A solidly built, rugged wet and dry vacuum cleaner, the Stihl SE 33 swaps smarts for brute force. With plenty of suction, it makes short work of messy jobs, ably cleaning up wet spills and dry alike. If you’re after a well-priced vacuum cleaner for DIY and workshop use, this is a top choice.
- Very powerful
- Large capacity
- Can blow as well as suck
- Excellent performance on all spills
- Can be hard to push on some surfaces
- UKRRP: £79.99
- TypeA wet and dry vacuum cleaner, it requires converting between modes. However, once done, it can suck up water, enabling you to tackle any job.
Cheap, effective and capable of dealing with any task you throw at it, the Stihl SE 33 is a superb wet and dry utility vacuum cleaner that can turn its hand to the dirtiest of jobs. It’s solidly built and offers a huge capacity, with the only minor downside that it can be difficult to use on some surfaces because of the sheer power of the cleaner.
Design and features – A chunky and solid cleaner
- Neat accessory storage
- Needs converting from dry to wet mode
- Can blow as well as suck
Wet and dry vacuum cleaners such as the Stihl SE 33 are built for the dirtiest jobs, throwing out design finesse and extras, such as motorised floor brushes, for simpler attachments and raw power.
Decked out in Stihl’s usual orange and white colourway, the SE 33 certainly stands out. It’s tough and rugged feeling, too; it’s built for life in a workshop rather than skirting around a modern apartment.
In the box is a 2m hose, which, combined with the 4m power cable, provides plenty of reach. As such, you can cover a fair area without having to swap power sockets. Although the main body weighs a hefty 5.4kg (when empty), the wheels on its underside make it easy to push around.
There are just two accessories included: a standard crevice tool and a floor head that has a foot-switch that lets you convert from carpet mode to hard floor mode and vice versa. These clip into the two-part wand, letting you adjust the length of your reach. Combined with that long hose, you can reach high up for cleaning around a roof as well as the floor.
Everything can be stored neatly on the body, with cut-outs for the accessories, and the hose wrapping neatly around the body. Whether you’re putting the cleaner into a shed or sliding it to the back of a workshop, the SE 33 can be tucked neatly out of the way.
In dry mode, you insert the PET filter and (optionally) a dust bag into the 12-litre central compartment.
There’s one bag in the box, and replacements cost £12.50 for a pack of five. Each bag self-seals on removal, so you can cleanly dispose of any dirt.
When you want to use the vacuum cleaner in wet mode, you’ll need to remove the PET filter, take out the bag and insert the foam filter instead. It takes a few moments, and it’s typical for powerful wet and dry cleaners. There are some exceptions, though: the Karcher WD1 Battery has a single filter for both modes.
Once you’ve completed a job in wet mode, you need to leave the SE 33 to dry before you can convert it back to dry mode. If you’ve got a mixed job to do, tackle the dry areas first before turning to wet mode.
In wet mode, you’ll need to empty out the cleaner, pouring the mess away before cleaning the inside and filter. This won’t be mess-free, and the size of the vacuum cleaner means you’ll want to do this job in either a big sink (or bath), or take it outside and clean the inside thoroughly with a hose.
As well as acting as a vacuum cleaner, the Stihl SE 33 can be used as a blower. Simply connect the hose to the other side of the cleaner. It’s a handy trick, allowing you to blow away dust following woodworking projects, for example, cleaning down an area before sucking up dirt from the floor.
Performance – Super-powerful on all surfaces
- Exceptional raw suction power
- Can be hard to push on some surfaces
- Deals with wet and dry messes easily
I put the Stihl SE 33 through my regular range of tests, starting out with my raw power test. I measure suction and airflow to give me the vacuum cleaner’s power in Airwatts, which is the only true measure of raw ability. Thanks to a hefty 1400W motor, the SE 33 delivered 405.89AW, which is significant.
In fact, it’s so powerful that the SE 33 can be hard to push on some surfaces; the level of suction power can result in the floor head sticking down on the surface you’re trying to clean. However, you’ll need that kind of power to deal with dirtier messes, such as DIY debris.
Next, I put the SE 33 through the various surface cleaning tests. Starting out on carpet, I sprinkled a teaspoon of flower in an ‘X’ shape on the floor. A sweep forwards and backwards through the mess left a clean path through the middle.
Likewise, the tough edge test performed on carpet tiles saw this vacuum cleaner suck up everything bar a small speck of dust. That’s exceptional performance and shows the power of the motor.
I then combed cat hair into the carpet and gave the SE 33 a pass-through the dirt; everything was picked up with ease.
Likewise, the SE 33 passed the floor test with flying colours. Here, the vacuum made a clean sweep through my spilt rice, picking up every grain in its path.
In these tests, the SE 33 performed as well as, or in some instances better than, any regular vacuum cleaner I’ve tested, using brute force and raw power to clean. The only difference is that a vacuum with rotating brush bars is generally easier to push around.
Finally, I moved onto the wet floor test. I crushed a Weetabix onto the floor, dousing it in water. Pushing the SE 33 through the centre of the mess, I was left with a clean strip after only a single pass – and the suction was so good that the floor was left virtually dry.
Despite the power on offer, the SE 33 isn’t that loud, measuring in at a reasonable 71.3dB. That’s no louder than your average cordless vacuum.
Exceptionally powerful and with plenty of room inside, the Stihl SE 33 is a great all-around wet and dry vacuum cleaner that can cope with any job you throw its way, outperforming the previous top choice, the Karcher WD4. If you’re after a cleaner for regular use, though, check out my guide to the best vacuum cleaners.
Should you buy it?
If you’re looking for a powerful vacuum cleaner for all jobs, the Stihl SE 33 is well priced, powerful and a great DIY vacuum for dirtier jobs.
The Stihl SE 33 can handle carpet and regular spills, but this vacuum isn’t as easy to move around as a regular cleaner; for general household use, then, look elsewhere.
A solidly-built and rugged wet and dry vacuum cleaner, the Stihl SE 33 swaps smarts for brute force. With plenty of suction, it makes short work of messy jobs, ably cleaning up wet spills and dry alike. If you’re after a well-priced vacuum cleaner for DIY and workshop use, this is a top choice.
It can vacuum in both wet and dry mode, and you can also use it as a blower.