This is part one of a three-part article about micro autoscrubbers.

Move over mop and bucket cleaning. A faster, safer and cleaner floor care alternative has burst onto the cleaning industry scene — micro automatic scrubbers.

Equipment manufacturers have rolled out micro versions of walk-behind and ride-on automatic scrubbers that are optimized to compete with the performance of larger equipment and can automate cleaning of hard-to-reach areas otherwise handled by mops.

First introduced in Europe nearly a decade ago, smaller floor machines made their way into the U.S. market just over five years ago. These micro machines, which have cleaning paths as little as 10 inches, are helping budget-conscious custodial crews reduce cleaning times by removing manual mop-and-bucket cleaning of compact spaces, and at the same time increase the quality of cleanliness in their facilities.

“Many customers have to clean within tight spaces where only a mop and bucket can typically fit,” says Grace Widseth, floor care portfolio manager, Sealed Air Diversey Care, Charlotte, North Carolina. “By offering smaller machines to fit within these areas, we can help them achieve better cleaning results in less time compared to manual cleaning.”

These mini machines, which have smaller batteries, smaller cleaning deck sizes, and smaller squeegees, are becoming increasingly popular among professional end users because they can be used virtually anywhere that a mop and bucket can, says Bob Christensen, senior sales training specialist at Kärcher North America, Camas, Washington. In some cases, these small scrubbers take up the same amount of space in the janitor’s closet as mops and buckets.

Productivity Boost

In many facilities, a large autoscrubber simply won’t fit in certain instances. Micro scrubbers, however, have proven very valuable for small-area, high-traffic quick cleaning in food service, educational institutions, office buildings and hospitality facilities. Because these scrubbers are so small in size, they can be used to easily clean under tables, desks and counters, eliminating the need for custodians to move bulky furniture or manually clean these otherwise inaccessible areas. They are being used to deep clean under partition walls and around toilets and wall-mounted sinks in restrooms. They work well in congested restaurant kitchens, entryways, fitness centers, café settings, patient rooms and operating suites. They are also a quick way to clean up spills, especially in a coffee shop or quick-service restaurant.

“(Cleaning) professionals want a tool on-hand that can efficiently clean up a spill and then be quickly stored,” says Jeff Chochinov, marketing strategist at TTI Floor Care, Glenwillow, Ohio.

The process of mopping leaves a wet floor behind, which creates a slip-and-fall hazard. Machine manufacturers also argue that mops aren’t cleaning as well as people think.

“The mop and bucket spreads dirty water around the floor, leaving the floors not clean,” says Matt Fussy, product manager for Nilfisk, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. “[Micro scrubbers] clean the floors like a large scrubber. They wet, agitate and recover the dirty solution.”
Micro scrubbers leave floors clean, dry and safe in a single pass, making them ideal for day cleaning. They also only use clean solution throughout the entire cleaning process, which eliminates cross-contamination.

Another significant advantage that micro scrubbers have over mop-and-bucket cleaning is they are significant productivity enhancers. A custodian using a small micro scrubber can clean up to five times faster than when using a mop and bucket.

“Smaller [equipment] can greatly improve productivity for the operators,” says Kevin Brady, president and owner of Square Scrub, Jonesboro, Arkansas. “In some cases smaller [equipment] simply allow the work to be faster so it really gets done on time. Custodians have more work to do now with less hours. Any equipment that facilitates making tough jobs easier and quicker is going to be welcomed.”

Walk-behind scrubbers aren’t the only machines that have decreased in size. So too, have ride-on autoscrubbers.

“Most all the ride on companies have machines in the 24-inch range now,” says Brady. “These are wonderful and can now be driven through standard doors with some level of confidence.”

They are also small enough to fit comfortably in elevators in facilities that have multiple floors. These micro ride-on scrubbers also have a smaller footprint than standard walk-behind machines, allowing for increased visibility, operator ergonomics and efficiency while still achieving close-edge cleaning, says Widseth.

next page of this article:
Micro Scrubbers Are Easier To Use, But Offer Fewer Features