Cleaning your grill, smoker, or wood stove with a dustpan and brush can be tedious, and you won’t be able to get into all the nooks and crannies to get the job done right. Using an old vacuum cleaner isn’t a good idea either, because you’re dealing with warm ash, and regular vacuums can’t handle the heat. (Remember, ash can take up to 7 days to become truly cold.)
To be able to do the job right, think about getting an ash vacuum—a metal drum with a heat-resistant hose, motor on the lid, and two-filter system that poses no fire hazard, won’t clog as easily as a regular vacuum, and sucks up the ashes without spreading clouds of dust all over the yard.
A good ash vacuum cleaner isn’t expensive and will serve you well for years, provided you use it properly and clean the filters regularly. But choosing one can be tricky, so we rounded up our favorites to help you decide. To see the list and know what you’re getting yourself into, read on below.
Best Ash Vacuums for Your Grill, Smoker, or Wood Stove
With its 10-amp motor, the PowerSmith PAVC101 delivers outstanding suction power. It can also be used as a blower and store vac, and the filters can be washed by hand.
The PowerSmith PAVC101 is our pick for more than one reason. Without a shadow of a doubt, two of the main reasons why are its power and versatility.
This ash vacuum has a quiet but powerful 10-amp motor that provides excellent suction power. Connect the hose to the air outlet, and you can use it as a blower. Thanks to the long, 16-ft. power cord and the carpet/floor attachment, this machine doubles as a shop vacuum.
The PowerSmith PAVC101‘s filter does a fabulous job of retaining ash in the 3-gallon canister. Every few uses, you can hand wash it with cool water and a mild detergent (mind you, the filter should never be placed in the dishwasher or washing machine).
This ash vacuum is smaller than the rest of the picks on our list (the Shop-Vac 4041400 has a capacity of 5 gallons; the Cougar A0500, 6 gallons). Then again, its size makes it compact and lightweight, so it’s easy to carry by hand and just as easy to maneuver around the house with its four casters.
If our pick, the PowerSmith PAVC101, is sold out—or you’re looking for an ash vacuum with a slightly bigger capacity—consider our runner-up below.
The Shop-Vac 4041400 has a 6.3-amp motor, 6-gallon canister, and 5-piece attachment set. It's sold with a 2-year manufacturer's warranty.
Our runner-up, the Shop-Vac 4041400, is designed for dry pick up of cold ashes from grills, smokers, wood stoves, and fireplaces in the home. It’s fitted with a 6.3-amp motor, has a 6-gallon capacity, and is sold with a 2-year warranty.
This ash vacuum cleaner delivers what the advertising promises. It has good suction power and its dual filter system with a stainless screen and a HEPA filter prevents it from spewing the ash back. The tank is made of stainless steel, and it’s connected to a wire wound hose with a metal nozzle.
The five-piece cleaning kit, which includes a concentrator, straight round brush, oval round brush, crevice tool, straight wand, curved wand, and 30-in. clear tubing, helps you get into all the nooks and crannies of whatever it is that you’re cleaning the ash from.
The Shop-Vac 4041400 is well-built, reasonably priced, and offers good value for the money. Shop-Vac is a reputable brand, so spare parts are relatively easy to come by. That’s why this small machine made it to the second place in our list.
The Cougar A0500 is a 6-gallon beast with a 6-Amp motor that sucks all the ash up and spits none of it back out. Made in the USA and comes with a 10-year warranty.
Now, if you’re willing to pay up for an American-made ash vacuum with a powerful and quiet 6-amp motor, a tool kit with a wide array of attachments, and a 10-year warranty (outside of normal wear and tear), get the Cougar A0500.
This has been The Love-Less Ash Company’s bestselling vacuum since they launched it back in 1998, and for good reason. This machine has a capacity of 6 gallons, and it sucks up all the ash in your BBQ without spitting any of it back out.
The Cougar A0500 comes with nine attachments designed to help you get into every single nook and cranny, including a bent nozzle, two wands, two crevice tools, three brushes, and a vented cuff and pellet hose. The attachments are neatly packaged in a durable kit bag.
A neat feature is the agitator rod on the outside of the drum. Just it a quick shake, and it will knock the ash off the filters to restore your suction without the need to disassemble and reassemble the vacuum.
Who Are Ash Vacuums For?
Say you own a grill, smoker, fireplace, and/or wood pellet stove. With an ash vacuum by your hand, you can clean the ashes much better than with a broom, shovel, and bucket.
The key is to rake the coals or embers to the other side and wait for as long as you can before sucking up the ashes. These vacuums are designed for cool to warm fine ash, and not for live fires or hot debris.
So make sure you’re coming in with the right expectations; you will still be shoveling out most of the debris and disposing of them in a bucket. It’s the fine ash that gets into the nooks and crannies of the firebox that you can get rid of with these vacuums.
What You Should Know Before Buying
There are a few things you need to know about using and caring for an ash vacuum, especially if you’ve never owned one before.
If you play with fire, you get burned:
Ash vacuums can withstand heat up to a certain point. But even the toughest ones out there are not designed to suck up hot ashes and red-hot embers. Let your grill, smoker, or wood-burning stove cool sufficiently lest holes burn through the filters or the motor get damaged.
The materials used for the filters of most ash vacuums are generally heat resistant up to 1,000°F (537°C). However, even prolonged exposure to lower heat, such as when you are vacuuming the embers of a live fire or debris from a recently extinguished fire, can burn though them. This will typically void the warranty.
Regular cleaning is non-negotiable:
You’re dealing with fine ash that tends to settle in the filters and affect the suction performance of your ash vacuum. To prevent this, you need to clean the two filters regularly, preferably after each and every use.
Disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly procedures vary from one vacuum to another; take the time to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions in the owner’s manual for your make and model.
An ash vacuum is not a shop vacuum, and vice versa:
The vacuums on our list are ash vacuums and they are specifically designed to suck up ash.
So if you want yours to last a long time, as most of you reading this roundup probably do, we strongly recommend that you use it as such. Rake large lumps to the side before vacuuming and make sure you’re only vacuuming fine ash.
Consider getting a dry/wet shop vacuum if you need one for dry messes in the car or garage, spilled liquids around the house, or pooling water in the basement.
Why Trust Us
We spent 39 hours researching and rounding up the best ash vacuums so that you won’t have to.
To come up with a shortlist of ash vacuums, we took an informed, in-depth look at product specs; read assembly guides and product manuals; and sifted through good and bad customer reviews at multiple retailers.
We then drew on the decades of combined grilling and meat smoking experience of our team to scrutinize our favorites and come up with the final list of winners, which you can see right before your eyes:
- Our pick, the powerful and versatile PowerSmith PAVC101
- Our runner-up, the sturdy Shop-Vac 4041400 with a slightly larger canister
- Our splurge pick, the USA-made Cougar A0500 with all of its bells and whistles
Thank you for stopping by, and we do hope you found our roundup as useful as we enjoyed putting it together. If we missed something we should consider when updating this guide as we regularly do, do not hesitate for a second to leave a reply below.