Why automatic floor scrubbers and sweepers are essential to floor care maintenance

Whether you’re a facility manager, business owner or cleaning contractor, proper floor care is essential to your company or customer’s operations. Flooring is expensive for any facility or business, and a proper floor care maintenance plan that utilizes the appropriate equipment helps to ensure the facility has a professional appearance, preserves its flooring, provides a safe and healthy environment and helps reduce labor costs.

A floor care maintenance plan can include many different types of equipment, and two common pieces of equipment are automatic floor scrubbers and sweepers. Automatic scrubbers and sweepers offer many advantages over their predecessors, the mop, bucket and broom. They’re manufactured in different sizes, user-friendly and provide excellent productive capabilities that can save on labor costs.1

So, how exactly do auto scrubbers and sweepers help with floor care maintenance?


Floors are one of the most used and abused areas in a facility or business. Foot traffic, spills, dirt, sand and debris are tracked across a floor daily, and without the appropriate cleaning equipment and process, the finish of a floor becomes prematurely worn, hard floor surfaces become scratched, tile and grout begin to darken and discolor. This impacts your company’s image. In fact, a Harris Interactive poll showed, 86% of U.S. adults have a negative perception of a retail store when the floors are dirty, and in another Harris Poll, 68% (of adults) would never return… if the floors were unclean.

Automatic floor scrubbers and sweepers have the power and efficiency to remove soils that are traditionally difficult and time-consuming to remove with a mop, bucket and broom. Auto scrubbers remove grime, grease and dirt by scrubbing with clean water, vacuuming up the dirty water and drying the floor, typically in one pass. Manual and battery-operated sweepers remove dirt and debris utilizing an overthrow or direct throw system to sweep dirt and debris into the sweeper’s waste container, again, typically in one pass. Today’s auto scrubbers and sweepers are designed to get into corners and capable of cleaning multiple floor surfaces. Mops and brooms, on the other hand, can leave soils behind, and in the case of mops, flooring is left wet and must dry before use.


Replacing and restoring flooring is a costly expenditure, and without the appropriate floor care equipment to combat the daily onslaught of wear and tear on a floor, replacement and restoration costs will occur more often. According to ISSA, International Sanitary Supply Association, as much as 80% of all soil, dust, contaminants, and moisture entering a facility are tracked into a building on the shoes of staff and visitors. The damaging result was revealed in an ISSA study, where as few as 1,500 people tracking in dirt and debris on their shoes could remove 42 percent of the floor’s finish. Even worse, the amount of soil tracked in can double during bad weather.2

One of the most effective ways to preserve the longevity of a facility or business’ flooring is reducing the soil and debris that enter the building. Sweepers are ideal for picking up dirt and debris from outside areas surrounding a facility or business. According to Karcher, a global manufacturer of cleaning equipment, “Preventing soils from entering a facility is the most cost effective, yet most often overlooked cleaning function. Taking an outside-in approach begins where soils originate – exterior areas including parking garages and sidewalks to prevent people from tracking the dirt into your facility.”3

Sweepers are offered in manual or battery-powered, are quiet for day-time operation, easy-to-use and extremely efficient. They don’t stir up dust while in operation, come with waste container capacities that range from 11 – 132 gallons, and they are able to get into corners and grooves – making them more efficient and effective than a broom.

Once debris does enter a facility, automatic floor scrubbers are ideal at removing grease, grime, dust and soils from cement, vinyl composition tile, rubber, ceramic, stone, marble, granite and terrazzo flooring. They typically use less chemicals and water than traditional mopping, and they have solution / recovery capacities that range from 3 -79 gallons. Manufacturers, such as Karcher, even offer auto scrubbers with tool-less changes of cleaning heads and brushes.

Safety and Health

For a facility manager or business owner, a clean, dry and well-maintained floor is essential to not only the company’s image, but also to safety and health of employees and visitors. Without necessary floor care maintenance, facility managers and business owners risk hazardous conditions where flooring can become warn, cracked, chipped, slippery from spills, leaks, oil, grease or other contaminants. The National Safety Council estimates that more than 9 million disabling slips and falls occur each year, and that slips account for more than 1 million hospital emergency room visits each year. According to The National Floor Safety Institute, slips and falls are the primary cause of lost workdays, the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, and employee slips and falls account for than $70 billion annually in medical costs.

Another health concern that arises out of poor floor care maintenance is indoor air pollutants that include dust, allergens and germs carried in on shoes. These pollutants contribute to indoor air quality that the Green Guard Environmental Institute states, can become two to five times more polluted than outdoor air quality.

Sanitizing and disinfecting can be accomplished by automatic floor scrubbers, because they use clean water to physically remove soils, dust, molds, allergens from floor surfaces while also applying chemicals that kill 99.999% of germs on hard, non-porous flooring. Auto scrubbers also leave floors dry and able to use quickly after scrubbing. Whereas mopping often involves using dirty water that can spread containments around on floors, and mopping leaves floors wet, resulting in necessary dry time.

Reducing Labor Costs

Floor care maintenance is a significant investment, and the primary reason for that is the labor required for cleaning. In fact, The National Executive Housekeepers Association says 39% of all custodial time is devoted to floor care maintenance. Why so much time? According to a study attributed to ISSA, 1,000 people throughout the course of 20 days can track up to 24 pounds of soil into a facility. For someone using a mop and bucket, they can cover 4,000 – 5,000 square feet per hour,4 and as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 55% of commercial buildings in the United States average 16,300 square feet. That climbs to an average of 19,000 square feet with commercial buildings constructed in the 2000s. So, what does this add up to? As was revealed in ISSA’s 447 Cleaning Times, it can cost as much as $600 to remove a pound of dirt from inside a facility.

Automatic floor scrubbers and sweepers can greatly reduce the cost of floor care maintenance – cleaning anywhere from 7,000 up to 100,000 plus square feet per hour, and sweepers range from 30,000 up to 100,000 plus square feet. The productivity ability of course depends on the size or type of the equipment – walk-behind versus ride-on. Auto scrubbers also have a squeegee and vacuum system that leaves floors dry, allowing a business to continue operations quickly after floor scrubbing. Sweepers pick up the soil as the machine is passing over it, so less time and labor required to collect and remove the soil from the premise. Most auto scrubbers even offer onboard storage of janitorial items, resulting in less trips to the storage closet. Manufacturer’s such as Karcher, have even designed their auto scrubbers and sweepers to be intuitive to operate, with yellow (operator) and gray (maintenance) touchpoints, dials and icons, so that there is little to no language barrier and training required to operate their floor care equipment.

Maintenance Plan

Safe, durable flooring is necessary for any facility or business, and without the appropriate floor care maintenance it will wear prematurely. Facility Managers and business owners can work toward achieving their goals of prolonging a floor’s life in a cost-effective manner, while also providing a safe and healthy environment by utilizing proper floor care equipment, soaps and processes.

Karcher suggests a Preventative, Daily, Interim and Restorative, PDIR+, process. In Karcher’s PDIR+ literature, they point out that this process encourages preventative, daily and interim cleaning, so that the costly restorative stage is reduced. Karcher’s PDIR+ plan utilizes automatic floor scrubbers and sweepers citing, “having the right equipment for the area will allow you to clean quickly and efficiently, making the best use of your labor dollars.”5 Whatever floor care maintenance plan is implemented, having the right equipment, such as automatic floor scrubbers and sweepers can provide results that meet your needs and your budget.


1.Saúl Magaña, Advantages of Floor Cleaning Machines vs. Manual Cleaning, October 17, 2019, https://www.tmhnc.com/blog/advantages-of-floor-cleaning-machines-vs-manual-cleaning (blog).
2. John Walker, 447 Cleaning Times, Lincolnwood, IL, International Sanitary Supply Association, 2003.
3. Karcher North America, PDIR+TM Cleaning – When Hygiene Matters Most, May 15, 2020, https://www.kaercher.com/us/inside-karcher/newsroom/know-how-for-professionals/pdir-cleaning-process.html

4. Saúl Magaña, Advantages of Floor Cleaning Machines vs. Manual Cleaning, October 17, 2019, https://www.tmhnc.com/blog/advantages-of-floor-cleaning-machines-vs-manual-cleaning (blog).
5. Karcher North America, PDIR+TM Cleaning – When Hygiene Matters Most, May 15, 2020, https://www.kaercher.com/us/inside-karcher/newsroom/know-how-for-professionals/pdir-cleaning-process.html




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