Being a bit old school (it sounds cooler today than saying old fashioned), I'm not trusting of this battery-related technology stuff. It's not that I don't understand it, I'm entirely versed on battery technology — I just don't trust it.
Now, I won't be testing its wet vacuuming capability in this review, and I won't be testing it under more robust scenarios such as using it as an actual shop vacuum for which it's intended. My only use for this little guy is to detail my cars, which is what you will see, here.
A shop vacuum really is just a box with a motor attached to it, so this is like taking a picture of a box in a box. In fact, this shop vacuum looks and feels a lot like a tool box in size and shape, so the idea is just double reinforced. However, this is how the Ryobi 18V One+ Project Wet/Dry Vacuum arrived. That's right, arrived. They didn't have it in any Home Depot store anywhere near me, so I had to have it shipped. You may run into the same issue if you try to pick one up at your local store, as well. Be prepared. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
It hasn't taken much to get any of the other Ryobi One+ tools I've purchased ready to use. The Project Wet/Dry Vacuum is no different. All it needs are the instructions read, the hose and tool attached, and the battery installed.
It doesn't come without warnings, though, and you should be sure to read the instructions to find all of them or you may be sorry.
As you can see with it out of the box, it really is tool box-sized. For reference, the handle isn't much bigger than my fist. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Before we plunk the battery in place and get to the good stuff, I thought you might like to see this thing's insides.
Here's the bin that all that vacuumed yuck goes into — it's good-sized at 3-gallons. I don't foresee having any jobs for the Ryobi Project Wet/Dry Vacuum that will ever come anywhere near 3-gallons.
As you can see it's green and rectangular, but, also, it holds onto its lid with two latches — one on the front, the other on the back. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
This is the top removed from its bin — upside down, of course. It holds all the working guts inside. You can see the removable, cleanable dust filter used only for dry vacuuming — it has to be removed for picking up wet messes.
This is also where the majority of the weight is when the Ryobi Project Vacuum is empty — and it's pretty light weight, which is good since its handheld and you have to carry it anywhere you go to use it. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
If you haven't already invested in a Ryobi battery and charger, the kit will set you back an additional 100 bones over and above the $89 for the Project Wet/Dry Vacuum. That's right, this is not a cheap purchase, but, when your options are limited, whatyado? Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
If you've read the other Ryobi tool and equipment reviews I've done prior to this one, than the Ryobi 18V One+ Lithium+ 3Ah High Capacity Battery is a familiar sight. The protrusion poking out the top gets inserted inside the tool and the clips on the side lock it in place and have to be pressed to release it. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
By the way, if you want to use the blower function of the vacuum, don't lose the Hard Surface Tool, you'll need it to insert into output side of the vacuum to funnel the air pressure through the hose. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Ryobi Crevice Tool
Guess what? The Crevice Tool isn't on the side opposite the Hard Surface Tool, it's tucked away on the back. The entire Project Wet/Dry Vacuum is well packaged and everything that comes with it is somewhere on it, so, all those components will be easy to find when you grab it to go vacuum something — provided you keep it organized. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
When I purchased my 2.5-gallon Shop-Vac years ago, I knew I needed some very specific tools to work with, so I bought them. Here is a sample of those tools — the larger ones, anyway. I also have a collection of smaller ones for getting into tiny cracks and crevices like vent openings and such. If you don't have these Shop-Vac tools on hand already, they will set you back further, but they also work with this vacuum because they share the same 1 1/4" hose size. Pictured are my trusty claw tool for carpets and carpeted floor mats (which the Cobalt SS/SC has), a brush tool for hard surface and rubber floor mat cleaning, and an 18" extension. The hose that comes with the Ryobi 18V One+ Project Wet/Dry Vacuum stretches out to six feet long, but sometimes I need an extra-long reach to get into places like the rear package tray — which, on the Cobalt, is extremely deep. I should warn you that Ryobi specifically tells you in the owner's manual not to use non-Ryobi-approved attachments — I'm just gonna be a rebel here — your results may vary. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Putting It to Work: Cleaning the Cobalt's Interior
Okay, really, the Cobalt SS/SC needs a complete cleaning and detailing inside and out, but for this test, I'm just going to vacuum it out and call it good. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Interior Rear
Other than the aforementioned dust, there isn't much for the Ryobi 18V One+ Project Wet/Dry Vacuum to do in the back of the car. I don't go back there and I don't usually have passengers — especially in the back seat.
Let's be honest, the back seat in the Cobalt isn't good for much but holding personal items like jackets or back packs when I'm out on the road — stuff I need on hand and will grab when leaving the car. 'Cuz, she was already broken into once — not leaving anything in there again. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Driver Side Dirt
Here's the driver side floor of the Cobalt SS/SC before I hit it with the Ryobi Project Wet/Dry Vacuum. Again, I keep this car pretty clean, even when I'm adventuring, so there isn't a lot to pick up. As you can see, the floor mat is out of the car. I'll be vacuuming those separately, outside the vehicle. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Driver Side Clean
Whelp, there you have it. The Ryobi Project Wet/Dry Vacuum got the front driver side carpet all cleaned up with nary an issue. I checked the battery and was already down to three bars of power, so it's sucking the juice pretty fast.
The Cobalt's floor mats are all vacuumed up, but the Ryobi Project Wet/Dry Vacuum killed off the 3.0Ah Lithium+ Battery, leaving me without anymore power to work on the car. Since I'm running out of daylight, I'll have to charge them overnight so I can do the rest of the car. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Hard Surface Dust
Since the batteries had to be charged overnight, I resumed vacuuming the car a couple of days later. That isn't the fault of the batteries, they took a little over an hour a piece to charge, but since I had no light, I had to wait — as mentioned above in "Cobalt SS/SC Clean Floor Mats."
If you look on the rear armrest and the inner quarter panel, you'll see an example of the dust that got inside the Cobalt's interior while in Glacier. It was my own stupidity for keeping the windows down while driving on a dirt road. It was hot and humid, and I really prefer the fresh air to conditioned air. Lesson learned. The dust is super fine, which means it's both light and prone to finding its way into every nook and cranny on a nearly microscopic level. The Ryobi 18V One+ Project Wet/Dry Vacuum has its work cut out for it. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Freshly Dusted
Although you might consider it a foregone conclusion that the Ryobi 18V One+ Project Wet/Dry Vacuum would vacuum the dust up, you might also be surprised to learn that vacuums notoriously have problems with hard surfaces. Especially with fine dust trapped in textured surfaces — which happens to be exactly what the Cobalt has lots of. However, the Project Wet/Dry Vacuum was, indeed, successful.
You should be made aware, I did use my Shop-Vac brush attachment to get it done — and it still left a little behind on the vertical surfaces. Again, notoriously difficult to vacuum. Why not use the hose or the Hard Surface Tool? Two reasons: texture and non-flat surface. Okay, three: I don't want to scratch the plastic, and hard-edged plastic against another plastic can scratch. Due to my experience, I chose to go the safe route and use the brush.
The Cobalt SS/SC really needs a solid detailing. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Junk in the Trunk
Okay, not a lot of junk in the trunk, just some debris scattered around the trunk mat — again, I keep the Cobalt clean.
Wait, you noticed the Pioneer sub-woofer? Believe it or not, this is something that's come up before. No, I didn't install it, the Cobalt SS/SC came with it from the factory. When you got a Cobalt SS Supercharged, it was the standard sound system. Although, not a truly high-end system, the Cobalt's sound system is a cut above your average economy car — especially with a CD or MP3 player plugged in, not so much with the radio. It's a foible, but the radio provides a grainy sound that doesn't produce much range, while a CD or an MP3 player is crystal clear with solid depth. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
I know I didn't test it picking up nails and sawdust. Nor was the Cobalt's interior packed full of pine needles, pebbles, and who knows what finds its way into most people's cars. I didn't even get a chance to test its blowing capabilities. As I mentioned at the start of this article, it wasn't going to be a thorough test of all the vacuum's capabilities. A big reason for that is that I simply won't be using all of its capabilities. I only intend to use it for car cleaning and detailing duties. But I can tell you that the one I got runs and works like a vacuum should — which, is still a concept I'm learning to accept with battery operated tools.
How many greenbacks did this little wonder set me back, you ask? It wasn't cheap. At $89, it's pricey for a small vacuum — more than twice what my 2.5-Gallon Shop-Vac would cost me if I bought it today. But, when you don't have an option for plugging in and you need a vacuum, the price isn't too terrible, either. More importantly, it's relatively small, lightweight, and can go anywhere I need it to — something a normal vacuum simply can't do. Plus, I discovered that not having to deal with a cord made the whole process of using it considerably easier. So, pricey? Yes. Worth it? In my opinion? Absolutely.
Last thing: As always, read the instructions before you use it. All of them — including and especially the warnings. This review isn't a replacement for the instruction booklet that comes with the Ryobi 18V One+ Project Wet/Dry Vacuum.