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The Ins and Outs of Hard-Surface Floor Cleaners

A Q&A to help with tile and grout cleaning

The Ins and Outs of Hard-Surface Floor Cleaners

Hard-surface floor cleaning systems are options for cleaning tile and grout floors—especially for cleaning contractors that also use portable extractors to provide carpet cleaning services for their clients. In essence, a hard-surface floor cleaning system refers to a carpet extractor attachment, making it a dual-surface cleaner.

However, there are many questions about these hard-surface floor cleaning systems. For instance, if they use as much as 2.2 gallons of water per minute, as some systems do, does that mean the machine’s tanks must be emptied and filled every few minutes? If not, where does all that water go after it has been applied to the floor? Do the machines use a rotary pad? How much pressure—measured in pounds per square inch or pound-force per square inch (PSI)—do they generate? Are chemicals necessary for the cleaning process?

These and other questions are frequently asked when cleaning professionals are first introduced to hard-surface floor cleaning systems. The following questions and answers can apply to most systems available now.

1. Do the machines tanks need to be emptied and filled every few minutes?

The answer is no. If connected to a dual-surface carpet extractor or a truckmount unit, the extractor will have auto-fill/auto-dump capabilities, allowing for nonstop, continuous cleaning.

2. Do the machines use a rotary pad?

These hard-surface grout and tile floor machines do not require the use of pads. Instead, they are sometimes referred to as “contained pressure washing systems,” because they clean using high water pressure. Under the hood—or the base—of the floor cleaner is a swivel with sprayers that spins due to the high PSI. There are also vacuum slots that extract the water as the floor cleaner is used.

3. How much PSI do they generate?

Grout and tile areas are essentially pressure cleaned by the powerful blast of water. At least 800 PSI is necessary. However, an extractor that can generate 1200 PSI will prove more powerful and more effective.

4. Are chemicals necessary?

In most cases you should pre-spray or mop a cleaning solution onto the floor before cleaning. A few minutes of dwell time allows the cleaning solution to help loosen and dissolve soils, making it easier for the hard-surface tool to remove them and clean the floors.

The type and strength of the cleaning solution depends on the amount and type of soil load. If, for instance, the floor is covered with grease and oil, a degreaser will likely be necessary. In many cases, however, all you may need is a neutral or all-purpose floor cleaner.

5. How do you use these hard-surface floor cleaning tools? Must they be used in a back-and-forth movement, or can they be moved over the floor from side to side?

In both cases, the answer is yes. If grout areas are particularly soiled, it is often a good idea to first go over these areas by using a back-and-forth movement. However, after this is performed, the hard-surface cleaner can be moved over the floor using a side-to-side motion.

It is best to work from the far end of the floor area being cleaned to the exit. While the floor should dry within minutes, this helps to ensure that you do not walk on the floor while it is wet or during the cleaning process, which could be a safety issue. It also helps to ensure that all floor areas are cleaned.

Bonus question: How are floors actually cleaned using this process?

The answer lies in the fact that most tile and grout floors are porous. Soil often builds up in these pores and causes discoloration. With the help of the cleaning solution, the contained pressure flushes these soils out of the floor pores and extracts them, typically leaving the floors not only cleaner, but brighter, as well.

 

Posted On June 2, 2015

Sarah Thurston

Communications Manager of Nilfisk

Sara Thurston is with Nilfisk, makers of professional cleaning equipment and manufacturers of the U.S. Products line of portable extractors. She now serves as communications manager for the company and can be reached via her company website at www.usproducts.com.

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