How to Drain a Shop Vac

Things You'll Need

  • Drain hose

  • Garden hose (if needed)

  • Hose clamp (if needed)

Shop Vacs are designed to be easy to drain, no matter the model, and the process is simple. Once the tank is full, unplug the machine and bring it to where you are going to dispose of the liquid. There are three ways to drain the tank; the ways depend on the model Shop Vac you have. You will need no special tools. However, for older models you may have to exercise some caution.

Step 1

Locate the drain for the Shop Vac. On most models, the drain will be located on the side of the body of the Shop Vac just above the wheel base. The Shop Vac drain may be in the form of a plug that you pull or screw out (if so, go to Step 2), or a drain cock that will have a lever you turn to drain the water (go to Step 3). Some older models have no drain at all (go to Step 5).

Step 2

Position the Shop Vac drain spout over the receptacle in which you will drain the liquid and remove the plug. When the water stops flowing, replug the drain hole.

Step 3

Connect a drain hose (these models usually come with one) to the spout of the drain by pushing it onto the end. Make sure the opposite end of the hose is positioned where you want to drain the liquid. If you do not have a drain hose, a garden hose can be used as a substitute.

Step 4

Hold the hose firmly onto the spout and flip the drain cock lever up. When the water has drained, flip the lever back down to close of the drain..

Step 5

Remove the top of the Shop Vac. Carefully tilt the Shop Vac until the liquid pours out of the top. When you have emptied the liquid, replace the cover on the Shop Vac, but make sure it is locked into position before going back to work.


Shop Vacs can fill fast. If you have a Shop Vac with a drain cock, attach a garden hose with a hose clamp and run the end to where you want to empty the liquid. This way you can drain the machine from where you are working.


A full Shop Vac will be heavy. If possible, get someone to help you when emptying the models with no drain plug. Otherwise, you risk injury and making a mess. You might want to empty such models before they get too full and heavy.

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