can use your shop vacuum to suck up the water and clean them.
A shop vacuum is great for this if you want to reuse the water, like for a fish tank.
The shop vacuum really shines on the dirty and nasty water of small ponds, as it’s nothing for them, especially if you have clumps of dirt in the water.
12. Running Cable
If you need to run a cable through a tube, you can attach the cable or fishing line to something like a bag and on the other end suck it through with your shop vacuum.
13. Clean Up Yard Waste
A shop vacuum is not the best tool to clean up most yard waste, but it can save you steps.
For example, you can use a shop vacuum to suck up leaves in the fall. While depending on the size of your shop vacuum it can’t hold many leaves, but you can put a garbage bag in the tank to collect the leaves and thus save you a step of bagging them.
If you need to move a little bit of sand or rocks, a shop vacuum will be easier than getting out the shovel and will do a better job of getting them all.
If you have a battery-powered shop vacuum, you can use it to clean up any garbage that ends up in your yard. I used to live next to a busy road and people would throw things out their windows all the time, some of it was glass and other nasty things, but with a battery-powered shop vacuum, it was easy to pick up then bending over and doing it manually.
14. Remove Bugs
You can use a shop vacuum to remove wasp, roaches, bees, and any other bug.
The suction of shop vacuums is so strong that most of them can’t escape, and you can close off the end of the shop vacuum and keep them in the tank to die off.
Bug sprays work great, but if you need a solution now and quickly, a shop vacuum is the best thing you got.
15. Oil & Fluid Changes
The most clever use of a shop vacuum I’ve found is to use it to change the oil in small engines with a few modifications.
Not only can you change the oil, but other fluids in your car, lawn mower, or wherever there are fluids that need to removed, so long as they’re not flammable fluids!
This video will show you how:
What Shop Vacuum Should You Get?
If you don’t already have a shop vacuum and maybe looking for one, I suggest getting one with a large tank.
A large tank is especially important you intend to suck up any liquids, yard waste, or cleaning the gutters. Also, the larger the tank, the more power the shop vacuum.
It’s better to have too much shop vacuum than not enough, as I’ve discovered through the years.
I’m personally a fan of the Vacmaster Beast Series of shop vacuums.*
Overall, stick to 12 to 16 gallon shop vacuums to get the most use out of them.
16. Air Drying & Blower
Many shop vacuums can be used as a blower to dry off things like your car after washing it or blowing leaves.
I’ve even used it to unclog pipes like the water drain for the HVAC system in my home.