Sweep or Scrub Basics

Updated: Dec 8, 2015

Sweeper cleaning the inside of a warehouse

Which Floor-cleaning Approach Fits Your Application?

There are numerous reasons for sweeping or scrubbing floors in a plant or warehouse – increased productivity, worker safety, and product contamination. Not to mention protecting the floor surface and maintaining a quality image.

On average, a manufacturing plant spends 931,850 hours per year maintaining floor surfaces – 551,984 of those hours are spent sweeping and 379,554 hours are spent scrubbing, with the remaining hours spent polishing or resurfacing.

When you consider costs to clean, a manufacturing facility spends, on average, $3.05 annually per square foot on maintenance, with labor accounting for over 90% of total floor-cleaning costs. That's why it's essential to find a floor-cleaning approach that not only meets your facility's cleaning requirements but also helps increase your productivity – both in time and labor. However, determining whether to sweep, scrub or both – and what type of equipment to use based on your cleaning needs is not the straightforward decision it might seem.

Sweep or Scrub?

Here are some initial factors to consider when determining whether sweeping, scrubbing or a combination of both is best for your plant or warehouse.

  • The size of dirt and debris particles generated
  • The amount of dirt and debris generated
  • The character of the dirt (fibrous, oily, dusty, wet)
  • The type of floor surface (tile, bare concrete, coated concrete, outdoor, etc.)
  • A definition of what constitutes “clean” for your facility

“Clean” can mean anything from getting rid of chunks of dirt on the floor to creating a shiny, scuff-free surface. Your facility's cleanliness goal will be a factor in your equipment choice. For example, if “clean” means getting rid of forklift tire marks and other stains in addition to dust and debris, then your cleaning process will have to include scrubbing as well as sweeping.

After you assess the size and amount of dirt and debris to be removed, your primary decision is “sweep or scrub.” This decision is not always straightforward. For example, if the material to be cleaned is mostly fine dust, it would seem that a sweeper would be the ideal tool to remove it. But the best way to handle dust is to “add water,” which in turn eliminates your dust problem; this means a scrubber may actually be the better equipment choice.

Once you have matched the general type of debris in your facility to the type of sweeper to handle the job, your next step is to determine the size and mode of equipment you need. Check back next week when I discuss how to select the size and mode of sweeper based on your facility’s needs.