Dan Carr

By: Dan Carr on April 23rd, 2020

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How to Strip a Floor Without Chemicals: 5 Major Benefits

As the demand for more sustainable buildings continues to grow, the importance of green cleaning and maintenance procedures have never been more important.

In nearly every market, including healthcare, education, hospitality, and elsewhere, more sustainable practices have become a main focus.

Whether you are looking to achieve LEED certification or meet rising demand, finding ways to integrate more sustainable practices into your cleaning and maintenance program and ultimately increase your building’s sustainability is important.

In any facility with hard floors, floor care procedures like stripping and finishing are necessary to keep them looking great.

Pro Tip: Stripping is the process of removing old layers of finish and dirt from the floor, preparing it to be coated with new layers of finish.

 

Traditionally, stripping a floor requires harsh chemicals and a lot of time and labor from your staff. But, with new technology your staff can more efficiently strip a floor without the use of chemicals.

Eliminating chemicals from floor stripping procedures not only helps you meet the demand for green practices, but also provides a safer environment and can save you money.

In this article and video, we’ll go over the best way to strip a floor without using chemicals, and help you understand some of the benefits.

How to Strip a Floor Without Chemicals

Boost Scrub Head w_arrowsOrbital scrubbing technology is the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly floor stripping option because it eliminates the need for harsh stripping chemicals and reduces the water needed to clean.

Orbital scrubbers are a type of autoscrubber. They “orbit” or move in fast, tight vibrations to scrub the floor. Most orbital scrubbers oscillate between 1,500 and 3,500 revolutions per minute (RPM).

The fast movements combined with the proper floor pad eliminate the need for chemicals.

Unlike orbital floor scrubbers, conventional floor machines rotate in full circles and typically can only achieve speeds up to 300 RPM. The slow rotations require adding a chemical to help loosen the finish for removal.

When floor stripping with an orbital floor machine, you will only need a small amount of water and a surface preparation pad which is denser and tougher than the typical black, floor stripping pad. Surface preparation pads resemble sandpaper pads.

The water in essence takes the place of the chemical. Water is a natural surfactant, and when the finish is stripped the finish particles are suspended in the water until the slurry is removed.

Benefits of Chemical-Free Floor Finish Removal

There are several benefits that you and your staff can enjoy with chemical-free floor stripping:

  1. Safer
  2. More Sustainable
  3. Easier
  4. Faster
  5. Less Expensive

1. Safer

Poision SymbolFloor stripping typically requires a harsh chemical, but with orbital scrubbing, staff are not required to use any chemical.

No chemical means there will be no risk of chemical burns or other injury. When stripping a floor, the chemical breaks down the finish creating a slippery solution. This can be extremely hazardous to staff. When completing this procedure with an orbital scrubber, no chemical is needed and this slippery solution does not occur.

Floor stripping chemicals can also give off volatile organic compounds or VOCs. Orbital technology eliminates VOCs and preserves indoor air quality.

With no chemicals, there is also a lesser chance of operator error and damage to the floor or equipment. There are several mistakes custodial staff often make when stripping the finish from commercial floors. For example, the floor substrate may not be tolerant of the stripping chemical and can be damaged. Or, the chemical can be improperly diluted and create a hazardous situation for staff.

Using an orbital scrubber, is safer for your floor. Unlike stripping chemicals, the surface preparation pad only strips the top 3-4 coats of finish from the floor. Typically, most of the dirt and discoloration is contained within those top coats. By only removing the top layers, you save on the amount of finish you will need to put down and labor necessary to complete the procedure.

2. More Sustainable

Not only does floor stripping with an orbital scrubber eliminate the use of chemicals, but it reduces water consumption.

In some cases, it can reduce water consumption by up to 70%.

Eliminating chemicals will reduce the amount of chemicals being put into the environment.

3. Easier

Buffers & BurnishersIf your staff is not using an orbital floor machine to strip a floor, they are likely using a floor buffer.

Floor buffers move in side-to-side motions which can be difficult and tiring for staff to control. Additionally, stripping with a buffer takes several steps. The staff must put down the chemical, let the chemical dwell, agitate the stripper and then use a wet-dry vac to remove the slurry from the floor.

With an autoscrubber, staff can perform all the steps with one machine. Auto scrubbers are more ergonomic than the common floor buffer.

With a floor buffer it is hard to control the machine and ensure that finish is being evenly removed from the area. With an auto scrubber the machine is more stable, and the operator has full control over the amount of pressure being used on the floor. When your staff is less fatigued they can complete additional work during a shift.

4. Faster

Conventional Disc vs. Boost TechnologyRequiring less water and no chemical allows the auto floor scrubber to run for longer periods of time before the solution and recovery tanks need to be refilled or emptied.

By reducing the number of times staff have to dump and refill tanks, they can complete cleaning procedures more quickly and allow them to move on to other cleaning procedures.

Aside from reduced chemical and water usage, staff can complete floor stripping procedures in fewer steps. Chemical-free floor stripping eliminates the chemical, the extra steps and the equipment needed.

5. Less Expensive

Stripping your facility’s floor without chemicals will not only save your staff time, but also reduce overall costs.

Labor is the most expensive cost to stripping a floor. As mentioned above, staff are able to complete stripping procedures more efficiently with fewer steps and equipment. When staff can complete more work in less time you can reduce labor costs.


Final Thoughts

Orbital floor scrubbing machines reduce water usage and eliminate the need for chemicals used in the stripping process. In addition, chemical-free floor stripping will provide a safer environment for your staff and allow them to work more efficiently.

Integrating orbital cleaning technology into your program can seem like a large investment when compared to the costs associated with floor stripping chemicals. However, the biggest cost associated with any cleaning procedure is labor. Chemical-free floor stripping shortens cleaning procedures enabling staff to complete more work during a shift. Increased efficiency will allow you to recover your initial investment through worker productivity and labor savings.

If you are looking to integrate more sustainable and efficient floor care procedures into your cleaning and maintenance program, EBP can provide guidance and expertise.

EBP is fully versed in LEED certification requirements and U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) standards. We can help make the adoption of your cleaning program easier to implement and maintain with our wide variety of environmentally preferable commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial power equipment.

Fill out this form to have an EBP Account Executive Specialist perform a free assessment of your current cleaning program.

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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.