How to Choose the Right Industrial Floor Cleaning Equipment

Jan 12 2021 Floor Cleaning Equipment6 Min. Read

Do you need a walk-behind scrubber or a rider? Or does the size of your facility require a ride-on sweeper/scrubber combo unit? Should you rent first? Or Purchase?

You know it's important to maintain a clean workplace environment, especially in manufacturing plants and distribution facilities where there are a lot of moving parts, products and people. Workplace cleanliness supports worker safety, increases productivity, minimizes product contamination, and presents a good image—especially the floors.

Floor cleaning is important for several reasons. Number one is safety. Dust, spills, dirt and debris that wind up on your plant floor are potential slip/fall hazards for pedestrians and present a dangerous work surface for forklifts and other heavy equipment. To avoid worker injuries, a plant may spend over 900,000 hours a year maintaining floor surfaces — sweeping, scrubbing, refinishing. Since 90% of floor maintenance costs are labor-related, it’s an area that’s ripe for labor and budget saving strategies. We are also all well aware now that employee safety includes protecting our health. Disinfecting floors is a part of that recommended maintenance.

Enter industrial floor cleaning equipment:  sweepers, scrubbers, and sweeper/scrubber combo units. These machines make cleaning more effective, consistent, efficient and just easier to accomplish when you have hundreds or even thousands of square feet of floors to maintain.

Defining your cleaning parameters

Choosing the right equipment for your facility can be tricky. Before you start looking, we recommend you define these cleaning parameters:

  • What kinds of dirt and debris are you faced with? Fine dust? Metal shavings? Packing materials? Cups and cans and such? Oil? Ground-in or compacted soil? Liquids? Some combination of these or others?
  • How do you define “clean” for your facility? Is picking up visible debris enough? Do you want to be able to “eat off this floor”? Are you somewhere in between?
  • How often do you need to clean? Daily, several times a day, once a week?
  • How big of an area do you need to clean? What’s the total square footage? How wide are the aisles? Are aisles dead-end or open?
  • What is your floor surface? Rough concrete, smooth concrete, something else? Is the surface coated?
  • Do you have designated personnel to use the equipment? How many? How will they be trained?

For assistance defining those parameters, please contact us! We are happy to help you determine the correct machine for your application and demonstrate machines in your facility. Here’s a thought to keep in mind—we also offer you the option to rent equipment before you make a purchase decision at all. 

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Once you’ve defined your cleaning parameters and start looking at actual machines, you’ll be faced with these decisions.

Types of Industrial Floor Cleaning Equipment


Sweepers are designed to efficiently pick up dry materials. Pre-sweeping before scrubbing to remove dirt, dust, shavings, sawdust, packaging materials, and other dry debris is required—or at least highly recommended if you want your floors clean and your scrubber to last! Whether your facility uses manual labor to pre-sweep or requires a walk-behind or rider sweeper or perhaps sweeper/scrubber combo unit to accomplish this depends on your situation, budget, application, etc.


Walk-behind and rider scrubbers are for, well, scrubbing. With a combination of disc or cylindrical scrub brushes and a squeegee vacuum system, they wash, clean, disinfect and/or sanitize a floor and leave it dry in one pass.

Sweeper/Scrubber Combo Units

Sweeper/Scrubbers, such as the PowerBoss Nautilus HD, combine these two actions. If you are looking for an efficient, labor-saving, effective means of sweeping and scrubbing, a sweeper/scrubber could be your best option. The purchase price is often higher than buying a separate sweeper and scrubber, but you may save on labor costs since the operator will only need to make one pass rather than two.

Walk-Behind or Ride-On

Industrial sweepers, scrubbers, and sweeper/scrubbers come in two modes of operation—walk-behind or ride-on.  Ride-on models are usually more expensive to buy but may save money in the long run since the operator can clean a larger area in less time.

Electric, LP Gas or Hybrid

Industrial floor cleaning equipment can be battery-powered, gas-powered (LP) or even hybrid (battery backup to primary LP power).  Both power options have operational costs attached.  Batteries draw electricity and need recharging time. With LP, you’ll need to buy the propane tanks and spend time refilling and/or replacing the tanks.

Other Factors to Consider


An industrial floor cleaning machine has a defined cleaning path.  It also has a total width and turning radius. A wider cleaning path generally reduces the number of passes an operator has to make which means lower labor costs. However, if the machine is too wide for your aisles or can’t turnaround at the end of the aisle, it won’t work in your plant.

Cylindrical versus disk scrubbing

While not exhaustive of all the differences or features and benefits of every scrubber, here are a few points to consider:

A cylindrical scrub brush system sweeps while scrubbing and, because it will “wet sweep” a small amount solid debris into a separate, removable tray while scrubbing the floor, can eliminate the need to pre-sweep and will help prevent clogs at the squeegee vac system.

That could easily equal potential labor savings (no manual sweeping) and an increase in productivity in your facility.  It may also save you the cost of purchasing a separate sweeper or a sweeper/scrubber combo machine.

Scrubbers with a rotary disk scrub deck employ from one to three disk brushes or pad drivers. The disk option is more common than cylindrical and more versatile as disc scrubbers can wash, or strip wax from the floor utilizing brushes and floor pads ranging from extremely aggressive to super soft. Because they can handle greater down pressure, the disk option works well in industrial applications where heavily soiled floors need a more aggressive scrub. When stripping floors, floor pads are an inexpensive option and disposable—which is great when the strip pads become coated with wax.

Watch this informative video from Nilfisk Advance that illustrates the two systems:

Cylindrical Vs Disc

Which is better? They will both clean your floor. The best choice comes down to your plant or warehouse, your budget, your needs, the floor (or floors) you are cleaning and what you want to accomplish from a cleaning and productivity standpoint.

Purchase Price vs. Cost of Ownership

You have a budget for this equipment, of course. But before you base your decision on price tag alone, consider purchase price vs. cost of operation. What’s cheaper up front may wind up costing more in the long run. Operating costs can negate up-front savings. Think about training time, maintenance requirements, equipment longevity, parts costs, and operator time when you consider long-term cost of ownership.

Selecting industrial floor cleaning equipment that meets your needs

No doubt about it, choosing the right floor cleaning equipment sounds complicated, but our floor cleaning experts, Angie and Ryan, along with our account managers throughout Michigan and Northern Indiana are ready to help. Contact us today! We offer a wide selection of the leading brands of industrial floor cleaning equipment, a large, local inventory of new, used and rental machines, plus the trained service techs and parts inventory to meet your needs with ongoing support, and fast, knowledgeable service.