Wet Spill Vacuum Cleaner Attachment


You’ve got to hand it to [Lou], not only does he know how to build simple items, he also knows how to sell their worth. Here’s a wet spill vacuum cleaner attachment which you can build on the cheap. A picture of the final product fails to have the same impact as his video showing its use in cleaning up a simulated cat disgorging from the carpet.

From the picture we’re sure you’ve already figured out how it work. The air and damp matter come in one side and are dropped into the jar as the air is sucked out the other. [Lou] suggests raiding your recycling bin for the jar. The intake and outflow are both pieces from a PVC P-trap intended for a sink drain. They have a threaded flange which keeps the part from pulling all the way through the 1.5″ holes drilled in the lid.

This is going to work best with a high-flow shop vacuum. So while you’ve got the tools out, why not build a dust separator as well?

45 thoughts on “Wet Spill Vacuum Cleaner Attachment

      1. You’re referring to “PTFE” tape which is recognisable in that it has no adhesive properties and incredibly thin (as you pointed out, for filling in threads to make them air/water/gas/fluid tight). What Lou used was “electrical tape”, a sticky-back plastic tape that has a reasonable amount of natural stretch before it breaks, typically used by electricians to tape over wires as it’s relatively thick so can insulate bare ends. It also tends to last a bit longer than normal “sellotape” which can have a tendency to yellow and go brittle although will leave a sticky residue.

        1. PTFE tape isn’t actually intended to “fill-in” the joint but to reduce friction to the point that the joint can be made water tight or gas-tight itself.

          Common misconception though that leads to dodgy plumbing.

  1. Not sure I see the point here. Most shop vacs are good for liquids provided you remove the filter. My old vac had a float valve that would block airflow when the reservoir filled up to prevent water from entering the motor.

      1. I think the confusion here stems from the inclusion of the phrase “This is going to work best with a high-flow shop vacuum,” which was kind of silly. I believe he’s using a regular household vacuum that you typically clean carpets with.

          1. Be careful. If the jar tips the wrong way, any liquid inside it could get sucked into your vacuum cleaner and damage it, or even start a fire.

    1. Liquids make your shopvac funky. Especially if the vac already has other solid crud and dust in it.

      Plastic bin shop vacs stink. Metal bin shop vacs rust, even the stainless ones.

      Also, most shop vacs have filters in them. The liquids accumulate on the filter and ruin the efficiency.

      So keeping the shop vac dry is a good idea.

        1. I don’t think I would trust a $10-$20 vac to not burn my house down but maybe that’s just me. Tear apart enough cheap crap from China and you start getting paranoid…

    1. lol all the materials were free?
      i mean instead of plummbing supplies,
      one could use the regular hose pictured
      and just ducttape it in place.

      the hose pictured would be free on the curb
      i know ive found a few that way

      PS: love the hack, why didnt i think of this?

      PPS: this is for a regular vaccum,
      the ones with hose attactments (well, the connection port)

    2. I don’t think that you can find a good vacuum cleaner that can handle liquids at the price of 10$. Well maybe something from China but I doubt if it would continue to work for a long time.

    3. At first blush, this is certainly no better than a shop vac, but it is much easier to clean, because there is no long hose and motor, so you can rinse the whole thing in the sink. I have a regular shop vac, but didn’t want to coat the inside of the hose with all the yucky stuff. My wife likes that it is a simple lightweight attachment to her regular vacuum, and more importantly that I built and used it, before she got home.

      If you have an old plasic jar, this is 10 bucks to build. Better yet, I built it for free with parts from around the house… …but now two of my sinks leak BAD!

  2. I made a small one of these for my handheld vacuum out of a spice jar and aquarium tubing a few weeks ago. Screamed like the Devil when it was running, but sucked the coolant/mud out of the spark plug wells on my car like a champ.

    One benefit this has over a wet-vac alone is that you can collect whatever it is you’re sucking up. In my case I was curious about the makeup of the gunk, so having a clean jar of it when I was done was very nice.

  3. Very nice idea, especially since our 1 year old dog had a rare toilet mishap this morning. I was imagining more separation of the inlet and outlet pipes (by extending one of them half way into the jar), since isolating the two to let the gunk fall out of the way is the whole point.

    1. A baffle would be a great add. LateralThinkerer posted a perfect solution in the video comments. Use the other part of the P trap down inside the jar, to provide more inlet/outlet separation. I think that would work best if you cut half of it off, so the inlet air would come down, into the jar, turn, and create a vortex/centrifuge effect.

  4. Featured in Pop Sci or Mex decades ago made with pickle buckets. Make in-hose port extend down into tank a way with an angle to get a vortex. Got yuck! Jab hose in hole near top of disposable jug, suck on top with regular hose held by hand. Trash. Done. Beats cleaning out a wet vac, which for poo will never quite come out. Old textbook way to clean up spilled mercury. Bottle, two hole stopper, two pieces hose, suck by mouth!

  5. I made a similar version of this to get extra transmission fluid out of my car. It used a pickle jar and some spare tubing. I punched two holes into the lid and duct taped around the hoses. It worked very well. This is a nicely refined way of doing the same thing.
    I wonder if a setup like this would work well for breeding brakes?

  6. he showed cleaning up oil but i would be careful not to use it to clean up gasoline because of the fumes in fact any flammable liquid could create a fire risk so never use to clean up flammable liquids.

    1. Not just a risk – imminent death is what awaits someone sucking spilt gasoline with a vacuum cleaner.

      Many vac’s use the air it sucks up to cool the motor. Combine that with low pressure in the collection tank resulting in instant fuel vapour and the fact that vacuum cleaner motors usually use commutated motors ( sparks ) and you have a big ass fireball waiting to happen in your garage.

  7. I wouldn’t use this with your “good” vacuum, especially if it’s your wife’s, for long term.

    Regular wet/dry vacs (at least the ones I’ve seen) keep the cooling air for the motor separate from the vacuuming air. Most home vacs use the suctioned air and circulate it through the motor to cool them. While you might be careful not too suck up too much liquid to go to the vacuum, the damp vapors might cause the motor to corrode. Giving you rusted bearings or corroded contacts and windings.

  8. Additionally, I would add some manner of “castle wall” type attachment to the end of the house to allow for constant airflow, rather than a flat edge that causes it to clamp down and seal against the surface (especially with liquids).

    Even just cutting square notches around the end of the house mouth would suffice.

  9. I made a mini version of this for solo bleeding vehicle brake systems.

    The nasty brake fluid is deposited in a mason jar. You definitely don’t want that in your shop vac, or your vacuum pump.

  10. I have a Craftsman 2 gal. vac which is very prone to feedthrough of picked-up liquid through the vac fan. (You have to not use the minimal filter – filter cloth wrapped around a frame – when vaccing liquid.) They used to sell a wet filter but now it’s unavailable.
    I’d like to try improving the removal of liquid from the from the flow using Joe’s approach by filling the trap container with a filtering material like cotton wool or even just rags.
    I’m just putting this up for comment for now, but if I actually try it I’ll be back with results.

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