How Often Should I Disinfect?

A question I often get when discussing disinfection is “how often should I disinfect?” The answer is it depends. If you are disinfecting a room daily that is only used twice per week then you are doing more than you need to. If you disinfect a room once a week that is used everyday then you are not disinfecting enough. Below I will briefly explain how you can determine the frequency at which you should be disinfecting by analyzing the touch points in your facility.

The more a surface is touched, the more often it should be disinfected. A protocol unique and best suited to your environment begins here. Touch points, or touch point surface areas can be categorized three ways. Each will receive the appropriate level of disinfection frequency.

Not all touch points require the same frequency of surface disinfection. For example, door knobs, computer equipment, elevator controls, hand rails, chair arms, table tops and many other surface points are designed to be touched and should be considered high touch points. Touch points surrounding points designed to be touched including doors, door frames, locker surfaces and tabletop bottoms are touched less, and may be categorized as medium touch points.

Low touch points are areas that may include any surface mentioned above, yet touch traffic is limited or infrequent altogether. Examples may be walls that are not around areas of heavy foot traffic or floor boards. By reducing how often you disinfect these low touch points you can focus your time and energy on addressing areas that receive more touches.

A proper surface disinfection protocol will become most effective if aligned to the real activity in your spaces. Document your touch points and begin to map out your frequency of disinfection schedule or best practices accordingly. It is important to disinfect your high touch point as often as possible. Many times we look at the cost of labor and product over the cost of sick people in the space.  Productivity and lost work time is a much higher cost then disinfecting . Its also important to remember you will actually save labor and product by identifying the high touch points from the medium and low so that you can maximize your labor and product by not giving equal time to low and high touch points.

5 steps to a healthier facility ecourse

How to Choose a Qualified Floor Scrubber Distributor

Here are 7 questions you should be asking your self when deciding where to purchase your next automatic floor scrubber. All too often people buy their equipment and then are left out in the cold when any issue arise.

Do they know Floors?

It sometimes seems like modern architects and flooring manufacturers are going out of their way to develop new types of flooring surfaces just because they can.  These floors can be marketed as never having to be cleaned or maintained.  They will last forever and never get dirty.  They may have smooth or textured surfaces, anti-slip coatings and they can pose tremendous problems for the facility that chooses to install them.  If you are purchasing an Automatic Scrubber make sure you purchase one from a company that has been educated and certified on the cleaning processes needed to clean the specific floors in your facility.

Floor Pads, Brushes and Chemicals?

Floor pads, Brushes and chemical play a crucial part in the results you will see from your scrubber.  Which pad or brush to use is critical in getting the cleaning results you want.  Make sure the differences are made clear and the type of pad or brush recommended will work in your application.  Chemical can be even more critical.  The wrong cleaning chemical will not give you the results you want and may even damage your floor.  The wrong chemical can leave residue, make the floor tacky, attract dirt instead of cleaning and ruin the overall appearance.  The wrong chemical may even chemically burn your floor and do irreparable damage.    Make sure your distributor knows which cleaning chemical works best in the scrubber with your floor surface and will give you the results you want.

Knowledgeable Sales People?

Do the salespeople have a good overall knowledge of what an automatic floor scrubber is supposed to do and how they operate?  Do they know the nuts and bolts?  Do they know the machine operation?  Make sure you are talking with a representative that knows how the equipment will react with the floor surface, chemicals, brushes and what results to expect.   The rep should have your best interest in mind, work towards meeting your expectations and not just try to sell you what they have.

Parts, Service, Warranty Support?

Many Janitorial Supply Distributors that sell equipment do not service what they sell.  They use sub-contractors to service their sold equipment. This causes extended downtime, warranty issues because the contractor may not be a warranty certified company, and parts availability issues.  Just because a person can turn a wrench does not mean they are certified to buy parts or service specific pieces of equipment.  Long term support is critical.  Anyone can sell you a scrubber but who will be there in 5 years to repair it when the time comes.

Parts Inventory, Quick Turnaround?

Does the distributor you are talking to have a well-stocked parts department.  You will experience extended downtime if parts have to be ordered every time they repair a machine.  Make sure the parts inventory reflects the number of machines they have sold and they are able to support sold machines quickly and efficiently.

Road Tech, Not just In House Service?

You don’t want to have your scrubber picked up and brought back for repair every time your machine needs routine maintenance. Make sure routine maintenance and small repairs; even big repairs can be done at your facility.  Every day you go without cleaning your floors, dirt accumulates and detracts from the image you are trying to present.  Make sure your distributor can perform repairs quickly and easily at your facility so you don’t have to accept downtime and dirty floors.


Finally, Make sure equipment training is provided with your purchase.  Training should include machine operator training, brush and pad usage, and chemical usage.  It should also include daily, weekly and monthly maintenance schedules, battery inspections, control issues, and cleaning techniques.  Training should be on going and be provided for as long as you own the machine.

If you have any questions about how to go about looking for an Automatic Floor Scrubber and where to buy one, contact us here at Rhiel Supply.  We’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction.

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7 Unhealthy Places in Your School

Schools are full of “hot spots” for germs and bacteria. Keep your school and students healthy by focusing on these 7 places.

Let’s start with the bathroom door, even though the bathroom is cleaned on a regular basis the bathroom door is another story.  Not all kids wash their hands like they should, so when they leave the bathroom it could be hazardous to your health.  A bathroom door should be considered a “high touch point” and should be part of the daily cleaning protocol. When cleaning the bathroom door remember to disinfect the door jam as well, many times students will run their hand across the door jam as they leave a room causing the transfer of germs and bacteria to others.

Another item that gets passed by is the cafeteria tray which rarely gets wiped off let alone disinfected. With a variety of food and students touching them they can be a hot dwelling point for some serious germs.  Kitchen staff should wash and sanitize the lunch trays after each day’s use to keep down the spread of germs and bacteria. Again another “high touch point “ in a school environment.

How about sack lunches? Typically the contents of a sack lunch will spoil before lunchtime. Packed food should be refrigerated in an insulated lunch box with frozen ice packs in the box to freeze any juice boxes. Doing this will reduce the number of food-borne illnesses which in turn will keep the school building safer from the transfer of illness. Typically once a child becomes sick in school the chances of spreading bacteria germs and viruses triple.

Students spend most of their time at their desk and at lunch tables during the day, which means sneezes, coughs, nasal leakage, well, you get it… ends up all over these surfaces. Even though these surfaces are cleaned, very few are actually disinfected with the proper disinfectant and allowed to dwell the proper amount of time to be effective. It’s important that the schools be sure to properly disinfect these surfaces to reduce bacteria and viruses on these surfaces.

Probably one of the most overlooked place for germs and viruses are art rooms and band/music rooms. Most of these classrooms have students sharing supplies which in turns to the spread of bacteria and viruses. The teachers and building maintenance department people do not make these supplies and instruments a priority for disinfection, however, can be a leading cause of the spread of germs in a school building.

Sports equipment, especially wrestling mats are the most likely cause of staph and MRSA infections in a school. These areas although cleaned and disinfected at a high rate are not usually disinfected with the proper dwell time or a disinfectant with the appropriate kill claims and therefore are a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to spread to the student-athlete. Football helmets, basketballs, and other sports gear need to be disinfected to help reduce the outbreaks of illness.

Finally, school buses rarely if ever are cleaned properly let alone disinfected. This is a very high source of spreading viruses and bacteria to other students. From kids licking the condensation off the window to sneezing and coughing in a closed space, it’s easy to see how the school bus is most likely the most likely place to spread germs and bacteria.

Does your school have a disinfection protocol that is designed to address high-risk touch points and help you achieve your infection control goals? I’d love to spend a few minutes discussing the health and safety of your students and staff. You can book time with me directly or if you would prefer to learn a bit more about keeping your school healthy then I would suggest you check out our free email course “5 Steps to a Healthier School.”

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What’s New and Exciting with Tomcat Floor Scrubbers?

Here at the Rhiel Supply Company we have been selling floor cleaning equipment for about as long as floor equipment has been around.  Industrial/Commercial automatic sweepers and automatic floor scrubbers have been a main part of our product line for years.  One of the best lines we have ever sold is manufactured by Tomcat, a division of the RPS Corporation.  This has been some of the best equipment on the market since it was introduced.  We have been a full service sales, parts, and service distributor for over 15 years and the results have been great for us.  One of the big reasons we have had so much success with Tomcat is the durability and reliability that is built into every one of the machines.  They are built on a solid steel frame, unlike many of their competitors who use lightweight plastic.  This means they can be rebuilt over and over again when subjected to harsh applications.  They make great rental machines and have boosted our rental business significantly.  These sweepers and scrubbers are hard working machines that last longer than any I’ve seen in the market in the 35 years I’ve been selling and servicing commercial floor cleaning equipment.

Recently Tomcat has undergone a bit of a face lift.  They committed to a redesign of their top automatic floor scrubbers and the results are even better than I expected.  The new models have more features, more labor saving devices and are simpler to use. All these models perform extremely well while maintaining the high quality, reliability and durability standards we have come to expect from Tomcat.  Let’s take a look at some features that I think make these new models the best on the market.  I’ve been doing this for 35 years and these are the improvements that I believe make these the best there are out there.  This is not an exhaustive study, just a few of the notable features that make these scrubbers the best option to clean, scrub, and prep your floors, no matter what type of facility you may have. Not all of these features are new but they do make Tomcat one of the best floor scrubber lines I have ever used.  Let’s start at the front of the Scrubbers and move to the rear.

Scrub Brushes

All the scrubbers have multiple scrub head options depending on your application.  They all have protective corner rollers and up to 250 lbs. of down pressure.

The standard rotary brush head that incorporates standard pads or rotary brushes have Heavy Duty Motors and the standard Metal Plate Frame.  Aluminum Brush decks resists corrosion.  Gimbal Mounted Brushes insure optimal cleaning on uneven surfaces.

Cylindrical brush heads are great for areas where you need to pick up a lot of debris while you are scrubbing.  This eliminates the need to sweep before you scrub in many instances.  These brushes turn at 750 rpms and do a great job with uneven surfaces like cleaning tile and grout.  They can eliminate the need to dust mop before scrubbing.

EDGE Flat Surface Scrub Heads are great for cleaning relatively flat surfaces on a regular basis.  Full contact pad presser allows you to scrub your floor and gives consistent results without swirl marks.  These scrub heads use 70% less water, allow you to strip floors without chemicals, prep and screen gym floors, reduce slip and fall incidents, and earn LEED Credits.

Vacuum Protection System

This new system provides optimal protection for your vacuum motor.  This means vacuum suction is maintained and water pick-up remains good at all times.   When the dirty water is picked up from the floor it enters the recovery tank through a vacuum hose.  The new Tomcat System runs the water through a drain saver basket before it hits the tank.  This traps any large debris from filling the dirty water tank.  There is also an oversized filter screen and a white vacuum filter cleaning the air of foam and debris.  The air flow then enters a baffling system that eliminates any water or moisture left in the lines from getting to the vacuum motor. This protects the vacuum motor and reduces the risk of premature failure from moisture buildup inside the vac motor.

Solution and Recovery Tanks

Increased tank sizes mean less time stopping to drain and refill.  Tomcat has increased the size of the tanks without reducing the maneuverability of the scrubber.  Tank sizes can be ordered on a new walk-behind scrubber as big as 37 gallons.  This is a significant labor reducing feature when coupled with an EDGE Scrub head which uses 70% less water.

Squeegee Replacement

Squeegees can be a hassle to remove or change.  Now, with a new quick change feature, changing squeegees takes only minutes.  One lever removes the squeegee retainer bracket.  You can then remove, replace, or change squeegee sides and replace the bracket quickly, efficiently, and the squeegee assembly will be level and ready for use.


Drive wheels, tires and casters come in a variety of options.  Solid, Non-Marking, Pneumatic and Foam Filled are available.  The proper tire will depend on your floor surface.  Caster wheels are also available in different materials depending on your application.


The frames on Tomcat Scrubbers are all steel plate.  They are coated in corrosion resistant material.  But the frames can also be completely undercoated for more protection or constructed out of a stainless steel plate if you application requires.

Control Panel

The operator’s control panel can be configured in a variety of choices.  Key switches, Lock out Devices, or rocker switches can be used to manage water solution usage, brush down pressure, brush speed, chemical usage, clean out spray jet pumps and a variety of other options to make your scrubber more productive and efficient in your application.

To see one of the new Tomcat models is to believe what they can do.  They provide a better choice for cleaning floors with less labor, less chemical and water usage, reduced brush and pad wear, and less downtime.  Contact us at Rhiel Supply and we’ll demonstrate the appropriate model in your facility.  You can see for yourself how they have earned their reputation.

Tomcat Automatic Floor Scrubbers

Electrostatic Disinfection: What, How, Why?

Electrostatics is not hard to understand. Remember when you were a kid and you rubbed a balloon against your head? Rubbing the balloon against hair forms an electrostatic force between the two objects. When you rub a balloon against your hair, the balloon steals electrons from your hair. This leaves your hair positively charged and the balloon negatively charged. Your hair will be attracted to the surface of the balloon because opposite charges attract.

electrostatic clouds cartoon gif

Magnets are another simple illustration. Remember when you first discovered that two magnets snapped together and stuck like glue? When you held the two magnets close, you could feel them either attract (pull toward) or repel (push away). Magic? No, it’s simply magnetism at work. Magnetism isn’t exactly the same thing as electrostatics, but this example is good for visualizing the concept.

As we’ve seen from the above examples, opposite charges attract (pull towards each other) and like charges repel (push away from each other). Two positively charged things ( + and + ) will repel each other. Two negatively charged things ( – and – ) will repel each other. On the other hand, one positively charged thing ( + ) and one negatively charged thing ( – ) will attract each other. Opposites attract. This attraction also exists between negative and neutral as well as positive and neutral. That’s the basis of electrostatic spraying.

Some Real World Examples

In the auto industry, paint is sprayed onto millions of cars each year. The process is made more efficient by using electrostatics. The paint particles are electrostatically charged and then the car part being painted is either sprayed with or dipped into these charged particles. This promotes better, more comprehensive coverage while at the same time reducing the amount of paint needed.

This technology can also be seen in the agricultural industry in the application of pesticides to crops. The electrostatics allows the pesticide particles to more evenly coat each plant. Additionally, the attraction between the plant allows the pesticide application to be more targeted and be less likely to blow over into neighboring fields.

Electrostatics Improve Efficiency in Two Ways:

The droplets spread out more as they leave the electrostatic nozzle. This happens because they all share the same charge and as a result repel each other. This is more effective than coming straight out of the sprayer because the liquid covers a wider area more evenly (think about how smooth and consistent car paint looks).

The droplets are highly attracted to a negative or neutral surface, and so fewer particles are wasted (landing on floors or walls). The droplets are extremely small (usually between 40 and 60 microns in diameter), so small that they are tinier than the diameter of a human hair (70 microns).

E-Mist Electrostatic Infection Control Systems

This proven technology has been used to develop a patented application system. As mentioned, most surface areas are neutral (uncharged) or negative. These systems are used to apply an EPA-registered water soluble disinfectant. The E-Mist Electrostatic Systems place a positive ( + ) charge on the droplets as they leave the spray nozzle. The dispersed droplets spread out more evenly and seek out a negative ( – ) or neutrally charged surface. The end result is that your disinfectant is more targeted, provides more uniform coverage with less waste, and like the magnets, the disinfectant is attracted to the surface with remarkable force. In fact, the charged droplets will adhere more consistently and more comprehensively to vertical and horizontal surfaces when compared to droplets with no charge.

As proven in the automotive and agriculture industries, this electrostatic application process takes less time to achieve the desired effect, while substantially reducing chemical costs.

Research studies show that environmental cleaning and disinfection play important roles in the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections. Though prevalent and widely used since the 1960’s in other industries, electrostatic technology is now being adopted in the application of disinfectants.

By using this technology we are now able to reduce or eliminate viruses and bacteria more efficiently from our spaces to create a healthier environment. I encourage you to reach out to us about how electrostatic surface disinfection can help you!


My Scrubber is not Moving Forward or Backward

“My Scrubber is not moving forward or reverse. I’m not getting any running time”. This stays in the same theme as a series of posts I did a few months back that covered the most common automatic floor scrubber service requests we receive. To recap the first three

  1. I’m not getting any water on the floor.
  2. My scrubber is not picking up water the way it should
  3. My scrubber is not cleaning the floor properly or at least not the way it did when it was new.

So let’s take a look at why your automatic scrubber may not be moving forward or reverse or not providing the running time you would like to see.

Let’s rule out any mechanical issues. If your scrubber is not running at all it could be something as simple as a key switch, a malfunctioning solenoid or a bad wire connection. If you fix the switch and the machine works just fine we really don’t have an issue, just a broken part that needs replaced. Once we rule out any mechanical issues we get to the source of all power in an automatic scrubber; the batteries. Except for a very few types of scrubbers that plug into the wall for power and run on 110 Volt, AC current, almost all automatic scrubbers today operate on batteries. These batteries are deep cycle, 6 or 12 volt, wired in a series and provide either 24 volts or 36 volts of power for the scrubber. Here is where the problem usually lies. The batteries are the lifeblood of your automatic scrubber. They provide the power for the vacuum motor, power the brushes or scrubbing pads, the control valves that control water flow, the motors that lift the brushes, and the down pressure that is applied to the brushes or pads, sometimes lift the squeegee assembly, and move the machine forward and reverse. All these electrical components draw energy or amps from the batteries. If one of these is drawing too much current, we have a problem. Not only will drawing too much current reduce running time, it may also cause the particular motor to overheat causing premature failure. The battery charger may also be an issue. If it is not putting out the correct current to charge the batteries, the maximum running time will be limited.

Let’s take a look at these one at a time to determine what may be the problem.

Amp Draw:

An automatic scrubber may be able to perform at a high level but this all requires power. If your scrubber is being expected to scrub ramps, with maximum down pressure, and maximum water flow, the amp draw will be significantly higher than normal. This reduces running time. If you are using aggressive brushes on a textured floor surface you may get the cleaning results you want but the amp draw will increase and running time will drop. If you have clogs in your water recovery hoses, this can increase the amp draw in your vacuum motor. Debris caught in your brushes, banding or string wrapped around brushes can also make it harder for your brush motors to turn and increase amp draw. Make sure your auto scrubber is clean, and clear of all debris and you are using the appropriate pads or brushes for your application. This will help achieve longer running time.

Type of batteries:

Standard wet, deep cycle batteries are still the standard when it comes to good operation. If you have recently switched the type of batteries you are using, understand that running time may be affected. AGM or Gel batteries may have an impact on running time or longevity. I will cover this in a later blog. Just realize your machine running time depends on having the correct batteries.

Charging Batteries:

This may seem simple. Plug the battery charger into the automatic scrubber and into the wall outlet. Make sure it turns on, and walk away. Since most battery chargers today are fully automatic this usually works. The battery charger turns on and 6 to 8 hours later your batteries are at full capacity once again. This isn’t always the case as I have seen many times. Make sure the battery charger and the light switch are not on the same circuit. I have seen many times where the operator has plugged in the machine to charge, turned off the lights and left. However, if the light switch and the wall outlet are on the same circuit, the charger turns off when the lights turn off. The operator comes in the next day, turns on the lights, the battery charger comes on again and the scrubber is still charging. Everyone is perplexed as to why the machine isn’t charging and they have no running time. I have also seen instances where a company is having electrical work done. The electrical contractors shut the power off to do their work and the battery charger at the other end of the building turns off because of no power. The battery charger and the scrubber are then blamed for not working properly and I’m called for an unnecessary service call. In addition, when charging batteries, make sure the machine is in a well ventilated area.

Battery Charger:

If the batteries are not charging properly often it is the battery charger. Sometimes it is as simple as a bad fuse. Replace the fuse and the charger is ready to go. Make sure you use the appropriate fuse for the charger. It is often easy to mistake for a standard automotive fuse which will not work. They may look the same but the voltage is different. If it is more than that it is often simpler to replace to replace the entire charger.

Bad Batteries:

Finally, look at the batteries. If batteries are properly cared for, they should last several years and provide the appropriate running time for your scrubber. However even 1 bad cell in a battery can cause problems. Each cell in a battery is 2 Volts. Example, a 6 volt battery has 3 cells, each at 2 volts. A 36 volt system in an automatic scrubber may have 6 batteries, 6 volts each, each battery containing 3 cells. If one cell in one battery is bad, that drops the system to 34 volts to run the machine and that significantly reduces running time. If the scrubber continues to be run this way, it increases the chances another cell may go bad and the power supply is reduced by 2 volts with each bad cell. Eventually the machine will shut down completely and batteries will have to be replaced. To reduce the possibility of batteries going bad too soon follow these simple suggestions. Keep the batteries clean. Wipe off the batteries with a damp cloth after each use. Clean the battery posts to reduce buildup. Make sure the battery cables are tightly clamped onto the posts. Loose cables can cause arching and premature failure. Keep the batteries filled with distilled water. Check the battery levels every week and fill them to the appropriate fill line making sure the lead plates are completely covered. Fill the batteries after charging, not before. Charging raises the water level. If you fill the batteries before charging, the charging cycle may cause the batteries to overflow.

The most important factor is to purchase your automatic scrubber from a reliable, knowledgeable servicing distributor that can assist you with any concerns you may have about the operation or functioning of your scrubber. If you have questions or concerns about your scrubber please contact us anytime on our service and equipment request page. We will assist you in any way we can.

cleaning equipment and floor scrubber service and preventative maintenance