Scrubber driers apply detergent and water to the floor, utilising scrubbing brushes or abrasive pads to loosen ingrained dirt and debris and then remove the suspended soils and liquids with vacuum suction having collected the dirty solution via a squeegee channel.
This last part in the process determines how much solution is removed from the floor – and how much is left behind, and squeegee blades have a massive bearing on this.
A poorly made, incorrectly chosen, or badly worn squeegee can cancel out the most successful scrubbing job. A squeegee blade that fails to seal against the floor surface will leave behind water, soap, soils, oils and more.
No single squeegee material is best for every cleaning application. Economy gum rubber is suitable for smooth, even floors with light traffic; premium natural rubber provides consistent performance and exceptional results on a broad range of conditions; polyurethane is ideal for applications that require oil and chemical resistance.
To function effectively as a floor squeegee, a material needs a particular set of characteristics: relatively high resilience, low modulus, high tear strength, and high resistance to wet abrasion.
• Resilience allows rubber to absorb impact, then regain its original shape
• Modulus refers to the weight or mechanical force required to deform a material
• Tear strength indicates how well a squeegee can resist damage from foreign objects
• Wet abrasion measures how long a material lasts under constant rubbing
These factors vary by cleaning conditions, such as type and condition of the floor surfaces, soil types and the amount of soil.
Machine maintenance including correct adjustment of the squeegee blade inclination as well as operator skill also affect performance.
There are 3 types of squeegees blades commonly used for scrubber driers:
Linatex®, urethane and gum.
The all-round best performing and longest lasting squeegee blades are made from Linatex® premium natural rubber and are red in colour.
Linatex® premium rubber is a 95% natural rubber that exhibits outstanding resilience, strength and resistance to cutting, tearing and abrasion. With more than 80 years experience in handling aggressive materials, Linatex® is still ranked as the premium wear resistant rubber for sliding or wet abrasion service.
It is a unique and patented manufacturing process that gives Linatex® its extraordinary physical properties and outstanding performance. The Linatex® process, unlike other processes, causes minimal mechanical disturbance to the molecular structure of the finished rubber, resulting in significant cost benefits to the user.
Linatex® works well with chemicals and won’t swell like gum rubber. Linatex® squeegees have excellent flexibility for more consistent seals and water pickup, as well as rip-resistant durability for long-term wear.
These blades would be the best choice in applications where the floor is uneven or not smooth and where there is an oily environment.
Floor squeegees made with lower quality rubber are sold for less than those made from Linatex®. They also deliver lower performance, require more frequent adjustment, and wear out much sooner. Despite its higher initial price, the total cost of ownership over time makes Linatex® a more economical choice for many customers.
In side by side tests, taking careful measurements with calibrated instruments, researchers at the Midwest Rubber facility in the US document the performance of floor squeegees. They evaluate multiple materials on a variety of surfaces, with different brands and models of scrubber dryers, and with diverse types and amounts of soil.
Each time, they test for one or more of the characteristics listed above. For most applications, Linatex® meets more of those criteria than any other material.
Polyurethane / Urethane
Polyurethane squeegee blades offer many advantages over rubber alternatives including:
- An increased life span
- High abrasion resistance
- High cut and tear resistance
- Improved chemical and solvent resistance
- Improved surface contact
- Linear cut edge
Chemical-resistant and very durable, urethane squeegees work especially well in industrial environments with oily or rough floor surfaces and on old or uneven floors, grates or environments with sharp debris.
They are typically the most expensive blades, but they will last a very long time in the correct application.
They are usually opaque in appearance.
Gum rubber squeegees work very well in situations where the floor is smooth and even like shopping centres, hospitals and other public spaces. Gum rubber squeegees ensure maximum water collection on smooth and tiled floors, leaving them dry and safe for pedestrians.
Gum rubber squeegees will wear faster than the other types of squeegee blades but are usually the least expensive.
They are not recommended for oily environments. Gum rubber absorbs oil and the material will begin to lose its structural integrity, becoming very wavy, and the cleaning ability will be lowered.
They are typically white or tan in colour.
A simple change in squeegee type can bring benefits to machine operators, building managers, businesses, and their customers. In fact, it can help meet many of the challenges facing our industry:
A squeegee that leaves a clean, dry floor in one pass creates safer, healthier, more comfortable environments for employees, guests and customers.
Materials that keep their shape under heavy use require fewer adjustments, allowing staff members to accomplish more cleaning in the same amount of time.
Longer lasting squeegees require less frequent replacement, which reduces waste; and natural rubber is a renewable resource with infinite potential.
The bottom line
A floor squeegee represents a small fraction of the cost in any scrubber drier. It even costs less than other consumables such as detergent, brushes or floor pads. But it makes all the difference in how a floor looks and feels after the machine is put away.
To find the right floor squeegee for each application, consider physical characteristics, performance, and total cost of ownership. Base purchase decisions on research data rather than habit or initial price. Matching the material to the job will help you improve scrubber drier performance, reduce long-term costs, and increase customer satisfaction all at once.