ICS Magazine

Extending the Strip Cycle: Aggressive Scrubbing

December 13, 2000
There are occasions in the course of the implementing the hard floor maintenance service program when you may not have the time, resources or manpower to perform a strip as scheduled. There are times when we strip a floor because it’s set in a time frame based on specifications from the property manager instead of when it really needs to be done. Also, there are times when we strip just because we think we need to. Let me share an alternative to questionable stripping.

The Aggressive Scrub

The aggressive scrub (sometimes called the heavy or deep scrub) is a particularly good weapon in your arsenal of hard floor maintenance procedures. You may find that if you schedule and/or perform the floor maintenance services for your facility, this periodic procedure can save you a great deal of time. The old saying that time equals money could be applied in this instance.

The aggressive scrub is generally performed when difficult soils such as grease and oils are present or heavy build-up of floor finish needs to be removed. In the case of build-up, the aggressive scrub is performed when medium scrubbing is no longer effective and soil is deeply embedded and encapsulated in the multiple layers of floor finishes.

Performing aggressive scrubs instead of stripping the floor can be accomplished if you are providing hard floor maintenance using a preventative maintenance system. If you are scheduling all daily/routine maintenance, periodic maintenance or stripping maintenance, then you have the advantage of knowing exactly what has happened to the floor and when. If you were involved in the initial or last strip in your facility and used quality chemicals, you will be able to utilize aggressive scrubs as well.

How to Capitalize on the Aggressive Scrub

If your company performed the stripping procedure and laid the base coats (the coatings applied directly after stripping), you know how many layers of floor finish are on the floor covering. Because these coats were applied directly after the strip, you know they are clean without any soil encapsulation. Because you achieved an optimum optical level of gloss, the floor will look exactly the way you want it. After working hard to get the floor to this high level of appearance, it should be protected.

The objective is to maintain that level of gloss without building it up or encapsulating soil. If the floor finish is a clear coating, then you will be able to maintain that level of gloss by limiting the erosive material on the floor. This can be accomplished by implementing a hard floor maintenance program. This would dictate the services to be performed, the amount of time required for them to be performed in and the frequencies they are performed.

Once established, a careful eye will keep the floors looking great all the time. This is a lot better than the slow demise of floors that are not serviced frequently enough. Although each environment and building will have different service frequencies, they should all include the following.

  • Initiate a walk-off mat program to keep soil out of the facility, and vacuum them regularly. (I have seen some walk-off mats that held more dirt than the outside of the building).

  • Schedule dust mopping as many times a day as possible to prevent dirt and grit from remaining on the floor to be ground in.

  • Implement daily/routine damp and wet mopping programs as frequently as your budget allows.

  • Schedule periodic light and medium scrubs at time frames that are conducive with the traffic conditions of your facility.

  • For light and medium scrubs, detail the edges, corners and baseboards to ensure you are maintaining the entire floor. This step reduces the build-up of these areas.

  • Finally perform the aggressive scrub when you would normally strip the floor.

Keep in mind that the detailing is just as important in this phase of the operation. If you perform the easier jobs more frequently, then the more labor-intensive jobs can be done less frequently with longer intervals in between.

How to Perform an Aggressive Scrub

Thoroughly dust mop the floor surface to remove all dirt, dust and debris. Use putty and razor knives to remove gum, labels, tags or other sticky items.

Mix all-purpose cleaning chemical and warm to hot water in accordance with manufacturers recommended dilution ratios (adjust mixture proportionately to how much cleaning is required). Apply a liberal amount of solution to floor. Allow solution to dwell a few minutes (5-15 minutes to allow chemicals time to break down soil and soften floor finish). Affix scrubbing pads (generally blue or green, in case of heavy build-up, use brown or black) to 175-RPM rotary floor machine or automatic scrubbing machine.

Scrub the area using 175-RPM rotary floor machine or automatic scrubbing machine. Detail edges and corners using edging tool and appropriate pads, use 1" razor or putty knives for hard to get areas. Pull solution from edges, corners and hard to get areas to central area using the 12"-14" window squeegee on handle. Pick up solution with wet vacuum. Rinse floor with neutralizer/conditioner or fresh water. Apply 2 to 4 coats of floor finish to desired gloss level. Burnish if desired. Dust mop after burnishing to remove dirt dust and debris caused by burnishing machine.

Summary

Aggressive scrubbing is a viable means of extending the strip cycle for floor maintenance technicians who maintain their facilities using preventative maintenance systems. Incorporating this type of scrubbing can extend the time between strips by one or several years. Some of the savings that you generate for your customer can be applied to your bottom line making your work more profitable.

Even if you are not on a preventative maintenance system and possibly are reacting to a situation, you may find that aggressive scrubbing may be used instead of stripping. Be very careful though. When you are taking over a new account, it’s always best to strip the floor to get it into the condition you want. But, if cost is what your prospective customer wants, then you may be able to offer a more cost-effective method that meets their budget. Either way the aggressive scrub may just be the answer you are looking for.