A Buyer’s Guide to Industrial Floor Cleaning Equipment

Ready to Drop the Mop?

A company that desires a professional image needs floors that are as clean as possible, and that’s what you get with industrial floor cleaning equipment. Sticky sodas and greasy drips create a safety hazard for employees and make a poor impression with customers. When cleaning with a mop and bucket, the more you clean, the dirtier the water gets.

Commercial floor cleaning equipment uses 100% clean water throughout the cleaning process, leaving floors cleaner and more hygienic.

Though the initial cost of a professional machine is more than a mop and bucket, the equipment quickly pays for itself. Studies have shown labor costs represent about 90% of the total cost to maintain floors. An industrial cleaning machine allows operators to clean more in less time.

1. Floor Sweepers, Auto Scrubbers, and Sweeper/Scrubbers

Floor Scrubbers
Floor scrubbers, also known as auto scrubbers, are designed to clean hard surfaces such as concrete floors in a warehouse or hallways in a hospital or educational facility.

Floor Sweepers
Floor sweepers are typically used in outdoor environments such as parking lots, foundries and lumber yards.

A combination sweeper/scrubber machine can  sweep and scrub in a single pass. Choose a machine with dedicated sweeping and scrubbing functions to keep dry debris out of the scrub solution. This makes cleaning the machine easier and reduces maintenance costs.


2. How to Choose a Floor Scrubber

How to choose a floor scrubber sweeper.pngThere are dozens of auto scrubber machines on the market. To find the best one for your business, consider the following factors:

Tank size - Choose a scrubber with ample tank space so employees don’t waste time emptying and refilling tanks.

Pro Tip: Get the largest machine your space can accommodate. Bigger machines can carry more water and use larger batteries - increasing the time between refills and recharging.

Machine size - A walk-behind scrubber is versatile and good for areas with tight spaces. Think of it like a vacuum or lawnmower.  Large, sit-down models are the best choice when there is a large, open area to be cleaned.

Pro tip: Evaluate your space - measure narrow doorways, check for ramps and obstacles.

Power source - A battery-operated scrubber offers flexibility (you don’t need an electrical outlet nearby) and safety (no extension cord for someone to trip over).

How noisy is the machine when operating? This is important for daytime cleaning, or in areas like hospitals where patients may be sleeping.

Intuitive control panel - Is the machine easy to operate? Do you require multiple language modes?

Pressure and dilution adjustments - Can you increase scrubbing pressure to clean tough spots? Can you dial back the dilution level from full-strength chemicals to water-only?

3. Disc Versus Cylindrical Floor Scrubbers

When choosing a floor scrubber, you may need to decide between disc or cylindrical brush heads. Here’s what you need to know about each option:

disc floor scrubbersDisc Scrubbers are two, flat pads or brushes that turn at 300 RPM while water shoots between them. The high-pressure cleaning provided by disc scrubbers make them a better choice for tough soils or stains. Disc scrubber pads also cost less than cylindrical and are easier to change.

  • Depending on the pad type, disc scrubbers can shine floors, remove scuff marks, strip wax, or clean tile.
  • Disc scrubbers are best for facilities with pre-swept floors and facilities with smooth floors such as sheet vinyl or polished concrete.
  • Retail operations looking for floor shine, and locations such as educational facilities dealing with scuffs may prefer a disc scrubber.
  • Most walk-behind floor scrubbers are disc scrubbers.

cylindrical floor scrubbersCylindrical Scrubbers wet sweep small debris into a removable tray while also washing the floor. Two rod-shaped brushes turn in opposite directions. The rear brush turns backward and kicks small debris into a hopper behind the scrub head. Optional side brooms provide greater debris capture.

- Cylindrical scrub brushes turn much faster than disc scrubbers (600-800 RPMs) and use less water.

- Cylindrical scrubbers capture debris - which leads to fewer squeegee clogs.

- There’s no need to pre-sweep. Eliminating this extra step make cylindrical scrubbers a smart choice for large spaces such as warehouses and parking garages.

- Cylindrical scrubbers are also a good choice for operations with debris such as metal filings or glass.

- Cylindrical brushes are also better than disc scrubbers for cleaning floors with cracks or grout lines.

4. Walk Behind Vs. Ride On Sweepers / Scrubbers

walk-behind_vs_ride-on_floor_cleaning_equipment.pngOnce you’ve made the decision to buy a floor sweeper or scrubber, the next question is: walk-behind or ride-on?

Walk-behind machines assist the operator with forward motion - reducing fatigue and allowing operators to cover more ground versus a manual machine. Ride-on machines improve productivity by 400% compared to manually sweeping or mopping - but aren’t right for every business.

Benefits of Ride-On Floor Cleaning Equipment

Customers with a large facility to clean benefit most from ride-on sweepers or scrubbers. Ride-on machines allow operators to make the most of every shift - covering large areas with minimal effort. Ride-on floor cleaning machines offer a 64 percent increase in productivity versus powered walk-behind machines, and the cost of a ride-on vs. a walk-behind model can typically be recouped through labor cost savings in three to six months.

When to Choose a Walk-Behind Sweeper or Scrubber

If the area to be maintained is smaller and/or includes narrow doorways or numerous obstacles, a walk-behind machine is usually the right choice. Walk-behind machines are also better for areas with ramps or other inclines.

Stand-On Scrubber: An In Between Option

If you have a large space to clean, but can’t justify the cost of a ride-on, consider a stand-on scrubber. This machine offers greater productivity than a walk-behind, at a lower cost than a ride-on.

A stand-on machine also has a smaller footprint and can go places a ride-on cannot (such as standard elevators). Other benefits include: better sight lines (vs. a ride-on or walk-behind) and better maneuverability in tight spaces.

Unfortunately, a stand-on isn’t always the best solution. Some operators experience greater fatigue with the stand-on machines compared to a ride-on or even walk behind. Standing for a long period is uncomfortable for some - versus walking behind a powered machine or sitting. Consider renting a stand-on machine before you buy.


5. Comparing the Cost to Buy, Lease or Rent an Industrial Floor Cleaning Machine

comparing_the_cost_rent_lease_buy_floor_sweeper_or_scrubber.pngDeciding to rent, lease or buy a floor sweeper/scrubber may be based on how long you plan to keep the machine. To illustrate this, let’s compare the cost to rent, lease or buy a hypothetical large ICE scrubber.

Cost to Buy a Large Floor Scrubber:
Base price: $50,000
($59,300 with standard safety options and extended warranty) 
If you plan to use the equipment for more than five years, buying a machine outright may make the most financial sense. Also, medical buildings and some food-handling operations can’t bring in a machine that’s been operated somewhere else due to cross-contamination concerns.

Cost to Rent a Large Floor Scrubber:
$3500 - $4000 /mo
Seems expensive, right? But if you’re a contractor finishing up a building and only need the machine for a month, renting is the cheapest option.

Also, all wearables such as squeegees, brushes and brooms are included with a rental. In the unlikely event the machine needs repair or maintenance, this is also provided at no additional charge.

Cost to Lease on a Large Floor Scrubber:
$908/mo for 60 months - $1898/mo for 24 months
If you have a building, parking lot, etc. that you want to keep clean, a lease is much more economical than renting. Wearables are not included, but typically the machine comes with a warranty.

The prices above are for a hypothetical ride-on scrubber. Here is the cost breakdown for a hypothetical walk-behind unit:

Buy: $8,000 - $10,000
Rent: $1200 - $1600/mo
5-year Lease: $200/mo

If you’re not sure which option might be best for your business, calculate your current labor costs to estimate how an increase in worker productivity might offset the expense of renting, leasing or buying a new machine.

Floor cleaning prep checklist6. Floor Cleaning Prep Checklist

Advance Prep

  1. Order the appropriate chemicals
  2. Determine when the facility will be empty to avoid traffic while cleaning
  3. Order / locate wet floor signs
  4. Find out if overhead lights are on a timer and how to activate them if cleaning takes place after-hours.
  5. (scrubbers only) Locate the water source / dirty water dump area

Daily Checklist

  1. Evaluate the machine for damage, oil or coolant leaks
  2. Check the oil, tire pressure, and engine air filter service indicator / battery electrolyte level (if applicable)
  3. Internal combustion engine models: check the fuel level
    Electric models: ensure the battery is charged and/or know where the are power outlets are located
  4. Check the fresh water level (if applicable) and refill if necessary
  5. Adjust the seat and start the machine to continue pre-cleaning inspection.
  6. Inspect controls, parking brake, headlights, horn and hour meter.
  7. Install appropriate main broom / squeegee / brushes
  8. Plan your cleaning route

Get this checklist when you download the PDF of our Sweeper Scrubber Buyer's Guide. 


7. 3 Easy Steps to Buying a Floor Sweeper or Scrubber

Whatever your industrial floor cleaning needs, we hope you’ll contact the expert team at Toyota Material Handling of Northern California (TMH). Whether you need to replace existing equipment or are buying your first floor scrubber, we'll make the process as easy as possible.

Here’s how it works:

  • Speak to one of our friendly product reps who will learn about your business and help decide which machine(s) you’d like to demo.

  • A TMH product expert will come to your location and explain all the in’s and out’s of the machine. Invite as many employees as you’d like.

  • The demo takes 30min - 1 hour depending on whether we’re demoing a walk-behind or a ride-on machine.

Let us know your needs and we’ll find the right machine for your operation to buy, lease or rent. TMH has the largest selection of Nilfisk Advance commercial floor cleaning equipment in Central and Northern California. So you get the machine you need - fast. We also offer planned maintenance, service, and parts.

Toyota Material Handling is a locally-owned, family company with locations in Sacramento, Fresno, Salinas, and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can browse our inventory of new and used floor sweepers and scrubbers on our website and contact us by email: ahuff@tmhnc.com, smagana@tmhnc.com, or by phone for a quote or more information. 

East Bay - Livermore  (510) 473-8151

Fresno (559) 834-9500

Sacramento (916) 376-0500

Salinas (831) 757-1091


Sweeper Scrubber Buyer Guide

Ready to get cleaner floors in less time? Contact us for a free sweeper scrubber demo.

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