Floor scrubber is a floor cleaning device. It can be simple tools such as floor mops and floor brushes, or in a form of walk-behind or ride-on machines to clean larger floor areas by injecting water with cleaning solution, scrubbing, and lifting the residuals off the floor. With the advancement in robotics, autonomous floor-scrubbing robots are available as well.
Automatic floor scrubbers
Automatic floor scrubbers, also known as auto scrubbers, are a type of floor cleaning machine that are used to scrub a floor clean of light debris, dust, oil, grease or floor marks. These machines have either rotary(disk) or cylindrical scrubbing head and an automated system for dispensing cleaning solution and then vacuuming it up. So, in one pass over the floor, a user can dispense cleaning, scrub it into the floor, then vacuum it all up with an auto scrubber squeegee attachment at the back of the machine. Auto scrubbers have a separate dispensing (solution) tank and collection (recovery) tank to keep the clean water separate from the dirty water and can be categorized into one of three main types: walk behind, stand-on, and rider.
Floor scrubbers are a more hygienic alternative to traditional cleaning methods such as a mop and bucket. Environmentally safe soaps can be used in conjunction with a reduced water system to save on both the amount of chemicals released into the environment as well as the amount of gray water produced. Some floor scrubbers are even capable of cleaning without a water and chemical system at all.
Most auto scrubbers can’t reach edges, corners, clean under obstructions such as drinking fountains, and can’t fit into alcoves. Therefore, mopping is needed to clean areas the auto scrubber can’t reach. Some manufacturers now produce Floor Scrubbers with Orbital / Oscillating brush decks allowing edges, corners and overhangs to be fully cleaned.
Modern floor scrubbers have a pre-sweep option that removes the need to sweep the floor before scrubbing. The pre-sweep brush head is placed in front of the vacuum system to collect dust and debris before it can block the vacuum system. In the past it was important to sweep the floor before scrubbing to remove any debris and dust that could clog the vacuum hose or build up in the vacuum motor, which can decrease performance. If this happens, the vac hose may need to be removed to clear the obstruction and/or the vac motor may need to be blown out with compressed air.
Stripping Solution should never be used as it can cause damage to the solution dispensing system, but can still be vacuumed up by the machine without harm. Occasionally, the solution system should be flushed with water mixed with vinegar to remove any soap and calcium deposits that could build in the solution system.
After each use, the dispensing (solution) and especially the collection (recovery) tanks should be emptied and rinsed out to prevent dirt build up. Also, the pads/brushes, vac hose, and squeegee should also be rinsed to prevent dirt build up. The vac motor should be run for several minutes afterwards to remove any moisture that could be present in the vac motor to reduce chances of corrosion that could damage the vac motor. Failure do to this maintenance could cause in a loss of vacuum airflow and increase in costly repairs.
Types Of Automatic Floor Scrubber Heads
There are 3 common types of automatic floor scrubber heads: Disk, Cylindrical, and Square Oscillating.
Disk Style Floor Scrubber Heads
The most common, disk style floor scrubbers use a circular motion with a round pad or brush to agitate a cleaning solution against the floor to release soils. Disk floor scrubber heads work best on smooth floors.
Cylindrical Style Floor Scrubber Heads
Using counter rotating tube style brushes that rotates perpendicular to the floor, cylindrical floor scrubbers clean rough or uneven surfaces. Cylindrical brushes usually have a collection tray behind the brushes that can pick up larger debris such as rocks, screws and small bolts. This reduces the need to sweep or dust mop prior to scrubbing, although it is still a good idea if possible.
Square Oscillating Floor Scrubber Heads
Similar to the disk style, square oscillating floor scrubbers use a flat pad to scrub the floor. The difference is that instead of spinning, it moves in a vibrating motion at a much faster speed. The square design allows for cleaning closer to walls and in corners. The high speed motion and down pressure also allow this style of floor scrubber head to be useful for removing floor finish from vinyl composite tile and well as prepare wood floors for refinishing. A specialized, abrasive pad is used for these procedures.
Floor buffers and polishers
When floor scrubbing machines became more available to many types of facilities, there was a need to cover a different type of flooring. Floor buffers were invented to scrub and polish the floor with linoleum surface. The machines use rotary brushes with soft material to clean and make the floor shine. For marble and wood floors, floor polishers may be used to apply protective coating to floor.
T5 walk-behind floor scrubber by Tennant (left) and HydroBot floor-scrubbing robot by Intellibot Robotics (right).
With the advancement in technologies used in autonomous robots, floor-scrubbing robots were created by combining the features of automatic floor scrubbers with self-control operations without an operator. Non-residential models such as HydroBot by Intellibot Robotics are suitable for education, retail, healthcare and manufacturing facilities. These commercial floor cleaning machines can clean 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) area in one hour.
In the residential applications, floor-scrubbing robots are available using the same principle of operation as in the commercial applications, but with much smaller machines. Scooba by iRobot is an example of such robots.