Despite their myriad advantages over mopping, microscrubbers target a specific market, and managers need to be aware of their limitations, say distributors. These machines perform best in smaller areas of approximately 10,000 square feet or less, and in tight spaces that cannot accommodate standard autoscrubbers.

“Microscrubbers aren’t for everybody,” admits Schneringer. “They fill a niche for floors that need to be cleaned frequently, and an autoscrubber is too large.”

Just as a mop and bucket can be counterproductive, using a small floor machine to clean a large facility can be similarly ineffective.

“If you’re cleaning large, open areas that don’t have a lot of obstacles, you’re going to work yourself to death with a microscrubber,” admits Cadell. “So you have to audit your facility and determine whether a small machine makes sense.”

As a rule of thumb, if mopping a floor takes an hour or more, a microscrubber may be a worthwhile investment. The machine’s small footprint and maneuverability is ideal for cleaning areas such as small office buildings or classrooms with lots of desks, or food areas with ample tables and appliances.

“The advantage of a microscrubber is that it has a tighter turning radius than a traditional autoscrubber,” says Cadell. “They can get around obstacles more easily, and they have a better profile for going under desks and stalls, or around toilets where autoscrubbers can’t reach. They’re a lot more agile.”

Microscrubbers are also popular for restroom cleaning where safety is a priority.

“Usually, with a mopping system the floor is wet, which requires extra precaution as far as the safety of people going into the bathroom,” says Bill Fisher, vice president of facilities, FlexPac, Indianapolis. “A microscrubber allows custodians to go in, clean the bathroom, and retrieve the water right away so that the floor is left relatively dry.”

Fisher also sees microscrubbers improving productivity and reducing slip and fall incidents when used in entryways.

“Everyone should have one around the lobby area,” he says. “When people walk into a facility in inclement weather, for instance, they bring in salt and ice melt, and that creates a white chalkiness on the floor. A lot of times, using a neutralizer in a mop bucket hazes the floor. With a microscrubber, they can remove all that salt and ice melt.”


When it comes to storing these units, cleaning departments continue to reap the benefits of their smaller size.

“Many of these machines have fold-over handles, and they’re very compact with a footprint of about three feet square,” says Bryan. “Also, you don’t have to deal with hanging wet mops and having a stinky janitor’s closet.”

In addition to replacing mops and buckets in the janitor’s closet, a microscrubber may eliminate the need for additional pieces of equipment, thereby saving space and consolidating cleaning tasks.

“A microscrubber is a mop, a wet vac, and a floor machine/buffer, all together,” says Rothstein. “That’s one machine doing the work of three, which is where your productivity comes in. Theoretically you need three people to clean the floor with a mop and bucket, a wet vac, and a floor machine, but you only need one person to operate a microscrubber.”

Some micro floor machines have rotary brushes for scrubbing, while others have cylindrical brushes and operate as sweeper/scrubbers. The latter may eliminate the need to dust mop; however, end users need to understand the limits of the equipment.

“If you have dust or minor dirt, these units can sweep and pick up all that at the same time,” says Cadell. “But they’re not designed to take large, gross filth off the floor.”

Similarly, Fisher cautions users against viewing microscrubbers as a fix all.

“A lot of people get disappointed in a microscrubber’s capabilities if they don’t have the proper cleaning protocol and procedures in place,” he says. “Some people don’t take care of their floors so they’re in a restorative mode, but the microscrubber is not a restorative cleaner. It will speed up the process, but it’s not going to clean a really dirty floor.”

Another small-scale machine that cleans floors effectively is a touch-free cleaning system. Unlike microscrubbers, which are used strictly on floors, these machines feature wands that can also be used on walls, sinks, urinals and stalls.

“We have clients that use them in restrooms, as well as hallways and stairways,” says Bryan. “One of our clients is a school district that uses the machine to alleviate MRSA in the showers. They spray on an antiseptic chemical and then use the machine to wash it off and suck it up.”

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