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.


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