Glenn Rasin

By: Glenn Rasin on July 30th, 2020

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4 Easy Ways to Remove Scuff Marks From Commercial Floors [VIDEO]

In any commercial building, hard flooring is susceptible to irritating and unsightly scuff marks. Although not damaging, scuff marks ruin the appearance of bright shiny floors.

As a facility manager, it is important to understand that scuffed floors can lead the people in your building to believe that your facility is unclean.

Unfortunately, no matter how frequently your staff cleans, scuff marks are inevitable. Daily sweeping and mopping will not remove or prevent these black smears and streaks.

Scuff marks are oil-based stains found on a variety of hard floor types including rubber, VCT, wood, LVT and more. They are generally left behind by items that have a hard, dark brown or black rubber bottom.

In entryways and hallways, heels and hard-soled shoes scrape the floor leaving behind these dark marks. In other more inconspicuous areas, you may find black scuff marks from ladders, furniture, rubber wheels of cleaning equipment, and other objects with rubber bottoms. Manufacturing facilities or garages can also see scuff marks on concrete floors from rubber tires.

Scuff Mark

Removing scuff marks is simple, however if done improperly can remove gloss from the floor or damage the floor by taking off layers of finish.

All too often, cleaning staff try to use chemicals or improper equipment to remove scuff marks.

Attempting to remove scuff marks with cleaning chemicals such as neutral floor cleaner or stripper will likely lead to more work. Neutral floor cleaner is designed to loosen organic soils but will have little to no effect on rubber, which is the most common cause of scuff marks. Therefore, a neutral floor cleaner will not be effective at removing scuff marks. On the other hand, using a heavy duty floor cleaner will help to remove scuff marks, but it can also remove floor finish, requiring you to have to recoat the floor.

How to Remove Scuff Marks From the Floor 

In this blog and video, we have compiled the best ways to help your custodial staff safely remove scuff marks from your commercial hard flooring.

How to remove smaller scuff marks:

Tennis Ball

tennis ball

The safest and easiest way to remove scuff marks is with a tennis ball. Using a tennis ball requires no cleaning chemicals or powered cleaning equipment and is least likely to damage floor finish and floor glossiness.

A tennis ball can be used to remove scuff marks on any type of flooring but will be most effective on wood floors and resilient flooring.

When using a tennis ball, choose a standard light yellow ball. Dark colored tennis balls may leave a smudge or stain behind.

Pro Tip: Make sure the tennis ball is clean. You will want the tennis ball to be as clean as possible so you’re not accidentally grinding any sand or soils onto the surface of your floor which would otherwise create scratches.

The most efficient and effective way to remove a scuff mark with a tennis ball is by placing the tennis ball on the end of a mop or broom handle. The handle will provide better leverage for tougher scuff marks.

To use a tennis ball on a mop handle, carefully cut a small “X” into the top of the ball. It should be about ¼ inch wide.

Pro Tip: Do not hold the ball in your hand as you cut it. Cutting the tennis ball in the palm of your hand can lead to injury. Instead, place the tennis ball on a firm surface or clamp to secure the ball.

After cutting an “X” into the top of the tennis ball, insert the top of the mop or broom handle into the “X”.

Flip the broom or mop handle over, placing the end with the tennis ball on the ground. Simply rub the tennis ball over the scuff marks. If the tennis ball is working, you will see the scuff mark disappear and the left-behind rubber will transfer to the surface of the tennis ball.

Floor Buffer with a Tan, White, or Melamine Pad

Using a floor buffer with the appropriate pad will be more efficient if you are dealing with multiple scuff marks in an area.

Floor buffers are also referred to as low speed, 175 RPM or swing machines. These are not the same as high speed floor burnishers.

Floor Pads

Floor pads for buffers are identified across most manufacturers by a standardized color scheme based on the function of the pad. Typically, the darker the floor pad the more aggressive or abrasive the pad is.

When removing scuff marks with a floor buffer and pad, it will be important to be mindful of the floor finish. Using the wrong pad can remove floor finish and result in having to strip and refinish the floor.

To remove scuff marks, lighter colored pads such as tan, white, or melamine should be used. Tan or white pads are typically used for polishing and buffing. They will remove light scuff marks while polishing floors. They are not designed to remove finish and will be least likely to damage your floor’s appearance.

Floor Burnisher with a Natural Fiber Pad

Another machine that can be used to remove scuff marks is a floor burnisher. It is important to note that floor buffers and burnishers are not the same piece of janitorial cleaning equipment.

Tan Natural & Synthetic Fibers Floor Pad

Burnishers are high speed machines, rotating between 1000 - 3000 RPM which creates friction to produce heat that shines the floor. This same feature allows them to remove scuff marks from the floor. The high speed and friction rub the black marks away.

Floor burnishers should be paired with natural fiber burnishing pads when removing scuff marks. Natural fiber pads are slightly more aggressive pads and are better at removing scuff marks and scratches.

Pro Tip: This machine can only be used with certain types of finishes. Floor burnishers can damage floor finishes and floor tiles if not used properly. If you typically use a floor burnisher it is likely fine, but check with the floor manufacturer to ensure floor compatibility.

How to remove difficult scuff marks

Some scuff marks will be too difficult to remove with a tennis ball or light pad and will require a more aggressive pad. If this is the case, a floor buffer should be paired with a blue pad.

Floor Buffer with a Blue Pad

Blue pads are more abrasive and can aggressively remove heavier scuff marks. Keep in mind a more aggressive pad will remove layers of finish from the floor and hurt the glossiness of your floor.

When using a floor buffer and blue pad, do not hold the machine in one spot for too long to avoid unnecessary damage.


Final Thoughts

The look of your shiny floors can be easily ruined by scuff marks. Keeping the floors looking great in your commercial building is imperative to satisfying occupants.

Removing scuff marks from floors does not have to be a challenge.

The tennis ball method will be the easiest and least likely to damage your floors. It will work great on lighter streaks. For denser or larger streaks, it may be more efficient to use a floor buffer or burnisher if you have one in your facility.

Keep in mind, if you use a floor buffer or burnisher it will need to be used with the correct floor pad to avoid damage to the floor.

EBP has an unrivaled selection of commercial cleaning products and janitorial cleaning equipment to help you build the most effective hard floor care program. We stock a variety of janitorial cleaning equipment including buffers, burnishers, floor pads, and more.

Let an EBP Specialist review your current cleaning protocols and recommend the best products and procedures.

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About Glenn Rasin

Glenn Rasin is the Chemical Specialist for EBP Supply Solutions and Lead Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He is an ISSA CMI-certified trainer, with over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.