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The Nitty Gritty on Scrub Brushes

Apr 01 2021 Brushes Brooms and Floor Pads6 Min. Read

A helpful guide to buying, replacing and caring for brushes on your industrial scrubber.

Scrubbing your facility’s floors is critical for appearance as well as worker productivity and safety. Spills and debris create slip/fall hazards and contribute to forklift accidents that endanger workers. It is also true that worker morale and productivity are higher when the work environment is clean and well-organized. Industrial floor scrubbers provide the consistent, thorough and cost-saving cleaning industrial facilities require.

If you have a variety of applications to scrub, you might be better off with a pad driver which allows operators to quickly switch pads. Otherwise, stripping and scrubbing brushes are effective, convenient and economically sound replacements for disposable floor pads, often lasting more than 100 times longer without clogging.

Forget the Color Code

Unlike floor pads, the color of strip and scrub brushes cannot be used as a guide to aggressiveness or application. Floor pads, on the other hand, are consistently manufactured in specific colors, from light to dark, to indicate gentle, such as natural and white pads, to aggressive strip pads which are black.

There are actually very few brush manufacturers globally, and they supply all the different OEM’s. The OEMs specify their brand’s colors they want used for “their” brush bristles so that makes it hard to identify the aggressiveness of brushes by color. Orange can be more aggressive than black, for example. It is more useful to understand the materials scrub brushes are made of and the numbers which indicate the diameter of the bristles. For example:

0.10” Nylon bristles are thin, super pliable and soft vs. .070” Grit brush bristles which are thick and rigid, and impregnated with various sizes of grit particles! Here is a rough representation of diameters just to help us visualize the concept:

Brush Diameter Illustration

Two Types of Scrubbing Brushes

  • Disc (Rotary): Full fill bristle design
  • Cylindrical: Spiral bristle fill pattern

Cylindrical scrub brushes, similar to Rotary (or Disk) scrub brushes, are available in a range of bristle diameters and materials. These include Nylon, Poly, and Grit bristles. Bristles are usually configured in 14, 16, 18, 20, or 24 single rows (S.R.). in both standard and patrol patterns.

Scrub Brush Materials

Brushes come in a variety of materials, each with its own properties, strengths and weaknesses. Each manufacturer has its own offering and product names. The following list of materials is organized from most to least aggressive:

Wire

These brushes are made of .030-gauge high carbon steel.

Carbide Grit

Nylon fiber impregnated with grit.

  • .018” / 500 Grit
  • .022” / 120 Grit
  • .035” / 180 Grit
  • .040” / 120 Grit
  • .050” / 80 Grit
  • .065” / 46 Grit

Poly (polypropylene)

Economical bristle material. Retains stiffness when wet. Brush life is good to very good. NOTE: Crimped poly and nylon filaments have a wave to them and flair out more at the bristle tips. The crimped filament is able to better hold cleaning solutions and works well on a variety of surfaces. Level filaments tend to group together more and are better suited for even surface applications.

  • Crimped .020”, .030”
  • Level .022”, .030”, .040”

Nylon

Provides excellent wear life and is slightly more aggressive than natural fiber.

  • Crimped .010”, .014”, .022”
  • Level .020”, .025”, .030”

Natural Fiber

Natural fiber bristle brushes are the softest, least aggressive bristle materials and are typically used for polishing hard surfaces such as “Raised Disc” Rubber Tile, Marble and Linoleum/Vinyl Tile.

  • White Tampico, Palmyra, Union Mix, Bassine

Scrub Brush Applications / Uses

Listed from most to least aggressive

Wire for Rough Concrete

Ideal for stripping and scrubbing of rough concrete surfaces. These brushes are made of .030-gauge high carbon steel.

Heavy-Duty Stripping Brushes

Our most aggressive brush, used for extra heavy-duty stripping and scrubbing of heaviest soils on the roughest floors. Replaces black pads.

  • .065” / 46 Grit Rust-Colored Heavy-Duty Strip / Scrub Brush

Stripping Brushes

These brushes are constructed of heavy gauge nylon with larger grit and are used for stripping heavily soiled floors, such as concrete floors in an industrial setting. Replaces black and brown pads.

  • .070” / 46 Mal-Grit Xtra Grit Brush from Malish Brush

Aggressive Scrubbing to Stripping

These are the most popular grit brushes. Aggressive brushes for general-duty stripping and scrubbing of concrete, brick, and quarry tile floors. Replaces green or blue pads. These also recommended to effectively clean wide grout lines.

  • .040” / 120 Grit Green General-Duty Scrub Brush
  • .050” / 80 Grit Black Heavy Duty Scrub Brush

Daily Scrubbing

These are excellent general scrubbing brushes ideal for daily scrubbing and maintenance of resilient tile and finished floors. Replaces blue or red pads. While the smaller diameter bristles offer flexibility for cleaning narrow grout lines and uneven surfaces, the larger grit size offers exceptional scrubbing.

  • .035” / 180 Grit Blue Light-Duty Scrub Brush
  • .022” / 120 Grit Mal-Grit Scrub from Malish

Gentle Daily Scrubbing and Polishing

These brushes offer the durability of grit brushes with minimum aggression. Recommended for daily, gentle scrubbing and polishing of a variety of tiles, marble, terrazzo and non-slip epoxy finishes. Replaces red or white pads.

  • .018” / 500 Mal-Grit Lite

Natural Fiber Brushes.

  • White Tampico – durable brush, naturally resistant to acids/chemicals, great for polishing marble
  • Union Mix – combines Palmyra and Tampico, great for light scrubbing/polishing
  • Bassine—low cost absorbent brush for general hard surface scrubbing

Using Floor Brushes Correctly

One way to know if you’re using the right brush is to look at cleaning performance. If there’s still dirt on the floor after the scrubber goes by, maybe you need a more aggressive brush, a different or properly mixed cleaning chemical, or maybe the brush is worn and needs replacing.

If you see scratching or gouging after a pass by the scrubber, STOP! The brush could be too aggressive, or, more likely, the down-pressure on the brush is too high. If you are burning through brushes too quickly, the culprit may be incorrect or overly aggressive down-pressure.

Maximize Brush Effectiveness and Longevity

How long will these floor brushes last? Well, it depends on several factors: how often they are used, the type and condition of the floor (how dirty it is) and how fast the operator cleans the floor. While there's no mathematical formula to determine how long a brush will last, there are steps you can take to maximize the life expectancy of your floor brushes and improve their effectiveness as well.

Inspect

Inspect brushes daily before starting and again at the end of a cleaning shift. Replace worn components.

Clean

Prolong the life of your scrub brushes by cleaning them at the end of each shift to remove accumulated stripper, finish, wax, and debris. Simply spray the brush off using hot water and hang it to dry.

Rotate

On scrubbers with two or more disk brushes, you can switch them to prolong life. The right and left rotary brushes move in opposite directions which bends bristles one way. Over time this reduces cleaning performance. Switching/reversing brushes lets them rotate in the opposite direction, so the bristles get pushed the other way.

If your machine is designed to allow it, cylindrical brushes (and brooms) should be switched/reversed also to extend brush life.

Monitor Down-Pressure

Down-pressure on brushes and floor pads has a significant impact on brush longevity as well as cleaning and battery performance. On most machines, the brush down-pressure indicator shows relative pressure on the brushes by some type of LED or gauge readout.

If an operator notices that the equipment isn’t cleaning as it should, the first instinct may be to increase the down-pressure on the brushes. We tend to think it just needs “more elbow grease”, scrub harder! But this can actually be counterproductive. Too much down-pressure will not only cause brushes to wear prematurely but could also damage the equipment and the floor and will definitely lower battery runtime. Refer to your scrubber’s operator’s manual for the correct settings.

Call Us!

The parts professionals at your local Morrison Industrial branch are happy to help you find the recommended brushes at the right price. We stock OEM quality, drop-in replacement parts, brushes, brooms and squeegees for all brands of industrial floor cleaning equipment—most available with one-day delivery—backed by our Customer Satisfaction Guarantee.

Our factory-trained service technicians offer ongoing support and fast, knowledgeable service for your floor cleaning equipment as well as your forklifts.

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