Floor Maintenance Buyers' Guide
Whether your business has carpet, linoleum, or tile floors, the high amounts of traffic commercial floors see make cleaning especially important, since a clean floor is important to both sanitation and customer perception. Having the right floor cleaning supplies on hand can make cleaning safe and easy. This guide will help you know which floor care products you need to keep your business's floors clean, safe, and looking their best.
Table of Contents
- Vacuum Cleaners
- Carpet Cleaners
- Orbital Floor Cleaners
- Floor Maintenance Accessories
Used for removing solid debris from linoleum, tile, concrete, wood, and low carpets.
Brooms are the best tool for removing debris from hard floors, from leaves and large pieces of broken glass all the way down to dust. They can be used outdoors to sweep leaves and dirt from walkways, steps, and patios, and indoors to clear out food debris and dirt that has been tracked in. In some cases, you may need to buy the handle and broom head separately, with each being threaded so the broom head can screw onto the handle. Handles may be made of painted wood, plastic, or vinyl-coated metal, and some have a foam grip to make holding them more comfortable. Handles are available in lengths from 36 to 72 inches.
Upright brooms are sold as one-piece items or can be purchased as separate heads and handles. These brooms have bristles made of corn fibers or polypropylene, which are usually feathered at their ends to ensure the broom is able to capture even the smallest pieces of debris. While the natural corn fibers are generally more affordable, the polypropylene bristles are more durable and less likely to break off. These bristles may be arranged in a straight line or at an angle to help the user fit the broom into corners.
Push brooms are most commonly sold in two pieces, so you are able to choose both the length of the handle and the width of the brush attached to the end. The handles range in length from 36 to 72 inches, and the broom heads are available from 12 to 36 inches wide. The bristles on this type of broom are shorter than those on upright brooms and are usually firmer to allow for pushing heavier pieces of debris. These bristles are made of polypropylene or natural tampico fibers.
A whisk broom is very similar to an upright broom without a handle. These brooms are meant to be handheld, and so are smaller than upright broom heads, as well. The bristles on a whisk broom are made out of polypropylene, which is more durable and less likely to leave broken-off bristles behind, or dried corn plant fibers, which are more economical. Whisk brooms often have metal hooks at their tops to make storage simple.
Dustpans are an easy way to collect dirt and debris that has been swept up. The most economical dustpans are open with short handles, which require users to bend to the ground to use them. The more common option in commercial settings are dustpans on long handles, with pans that swivel when the handles are picked up. Many of these also have lids that close on the pans when they are picked up and some have small wheels on the backs of the pans to assist users with moving it around. These larger versions often have clips that allow users to attach brooms to the dustpans.
Used for removing dirt, liquid spills, and sticky residue from linoleum, tile, wood, and concrete
When there is a liquid spill or a sticky mess, the best floor cleaning product is going to be a mop. Like brooms, these are most commonly sold in two pieces: the handle and the mop head. Because mops need water and cleaning solution, they will require more accessories than brooms, such as buckets and sinks.
Mop heads are made to attach to the ends of mop handles, which is achieved with something called a headband. The headband is the strip of fabric at the top of the mop head that the handle either loops over or clamps onto. Wider headbands are more durable, but the narrower options are simple to mount and remove. Cut-end mops are generally disposable, while looped-end mop heads can be laundered and reused. They may be made out of cotton, synthetic fibers, or microfibers, offering different absorbencies and scrubbing abilities.
Unlike other mops, a dust mop is not meant to be used with water. It is instead used to clean up dust and small particles, a task best done when the floor and equipment are dry. A dust mop is constructed of a handle that clamps onto an oval wire frame, with the dust mop head stretched over it. Like other mop heads, dust mop heads can be cut-end or loop-end, but only the loop-end options are washable.
Mop sinks make filling and emptying mop buckets simple. These are available as floor-mounted sinks or taller sinks on legs or mounted on walls. Mop sinks are either 6 or 12 inches deep and some have drops in the front to help employees empty buckets. Mop sinks are also available in cabinets that have storage built in for cleaning supplies. Consider adding a backsplash or side guards to protect the walls and surrounding areas.
Commercial mop buckets are made to be large enough to accommodate large commercial mops and are usually mounted on wheels so they can be easily moved. Many come with wringers that can remove excess water from mop heads, though in some cases that part is sold separately. Most commercial mop buckets are a bright, eye-catching yellow, with a wet floor warning printed on the side, but buckets are also available in black, brown, gray, green, and red. Some models are available with designs that help minimize movement of the water inside the bucket as it is being transported.
Used for removing debris from carpet and sometimes hard flooring. Some specialty models can also clean carpets and upholstery.
Commercial vacuums are made for use with carpet, but can also be used on hard flooring. Most commercial models use disposable bags, which have to be replaced regularly. Filters and belts may also occasionally need to be replaced, though not as frequently as the bags. Most must be plugged in to operate, but some smaller models can operate with rechargeable battery packs.
Upright vacuums look similar to what most people use in their homes, with the whole unit in one piece that is pushed and pulled along the ground. Some small battery powered units are available, but most need to be plugged in. Most upright vacuum models include hoses with two or more attachments for vacuuming upholstery or cleaning corners.
Canister vacuums consist of cylindrical components that house each unit's motor and bag, and a flexible hose that extends out from that canister. A straight or angled wand is usually attached to the hose, with a variety of attachments available for use on the end of the wand. The canister portion is usually made to be worn as a backpack or on the user's hip, but some have wheels that enable users to pull them. Canister vacuums often have larger motors than upright models, so they are more powerful.
Used for heavily soiled carpets and upholstered furniture.
Deep-cleaning machines include steamers, spot cleaners, and carpet cleaners. Instead of only removing debris from the carpet, these machines use clean water and detergent to wash the flooring. Carpet cleaners, as the name suggests, are made for cleaning only carpet and are shaped like upright vacuums. These have two tanks, one for clean detergent and water, and one for the dirty water that is sucked out of the carpet. A spot cleaner works similarly, but is shaped like a canister vacuum and is equipped with a hose that allows you to clean upholstery and drapes.
Spot cleaners work similarly to canister vacuums, with the water and detergent tanks inside the canister. A hose is used for cleaining with the help of an attachment with brush bristles for scrubbing carpets. The brush is stationary, so it does require some elbow grease from the user to get out stubborn stains. These are ideal for cleaning spots on hard-to-reach carpeted areas like stairs and closets, as well as on upholstered furniture and in vehicle interiors.
Deep-cleaning carpet cleaners resemble upright vacuum cleaners. Because they rest on the floor and can be rolled, instead of carried, these have larger water and detergent tanks than spot cleaners. This, combined with the wider brushes and suction areas, means they can clean much larger sections of carpet than spot cleaners. These may also have hoses and attachments built in for cleaning small, hard-to-reach areas. These units work by spraying detergent onto carpet, working it in with a rotating brush, then using suction to remove the dirty water and detergent from the carpet. The clean detergent mixture and dirty water are kept in separate tanks, which must be refilled and emptied occasionally, respectively.
Used for cleaning hard floors equipped with drains, away from any equipment that may sustain water damage.
Some commercial kitchens, warehouses, and processing can simply be cleaned with hoses, spraying away messes as the resulting water escapes via nearby drains. If you are considering cleaning a room's floor this way, be sure to verify that none of the equipment in that room will be damaged by water. The following tools make this method of cleaning possible.
Hose & Nozzle
The most important tools to have for spraying your floors clean are hoses and nozzles that are capable of handling the water temperature you plan on cleaning at. In most cases, the hoses and nozzles are sold separately, so you can find the length of hose and the type of nozzle you need. Nozzles may have their triggers on their front or back, and some include adapters that allow you to change the size of the water stream. Because not all plastics handle hot water well, be sure to get a nozzle and hose that can withstand hot water at the temperatures you'll use.
Hose reels provide an easy way to store hoses. Most hose reels can be mounted to a wall, and some models also allow you to mount the bracket to the ceiling or to the underside of a table or shelf. Reels can be open, where the hose is visible, or enclosed. Most reels include hoses that range in length from 15 to 50 feet long. The reels are retractable, meaning that with a small tug, they will pull the hoses back in, making cleanup and storage simple.
Floor squeegees are an easy way to help direct water to floor drains to help speed drying. Squeegees are most often sold just as heads that are then attached to broom handles. Squeegee heads are most often straight, but curved versions are available. These come in widths ranging from 16 to 36 inches. The most economical blades are made of vinyl or foam rubber, while the most durable options have rubber blades.
Having a floor drain trough is essential if you plan on spraying your floor clean. These must be installed over drains that are already plumbed into the floor, and are available in square and rectangular shapes. Some models have strainers built in to help prevent plumbing clogs. Some of the square drains have grates over only half or three-fourths of the drain, leaving room for plumbing from nearby equipment to be directed to the drain. The drains may be made out of durable stainless steel or lightweight plastic.
Orbital Floor Machines
Used for: Tile, laminate, concrete, and carpeted floors
If you have a wide span of flooring to clean, you may want to invest in an orbital floor machine. These have pads, brushes, and bonnets that can be changed out to make the unit suitable for cleaning a wide range of floor types.
Orbital Floor Machine
An orbital floor machine has either a round or rectangular flat area that is pressed against the floor, which is cleaned by an attached pad, screen, bonnet, or brush. That surface is rotated against the floor to achieve a scrubbing motion. The floor type and the desired end result determine which attachment the machine needs. The machines are made to hold pads varying in width from 12 to 21 inches, so the machine you purchase will largely depend on the amount of open space you have to cover and any small nooks and crannies you may need to fit the unit into. Floor machines are made out of lightweight and economical aluminum or durable stainless steel.
Pad Drive Holder
The pad drive holder, also called a pad driver, is a large textured surface that the selected pad attaches to. The pad drive holder connects to the motor mount and conveys the vibration-like circular movement to the pad. This part must be matched to both the size and series of floor machine to ensure it will fit properly.
Scrub brushes that are made to fit onto floor machines are available with bristles of different lengths and stiffnesses to fit a variety of needs. The stiffest bristles may be ideal for scrubbing a finished concrete floor or cleaning a grouted tile floor. Softer bristles can help refresh carpet or work a cleaning solution deeper into carpet fibers.
Pads are available in a huge variety of textures that allow you to strip wax, scrub a floor clean, sand a finish off a wood floor, or polish tile and stone floors to a high shine. Like scrub brushes, these must be sized to fit the machine you will use. Most pads can be used more than once, but they do wear out and must be replaced regularly. Because of this, some types of pads are sold in multipacks.
Floor Maintenance Accessories
Having the right accessories can make your floor cleaning supplies more effective and improve safety. Consider which of the following accessories will improve your processes and make floor maintenance a less arduous task for your employees.
- Caution signs inform customers and employees alike that the floor nearby may be wet. The most common style folds flat for easy storage, but cones and hanging signs are also available. These are usually bright yellow, with a warning printed in English and Spanish, and an image warning of a fall hazard.
- A carpet sweeper is a lightweight tool that lets you quickly and easily sweep up small pieces of debris. It doesn't clean as deeply as a vacuum, but is a good option for a quick clean-up.
- Floor scrapers have blades attached to the ends of long handles, making it easy for employees to scrape up stuck-on messes from hard flooring. These are commonly used for removing chewing gum, and are sometimes sold with the scraper heads separate from the handles.
- A wall-mounted broom holder makes organization simple. These can hold brooms, mops, squeegees, and any other cleaning tools with similarly sized handles.