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Milwaukee M18 0880-20 Review

A well designed, toolbox-style vacuum that offers convenience and performance
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $120 List | $110 at Amazon
Pros:  Good hose design, powerful motor, great storage
Cons:  Heavy, filter isn’t washable, shorter runtime, mediocre puddle clean up
Manufacturer:   Milwaukee
By Nick Miley and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Feb 21, 2020
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#2 of 9
  • Dry Work - 40% 9
  • Wet Work - 30% 6
  • Battery Life - 20% 4
  • Convenience - 10% 6

Our Verdict

If you're looking for a convenient, powerful, and versatile wet/dry vacuum, then look no further than the Milwaukee M18. This machine is packaged in a toolbox-like shape with all the attachments and the hose stored internally. Thus, it takes up very little space, and it's easy to transport. This tool also delivers on all varieties of wet and dry cleaning needs. So, whether you need to suck water out of your boat's bilge or you want a portable dust collection tool, you can't go wrong with the M18.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Milwaukee M18 stands apart from its competitors because it can tackle both wet and dry work without so much as breaking a sweat. Saturated carpets, nuts, and bolts, loose debris are all a breeze. Moreover, the attention paid to details such as the self-retracting hose and dusting tool makes using this machine convenient. When it's time to wrap things up, the attachments and hose are secured in the lid of the toolbox shaped canister — so it's easy to put on a shelf or in a cabinet.

Performance Comparison

This machine eats-up sawdust like Whimpy eats hamburgers.
This machine eats-up sawdust like Whimpy eats hamburgers.

Dry Work

With few exceptions, the M18 showed itself to be quite capable of moving dry materials without clogging, struggling, or leaving a job incomplete. We had this model suck-up large, heavy debris such as machine nuts and bolts, lag screws, carriage bolts, washers, and wood screws. Excepting the lag screws, the Milwaukee moved this hardware without any trouble. Further demonstrating its suction prowess, the vac moved a 100-gram cylinder weight like it was sucking a scrap of paper.

For those doing lots of woodwork, this machine can handle heaps of sawdust. We laid out 9 cups of sawdust in a pile, and the Milwaukee gulped it down like a blue whale feeding on krill. For those who need a tool to clean in tight spaces such as between car seats, this model also has a quality crevice tool. This attachment can penetrate 8 1/4 inches into tight spots, and it creates focused suction that draws up grains of rice (the material used in this test) as far away as a half-inch.

The puddle test illustrates the diverse tasks that these machines can tackle. As it turns out  the design of the floor attachment has more to do with success than suction. Those attachments with channels on the contact surface allow air to flow and messes to disappear.
The puddle test illustrates the diverse tasks that these machines can tackle. As it turns out, the design of the floor attachment has more to do with success than suction. Those attachments with channels on the contact surface allow air to flow and messes to disappear.

Wet Work

The ability to clean-up wet messes with ease is a real benefit offered by these machines. If cleaning up liquids is one of your intended uses for your vac, the M18 won't disappoint. This model will move two gallons of water from a bucket to its canister in just 10 seconds! It'll clean a puddle consisting of 3 cups of water off a linoleum in a minute, though other models' better designed floor tool attachments can complete this task in about half the time.

The Milwaukee makes up for the poorly designed floor tool with its ability to inhale waterlogged sawdust. We took the 9 cups of sawdust previously used in the dry work assessment and poured 6 cups of water into it to create a lumpy mix. The vac ripped through this challenging material in just over a half a minute. Not too bad considering that other models took three times as long. One of the benefits of the vacuum tube running directly into the canister where other models have an elbow.

The cordless, compact dimensions of these machines are well suited for cleaning out the interior of automobiles. As such, we tested their ability to draw water out of a saturated floorboard mat — a challenging task to be sure. In this evaluation we let 2 cups of water soak into the carpet and then measured how much we could remove. The M18 got 1 ¾ cups of dirty water back out — about average for the class.

As a final assessment in this metric, we used a water lift gauge to measure the suction power of the vacuums. This instrument is based on how many inches of water a vacuum can lift in a continuous vertical column. The M18 registered 25 inches of water lift, which is near the top of the class.

The Milwaukee M18's streamlined design stores its attachments  hose  and battery internally. Many newer batteries have a charge indicator as seen here.
The Milwaukee M18's streamlined design stores its attachments, hose, and battery internally. Many newer batteries have a charge indicator as seen here.


The battery assessment is straight forward. We take a fully charged cell and then run the vacuum without a load. This means that the motor is only drawing air. We allow the machine to run until it dies. The time it takes to get to a fully drained battery is what we call runtime. We then take the runtime and divide it by the battery cell's amp-hour rating to get a value that is comparable across all the models under review.

The M18 has a run time of 23 minutes and 15 seconds. Its amp-hour rating is 5, so that comes out to 4 minutes and 39 seconds. That, unfortunately, is about a minute below the class average. However, the short runtime is mitigated by the power it brings to bear, so tasks will take less time to complete.

The toolbox design makes storage a cinch.
The toolbox design makes storage a cinch.


As the name implies, the convenience metric is all about assessing design features that make the user's life easier and the vacuum more effective. Much of the sub-metrics in this category are physical measurements as opposed to tests of performance. The outside dimensions of this vacuum are 16 ¾ x 6 ½ x 12 (L x W x H) inches. That's quite compact, and when combined with the unit's regular shape, it makes it very convenient to store.

The internally stored hose and attachments are easily accessed. The hose has an above-average range of extension — from 24 to 90 ½ inches — with a self-retracting, spring-like structure. At 10 lbs 2 oz, the M18 is well above average for the class though it is right around average in the noise department. Additionally, the unit comes standard with a HEPA filter that can be cleaned out but not wet washed.

The M18 all buttoned-up.
The M18 all buttoned-up.


The list price for the Milwaukee M18 is average for the class of wet/dry vacs. However, its performance in our evaluation is way above average. This cost to performance ratio meets our definition of value to a T.


The Milwaukee M18 is a superior wet/dry vacuum. This machine excels in every metric except battery life. It has a very efficient design that allows for easy access to the high-quality hose and attachments. The motor is powerful and capable of moving wet and dry materials. This top-tier performance comes to the consumer at an average price. When looking at the overall performance, there is no better vacuum than the M18.

Nick Miley and Austin Palmer