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How Clean a Rubber Floor With an Auto Scrubber

I had this question today and decided it was a good learning blog, so let's dive into this problem. Rubber floors are often found in places like ice rinks, basketball courts, and running tracks, and workout centers.  They are even found in some areas were high anti-slip requirements are needed.  These anti-slip or spongy properties are great for the user, but are very difficult to clean.

Auto scrubbers are designed to work on smooth surfaces with a certain amount of friction from the surface.  Rubber floors greatly exceed the designed friction level and many negative things happen, either immediately or over a longer period of time.  The first noticeable problem is battery running time, the friction from the cleaning brush or pad is much higher and requires more electrical power to overcome, so your batteries drain faster.  Sometimes as much as 50% faster.  Over time this will stress the circuit breakers, wiring, batteries and the brush and drive motors.  What happens to these components is they create excessive heat from the additional friction they need to overcome, and the heat slowly (or quickly in poorly designed machines) kills the motor, batteries, etc.  The most common symptom of this is constant circuit breakers popping, or as the machine ages the machine suddenly starts popping breakers when it used to clean just fine.  Or you changed something, like buying a new brush and the cleaning came to a stop.


What to do about the problem?  There are a few things you can try.

Purchase an aftermarket carpet brush for the machine.  These are softer thinner bristles, and generally have more fibers in the deck.  They tend to bend easier.  Before you start using the new brush, run it on some outdoor rough concrete for 5-10 minutes.  This rounds over the bristles and takes the sharp cut edge from manufacturing off.  Our goal is to reduce friction.

Run hot water through the machine for 10 minutes warming up the fibers and then stop the machine by suddenly turning off the main power.  LEAVE THE HEAD ON THE FLOOR, do not lift it.  We want the fibers to take a set in the bent over position.  Leave it like that over night

If you can't get a carpet brush for your specific machine, you can do the above things to the softest brush you can get for your machine.

Run a detergent with high foaming properties.  The foam acts as a lubricant.  You may need to drop some bar soap into your tank to knockdown the excessive foaming in your recovery tank.  Out Mighty Mac Blue Thunder floor cleaner works well for this purpose.

Get the proper machine.  Generally a cylindrical head machine works better than a disc machine.  They have strong motors that are designed for this type of stress.  They do however cost a lot more than a disc machine.  DO NOT use an orbital machine.

Get creative in some method to reduce the pressure of the cleaning head on the floor.  Some machines have foot pedals that control the pressure and have a "float" setting.  On these machines try this idea I got from a customer.  He added a spring (via lots of trial & error) to the pedal to keep the head from going into full float mode, just as if his foot was riding the pedal all the time taking pressure off the head. He found a setting that got the brush to contact the floor, but not enough to load the full weight onto the brush, worked great. Also, never use the strip setting of any machine, this will really burn out your machine.

Do NOT use any kind of a floor pad.  The idea is to REDUCE friction between the floor and the machine, pads, even the softest pad, will increase total friction.

Hope these ideas help you save your machine and clean your rubber floor.