Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What Type of Automatic Scrubber Do I Need?

What Type of Automatic Scrubber Do I Need?

In last week's blog, we discussed on why we should scrub and the basic inner workings of the automatic floor scrubber. This week, we will go into detail of how to pick the right scrubber based on the size of the area that needs to be cleaned. Also, do you need a rider or walk-behind, disk or cylindrical?


When it comes to deciding on what size of floor scrubber to purchase, there are a number of things to consider.

1. Square footage needed to be cleaned. Primary and secondary.
2. Storage area
3. Size of the fill/dump location/Doorways/Elevators

When determining the square footage, there is more to consider than just the largest areas needing to be cleaned.  To get the most use out of your investment, you may want to think about some of the smaller spaces too.  For example, a school may have in mind purchasing a machine to clean the gymnasium or the hallways.  The larger the scrub path, the quicker you can complete them. However, you may want to think about whether this machine will need to be used in the cafeteria, classrooms or even locker rooms.  You may want to consider a slightly smaller unit for these areas or possibly purchase two machines, one with a wider scrub deck and one smaller to care for these secondary locations throughout the facility.
Tennant T7

Another factor would be where the machine would be stored.  Is there enough room, ingress, and egress in the storage area?  You would need to examine the spec sheet to determine the width/length/height of the scrubber you are purchasing. 

Just as important as the storage area is the fill and dump location for the unit.  Most of the time, this would be done in a janitorial closet. Will the machine fit through the door of the closet?  Is there a hose long enough, or will the scrubber be able to get close enough to the water source to fill it?

Along with that same line, will the scrubber that I am looking for fit through the doorways on the way to the areas needing to be cleaned?  Most 32” machines would not fit through a 36” door unless the squeegee assembly was removed, as the width of the squeegee needs to be wider than the scrub path to pick up any slurry in the scrubbing process.  You can solve this problem by purchasing a smaller machine or by requesting a “tight-aisle” squeegee assembly on your scrubber.

So, the key would be to purchase the scrubber with the largest scrub path, while considering all the variables associated with the use of the machine.

Rider or Walk-Behind

Sometimes, people associate having a rider scrubber with use in only large areas.  The truth of the matter is that a ride-on machine is the most efficient, safest way to clean your floor, no matter the size.  In fact, a rider floor scrubber can use less operating space than a walk-behind.  Think about it, you sit within the footprint of the machine.  Because of this, you can safely scrub a smaller area, because you are not in the way. These units also come in sizes as small as 20”.  

Most rider units have a single drive wheel in the front of the machine.  This allows for a tremendously tight turning radius.  Basically, you just need a slightly wider area than the length of the machine to turn it around practically 180 degrees and scrub your way back out of an aisle or room.  

You may still decide, due to price or other factors, that you want a walk-behind floor scrubber. However, there may be more reasons to buy a rider scrubber that you haven’t thought of before.

Disk or Cylindrical

Tennant T500 Cylindrical Scrubber

There are a number of factors in deciding the type of scrub deck that you want.  

Basically, disk scrubbers work in more situations than the cylindrical decks do.  They offer more brush pressure and a more aggressive scrubbing motion.  You are also able to use disk floor scrubbers with pads or brushes.  This gives you nearly unlimited versatility in types of flooring and cleaning procedures.

Two locations where the cylindrical scrub method might be better is ceramic tile or a warehouse setting where there are only dust and small debris on the floor.  Cylindrical floor scrubbers typically have a small debris tray at the back of the deck.  This allows you to pick up small dirt and items on the floor.  Thus, saving time sweeping in front of the machine.

In most other applications, we would recommend the disk scrubber.  With the increased brush pressure, you can clean a floor more efficiently and remove stains better with the more aggressive method.

In Summary

Picking the right scrubber for your business takes time, research, and effort. But making the right decision will last your business for years to come. Here at Southeastern Equipment and Supply, we are available to help you make that right decision. Please call (800-440-6723) or email us today and one of our experts will assist you in making an educated choice.

About the Author

Jerry Wallace

Jerry's extensive career in facility cleaning and maintenance started in 1985 at a 1,000,000 square foot facility in Brooklyn NY.  In 1992, he started a contract floor cleaning business in Tennessee. Through the years, he has gained experience in maintaining and restoring concrete, epoxy, terrazzo, marble, vinyl composite tile, ceramic tile, and carpeted surfaces.  In 2009, Jerry came to Southeastern Equipment to impart his knowledge and expertise to our customers as an Account Executive.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Automatic Scrubbers Buyer's Guide

Why Scrub?

For years, the only and most effective way to clean floors was to use the “old fashioned” mop and bucket. In fact, this method is still widely used today although it is not the most efficient nor the most sanitary. There are some negative aspects to consider when cleaning with a mop and bucket. First and foremost, the cleaning solution is quickly contaminated as the mop comes in contact with the dirty floor and keeps getting submerged back into the cleaning solution. Before long, dirty water is just being spread over the floor. Additionally, mopping cannot clean the grout in tiled floors and baseboards tend to gather dirt from the mops. Mopping tends to “wipe” as it cleans without providing any real pressure to deep clean the surface and mopping large areas is very time-consuming. Realizing all of the pitfalls associated with mopping, most businesses have turned to the automatic floor scrubber. The automatic scrubber is an excellent way to clean effectively and efficiently.

What to Consider

What is the basic concept of an automatic scrubber? How does it work? To ensure that clean water is always being delivered to the floor, 2 tanks are used, one for clean water and one for dirty water. The solution system delivers the clean water with the solution and the scrubbing system cleans the floor. After the floor is scrubbed, the recovery system comes into play. A squeegee collects all of the dirty water and then in is vacuumed into the recovery tank. How are scrubbers powered? They are powered either by battery, corded electric or engine. The engine scrubbers are reserved for large industrial rider machines and use liquid propane, gasoline, or diesel. When choosing the right scrubber, a few factors need to be taken into consideration.

Cleaning Area Size

If you have a large area to be cleaned and are using a small scrubber, you will end up spending more time and money in labor over a long period of time. Here is a chart that can help you decide what size scrubber to acquire. These numbers may vary depending on the manufacturer of your machine.

Type of Scrubber Tank Size Cleaning Path
Micro Scrubbers 5-6 gallons 17 in or smaller
Small Scrubbers 6-15 gallons 17-24 in
Mid-size Scrubbers 16-25 gallons 24-34 in
Large Scrubbers 25+ gallons 26-38 in
Riding Scrubbers 20-100+ gallons 24 in+

Solution System

The solution system is key to providing the cleaning solution to the floor. The solution tank holds the water and chemicals which are delivered via either a gravity feed or pump feed. This ensures that dirty water never contaminates the cleaning solution.

Scrub System

There are a few types of scrubbing systems to consider depending on your needs.

Cylindrical Brush
  • Cylindrical Scrubbing-The cylindrical brush is going to be better on your grouted, rough and uneven floors but more expensive. Pre-sweeping is usually not necessary if you are using a cylindrical scrubber as it also performs "light sweeping" due to its design.
  • Disc Brushes
  • Disc Scrubbing-The disc style machine is better suited for smooth floors and has more down pressure than a cylindrical style machine. Also, pads or brushes can be used depending on your needs. Pads clean smooth floors better than brushes and there are a wide variety of pads available depending on how aggressive you want clean the floor. However, they are not as "green" as brushes because they have to be replaced regularly. With that in mind, brushes may be a better value than pads depending on the type of floor that you are cleaning.

Recovery System

After the solution system delivers the water and chemicals and the scrubbing system loosens the dirt from the floor, the recovery system retrieves that dirty water. The rear squeegee collects and wipes the water and provides a seal for the vacuum to remove the dirty water. The type of squeegee you choose depends on what you are cleaning. 
  • The most economical option is gum rubber; it provides good performance on smooth floors but will wear quickly on rough floors due to its soft compound.
  • Linatex is a good option if you are cleaning a floor which has a high concentration of petroleum base dirt, such as a factory.
  • Polyurethane will be your most expensive option mainly because it has the best abrasion resistance.

Propulsion System

There are 3 different types of propulsion on a modern day automatic scrubbers. Micro-scrubbers use manual propulsion. Smaller scrubbers use pad or brush assist propulsion. The pad or brush assists the machine along the floor. Traction drive propulsion is used on small to rider scrubbers to effortlessly move the machine.

What are the types of scrubbers available?

Type of Scrubber Tank Size Cleaning Path
Micro Scrubbers 5-6 gallons 17 in or smaller
Small Scrubbers 6-15 gallons 17-24 in
Mid-size Scrubbers 16-25 gallons 24-34 in
Large Scrubbers 25+ gallons 26-38 in
Riding Scrubbers 20-100+ gallons 24 in+

Walk-Behind Scrubbers

Walk-behind scrubbers come in a variety of sizes. Micro-scrubbers with a cleaning path of 17 inches or smaller are great for small areas. Then there are the large, 26 inch plus, scrubbers that can cover large areas quickly. 

  • Multiple sizes available
  • Battery or corded electric options on smaller scrubbers
  • The smaller walk-behind scrubbers are great for small areas such as bathrooms
  • Larger areas can take longer to clean and may lead to operator fatigue
  • Corded scrubbers are limited to length of cord
  • Limited sight-lines since operator is walking behind the machine

Rider Scrubbers

These scrubbers have high productivity in mind. Rider scrubbers will normally have a 24 inch or larger cleaning path with large recovery tanks. These machines will be battery powered and need to have a dedicated charging/storage area. They are relatively easy to use and can clean large areas very fast. 

  • High productivity
  • Maneuverable
  • Better sight-lines since operator is sitting in the front of the machine
  • Need a large area to store and charge them
  • Not built for small spaces

Chemical-free Scrubbing

Relatively new on the scene is chemical-free scrubbing. In these days, every effort is being made to be environmentally friendly. While all chemicals are not bad for the environment, it’s been found that going “green” can also save money! For example, Orbio’s ec-H2O technology electrically converts water into a cleaning solution. Testing has shown that this method effectively removes soil while significantly improving floor traction. No more chemicals mean fewer accidents and greater productivity. Scrubbers with this technology can clean up to three times longer on a single tank.

  • Save money on chemicals
  • Helps the environment
  • Improves floor traction
  • Higher initial cost


There are many factors to consider when buying an automatic scrubber. Adding a scrubber to your cleaning arsenal will greatly increase your floor appearance, sanitation and productivity. With any machine, be sure to provide proper training to your operators as well as follow a well-planned maintenance schedule. This will ensure you get the most out of your scrubber. 

If you have additional questions or still need more information, feel free to contact us and speak to one of our experts to assist you in choosing the right piece of equipment to suit your needs.

About the Author:

Dave Abercrombie started out with Southeastern Equipment in 2002 as an equipment technician and rejoined in March of 2016 to manage their e-commerce.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Brushes vs Pads, Which one will you go with?


So you have decided to buy a floor scrubber and your salesman has gone over the machine and answered all of your questions and you are ready to pull the trigger.  Then, there’s a question out of left field, “Do you want poly brushes or pad holders with your unit?”  You may be thinking, “Huh? I want the floor scrubber, what do you mean by pad holders or brushes?”  The part of the automatic scrubber that comes in contact with the floor and performs the cleaning is the pad holders or brushes. If you don’t know the difference it can be very confusing but let me try to help you when it comes time to make that decision.

The two things that I try to help the customer consider when making the choice between the two is durability versus versatility.

Pad Holders=Versatility: 

Pad holders offer a more versatile way to scrub the floor because there are so many different pads to choose from.  With a set of pads, you can be as passive or aggressive as you want to be with the floor. You can use a white pad to polish the floor, or a green pad to clean the floor, or even a black pad to strip the floor.  Depending on the pad, you can change the way the scrubber scrubs the floor.  This is what I normally recommend if you have several different types of flooring within the same facility (i.e. VCT tile, concrete, marble, ceramic tile) because you have more control in the aggressiveness of your scrubbing.

Poly Brushes=Durability: 

Poly brushes offer a more durable way to scrub.  While pads may be effective for approximately 40,000-60,000 square feet per set (depending on several variables), poly brushes can be used for up to 100-125 hours under normal circumstances.  This can be particularly effective in warehouse settings with a lot of concrete or other facilities where there is only one type of flooring (i.e. concrete).  That being said, a brush can only scrub a certain way, there is no way to change the aggressiveness of a brush without getting a different brush.

Both=Versatility and Durability:

In some circumstances, customers may feel a need to get a set of both poly brushes and a set of pad holders.  Depending on the circumstance, this would give the end user the best of both worlds, the durability of the poly brush; while also being able to remove the brushes and use the pad holders and pads to be more versatile.  One circumstance we see is when a client has a concrete warehouse to clean and they also have a tile showroom to clean. Brushes may be more effective in the concrete warehouse and pad holders may be more efficient in the showroom.  Another circumstance where more than one set of brushes or pad holders may be used is if you are using the equipment in two different environments, such as outside and inside.  You may want to consider ordering 2 sets of brushes or a set of pad holders and a set of brushes so that you do not cross-contaminate the brushes or pads that you are using (i.e. bringing something from the outside in or vice versa).

Another Option

As one of our newest offerings at Southeastern Equipment and Supply, we now offer the EZ Snap Floor Care System.  The EZ Snap Floor Care System is a tool free brush system that is designed with the aggressiveness of specific floor pads.  You can accomplish the same thing that you would be able to with a floor pad while enjoying the added durability of a brush at considerable savings.  


In summary, whether you are cleaning a brand new floor that was just put in or a warehouse floor that has seen its better days; there is a pad or brush that is designed with that specific floor in mind.  With a little bit of research and some help from your friends at Southeastern Equipment, we can work together to make the best decision to keep your floor scrubber operating at its most efficient.

About the Author:

Thomas Mitchell has been part of the sales force for Southeastern since 2006. With his years of experienced selling new and reconditioned equipment Thomas has positioned himself as one of the Nation's top sellers of commercial/industrial floor care equipment and a valuable resource for customers and the company alike.