The best vacuum cleaners for builders to get rid of dust and debris

a blue builders vacuum cleaner on a building site
(Image credit: getty images)
Best vacuum cleaners: Quick menu

1. The list in brief  
2. Best overall: Henry HVR160
3. Best for dust:  Karcher WD4
4. Best for plaster: Makita VC2512L
5. Best for DIY: Vacmaster Wet & Dry
6. Best for spills : Charles CVC370-2
7. How to choose 
8. How we test

If you're on the hunt for the best vacuum cleaners to rid your house of dust from building work, you've probably had your fair share of experience at just how messy renovating a house can be. 

Whether you've got the builders in or are on a DIY mission, you might find your standard vacuum cleaner isn't up to the task of tackling that fine dust that gets in every nook and cranny, as well as larger debris such as rubble and offcuts. 

The very best vacuum cleaners may also have wet functionality, meaning they can be used to suck up spills and drainage issues. Below, we roundup our top picks for vacuums cleaners that are up to the task of keeping your home free from dust. 

The Quick List

Short on time? Our handy quick list contains an overview of the best vacuum cleaners in our roundup. Use the quick links to skip down the page and find more detailed reviews of the vacuum you're most interested in:

The best overall vacuum cleaner

The Henry HVR160 Vacuum Cleaner

(Image credit: Henry Hoover)

Henry HVR160 Vacuum Cleaner

This household classic is more than up to the job of tackling building work mess

Container capacity: 6 litres | Weight : 7.5kg | Size: H345 x W320 x D340mm | Power: 640W

Long 10m cord 
Powerful suction

Henry is an instantly recognisable vacuum brand, but not only is he a design icon, he's also a robust and easy to use vacuum cleaner for a renovation site. With strong suction and a number of different fittings, you'll find it no problem to vacuum even larger bit of debris. 

The HVR160 is a slightly more compact model, which makes it slightly lighter than other versions of Henry, but with the same suction power and same 10 metre cord. This means it has a slightly smaller dust bag than its larger contemporaries, such as the Henry HVR200-11 vacuum cleaner available from Amazon, but its 6 litre capacity is more than generous enough. Just remember to pick up extra dust bags to make sure you're not caught short. 

The best vacuum cleaner for dust

The Karcher WD4 Wet & Dry Vacuum Cleaner

(Image credit: Karcher )

Karcher WD4 Wet & Dry Vacuum Cleaner

Karcher's wet and dry vacuum works for fine dust and larger rubble

Container capacity: 20 litre | Weight: 7.1kg | Size: D384 x H526 x W365 mm | Power : 1000W

Huge capacity 
Can handle rubble and spills
Short cable 

If you're searching for the best vacuum cleaner for builder's dust, you'll likely come across wet and dry vacuums. These vacuums are super powerful, and are designed with suction that makes them great for dust and rubble, but also liquid, whether that be water that's pooled in your weather-exposed extension or paint spills.  

Karcher's WD4 vacuum is a perfect example, designed to handle the sorts of mess that a standard home vacuum couldn't. It comes with plenty of accessories for all kinds of jobs, and these can all be stored on the vacuum itself, making it a handy cleaner to have around your building site. 

It also has a large 20-litre capacity, and an innovative filter system that makes it easy to switch between its wet and dry functions without changing bags like many vacuums. 

However, the cord is quite short on this model at just 5 metres, and with its large capacity comes an increased size that can make storage more difficult, but it's perfect for keeping in a garage or similar. 

The best vacuum cleaner for plaster and clay

The Makita VC2512L Wet and Dry Dust Extractor

(Image credit: Makita)

Makita VC2512L Wet and Dry Dust Extractor

A professional quality vacuum that's suitable for plaster and clay

Container capacity : 25 litres | Weight: 8 kg | Size: L395 x W375 x H530 mm | Power: 1000W

Largest capacity
Super powerful
Requires bag changes for wet/dry

Makita, the popular power tool brand, may not be your first thought for a vacuum cleaner, but it's VC2512L model is a great choice for a busy site. This wet and dry vacuum is powerful enough to pick up heavy materials as well as dust, including gypsum used in plaster, soft wood, plasterboard, and even chippings from worktops such as Corian. 

Of course, with this extra power comes a higher price tag, and even when you find a deal on a Makita VC2512L, you'll find it's around four or five times the price of the cheapest heavy duty vacuums you'll find on Amazon on in a DIY shop. Plus, it's not as adaptable for general house cleaning. You may also find some more industrial vacuum cleaners have a power take off, which is a super useful function when using power tools. 

The best vacuum cleaner for DIY projects

The Vacmaster Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner 20L

(Image credit: Vacmaster)

Vacmaster Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner 20L

A vacuum cleaner for builder's dust with some clever features

Container capacity: 20 litres | Weight: 6kg | Size: H510 x W310 x L310 mm | Power: 1250W

Power take off and blowing functions
Can be used bagged or bagless
Feels a bit flimsy 

In our opinion, this Vacmaster wet and dry vacuum cleaner is one of the best buys for beating builders' dust. Not only is it a powerful and robust vacuum that holds its own against Henry and all the other vacuums on this list, but it has some interesting extra functions that you can take advantage of. 

The blower function can be used as a leaf blower and also to pump up air mattresses — a nice feature to have, but not necessarily a key concern for your building project. However, the power take off is something we think all vacuums should have for the DIY inclined. 

A power take off socket is basically where you can plug your power tool (think your best mitre saw or corded drill) and when you power on your tool, it will cause the vacuum cleaner to turn on too. You can connect it up to reduce the amount of dust, sawdust and debris and avoid a major clean-up later on. 

The best vacuum cleaner for liquids and spills

The Charles CVC370-2 Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner

(Image credit: Henry Hoover)

Charles CVC370-2 Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner

A powerful wet and dry vacuum cleaner that can handle all kinds of mess

Container capacity: 9 litres (wet)-15 litres (dry) | Weight: 7.1kg | Size: D355 x W355 x H510mm | Power: 1060W

High power 
Wet and dry functions
Good for water-based emergencies
Hard to store 

Charles is another member of the Numatic vacuum cleaner family; however, unlike Henry, this cleaner is both a wet and dry vacuum. Though the Charles CVC370-2 is a lot larger with a capacity of up to 15 litres of dry matter, it's actually lighter (when empty) than the smaller Henry vacuums, while packing in a powerful 1060W motor that ensures it packs a punch that can be used for everything from light cleaning of your home to unblocking drains. 

The best vacuum cleaners for builders' dust all tend to be this type of hosed products, yet the size and where the hose protrudes from cleaner can make storage tricky, especially when space is in short supply. 

How to choose the best vacuum cleaners

Not sure what you're looking for in a vacuum cleaner that's up to the job of tackling tough mess creating from a building project. Here's what you should consider:

  • Price: While professional vacuum cleaners sometimes come at a high price, it's worthy shopping around to find the best vacuum cleaner deals in order to keep the cost of your house renovation down.  
  • Bagged vs bagless: A bagged vacuum cleaner means you'll need to buy dust bags separately, but this is easier to empty when full without having to interact with the dust and mess itself
  • Power: The stronger the vacuum's motor, the more suction it will have. This will make all the difference when vacuuming up debris from a renovation project. 
  • Weight: Consider how heavy the vacuum is and how easy it is to transport from room to room. If it's too heavy, you'll be unable to use it in some areas, such as the stairs. 
  • Cord length: A short cord means limited movement and more unplugging of the vacuum, something that can be particularly irksome when you've only got a few sockets live during a renovation. 
  • Wet and dry vacuums: Many powerful vacuums suited to building mess are wet and dry. In most systems, you'll need to change bags in order to use the wet function, but it's a useful tool to have at your disposal for water-based issues. 
  • Storage: Many vacuum cleaners with good suction are large and can be difficult to store. You might even consider this as part of your renovation, ensuring there's a dedicated space in the utility room for vacuum cleaner storage. 

It's also worth noting that most of these vacuums are perfectly suited to domestic life after your renovation project has ended. 

How we test vacuum cleaners

Choosing the best vacuum cleaner for builders' dust and debris is no easy task, but the Homebuilding & Renovating team is here to guide you through the process with our hands-on experience and rigorous testing procedures.

In our reviews, we delve deep into key features: 

  • Evaluating the convenience of bagged versus bagless systems and the cleanliness of the emptying process.
  • Measuring the motor strength and suction efficiency for handling renovation debris.
  • Testing the weight and portability across challenging spaces.
  • Gauging the practicality of cord lengths, especially in socket-limited renovations.
  • Assessing the ease of switching between wet and dry functions.
  • Considering the storage requirements of high-suction vacuums, ensuring they fit seamlessly into your cupboards or garage.

Our passionate team has an in-depth understanding of the leading vacuum brands and the unique demands of DIY and home improvements. So, you can trust in our insights to ensure you're equipped with the best tools for your brilliant home renovation project.

Hugh Metcalf

Hugh is Deputy Editor of sister title and former Digital Editor of He has worked on a range of home, design and property magazines, including Grand Designs, Essential Kitchens, Bathrooms, Bedrooms and Good Homes. Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture and green homes, and moonlights as an interior designer, having designed and managed projects ranging from single rooms to whole house renovations and large extensions. He's currently renovating his own Victorian terrace in Essex, DIYing as much of the work as possible. He's recently finished his kitchen renovation, which involved knocking through walls, and landscaping a courtyard garden, and is currently working on a bathroom renovation.