How to Improve Floor Scrubber Squeegee Performance
In our business, a clean streak-free floor is a beautiful thing. In order to get that result, you need to make sure your squeegee is ready to perform. In this article, we cover everything you need to know to get the best possible squeegee performance. We also cover the different types of squeegee blades and the best way to maintain your squeegees.
How Squeegees Work
Squeegees are designed to channel water and air to a central recovery point. The front squeegee has small slots, which accelerate the air into the vacuum chamber. The water from the floor is carried along with the air towards the rear blade. The rear blade creates a watertight seal with the floor. Water and air are pulled up through an opening in the top of the squeegee into the vacuum hose. If there’s a gap between the rear blade and the floor, you’re going to see water left behind.
Types of Squeegee Blade Materials
There are three types of squeegee blades that are common to floor scrubbers. Choosing the right squeegee blade for your application is the first step to getting the best results.
Type 1: Natural Rubber – Natural rubber is rubber made from natural materials like latex gathered from rubber trees. It can be recognized by its light tan color. Natural rubber squeegee blades are very soft, which makes them perform well on flat floors and tile floors with grout lines. Because natural rubber is very flexible, it can seal more completely around the grout edges. This softness also means that natural rubber squeegee blades will wear out more quickly than other kinds of blades.
Type 2: Linatex Rubber – Linatex is the standard material for NSS floor scrubbers. Linatex rubber is a natural rubber that is combined with some additives that give it special properties. Linatex can be recognized by its red color. Not all red rubber squeegee blades are Linatex, however. Be sure to look for the brand name Linatex® when you’re shopping for squeegee blades. The additives in Linatex give it more abrasion resistance and tear resistance than natural rubber. Linatex squeegee blades also have better chemical resistance than natural rubber squeegees. This makes Linatex a very durable squeegee blade material and well suited for all applications, except oily soils.
Type 3: Urethane Rubber – Urethane is short for Polyurethane, a synthetic rubber compound. Urethane squeegee blades can vary in color and are commonly white, yellow, or blue. NSS Urethane squeegee blades are blue for curved squeegees and yellow for straight squeegees. Urethane squeegee blades are softer than Linatex and are good for all floor surfaces. Urethane squeegee blades have one special property, which is essential in some applications. Urethane squeegees are oil resistant. If your floor soil contains oily substances, Urethane squeegees are essential. Oils cause natural rubber and Linatex to swell. When swollen, the blades become wavy and the wiping edge of the squeegee blade is less effective. Urethane squeegee blades don’t have this issue and are best for use in kitchens and automotive applications.
When to Change Squeegee Blades
Front Squeegee Blades
The front squeegee blade rides on the floor without as much down pressure as the rear squeegee blade. As long as the blade isn’t torn and it is holding its shape, it should be fine. If you see the blade is damaged, you can flip it over and use the other side. Once both sides are used, it’s time for a new blade.
Rear Squeegee Blades
The rear squeegee blade needs to make good contact with the floor across the entire width as you’re cleaning. As you clean, the rear squeegee will wear down. The clean, crisp edge of the new squeegee eventually wears down. If the edge wears down too much, you will start to notice water streaks as you clean. Take action if your edge looks worn. The rear squeegee blade has four edges that can be used for cleaning. As long as the blade isn’t torn or deformed, you can rotate the blade use any clean edge. How long the blade will last depends on the type of squeegee material and the surface you’re cleaning. The best practice is to check it frequently until you get an understanding of how long it will last. Once you know how long it will usually last, you can set up a schedule to maintain your squeegee. Once you’ve used up all four wiping edges, it’s time for a new blade.
Tips to Improve Squeegee Performance
- Dust mop thoroughly. The number one cause of streaks when scrubbing floors is debris stuck under the squeegee blade. Effective sweeping or dust mopping solves a lot of problems.
- Check the squeegee blade before you start. Make sure the blade is clean, free from tears, and has a good wiping edge.
- Check for problems with the vacuum system. Air leaks in the vacuum system will reduce squeegee performance. If the vacuum hose is damaged, a temporary fix with duct tape can get you through the shift. Replace the hose for the best performance. Also, check the seal around the recovery tank. Make sure any gaskets are in good shape and the recovery tank lid is secure.
- Make sure the squeegee is level when you’re moving forward. If the squeegee tips are too low, the squeegee will leave water in the middle. If the squeegee tips are too high, the squeegee will leave water on the edges.
- Make sure the squeegee is pressing down with the right amount of force. If the squeegee is pressing down too lightly, the wiping edge won’t seal with the floor. If the squeegee is pressing down too heavily, the wiping edge will be folded under and won’t seal well with the floor. When set correctly, the squeegee will ride on the wiping edge giving a good dry result. For some squeegees, this is a matter of adjusting the wheels on the squeegee to prevent it from folding over too much.
- Check your operation manual for instructions specific to your model. Each product page has a manual you can download. Start here to find your model: Floor Scrubbers
With the right maintenance, your floor scrubber will provide you with clean, streak-free floors for many years. Keep an eye on your blades and follow these tips and streaky floors will be a thing of the past.