Dan Carr

By: Dan Carr on May 7th, 2019

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What is an Automatic Floor Scrubber (Types, Costs, & Features)

Floors are one of the most used and abused areas in your building, and yet they often set the tone for your entire facility.  Every day, dirt and soils are tracked across your floors, wearing down finishes and creating a dull appearance.

Cleaning and maintaining your floors is essential to preserving your facility’s appearance and keeping it clean, but it can take up as much as 80% of your time.

Automatic floor scrubbers can reduce the amount of time and money that is spent cleaning your hard floors.


Automatic floor scrubbers, also known as autoscrubbers or floor scrubbers, eliminate the need for a traditional mop and bucket system.  Autoscrubbers clean floors with increased power and a reduced amount of water and solution, providing quicker dry times and a more hygienic clean.

What is an Automatic Floor Scrubber?

Floor scrubbers are pieces of janitorial cleaning equipment that remove the manual labor from scrubbing a floor. The machines are equipped with automated systems to scrub and dry your facility’s floor in one pass.    

 

What Type of Floor Can an Automatic Scrubber be Used On?

Floor scrubbers can be used to clean cement, vinyl composition tile, rubber, ceramic, stone, marble, granite, and terrazzo flooring.

Not all floor types are tolerant of the same chemicals and/or pad pressure.  If you are not sure if you are using the right equipment and product for your floor, check with your floor manufacturer's guidelines or contact an EBP Equipment Specialist.

 

How Does an Automatic Floor Scrubber Work?

Automatic floor scrubbers have 3 main systems:

  1. Solution Dispensing System
  2. Scrubbing System
  3. Solution Recovery/Vacuum System

These systems work in unison to leave your facility’s floor clean and dry.  

 

Automated Dispensing System

An autoscrubber begins the cleaning procedure by dispensing a controlled amount of cleaning solution to the floor.

Pro Tip: Autoscrubbers can utilize environmentally safe soaps that can be used in conjunction with a reduced water system to save on the amount of chemicals used and reduce environmental hazards.

Some autoscrubbers can be used without chemicals, relying only on water and pad pressure to clean your facility’s floor.     

 

Scrubbing System

On the bottom of the machine, a floor pad or brush agitates the cleaning solution on the floor, removing soils and scuff marks.  

Automatic floor scrubbers have the power to remove grime, grease, and dirt that are traditionally difficult and time-consuming to remove with a mop and bucket.

 

Solution Recovery/Vacuum System 

Recovery Tank. jpgAs the machine moves, a squeegee andpowerful vacuuming system collects and removes the dirty cleaning solution (slurry) from the floor.  The dirty solution is stored in a tank on the machine until it can be emptied.

Pro Tip: The combined features of controlled dispensing and its powerful vacuum system decrease dry times and reduce the likelihood of occupant slips and falls.

What are the Different Types of Floor Scrubbers?

Scrubbers are available in three types: upright, walk-behind automatic, and ride automatic.  

The best scrubber for your facility will be based on the size of the area being cleaned, obstacles occupying the area, and facility budget.

 

Upright Scrubber

 

What sizes are upright scrubbers available in?

Your typical upright scrubbers will have cleaning paths ranging from 12 to 14 inches wide.Clarke MA10 12E Upright Scrubber

Where should an upright scrubber be used?

Upright scrubbers are effective in cleaning areas 500-1,200 square feet.  

They are lightweight and most effective in small, congested areas such as entryways, offices, classrooms, and restrooms.

Size

Area in Square Feet

Upright

12”- 24”

500 - 1,200

 

How much does an upright scrubber cost?

A upright scrubber will typically cost somewhere between $1,150.00 and $4,500.00.  The cost of the machine will vary on size, manufacturer, and features installed.

 

What are the advantages of an upright scrubber?

They have a low profile base and the ability to lay flat allowing them to be easily maneuvered under chairs, tables, desks, partition walls (restrooms), and other hard to reach areas.

Upright scrubbers are a great replacement for walk-behind and ride automatic scrubbers in smaller areas.  

What are the disadvantages of an upright scrubber?

They will not be efficient in large open areas because of their narrow cleaning paths and low water capacity.  

 

Walk-Behind Automatic Scrubber

 

What sizes are walk-behind automatic scrubbers available in?

Walk-behind automatic scrubbers come in a variety of sizes, with cleaning paths from 13 inches to 38 inches.

 

Where should a walk-behind automatic scrubber be used?

TASKI Swingo 1655 XD AutoscrubberAutomatic scrubbers perform best in large open areas. They are best for cleaning areas of 1,000-150,000 square feet.  

They are effective in cleaning large open areas such as large gyms, warehouses, building lobbys, or open hallways.

Size

Area in Square Feet

Micro

13” 14” 15”

1,000 - 3,000

Small

17”- 20”

3,000 - 20,000

Mid

22”- 28”

15,000 - 40,000

Large

32”- 38”

30,000 - 80,000+

 

How much does a walk-behind scrubber cost?

A walk-behind scrubber will typically cost somewhere between $2,450.00 and $16,750.00.  The cost of the machine will vary on size, manufacturer, and features installed.

 

What are the advantages of using a walk-behind automatic scrubber?

Walk-behind models can be pad-assisted driven or wheel-driven systems to make moving the machine easier.  The easy-to-move machine reduces operator fatigue, allowing you to be more productive.    

 

What are the disadvantages of using a walk-behind automatic scrubber?

Walk-behind scrubbers are more efficient but may not be able to reach under tight or hard to reach areas as with an upright.

 

Ride Automatic Scrubber

 

What sizes are ride automatic scrubbers available in?

They are available in sizes small to large with respective cleaning paths ranging from 20 inches to 45 inches.

 

Where should a ride automatic scrubber be used?

Viper As710R Ride On 28 in Autoscrubber

Ride automatic scrubbers are the largest in size and can clean areas ranging from 15,000-150,000 or more square feet.  

Similar to walk behind scrubbers, they are effective in cleaning large open areas such as large gyms, warehouses, building lobbys, or open hallways.

Size

Area in Square Feet

Small

20”- 24”

15,000 - 40,000

Mid

26”- 32”

25,000 - 100,000

Large

34”- 45”

50,000 - 150,000+

 

How much does a ride automatic scrubber cost?

A ride automatic scrubber will typically cost somewhere between $6,700 and $27,500.  The cost of the machine will vary on size, manufacturer, and features installed.

 

What are the advantages of using a ride automatic autoscrubber?

Ride automatic scrubbers allow the user to sit or stand on the machine. They cause the least user fatigue and provide the most productivity and efficiency in large scale floor cleaning operations.  

Larger autoscrubbers are equipped with larger recovery tanks.  The larger the tank the more slurry the machine can pick up.  When you don’t have to stop and empty the tank, you will be more efficient and able to clean more in less time.

 

What are the disadvantages of using a ride automatic scrubber?

Ride automatic scrubbers will not be as efficient in tight areas where they have to navigate obstacles such as desks, furniture, equipment, etc.

 

Features:

Autoscrubbers of any size can be equipped with different features.  Depending on the needs of your facility, some features listed below will be more important than others. Keep in mind that some features will increase the cost of your machine.  

Power Source

Autoscrubbers can be battery operated or cord-electric.

Battery Powered

Battery powered automatic scrubbers are extremely mobile and do not need to be in reach of a power source.  When battery operated machines run low on power, they need to be recharged.

Battery operated autoscrubbers can operate anywhere from 1 hour to 7 hours before having to be recharged. The battery life of your machine will depend on the size of the battery and amount of batteries installed. The more batteries installed on a machine, the more expensive it will be.

Some machines offer on-board chargers so that the machine can be charged anywhere.  Machines with on-board chargers cannot be operated when the on-board charger is plugged in.   

Almost all walk behind and ride automatic scrubbers are battery operated.

Battery operated machines are typically more expensive than cord-electric machines.

Cord-Electric

Cord-electric autoscrubbers need to be plugged into a power source, requiring them to beYellow Cord within reach of an electrical outlet at all times.  

The typical cord length for a cord-electric autoscrubber is 50 feet.

Having to plug and replug the machine can lead to decreased productivity and longer cleaning times.

Floor scrubbers up to 24 inches can be cord-electric.

 

Squeegee Type

Different manufacturers and floor scrubber models offer different squeegee types to aid in the removal of water pickup.  

Wrap Around Squeegee

A curved squeegee follows the floor pad and ensures 100% of water will be removed from the floor.  

Autoscrubber Squeegee

W-Shaped or V-Shaped Squeegee

The W-Shaped, V-Shaped, and curved squeegees have blades that direct the water into the vacuum line helping to remove a consistent amount of water on each sweep.  

Squeegee blades can be made from Gum, Urethane, or Linatex.

Gum

Gum squeegees are the cheapest option.  

They are ideal for smooth surfaces with no oily or chemical soils.

Linatex

Linatex is a good choice when dealing with uneven floors (like grout).  

Linatex provides good long-term durability and resistance to tears.

Urethane

Urethane blades are the best option for all types floors.  It is also the most expensive.

Urethane provides increased moisture removal from uneven surfaces.

They are also the most durable to chemicals and oils.  

Water Lift

Water lift is the strength that the machine can lift water from the surface of the floor.  The stronger the water lift, the drier the floor will be at the end of your cleaning procedure. Machines with stronger water pull will also leave less slurry or dirty solution behind, reducing the necessary dry time.  Quicker dry times means your floor can be reopened to guests sooner.

Floor Pad or Brush Type

Floor pads

Floor pads can be disc or square.  The shape of the floor pad will depend on the manufacturer and model of autoscrubber being used.

Disc vs Orbital

Floor pads come in different colors.  Each color floor pad is designed to perform a specific floor maintenance procedure.

Cylindrical Brush

Cylindrical brushes are for facilities that need to sweep and scrub the floor at the same time (usually in industrial facilities).

Noise Control

If your facility operates around the clock or you need to complete maintenance procedures during regular business hours, look for machines with noise control.  

Noise levels 70 dB(A) or below, gives you the ability to perform cleaning procedures without disturbing guests or employees.

Adjustable Speed

Machines that are going to be used in different areas of your facility should be equipped with adjustable speed control.  You will be able to easily control whether you need to travel slower in a small, tight area or faster in a large, open area.   

Chemical Usage

If you are looking to reduce your environmental footprint, some autoscrubbers can be paired with certain floor pads that do not require chemicals to be used during certain cleaning procedures.  


Final Thoughts

Using automatic floor scrubbers to maintain your facility’s hard floors will boost your productivity and efficiency, reduce cleaning times, and lower labor costs.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to autoscrubbers. Deciding which is the best fit for your situation can be difficult and time consuming.  Let an EBP Equipment Specialists review your facility and help you select the best floor scrubber based on your facility size, needs, and budget. 

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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.