cleaning floor with machine

A reader writes: "I get confused about stripping and scrubbing hard floors. What is the difference?"

Good question since it very important that you understand the difference. We can only briefly touch on the process in this article. You might want to check on past articles that go into the actual steps for these two processes. Both processes in it simplest form, utilize a low speed, rotary floor machine that using the appropriate pad. The primary differences between the two tasks are the chemicals and pads used that are intended to achieve different results.

Stripping is utilizing a high pH (9.5 - 11) chemical mixed in water that emulsifies the floor finish (also called wax) with the goal of its complete removal before new seal/finish is applied. In most cases, a black or brown stripping pad is used to aggressively remove any finish that was not immediately emulsified by the chemical. A neutralizer (think mild acid) may be necessary for bringing the floor pH close to 7 before floor finish or seal is applied. Please do not make the mistake that some people make of mixing a "little stripper" in their daily mop water since it damages the finish and may require complete stripping before it would have been necessary if the correct mop products were used.

Scrubbing is utilizing the same type floor machine but different chemicals (think 7.5 - 8.5) that has a detergency with the goal of removing the top soiled layer of finish without damaging the base coats. Floor techs have their preferences but in most cases, a blue or green scrubbing pad is utilized to safely remove the finish. After rinsing with water, the floor will be ready for more finish. Neutralizer is not necessary due to the low pH of the cleaner.

In today's green environment, you need to know whether you are using the old traditional finishes with zinc or other metals or environmentally friendly finishes that are not necessarily compatible with the old chemicals. That topic is another article to consider.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or