What’s The Difference Between Floor Scrubbers and Floor Sweepers?

Karcher battery BR 30/1 C Bp Scrubber Drier

To sweep or to scrub?

It’s a question that our Commercial Cleaning Equipment team is asked often - and one which we are more than happy to help you answer. When the right model of sweeper or scrubber is chosen for a particular job, it will deliver a powerful, reliable, user-friendly and cost-effective cleaning solution. But the key word here is ‘right’.

Scrubbers and sweepers have different functions and are used for different cleaning applications.  There are advantages to each and different models that should be considered (walk-behind or ride-on) to ensure you make  the right choice of machine to achieve optimum cleaning results.  Our experienced team can help you make the best decision for your particular cleaning application.

The differences between a floor scrubber and a floor sweeper

1. Method of operation

In very simple terms, a sweeper is akin to using a broom and vacuum to collect the loose dirt while a scrubber achieves a deep clean using orbital, circular or cylindrical scrubbing strokes over the surface.  The dirty water is collected into a waste tank, leaving the floor dry and clean.

The key difference is that a floor sweeper takes care of loose dust and debris (even wet material), while a floor scrubber uses a combination of water, cleaning chemicals which activates the surface using scrubbing pads to loosen and remove ingrained dirt and grime from the surface of the floor. 

Floor sweeping tends to be a dry cleaning process, although some sweepers can be used on damp floors, while floor scrubbing is a wet cleaning process.

2. Labour requirement

Another point of difference is that operating a floor scrubber tends to be more labour intensive. The water container will need to be filled (and emptied) plus the brushes, squeegees and pads need to be maintained and replaced when necessary. 

A floor sweeper on the other hand generally covers ground faster than a scrubber does and requires less maintenance.

3. Performance in different types of locations

A floor sweeper is a good choice in locations where large amounts of dust and debris are produced and where the floors need regular cleaning, such as large warehouses, carparks, factories, production facilities.  In locations where floor surfaces get oily or greasy, e. .g. a food production facilities, workshops, kitchens, etc, a scrubber works better to remove ingrained dirt.

If the spaces that require cleaning include narrow corridors, tight corners and doorways, multiple obstacles to be negotiated and difficult-to-reach areas, then a manual or battery-powered walk-behind machine is often the better option as they allow for greater manoeuvrability.

A scrubber can clean multiple types of floor coatings including concrete, vinyl, tiles, carpets and non-slip safety floors.  Different types of scrubbing pads can be selected and pressure adjustments made to achieve optimal results. In a similar way a sweeper comes with a variety of roller brushes with different bristle hardness for cleaning a range of floor surfaces e.g. asphalt, concrete, tiles, short haired carpet.

A final word

The function of a sweeper and scrubber may slightly overlap however in commercial and industrial settings the best cleaning result is often provided by a combination of the two cleaning machines.

It is important to note that it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all.  Although these machines are very versatile, durable and energy-efficient, they do come in a variety of makes and models to suit different applications and our experts will help you find the right one. 

From walk-behind floor scrubbers, ride-on scrubbers and autonomous robotic scrubbers that don’t require an operator to map, navigate and clean floors,  to manual walk-behind sweepers and ride-on models, the team at Commercial Cleaning Equipment will find the most cost-effective and appropriate solution for your facility.  Contact us today for an obligation-free chat or demonstration.

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