The Ultimate Buying Guide for Floor Scrubbers

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Having the right equipment helps. For industrial applications, that means using a floor scrubber to make quick work of large areas and heavy-duty jobs, saving your team time and money.


Explore our buying guide to learn how floor scrubbers work, and to find the option that’s right for your business.


Floor scrubbers 101


Trade your mop and bucket (or worse, rags and elbow grease) for an efficient commercial floor scrubber that uses less water and cleaning solutions than traditional floor-cleaning methods to get the job done.


Floor scrubbers are equipped with a tank that dispenses a mixture of water and detergent. As the operator propels the floor scrubber, water and solutions are applied to the floor via a scrubbing pad or brush. Pads are used for even, coated surfaces and brushes for uneven, rough surfaces. A squeegee and built-in vacuum then kick in, returning the water to the tank for a quick-drying floor, helping to prevent slips.


The equipment is built to make cleaning easier and more ergonomic, reducing labor costs and fatigue. Pad-assist floor scrubbers use the friction of the scrub deck against the floor to propel the machine forward, and they are activated by tilting the machine forward. (This video shows you how they work.) Traction-drive floor scrubbers use an electric motor to propel the machine. (Check out this video to see them in action.)


Should you walk or ride?


As you peruse floor scrubber options, you might be wondering what type is right for your facility and team—walking, riding, or hand-held. To make the right choice, it’s helpful to understand the characteristics and advantages of each one:


  • Walk-behind: With its easy maneuverability, a walk-behind floor scrubber is ideally suited for tight or difficult-to-reach spaces as you navigate it into corners and nooks. You can also use it to clean under desks, tables, workbenches, and other furniture or equipment. Its small footprint makes it perfect for facilities with limited storage availability.


  • Ride-on: Consistent speed and less-intensive operating requirements enable a ride-on floor scrubber to cover more square footage in less time than walk-behind models, making it the right choice for larger areas. While it might cost more upfront, a ride-on floor scrubber can help you save money over time through reduced operator fatigue and lower labor costs.


  • Hand-held: This type of floor scrubber is ideal for short-term use to access hard-to-reach spaces, such as corners, ceilings, and skirting boards. It makes a handy supplement to ride-on or walk-behind models that are used for wider floor expanses.


How much capacity is needed?


Floor scrubbers come in a variety of sizes and capacities. Which one you choose will largely depend on the expanse of the floors you’ll be covering. But note: Being able to handle the job in one go is crucial. Consider these factors:


  • Battery-powered vs. corded: Consider the amount of time the floor scrubber will be running as well as the extent of the job. A battery-operated machine might be a better fit for a larger space as the reach of a corded machine is limited based on access to a power outlet. (Double-check manufacturer recommendations before using an extension cord with a floor scrubber.)


  • Size of solution and recovery tank: The bigger the job, the bigger the tank should be to reduce or eliminate the number of mid-job refills.


  • Width of cleaning path: Check the dimensions of the floor scrubber to make sure you can easily maneuver it throughout your facility. You don’t want to end up with a riding floor scrubber that won’t fit down your aisles.


  • Motor power: Compare options to see which power capacity is recommended for the floor expanse you’ll be covering.


Make the most of your floor scrubber


>While a floor scrubber is designed to do the hard work, here are a few best practices that can help you maximize its performance.

First, clear floors of dust, dirt, and other impediments by sweeping or dry mopping the area. This ensures debris doesn’t get caught under the pad or squeegee and cause streaked or scratched floors or damage the machine itself.


Typically, you’ll want to start the cleaning process in the corner farthest from the door, so you are moving toward it as you work and won’t be walking on clean floors.


After completing the task, remove the recovery tank (where the water goes after it’s used) and rinse it completely to avoid chemical buildup. Then store the floor scrubber safely out of the way until its next use.


Don’t forget the cleaning pads


Using the right cleaning pad for your machine and being aware of its life expectancy is also critical when using a floor scrubber. A pad’s life expectancy is based on how many square feet of space it has cleaned. Calculate the amount of floor space that will be cleaned and how often you’ll be running the floor scrubber to estimate when you need a replacement floor scrubber pad. Consider the demands of your application when choosing a pad, with a range of floor scrubber pad options available for scrubbing, buffing, polishing, and more.


If your machine is battery-operated, ensure you have a sufficient charge to complete the job and establish a policy for when your team should recharge it. (For example, nightly or weekly, so you can be sure it’s ready to go when you need it.)


Train your team on how to use the floor scrubber safely, to protect themselves as well as the equipment and your floors. Instructing them on proper floor scrubber maintenance is also important to protect the machine’s lifespan and keep your floors cleaner for years to come.


Find the floor scrubber that fits your needs


Take the next step toward cleaner floors by exploring the wide range of floor scrubbers and accessories Global Industrial offers. If you’re unsure or have questions about which floor scrubber might be right for you, connect with our product experts who can help you identify the size and features needed to get the job done right.


The information contained in this article is for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations. If there is any question or doubt in regard to any element contained in this article, please consult a licensed professional.  Under no circumstances will Global Industrial® be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on this article.