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Selecting the Right Floor Scrubber or Sweeper for Your Business

August 18, 2021 8:00 PM by Tennant Company

Posted in Cleaning Solutions

T500 walk-behind scrubber cleaning school by lockers

Cleanliness is important - for health, safety, and your reputation. As people have become more aware of the role that cleanliness plays in health, companies have taken dramatic steps to improve sanitation protocols. It’s important to have a clean place to work, shop, eat and do business — there is no industry where this is not prominent.

This push has led many companies to begin looking to other methods that provide the deep clean that is needed. A mop and bucket simply won’t do anymore. The demands have increased, the necessity has increased, and the definition of “clean” has changed.

When you are looking for floor cleaning equipment that meets the needs of your facility, you have a lot of options to sift through. Do you need a walk-behind or a ride-on machine? Do you need a scrubber or a sweeper? What specific features do you need for your facility?

We’ve taken some of the confusion out of the process with these helpful buying tips for scrubbers and sweepers. This will help you make the right choice for your facility and your staff.

Do You Need a Walk-Behind or Ride-on Machine?

When you are looking at a walk-behind scrubber vs a ride-on scrubber it may not look like a big difference at first. Quite often, a good portion of many facilities' cleaning budgets is in labor. In larger areas, a ride-on machine would be superior because it not only decreases the time it takes to clean the area but also decreases your labor costs.

Walk-behind floor cleaning equipment is typically best suited for cleaning smaller areas or facilities, especially those that may be difficult to maneuver with bulkier equipment. The price is also less than ride-on equipment, but that should not be the first — and definitely not the only — reason to purchase.

Using a walk-behind on a larger area will shorten the life of the equipment, and you won’t see the long-term impact of labor savings. A walk-behind also requires a certain amount of physical exertion which is also difficult to sustain over a larger cleaning surface. Ride-on machines are faster and therefore better for larger areas.

Take the time to assess the area to be cleaned and note any special needs you might have regarding how that space can best be cleaned.

Choosing the Right Machine for the Job

There are many factors that should be considered when choosing the right machine for the job. You may have other needs than those listed here that strongly influence your buying decision, but what we’ve listed here are areas that most people use to guide their floor cleaning machine choices.

  • Sweep or Scrub? This is the first consideration you need to make as you approach your purchase of a cleaner. Look at what is being cleaned. If you are dealing with light, bulky debris or heavy or wet debris, a sweeper may be the best choice. Fine dust or dirt like what is brought in by foot traffic, floor marks or grease is likely best handled with a scrubber.
  • Size of the space to be cleaned. Look at the total square footage of the area to be cleaned. It is probably more cost-effective and efficient to clean larger areas with a ride-on machine while smaller areas may be better served with a walk-behind.
  • Cleaning path sizes. Assess key areas like the width of the narrowest aisle, if any of the aisles are a dead end (meaning the machine has to turn around), and the narrowest area (such as a doorway) that the machine needs to pass through for cleaning or for dumping.
  • Type of floor surface. With scrubbers and sweepers, you can choose the type of brushes to use. This means you have to consider your floor surface and the soils to be removed. Are you mainly dealing with a finer dust? Then you want a Nylon or Polyester brush. Heavier soils or debris may call for a wire reinforced broom. A squeegee blade that is at least 95% pure natural rubber can address many soils and is good on rough and uneven floors while a gum rubber squeegee is better for finished, smoother surfaces.
  • Labor rate vs Machine cost. Based on the labor savings that are typically achieved by utilizing mechanized cleaning equipment, most facilities see a quick return on their investment. This is a good reference point to determine the best machine for your facility and factor it into your cleaning budget.
  • Maintenance. Any equipment requires maintenance to keep it working efficiently and effectively. However, this should be factored into the buying decision. It is best to assign upkeep and maintenance of the equipment to a single person or service team to ensure it stays in peak condition and any issues are identified quickly so they can be handled quickly.

Finding the right machine for the job is important. You want something that will serve your needs and keep you under budget. Hopefully, these tips will help you find the floor cleaner that is right for your facility.

S20 Ride-on sweeper sweeping bulky debris at foundry


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