Disc brush v. cylinder brush – what works best?

The long standing question of what method of mechanical cleaning system is best for scrubbing floors remains as unanswered today as it has always been.

So what are the key differences between disc brush and cylinder brush methods? And which one is THE BEST?

Cylinder v rotary brush

Rotary floor scrubbers, utilising the rotating disc brush system, are ideal for wet stripping, scrubbing and buffing floors.


Scrubber driers using disc brushes work well on smooth surfaces and large walk behind and ride-on machines will save time in open areas whereas smaller compact machines such as the Comac Vispa 35B are better suited to more congested areas such as restaurants, school classrooms etc, where they effectively wash and dry floors and can even be used to strip wax from the floor.

innova55_aVispa at Akeman

Disc brush machines offer easy to change, variably aggressive, pads or brushes.

These features make disc scrubber driers ideal for retail applications where pads are not only inexpensive, but offer a great deal of surface contact for scuff mark control and floor shine. For industrial applications, disc brushes often make sense because they deliver greater down pressure than cylindrical brooms, and heavily soiled floors benefit from heavy down pressure.

Cylindrical brush machines are great for uneven surfaces and floors with grout lines.

Cylinder brush machines such as the Multiwash and Nilfisk CA340 allow you to wet the floor, scrub and dry in a single pass and are particularly effective on non-slip safety floors and also for cleaning the grouting between tiles.

Mutliwash range -high resNilfisk-CA340-Scrubber-219x300[1]MW brushes

Cylindrical brush scrubber driers, such as the Fimap Genie BS, will (wet) sweep small amounts of solid debris into a removable tray whilst also washing, and drying, the floor.


In this event it is possible to eliminate the manual pre-sweeping of floors for greater productivity with less potential blockages in the squeegee section of the scrubber drier. In addition, there is often no need for a separate sweeper when a cylindrical brush scrubber drier will do the job.

Cylindrical scrub brushes keep less bristle surface in contact with the floor than disc brushes but they usually turn their brushes up to three times the rotation speed of a disc brush. This will often offset the greater surface area advantage that disc brush scrub decks offer.

Which is better? Both versions have a good rating on cleaning performance and both will clean your floor!

Disc scrub brushes have the advantage of lower initial cost and simplicity of maintenance. A disc brush will last longer and a replacement brush usually will cost less than a cylindrical brush. Cylindrical brush decks (as an option) will typically increase scrubber drier cost by £500 to £1000.

Cylindrical scrub decks eliminate the need to pre sweep your floor and may save the expense of true combination scrubber/ sweeper machines or separate dry sweepers.

It is fair to conclude that both systems have advantages over each other and both will deliver good cleaning performance, so ultimately it is the type of floor surface, the level and nature of soiling, and of course the budget that will influence the final decision.


Squeegee Blades – The Right Choice

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.

Squeegee types

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.


Linatex squeegee

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

Urethane squeegee

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

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 squeegee

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.

Gum rubber squeegees

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:

Daytime Cleaning

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.



What are the vibration risks associated with operating cleaning machinery?

Activities such as operating a fork lift truck, rotary buffer or ride-on scrubber drier can cause fatigue, insomnia, headaches and shakiness with symptoms similar to those that many people experience after a long car or boat trip.

After daily exposure over a number of years, these same whole-body vibrations can result in a number of health disorders affecting your entire body including permanent harm to internal organs, muscles, joints and bone structure.

The risks linked to long-term exposure to strong or high frequency vibrations depends on the type of stress experienced, whether this is skeletal or muscular, or even to the vascular and nervous systems.

There are two main classifications of vibration:

Hand-arm vibrations (common to rotary buffers, walk-behind scrubber driers and ride-on machines)

Rotary buffer

Whole-body vibrations (specific to ride-on machines)


1. Hand-arm vibrations: ISO 5349-1

It is well known that vibrating hand tools and therefore exposure to high frequency vibrations interfere with blood circulation (vascular effects) and nerves signals (neurological effects – sometimes resulting in partial paralysis of the thumb’s radial nerve), thereby causing a tingling sensation, loss of feeling, numbness and a characteristic blanching or whitening of the affected parts of the hand-arm system known as “white-finger”.


Exposure to the vibrations of heavy tools (the most typical example being the pneumatic drill) may damage the osteo-articular system (resulting in arthrosis or bone decalcification).

It is important therefore to consult the Use and Maintenance booklet for any piece of equipment being utilised to see the level of vibrations transmitted to the hand-arm system.

Check the level of vibrations transmitted to the hand-arm system (expressed in m/s²) and, if possible, choose the one with the lowest level. The level of vibrations should be measured in compliance with ISO 5349-1.

2. Whole-body vibrations: Jolts ISO 2631-1

The whole-body vibrations of a person are commonly called ‘jolts’. When these are very strong or prolonged, they may lead to spinal problems mainly relating to bone and muscular disorders.

Vibration energy waves, much the same as noise, are transferred from the energy source – a hand tool or vehicle – into the body of the exposed operator. This is then transmitted through the body tissues, organs and skeletal systems of the individual before it is dampened and dissipated.

The symptoms of whole-body vibration are not so readily recognisable and are often mistaken for other unrelated conditions and ailments. The health outcomes are non-specific and can be difficult and extremely expensive to identify, manage and control.

These factors should not detract from the fact that employees, and in particular professional drivers, can suffer debilitating ill health effects from whole-body vibration exposure.

The most common medical conditions experienced through long term exposure to whole-body vibrations are:

  •  Spinal column complaints are perhaps the most common issues associated with the long-term exposure to whole-body vibration, where the back is especially sensitive to the 4-12Hz vibration range
  •  Digestive system issues are often observed in persons exposed to whole-body vibration over a long period of time. This is associated with the resonance movement of the stomach at frequencies between 4 and 5Hz
  •  Cardiovascular system effects resulting from prolonged exposure to whole-body vibration at frequencies below 20Hz. These result in hyperventilation, increased heart rate, oxygen intake, pulmonary ventilation and respiratory rate.

Fortunately the human body can tolerate certain levels of vibration energy but when exposed over a long period of time it begins to deteriorate and fail causing a disruption in the body’s natural processes and systems.

The health effects experienced by employees vary considerably and factors such as situation, age, lifestyle (smokers), posture, ergonomic design and resonance all have an influence on the ill health effects of the vibration exposure.

The problems may be caused through the incorrect position of the operator (resulting from bad machine use habits) or a machine design that fails to take into account the basic principles of ergonomics.

The onus is on the employer to know the vibration exposure that their workforce is exposed to, including the magnitude of vibration, distribution of the motion within the body, and the frequency, direction and duration.

Check the level of whole-body vibrations (expressed in m/s²) in the machine Use and Maintenance booklet and, if possible, choose the one with the lowest level. The level of vibrations should be measured in compliance with ISO 2631-1. Ensure the machine EC declaration states that it has been designed in compliance with directive EN 12100, and that the principles of ergonomics have also been applied.

The level of hand-arm vibrations of Comac scrubber driers, sweepers and single disc rotaries is certified by an accredited laboratory to offer the highest reliability of the declared values.

Stop slips in kitchens through effective floor cleaning

Cleaning floors in kitchens is a routine procedure but, if not done correctly, can lead to surfaces that are slippery and dangerous to walk on. This information provides tips on floor cleaning techniques that can reduce the risk of slips, useful if you are a chef, manager or business owner managing a floor cleaning system.

 Some facts:

  • A clean and dry smooth floor is rarely slippery.
  • A well-wrung mop will not leave a floor dry. Clean, well maintained squeegees and dry mops will speed up drying time on many floors.
  • Dirty or greasy dry mops and squeegees spread contamination over clean floors.
  • Mopping alone will not be effective on rough or profile floors, a manual or mechanical brush can improve cleaning.
  • Warning cones will not stop people entering a wet area.

 Small spills: Spot cleaning

Even a small spill can be a slip risk.

  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Avoid wet mopping, as it increases the size of the spill and the slip risk area.
  • Use absorbent material to soak up the spill (e.g. paper towel, cloth).
  • For greasy spills, use a cleaning solution.
  • Dry the floor well.
  • Remove warning signs as soon as the spill is gone.

 Wet cleaning

  • Sweep the floor and ensure equipment is clean.
  • Prevent people from walking on wet smooth floors until they are totally dry.
  • Close area, use barriers, clean in sections, as last resort use cones.
  • Warn that wet cleaning is in progress, remove signs as soon as floor is dry.
  • Use the right balance of cleaning solution to water.
  • Keep an eye on the bucket solution and change when dirty.
  • After use, rinse cleaning equipment thoroughly.
  • Do not dispose of dirty fluid in food and hand sinks.

 For quick/middle of the day cleans

  • Wring out as much liquid as possible before use.
  • Mop a small section of floor at a time, rinse and repeat.
  • Dry off floor with dry mop/squeegee.

 For end of the day/end of shift cleans

  • Wet the mop well and mop the area.
  • Leave solution on the floor for a few minutes to loosen dirt and grease.
  • Gently scrub the wet floor (and grout if tiled) with a brush.
  • Use a squeegee to push the dirty water residue to drain, or soak up using a mop.
  • Give cleaned area a final mop over.
  • Dry off floor with dry mop/squeegee.

Machine cleaning: Suitable for larger kitchen floor areas and for periodic floor maintenance

 Some points to consider

  • For best results, follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to use the equipment.
  • Ensure staff are fully trained in how to use, set up and maintain the equipment.
  • Power cables can create trip risks; cleaning may leave floors wet.

 Steam cleaning

  • Steam penetrates deep into flooring; heat and pressure mobilise grease.
  • Some machines recover the dirty water, others have flat head mops which soak it up.
  • Leaves floors almost dry.

Mechanical brush (scrubber) methods

  • Can clean into the grain of a slip-resistant floor.
  • Important that settings and cleaning concentrations are correct and accessories maintained.
  • Different brush systems are available, suitable for small, awkward and large floors.
  • Scrubber drier machines leave the floor dry.

Whilst it is perfectly reasonable to clean smaller and more congested areas with mops, the effective cleaning of larger commercial kitchens in schools, hospitals, hotels, catering establishments etc is better achieved through the use of mechanical cleaning methods using steam cleaners or scrubber driers.

One of the best machines for cleaning non-slip safety flooring often found in commercial kitchens is the Multiwash, a twin brush scrubbing machine that can wash, scrub and dry floors in a single pass.


Another excellent machine is the Comac Vispa 35B, an extremely compact scrubber drier that has the added advantage of being battery powered and therefore cable-free thus eliminating the trip hazard often associated with mains powered machines.


For more information on these and other cleaning machines, contact IFM (UK).

Advantages of Ride-on Scrubber Driers

Scrubber driers come in all shapes and sizes. From small corded electric machines to large battery powered, LPG or even diesel combination scrubber-sweepers, there are many options to choose from.

For premises with a significant amount of floor space, ride-on scrubber driers are generally the best option as they usually have a larger scrubbing width, larger water/detergent solution capacity and deliver reduced operator fatigue and therefore increased productivity.


In essence, cleaning with a ride-on scrubber drier is a lot more efficient than using walk behind machines.

Ride-on scrubber driers can reduce the amount of time taken to clean a large expanse of floor, whether it is a large sports hall, long and wide corridors or even a warehouse.

This makes it possible to get more done in the same, or even less, time than a walk behind machine, generating savings in labour costs.

Solution capacity is a major advantage that ride-on scrubber driers have over walk-behinds. The ability to hold more cleaning solution makes for fewer trips to the water source to refill and to the drain to empty out dirty water, and this saves as much as 30 minutes per trip. Over the course of an 8 hour shift, by using a ride-on scrubber drier, it is very easy to add as much as 1-2 hours of “productive” cleaning time.

Wider scrubbing paths also add to the efficiency and increased productivity of ride-on scrubber driers. Since they are mechanically propelled, navigating a wider path is easier when riding. Adding just 8 inches to the cleaning path, or going from a 20” machine to a 28” machine, will save 3 entire passes on a 40,000 sq/ft floor. Based on an average 6 minutes per pass, the increased scrubbing width can add almost 20 minutes of productive time. Over the course of one year, that is 122 hours!

Employee productivity is also improved. Since the operator rides instead of walking, fatigue is reduced meaning they are physically able to maintain a more productive rate of work after they have finished scrubbing the floor.

All of these things add up to a larger area being cleaned, more often, making for an all-around cleaner facility. Just using a scrubber drier is a big improvement over the manual mopping of floors, but when you add in the many significant advantages of a ride-on scrubber drier, the benefits become even greater.