Manufacturers and distributors agree that the wet/dry vacuum can be used in any facility type and in any situation. Aside from the occasional natural disaster, one of the more common methods of use is in entryways and lobbies following storms.

"The Midwest is known for fierce winters and heavy rain in the spring and summer. This produces a lot of water that is ultimately tracked into a facility," says one Illinois distributor. "If the walk-off mats get saturated, workers can put a squeegee on the machine and then use the vacuum to suck up the moisture in one swoop."

Liquid recovery is accomplished with either the wand and optional squeegee, or with the attachable front-mount squeegee. According to distributors, the mounted squeegee is a high productivity solution to recovering large amounts of liquids. Most models function in both forward and reverse motion, making for quick completion of jobs.

This mounted squeegee can also save departments time when cleaning floors. Many departments will apply floor chemicals and then squeegee and remove those chemicals with the wet/dry vacuum. In some facilities, this smaller equipment option is a nice alternative to large floor scrubbers.

Distributors comment that the addition of the squeegee makes a wet/dry vacuum a very versatile piece of equipment.

"It is a nice addition to any floor care program," says Daniel Josephs, I.C.E., general manager at Spruce Industries, Inc., Rahway, N.J.

In addition to general floor care, many departments have experienced benefits using the wet/dry vacuums to recover stripping and refinishing chemicals. According to manufacturers, with proper filtration and cleaning after use, the stripping agent won’t affect the functionality of the machine.

To clean, departments are advised to simply rinse the recovery tanks, squeegees and hoses, then leave the equipment open to dry properly.

"Just like any other piece of equipment, properly cleaning the machine after use is the single most important maintenance or care you can perform," says Josephs. "Not doing this will reduce the life of your equipment."

With simple maintenance, wet/dry vacuums can withstand the elements, increasing productivity within departments and ultimately saving valuable budget dollars. According to one manufacturer, even if used only once a year, the labor dollars saved will offset the initial cost of the wet/dry vacuum.

"Labor is the most expensive component of any custodial staff," says Josephs. "If you can reduce the labor, you will see money savings in the long run."

Day Cleaning Advantages

Although day cleaning is not a new concept to this industry, there are a growing number of facilities adopting the process. In these facilities, most departments arm staff with upright vacuums as quiet as 62 decibels or backpacks at 70 decibels. The question is, where does the wet/dry vacuum fall into a day cleaning program?

According to one distributor, there are wet/dry vacuums that measure less than 70 decibels. This, in addition to the fact most models come with quiet wheel capabilities, means that wet/dry vacuums can be incorporated into any day cleaning program.

To learn more about day cleaning, check out "Casting Light on Cleaning Operations" at