Dan Carr

By: Dan Carr on March 24th, 2022

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Disc Scrubber vs Orbital Floor Scrubber: Which Auto Scrubber is Best?

You can choose between a traditional disc or an orbital scrubber when choosing an automatic floor scrubber for your facility. 

Whether a disc or an orbital scrubber will be more effective for your facility will depend on your cleaning goals and expected outcomes.

Choosing the right auto scrubber can help your facility reduce the amount of chemicals, labor, and money needed to clean and maintain your floors.

In this article and video, we’ll review the difference between a traditional disc scrubber and an orbital floor scrubber to help you decide which is best for your facility.

What's The Difference Between A Disc And An Orbital Auto Scrubber?

A disc auto scrubber is the most traditional floor scrubber. 

These machines have either a single or a double pad that rotates at speeds of 140-300 RPMs. The rotational motion scrubs the floors to remove soils and dirt from the floors.

Traditional disc floor scrubber machines are effective at cleaning floors, but an orbital scrubber can make cleaning faster and easier.

Instead of rotating, an orbital scrubber oscillates in tight, fast vibrations of speeds up to 2,250 RPMs. The vibrational motions of the pad make it easier for the machine to loosen soils from the floors.

4 Factors To Consider When Choosing Between A Disc And An Orbital Scrubber

There are 4 factors you should consider when choosing between a disc or an orbital scrubber. These factors include:

  1. Floor Maintenance Procedure
  2. Cleaning Efficiency
  3. Floor Area Size
  4. Sustainability Goals

1. Floor Maintenance Procedure

Auto scrubbers are able to perform a variety of cleaning tasks depending on the type of floor pad that’s attached to the machine. 

Based on which maintenance procedures your facility’s floors require, you can decide between a disc scrubber and an orbital floor scrubber.

Disc Scrubber Cleaning Procedure Compatibility

Disc scrubbers are used to perform daily cleaning and scrubbing procedures.

Instead of using a mop and bucket, your cleaning staff can use a disc scrubber, which will apply solution and scrub using rotational pad movements.

A disc scrubber can be used with either a floor pad or a floor cleaning brush. Cleaning brushes make it possible for your disc scrubber to clean uneven surfaces.

Orbital Scrubber Cleaning Procedure Compatibility

Orbital floor scrubbers are more versatile than disc scrubbers because they can perform the same floor cleaning procedures along with being able to perform chemical-free finish removal.

520411939 - 3m Scotch-Brite SPP

PRO TIP: Chemical-free finish removal is able to remove 2-3 coats of floor finish from your floors just using an orbital scrubber, a Surface Preparation Pad (SPP)™, and water. 

An orbital floor scrubber can even be used to clean grouted tile floors, making it easier to perform maintenance procedures in various areas of your facility without switching tools and equipment.

Unlike disc scrubbers, an orbital floor scrubber can only be used with floor pads. They are not compatible with floor brushes.  

2. Cleaning Efficiency

An auto scrubber is helpful at reducing the amount of time and money that your cleaning staff spends on floor cleaning. 

Auto scrubbers remove the need for manual floor cleaning by scrubbing the floors using automatic floor cleaning systems. 

Upgrading from a mop and bucket or choosing a more advanced auto scrubber will help you lower labor costs. The best choice for your facility will depend on the area being cleaned. 

Disc Scrubber Cleaning Efficiency 

A disc scrubber provides faster cleaning times when compared to cleaning with a mop and bucket. Generally, a 24-inch floor scrubber can clean your facility’s floors about 1400% faster than with a mop and bucket.

Orbital Scrubber Cleaning Efficiency

Orbital scrubbers are usually rectangular pads that vibrate. Due to this, they can be used to clean closer to the corners and edges of walls in your facility. 

An orbital scrubber may also be more efficient in facilities that commonly get high amounts of foot traffic throughout the day.

The vibrational motions of the auto scrubber pad make an orbital scrubber more efficient at removing dirt and other soils from your floors.

3. Floor Area Size

Auto scrubbers come in various sizes and types to achieve the most efficient clean in your facility. Depending on the size and shape of your floor area, you may benefit more from using either an orbital scrubber or a disc scrubber.

Some facilities will benefit from using either type of floor scrubber.

Disc Scrubber Pad Size

Disc scrubbers are available in micro, walk-behind, and stand-on or ride-on auto scrubbers. 

Walk-behind and stand-on or ride-on scrubbers are available with cleaning paths between 13 and 45 inches. These types of auto scrubbers can clean areas of up to 150,000 square feet, depending on the size of the machine you purchase. 

Micro scrubbers are smaller auto scrubbers that are able to get into small spaces and clean areas that are between 1,000 and 3,000 square feet.

In facilities that don’t need a large floor scrubber, a micro disc scrubber can be used to clean the floors.

Some facilities may need both a larger and smaller auto scrubber to account for different areas. A large auto scrubber can be used in large, open areas like hallways, and small scrubbers can be used for tight areas, like restrooms.

Orbital Scrubber Pad Size

T380AMR Floor Scrubber 20iin

Orbital floor scrubbers are also available in micro, walk-behind, and stand-on or ride-on scrubbers.

Like with disc scrubbers, these machines can be used to clean the floors in larger and smaller areas. Some of the micro-orbital scrubbers are able to clean behind toilets and on stairs.

Many orbital scrubbers have a square scrub head that is able to get into corners and against walls. This will make cleaning your floors easier than if done with a circular scrub head.

The decision between the size of a disc and orbital scrubber will depend on the specific type of machine you’re looking at and the way it can be operated around your facility.

4. Sustainability Goals

Disc scrubbers will generally reduce the amount of water and chemicals your facility uses to clean your floors when compared to cleaning with a mop and bucket.Green building 1

An orbital scrubber can complete cleaning and maintenance procedures using 70% less water and chemicals than a disc scrubber. 

Depending on the sustainability goals of your facility, you may benefit more from an orbital scrubber than a disc auto scrubber.

Disc Scrubber Chemical and Water Use

A disc floor machine can be used to scrub and clean your commercial hard floors. 

During daily floor cleaning, a disc scrubber uses less water and chemicals than cleaning with a mop and bucket. 

When performing a strip and wax with a disc scrubber, you will still need to use a floor stripper to remove layers of floor finish.

If you don’t strip your floors often, a disc scrubber may be sufficient for your facility.

Orbital Scrubber Chemical and Water Use

Facilities that want to further reduce the amount of water and chemicals being used during floor maintenance procedures may benefit from using an orbital scrubber.506500101 - CERTO Orbital Autoscrubber

Due to the movement of the scrubbing pad, the orbital scrubber is able to loosen and remove soils quicker and use less cleaning chemicals than with a disc scrubber.

Orbital scrubbers can reduce the amount of water and janitorial floor cleaning products your cleaning team uses during regular floor maintenance procedures by up to 70%. 

There are some orbital and disc floor scrubbers that come with technology that makes it possible to perform chemical-free floor cleaning. With this technology, your cleaning staff can clean your floors without the use of cleaning chemicals.

In addition to chemical-free floor cleaning, an orbital scrubber can be used to perform chemical-free floor finish removal.

Chemical-free floor finish removal, sometimes referred to as chemical-free floor stripping, eliminates the need for harsh floor stripping chemicals and allows your staff to restore your floors using less time and labor. 

By using a Surface Preparation Pad with your orbital floor scrubber, your cleaning team will be able to remove 2-3 layers of floor finish with just water.

Floor stripping chemicals can produce volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that can have negative health effects on your staff and building occupants. By performing chemical-free finish removal, your cleaning team can eliminate VOCs and avoid irritation or other injuries.

Eliminating chemical use in your facility will also reduce the amount of chemicals being put into the environment.


Final Thoughts

When deciding between an orbital and a disc floor scrubber, you should consider the floor maintenance procedure being performed, the cleaning efficiency of the machine, the floor area being cleaned, and your business’ sustainability goals. 

You should assess your current cleaning processes and procedures to figure out if you need the versatility offered by an orbital scrubber, or if a disc scrubber will allow you to achieve your desired cleaning outcomes. 

EBP and other Imperial Dade locations have a wide range of floor cleaning equipment, including various disc and orbital floor scrubbers.

If you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean, contact an EBP specialist for help choosing the perfect scrubber for your facility’s unique floor cleaning needs.

Download your FREE copy of The Ultimate Guide to Auto Floor Scrubbers

About Dan Carr

Dan Carr is the Equipment Program Manager for EBP Supply Solutions and a Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified and other training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He holds the ISSA CMI Basic certification and has over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.