The Ultimate Scrubber Showdown: Pads vs. Brushes

Basic understanding:  As in choosing how to clean anything the same premise applies to pads and brushes.  What type of floor surface are you trying to clean and what type of dirt or debris are you trying to remove.  This is the basis for deciding whether to use pads or brushes and what type to use.  Floor pads are typically used with floor machines, burnishers, or automatic floor scrubbers.  Scrubbers operate at 175 to 300 rpm.  Burnishers operate at 1500 to 3000 rpm.  Cleaning pads are round and made to fit the diameter of the pad holder on the machine.  Hand pads are available, made with the same type of material if you have an application where a machine won’t fit.  If you are cleaning a resilient tile floor with multiple coats of finish that is already relatively clean you are going to use a light duty pad or soft fiber brush.  This will wash the floor, break away any loose dirt and not damage the finish.  If you are cleaning a pitted, uneven concrete floor imbedded with dirt, oil and grease an aggressive brush is going to be your choice.  Pads come in a variety of colors, and textures for a wide range of applications.  Brushes range from soft bristles to extremely aggressive bristles and are used for concrete, tile, carpet and other varying floor types.

Cleaning Pads:  These come in multiple colors to indicate the aggressiveness of the pad.  White for cleaning.  Red for scrubbing.  Green or Blue for deep scrubbing or top scrubbing.  Black for stripping.  The darker the color the more aggressive the pad.  White or red pads will not remove floor finish if used properly.  Green or Blue pads will remove the top layer of floor finish.  These are used for top scrubbing where you want to remove the top layer and any dirt that is imbedded in it.  You can then add another coat or two of finish to brighten the floor.  Black pads are used for completely stripping the finish from the floor.  Black pads come in regular and high productivity pads.  The high productivity pads are more expensive but they are much more productive and efficient and most often will save time and labor.  All colors of pads come in sizes to fit all floor machines or automatic scrubbers.  The standard sizes are 13”, 17” and 20” but all sizes are available to fit any size machine you may have.

Polishing Pads:  Polishing pads come in lighter colors typically tan or light pink or light blue.  Polishing pads are also known as burnishing pads.   Burnishing machines are available in electric, battery or propane powered and come in walk-behind or riding units. Polishing or burnishing pads are designed to put a brilliant shine on the floor.  Assuming there is enough floor finish to do so.  As they shine the floor it also hardens the finish to better protect it.  I have seen customers try to use red or green or blue scrubbing pads on a burnisher only to find out that is not a good idea.  The dye in the pad can bleed out if you hit a high spot on the floor and leave a colored mark in the tile.  In addition, scrubbing pads are made to be used on lower speed scrubbing machines.  They don’t hold up as well and often times come apart at high speeds.
Brushes:  Brushes come in a variety of fiber or bristle types from soft nylon to aggressive bristles with carbide steel implants.  The soft bristles can be used on resilient tile and other types of coated floor surfaces while the aggressive bristle bushes, also known as Nylo-Grit or Strata-Grit are used for pitted concrete with dirt, oil and greasy buildup.  Brushes are also better a choice in other situations like grouted tile, carpet, and other uneven and textured surfaces.  The bristles will dig into the uneven surfaces where a pad will glide over the top.  If you are using a brush for carpet you will want to break in the brush before using it.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions first on how to break in your particular brush.

Which cost more: Brushes can outlast a pad 100 to 1 in usage rate.  But they are much more expensive and require more cleaning when you are done scrubbing.  Say you are spending $3.00 each for a floor pad.  A brush used in a similar situation could cost $150.00.  At 100 to 1 you could spend $300.00 on pads versus $150.00 on a single brush.  But that isn’t the whole story.  Both pads and brushes should be cleaned out before the next use.  If you are stripping a floor, the floor finish and stripper will build up inside the pad or brush.  You should always use both sides of a pad but it can still be thrown away after using it.  Because of the investment, a brush will have to be cleaned.  The labor cost to clean out pads could far exceed the cost of the pad itself so throwing away the pad could be the least expensive option.   The labor cost to clean out a pad can become greater than the cost of the pad.  So even though brushes could be a better option long term, in some applications pads become cheaper to use because of labor costs.

Specialty Brushes:   Specialty grinding Brushes are available to put a brilliant shine on terrazzo or concrete floors using only water.  These diamond based brushes come in a series of grits from aggressive to fine and are used in a process to gain a brilliant shine on concrete or terrazzo without using a finish or coating. After using these special tools, regular brushes can be used to maintain the floors and the shine.  There are also other specialty brushes designed for use with tile and grout and other textured, uneven, or synthetic surfaces.

Specialty Pads:  Specialty pads are also being used to clean a variety of new floor surface types.  Newer, textured, uneven synthetic surfaces create a problem for floor care but newer pads are helping to maintain these surfaces.  Pads are available now to remove scuff marks and combat the buildup that occurs in grout lines on tile floors.

Stripping pads are also a newer product.  When used with the right floor scrubbing equipment these pads can remove floor finish using only water.  These pads can cover about 5,000 square feet per pad and not use any chemical stripper.

Chemicals:  The chemicals used with the pads can be as crucial to the cleaning process as the pads or brushes you use. The pads and brushes are designed to agitate but the right cleaning chemical will help emulsify the dirt and lift it from the floor.   Always use the right chemicals to remove the dirt or debris and always use it according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

As with most products, the pad and brush manufacturers are constantly making innovative designs and using newer materials to make the cleaning process easier and more cost effective.  To make sure you are using the most efficient products for your particular facility, contact us and we can assist in designing a cost effective program to maintain your facility.


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The Dawn of The Automatic Floor Scrubber

The Advance Machine Company began manufacturing terrazzo floor grinding machines in 1924. In 1928 they started making the first Automatic floor scrubbers that put down water, scrubbed the floor, and vacuumed the floor dry in the same operation. Advance made their first Convertamatic floor scrubber in 1958. These models came in 26B, 32B, 38B, 260BHD, 320BHD & 380BHD.

Clarke started the manufacture of bar sanders in 1916. In the 1920’s they put a stick on the sander to do floors. In the 1950’s they introduced floor machines and in 1958 they introduced their first automatic floor scrubber. In 1963 Clarke started manufacturing their best yet, TB28 and TB32 series of floor scrubbers. In my opinion these 2 scrubbers are two of the best automatic floor scrubbers ever made. I’ve been selling and servicing automatic floor scrubbers since 1983. I hope I have established some credibility in this field over the last 33 years.

These companies are not the only ones to pioneer this industry but in my opinion the Advance Convertamatic and the Clarke TB series scrubbers were 2 of the best. They worked well, they were heavy, durable, relatively easy to operate, and built to last a lifetime.

Both companies have since been purchased by other companies. Acquired a couple of times actually. But they are both still in the market selling their current version of a machine that scrubs and dries floors.

These machines were the beast of the era. They performed well with minimum downtime. What else can you ask? Since then there have been a number of improvements made by companies that weren’t even around when Clarke and Advance were founded.
Once again, this is only my 33 years of experience influencing me, but I believe one of the best alternatives if you are looking for a scrubber to do it all, meet all your expectations and provide clean, dry floors, in any situation, the answer is Factory Cat/Tomcat.

These machines have taken floor cleaning to a whole new level. These are state of the art, computer controlled, productive, efficient, and built to last. These machines cannot only scrub the floor; they can sweep up debris like a sweeper at the same time. They have filters that filter the clean water before it touches the floor, filters that filter the dirty water to prevent clogs and variable solenoids that control water flow. They have state of the art on-board computer systems that monitor all functions of the machine and draw amps off the batteries in the smallest amount required to operate the machine productively. It monitors the brush motors, vacuum motors, drive motors so as to provide the power needed at any one time while providing maximum efficiency and providing longer running time. This reduces wear on the batteries and provides maximum run time. If the owner of the machine does not like the factory settings for speed control, water control, brush speed, down pressure,  or many other variables, the on board computer may be adjusted by simply plugging in a laptop to the on-board computer and making the necessary adjustments. All this means is that you will get the cleanest floors possible, with the least amount of amp draw, and providing the longest run time and battery life attainable. It also means you no longer need a big guy running the scrubber. Because of the smooth computer controls, anyone can operate this equipment and not suffer fatigue from running the machine.

Tomcat/Factory Cat Scrubbers are available in Models that range from 17″ to 46″ Scrub Paths in Walk-Behind and Riding machines. They carry a 3 year warranty, and if you purchase our scrubber approved chemical from us to clean your floors there are many items that we will cover for the life of the machine.

All this makes Factory Cat/Tomcat one of the best options available on the market today if you are in the market to find the most productive, efficient way to clean your floors with a minimum amount of downtime.

Give us a call. We’ll demonstrate a machine in your facility at your convenience.


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GenEon TRIO RX and U.S. EPA Registration

GenEon Technologies (San Antonio, TX) has just announced that their TRIO RX On-Site Generation system is now capable of producing a U.S. EPA Registered Disinfectant. This is a huge step forward for on-site generation (OSG) technology and infection prevention as a whole. Being registered by the EPA now allows GenEon to more effectively combat the spread of infection in schools, healthcare facilities and food service and food prep facilities. It is important to note that solution generated by the GenEon system is chemical-free. The registration number now puts this OSG chemical-free solution at the same level as chemical disinfectants manufactured in factories. Chemical-free cleaning and sustainable maintenance practices have come a long way since they first arrived in the industry and this is perhaps one of the greatest advancements to date.

Who is GenEon?

GenEon is a design-development company that is committed to sustainable, intuitive designs that allow our customers to have healthier, more effective alternatives to chemical disinfectants. – John Shanahan, Vice President GenEon

This quote from the GenEon announcement of their registration number–found here–sums up the big picture view of who GenEon is and what they are trying to accomplish. The company provides several different units that generate the chemical-free solutions. On-site generation is simply the process of generating your cleaning or disinfecting solution at your facility as opposed to buying a chemical or product that is manufactured elsewhere. Currently their systems can produce a glass cleaner/general purpose cleaner, a heavy-duty degreaser, a cleaner/sanitizer and a cleaner/disinfectant. This replaces virtually all of the cleaning chemicals used on a daily basis for facility maintenance. They have a wide range of systems from low volume units for small facilities to high volume units for larger facilities. GenEon is currently at the forefront of the shift toward a sustainable, smarter approach to cleaning/disinfecting. To learn more about GenEon check out their about us page.

What is Chemical-Free Cleaning

Chemical-free cleaning in the the context in which we are using it is a sustainable alternative to using traditional chemical cleaners. There are many names for this technology such as smart water, engineered water, activated water, electrochemical activation (eca), electrolyzed water. For more information on these types of technologies checkout this Sanitary Maintenance article. In recent years this technology has made great strides, the headline of this article being one of them, that are beginning to reshape and reinvent the way the world sees cleaning. Chemical-free cleaning allows front line workers to not be exposed to hazardous chemicals everyday which will be a great benefit to their health, it allows facility occupants to not be exposed to any left over residue and it is a positive benefit to the environment. Facilities of the future will all utilize this technology and pair it with other sustainable practices which will create a better, brighter future for all of us.

The sanitary supplies industry is rapidly moving into the future and changing the way the world views cleaning. Follow our blog to keep current on more


Discover more information about GenEon Technologies by visiting their website


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6 Ways to Finance Your New Floor Scrubber


The pricing on new floor cleaning equipment can range a great deal.  Small Walk Behind units start at a few thousand dollars depending on mechanical structure and durability.  Riding units can reach $20,000.00 and more depending on size, capacity and options.  How you finance these productive cleaning machines depends on a lot of variables that need to be considered during the purchase process.

If you have a smaller facility and only intend to purchase 1 or 2 machines than an outright purchase may be suitable.  But if you have a facility that requires many units including vacuums, sweepers, scrubbers, extractors, burnishers and other pieces, you may want to look into creative financing to structure the cost of the required equipment.  Here are some of the more common ways to finance equipment.

Outright Purchase:  This is typically the most common because people may not realize they have options. Cash, check, credit cards are all commonly used.  If you are using a credit card be prepared to possibly pay a little more since the seller will have to pay the credit card fees associated with the transaction.

Short term Rental:  If you only need equipment for a short time this may be a viable option.  If you only use equipment a few times a year or if you have a one- time clean up on your hands renting equipment for a few days or a week may be the answer.

Long Term Rental:  Maybe you have a bigger project.  Long term rentals of several months are often considered when you have a large project but don’t want to purchase a machine.  The advantages are you are not responsible for the maintenance or the upkeep on the equipment.  Just use the equipment for a few months and then return it.

Simple Leasing:  This is a great option if you need equipment to maintain your facility but do not have the money to make the capital investment.  Typical leases run for 24 to 36 months and spread the monthly payments to fit your budget.  Advantages are the new equipment is typically under warranty for the entire leasing period.  At the end of these types of leases you own the equipment outright.

Fair Market Value Leasing:  This is more along the lines of a true lease and still a very viable option.  The monthly payments will be less than a simple lease and may fit into your budget better.  It may enable you to acquire a larger, more productive piece of equipment for the same price.  At the end of the lease you will have options.  You can purchase the machine for the fair market value.  You can turn in the machine. Or you can simply continue a new lease with a new piece of equipment.

Leasing with Full Maintenance.  With a Long term Lease with full maintenance you are not so much buying a machine as you are purchasing the utility of maintaining clean floors.  Here’s how it works. The agreement typically lasts for 24 to 36 months.  For one monthly payment you receive the equipment that will best clean and maintain your facility. All the scheduled maintenance and repair is included.  You are guaranteed the up-time on the equipment and the ability to clean the facility.  If a repair is needed, they are made on sight or a replacement is delivered.  Either way you always have equipment guaranteed to perform well. At the end of the agreement a replacement machine is provided and the monthly payments are adjusted if needed.

Creative Financing can enable you to acquire the equipment you need to ensure your facility is cleaned on a routine schedule.  It can spread out the payments and help you to fit the equipment into a manageable monthly budget.  The best way to access the best possible financing is to contact a local distributor who handles many different makes, models and brands and is proficient in explaining various types of applicable financing. If you are looking for help in deciding which floor scrubber you need check out this blog entry about choosing the right scrubber.  Contact us here at Rhiel Supply and we will be happy to explain the process.


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Frequently Asked Pool Opening Questions

Whether you’re a first time pool owner or a seasoned pro, pool opening can be a stressful time for everyone. Here at Rhiel Supply we realize this, so we sat down with one of our experts to get the answers to your more frequently asked opening questions.

Pool Opening made easy


What’s The Easiest Way to Open a Pool?  

Remove any debris and water from the top of the cover that may have accumulated over the winter. Once the debris and water are taken care of, you can remove your pool cover. It’s best if you have a few people to help remove the cover. Pool covers are heavier than they look, and if you are not careful removing the cover, you could damage the pool.


When’s The Best Time to Open My Pool?

You’ll want a few days of consistently warm weather, where the temperature was at least 65 degrees. Keep in mind that your pool water is usually 10 degrees less than what the outside temperature is. So if you’re opening during cooler temperatures, be prepared for chilly water.


Once The Cover is Off, What Chemicals Do I Put In?

You don’t want to add any chemicals at first. Fill your pool with water until the water level is at the middle of your skimmer. Then turn on your pump and filter and let your water circulate for at least 24 hours. This lets any remaining chemicals that were in your pool at the end of the last season  become mixed in evenly throughout the water. Then test your water to see exactly which chemicals you need. Circulating your water and then testing it is a good way to avoid buying more chemicals than are needed. If you are unable to test your water, we offer a water analysis free of charge.


If you have any other questions or concerns about opening your pool, contact us by phone or e-mail so we can help you get everything ready for a great swim season!

Pool Opening