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When the BUCKET doesn’t make the LIST

Choosing the right tool for the job


The cleaning industry is a critical part of building health and wellness-oriented attitudes in a positive working environment. The teams that perform these invaluable services are critical to keeping schools open, offices bright, and managing all aspects of a building’s health from pathogen outbreaks, soil (or bioburden) build up, and the maintenance of a positive working or learning environment.



The tools that have been employed to accomplish these tasks have evolved by leaps and bounds, so it can be helpful to re-examine the use of certain tools in certain contexts. For example, let’s examine the use of the yellow mop bucket. In many instances, the first time the mop goes in the water it is clean, but the second time it goes in the water can become dirty with the substance the mop was just cleaning. This can become a problem if the facilities team mops the bathroom floor of a building, and then doesn’t dump out the mop water before using the same mop bucket in the hallway outside. This can then result in urine from the restroom floor being spread into the hallway.


Some alternatives to this issue can be to use wet dry vacuums, auto scrubbers, or carpet extractors. The yellow mop bucket has a purpose in a facilities team’s toolkit, but it may need to be reconsidered if it’s used as the only floor cleaner a facilities team has available. There are occasions when it is the best option for a job, but there are also situations where alternatives in certain areas may be a more hygienic option (such as when cleaning bathroom floors, for instance).


With the technological advances that have been made in the development of auto scrubbers, these once heavy behemoths have become agile and compact, and highly effective when cleaning kitchens, restrooms, or other tight
areas. The main advantage of an auto scrubber is that you are always cleaning with fresh water, and there is never a reuse of contaminated water on any surface. With the addition of cylindrical brushes, which are brushes that move vertically, one is able to get even better results than the yellow mop bucket can provide when cleaning recessed grouted surfaces—which can make an auto scrubber a great option for certain bathroom floors. (User note: When grout is lower than the tile, filthy water can make the grout turn black, and black grout equals a filthy floor!)


Since the early 2000’s, auto scrubber technology has been making huge strides in its innovative designs. It was thought in the grocery industry for many years that only large 32” walking scrubbers should be used to ensure that workers were safer. This concern for safety was not always the case for every individual’s decision to not making the transition to riding scrubbers. Many large retailers and BSC contractors simply felt that riding was giving a “gift” of easier work to the technician who was operating the unit. The truth of the matter is that a riding scrubber is 30 percent more efficient, which allows the worker to cover more ground in less time and with less cumulative fatigue.


The main advantage of an auto scrubber, like the Tennant model,
is that you are always cleaning with fresh water, and there is never
a reuse of contaminated water on any surface.



Today, auto scrubbers— from the tiny lithium ion battery units used in restrooms, kitchens and compact areas—are increasing the health of the residents in many buildings. In order to ensure the maintenance of that health, selecting the right sized unit for the right application is key. Several manufacturers have built standing auto scrubbers that employ the same concept as standing lawn mowers that have been used by the landscaping industry for years. These taller stand on units allow the user to cover large areas and yet work in confined spaces where a traditional long walk behind unit would never fit.


When coupled with other technologies—like On Site Generation (OSG) technologies that are on board and stand alone, as well as touch free cleaning technologies for restrooms—it is possible to improve worker performance, ensure building health, and reduce chemicals in the environment.


Furthermore, in places on floors where auto scrubbers are not appropriate or won’t fit, then microfiber flat mops can be used in a charge bucket as well. The microfiber flat mop technology is making great headway, so there are times when it may be the most appropriate tool to use depending on the space.


As an industry, it is important to employ technologies that are appropriate to the environment one is using them in, while also remaining conscious of the necessity to reduce chemical use, improve performance, provide true cleaning and remove dangerous bioburdens.



By John Shanahan, a designer and developer for OSG Technologies, holds several patents on OSG product designs. John has more than 30 years in the Environmental Health Space.