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The Amazing Small Shop Vac

Updated on June 20, 2013

Multi-use Compact Vacuum Cleaner

Long, long ago, in a neighborhood far away, the Shop Vac was released and our parents brought one home. Being Star Wars fans, we immediately called this bucket vacuum on wheels, R2D2. We were thoroughly entertained by our new wet / dry vacuum. Today I own a small shop vac that wears many hats.

We loved this thing. It made hair funny. It made the cat look weird, and it cleaned up the spills and messes a family with 6 small children can make. With 4 of those being boys, we simply needed this handy appliance to keep up with all we did. It was a very smart investment and we used our large sized wet / dry vac everywhere.

It made cleaning fun when we thought of it as our favorite family robot. I have some really great uses for a wet dry vacuum and the accessories that you may not have even thought about.

Image - M Burgess

Small Shop Vacs - And Accessories

These little model wet / dry vacuum cleaners are very versatile. Use them around your home interior, in the garage or wood shop, even outside the house. They are study little machines and they can tackle a large enough spill quickly so you can treat say, a full glass of lemonade being tipped over on your living room carpet. Draw up the liquid and then add a little soapy water with a scrub brush to the spill area, vacuum up the liquid. This can prevent a nasty stain from setting in the carpet fibers.

Shop-Vac 1.5 Gallon All-In-One Wet And Dry Vac ea
Shop-Vac 1.5 Gallon All-In-One Wet And Dry Vac ea

The multi-use wet/dry vac is a wonder tool invention. With the ability to handle anything you can fit down the hose, your cleaning chores take less time and effort. Big spills are tackled easily with this small shop vac. Use it where you have your wood crafting or mechanical tool area. Debris and shavings disappear quickly in a flick of the switch! The canister size is 1.5 gallon on this compact vacuum cleaner.

Shop-vac 9010700 Reusable Dry Filter, 3-Count
Shop-vac 9010700 Reusable Dry Filter, 3-Count

The dry filter is the only thing you will have to replace now and then. They fill with dust after a time and it helps the motor stay clean and operating smoothly.

Shop Vac Micro-cleaning 80189 (1-1/4" / 3,2 cm)
Shop Vac Micro-cleaning 80189 (1-1/4" / 3,2 cm)

Get your clean on in the smaller areas that a regular hose attachment cannot reach. This smaller end fittings can help with that dusting chore we all dread!


Vacuums Are - Funny Machines!

We found many uses for our wet dry canister vacuum when it arrived and were so fond of it - it had a name. Once in a while we would corner one of the little brothers and stick the nozzle in their hair, making the hair stand on end in chunks. It made for some really funny moments! I think kids today use one to style their dos...

Our cats couldn't stand the sound of the vacuum on. They always freak out and high tail it somewhere else when it is time for using it. Sometimes they would bush their hair and tails up and spat at the machine! Most of the time they would scat as soon as they heard the vacuum fire up and slip slide around a corner to their hiding places.

One time we left for a camping trip and came home to the sound of the vacuum running. We couldn't find our felines for about an hour. Their bowls of food and water were still full. Did they get out somehow? I know we made them all go in the house. Apparently they turned the vacuum on as soon as we left and hid out the whole time we were gone.

Vacuuming is now called, hide the cats...

Do you have any funny vacuum stories?

Hot Water Tank - Amazon Affiliate
Hot Water Tank - Amazon Affiliate

Clean Up Water Leaks

With Shop Vacuums

Water beds were the in thing late 70's and early 80's. With them came the potential for major water leaks. Water leaks are probably the best reason to have a shop vacuum in your home.

When you are filling one of these water bed mattresses with a garden hose it never fails. The hose would pop out or one of the kids would jump on the bed and cause flooding onto the floor. Out comes R2D2 and the mess is fixed quickly. They help suck the water out of the bed frame too when a hole develops in the mattress material.

Recently my neighbor downstairs knocked on my door about 1 am in the morning. What the heck? She asked if I had any water leaking. I surveyed my apartment but didn't see anything. I stepped in front of the closet where my hot water tank was. Ew! Wet socks. (I hate wet socks!) I found the source of the water. Sure enough, my hot water heater had sprung a leak. The water was a half inch deep and quickly soaking the carpet. When you have a leak like this, drawing it up as fast as you can will prevent mildew and other unpleasant side effects of wet carpet. It means you don't have to pull up the rugs, either.

This poor family had another blessing of water about 2 months after this. My toilet tank water hose split and covered my bathroom floor with an inch of water. Oh, the joys of apartment living!

Clean up on both of these disasters saved time, towels, and drying time. Simply vacuum until the sound of the vacuum changes and unplug, pour out the water and keep vacuuming until you have removed as much water from the leak as possible.

Alternate Uses For Shop Vac

Replace That Mop, Broom, And Bucket!

One of the best uses for a shop vacuum is to do tile cleaning. Replace your mop by using the canister vac as a floor tool. Vacuum up any debris on your tile area and then take a broom dipped in cleaning solution and scrub down the floor with it. Suck up the water into the shop vac and dispose of it. It cleans and dries at the same time!

I had to use this method a lot with my home in Florida and when my brothers were small. Boys track in a lot of dirt coming and going. The floor bit took all of about 15 minutes and it was fast enough drying to keep up with our troops. Add to that a dog and water games out side, this thing saved me a lot of grief with tidying up.

It is important that you remove the cloth filter that wraps around the breathing cage underneath the motor on a shop vac. Add the foam filter over this area and apply to wet pick up cleaning.

Elephant Trunk - Morguefile Image
Elephant Trunk - Morguefile Image

There's An Elephant In The House!

Pranks For Wet Dry Vacuum Hoses

My Dad loves his pranks. One use he found for the wet / dry vaccuum was to take the hose and detach it from the canister. He would wait patiently behind a wall or door -- ever so quiet. When one of us would come around the corner he would have that hose near his face and he would ROAR!!! down the piping. Made me jump outta my skin on more than one occasion.

Sometimes, he would sneak up behind us if we were watching television and stick that hose end right up near your ear and -- ROAR!!! he would spook the living daylights out of you! He would laugh, carry on and we would giggle with him -- after we pulled our wits back together.

Easy Clean Up With A Shop Vac

Cut More Chores Off That List

The more chores I can cross off my list the better. I received my first shop vacuum as a Christmas present one year from my boss at the pizza parlor I worked at. He said it was my holiday bonus. He knew if he gave me money I would spend it on something boring like bills.

I had been talking about using one of these for cleaning off my holiday window paintings and it gave him the idea to get me one. I can use one for this but I need a really long extension cord for it when I do. Scraping dry paint off into the nozzle didn't prove to be any easier than the method I use today but it did work well.

I use the tiny one I have now to draw out extra water under my garden containers. Sometimes, I give them a little too much water and need to drain the catch containers under them. I use it to dust. I use it to clean up guinea pig cages, and my carpets, too, because I have a temperamental upright vacuum. You see, my upright has a bug in it. The thing will let me vac for about 15 minutes then it shuts off. I guess it doesn't want to vacuum either!

Rainbow Vacuums - Its A Cleaning System

Rainbow brand vacuums are not a vacuum at all. They are a cleaning system. I sold these for a time but quickly ducked out of the business. I had answered an ad in the newspaper for a job selling this new fangled cleaning system. I showed up for an interview and when I showed up for work, I was seated with a group of 25 other people that were hired. The lights went low and the Elvis theme song came on. We were dazzled and amazed when the man that interviewed us came out and did his rocking, sizzle sales presentation. We all wanted to buy one!

Rainbow SE PN2 Vacuum Cleaner Loaded and 5 Year Warranty (Certified Refurbished)
Rainbow SE PN2 Vacuum Cleaner Loaded and 5 Year Warranty (Certified Refurbished)

This system is amazing. It uses a canister full of water to filter the air coming into the machine. With water instead of a fiber or cloth containment system, no dusty, nasty air goes out. It stays in the water until you dispose of it.

These machines are state of the art and are very versatile. Like a shop vac they can work on wet or dry surfaces. I would not combine both.

If you are going to vacuum sand I wouldn't turn and vacuum water until you change over the reservoir. You don't want to mix mud in the container.


Saving time and getting things done is important to a busy lady like myself. The small shop vac does a lot of tasks for me that would take up time I want to use for doing other things. Getting the chores done efficiently is an important part of my hectic scheduling. Making them fun is how to make them bearable.

Thanks for stopping in!

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