There are a few basic types of floor scrubber chemicals.
pH neutral cleaner: pH neutral is 7 on a scale from 1-4. This is safe for all floor types, but this will only clean basic dirt from foot traffic you might see in a hospital or school. Basically, if it’s already clean by dust mopping, this will clean the remaining dirt.
- All purpose cleaner: this is slightly above pH neutral (usually in the 9-10 range). With the added pH alkalinity, the chemical can “cut” or dissolve soils better. It’s slightly more aggressive than a pH neutral cleaner and many of these are safe for use on floor finish. Read the label first before using on floor finish.
- Light Duty Degreaser: This pH will usually be around 9-11. It’s got some ingredients that will dissolve or “cut” grease and petroleum. It may be geared towards food grease (animal fats) or petroleum based (motor oils). This product is not designed for use on floor finish, and it will destroy the floor finish over time causing you to have to strip/wax the floors more frequently. You might find these products in a spray and wipe application as well as mop bucket or autoscrubbers.
- Heavy Duty Degreaser: The pH for these products will usually be 12 or higher as that’s the strength of alkalinity required to easily break down greases, oils and other petroleum based industrial soils. The ingredients in these products are caustic (corrosive) and need to be handled with care. These products are not designed to be used by hand as that poses too much risk of contact with the operator or housekeeper. These products are usually designed for floor use only for safety.
Many times, the best recommendation is start with the safest product (either pH neutral or All Purpose) and work your way up the pH scale. Sometimes, we’re asked about using disinfectants in floor scrubbers. That’s a no-on, and here’s a link to a blog post on why it doesn’t make sense.. Don’t forget that selecting the right floor pad or floor brush is also key to cleaning. Here are some links to blog posts on selecting the right floor pads and brushes.