Concrete Scrubber vs Sweeper: Which one do I need?

30 September 2019

When it comes to getting a large expanse of floor area properly clean, the use of an industrial scrubber or sweeper is a godsend. However, they are two very different tools. So to ensure the job is carried out correctly it’s essential to use the right type. And, depending on where you’re working and the debris to be cleaned up, in some cases you may well need both.


The following is a simple guide that differentiates between the two, and demystifies which is the best kind for various types of cleaning jobs.


Scrubbers: the basics

Imagine you were going to manually scrub a floor. You’d probably use some kind of liquid with a sturdy brush, and then scrub in a circular motion. An industrial scrubbing machine does exactly the same. They spray liquid onto the surface and then use either cylindrical or disc brushes to dislodge the dirt. A combination of vacuum and squeegee then sucks up the debris, leaving the floor clean and dry.

The surface of the floor to be cleaned will determine the type of brushes needed. Cylindrical brushes are used on areas that aren’t smooth – for instance, tiles or studded rubber. Because they don’t apply an even contact they clean well even on contoured surfaces.

Disc brushes use a constant pressure and are used for smooth surfaces, such as concrete. They also provide the ability to use different sizes or pads to buff the floor as well.

And sweepers?

Think of a sweeper as a person with a broom – but on steroids! They use two brooms – one that brushes the debris sideways and a second that sweeps it into a chamber within the machine. And to capture the finest of particles a vacuum also sucks up anything that’s left. The result is a clean floor that’s virtually dust free.

What tool for what job?

In some cases you might need a combination of both a sweeper and a scrubber to get the job done. However, the following is an easy guide as to choosing which type you need for a particular job.

  • If the floor you wish to clean is outside then the easiest way to determine the best tool for the job is whether or not there’s grease and/or oil on the floor. If the answer is yes, then you need a scrubber. If not, then a sweeper will do nicely.
  • For indoor tasks first determine whether the debris is light or heavy. For the latter, a scrubber will be needed if there are floor marks or oil and grease. If not a sweeper will suffice. For light debris, unless there’s oil/grease involved, then a sweeper is what’s needed. To get rid of oil and grease it’ll be necessary to use a combination of the two. There are now combination sweeper-scrubbers available, so it won’t necessarily mean that you need two separate machines for the job.

Push or ride?

Both scrubbers and sweepers come as a ride on or a walk behind option. As you’d expect, the ride on choice is for larger areas. For instance, a ride on scrubber will clean a pathway of over a metre at speeds up to 12 kms per hour. And a ride on sweeper can be expected to leave nearly 10,000 square metres sparkling clean in about an hour.

For smaller areas, walk behind options are what’s needed. But don’t worry, these are generally self-propelled so are still easy to use. Many push sweepers and scrubbers are battery operated, negating the need to worry about a power source and trailing cables.

Combination machines

Many tasks require the use of both a scrubber and sweeper for the best results, and combination cleaners provide the best of both worlds. Once again these come in both ride on and walk behind options. The former are ideal for large jobs with good access, such as:

  • Workshops
  • Car parks
  • Building sites
  • Factory floors

They’re fuelled by diesel or LPG and have large rubbish hoppers and recovery tanks, so minimising the need for multiple stops to empty the machine.

The smaller, compact walk behinds are both portable and lightweight. Battery operated ones charge fast and last a good amount of time on a single charge. These are well suited to areas such as:

  • Restaurants & cafes
  • Shops
  • Hotels

For expert advice on the exact type of sweeper, scrubber or combination tool that will suit your particular task, the folks at Concrete Hire in Perth will be delighted to advise. Having provided all kinds of floor cleaning equipment for decades, they really are perfectly placed to ensure you hire the right tool for the job. Give Geoff Holtmeulen a call on 0418 222 273 for a friendly chat about your requirements, or visit their website at


Concrete Hires’ core business is the hire of specialised concrete equipment relating to concrete grinding, polishing, pumping, cleaning, repair and demolition.