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Westland MI 48185
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B&R Janitorial Supply > Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints - General Information

Cleaning Time Estimator Cleaning Chemicals Description And Usage
Equipment Selection Guide HEPA Filters FAQ
ISSA Terms Standard Cleaning Terms
Standard Dilutions Time Value Chart
USDA Classifications Caring For Mops, Buckets And Pads

Equipment Selection Guide

The following information is only a very brief, general guide for maintenance equipment selection. We have failed to address perhaps the most asked-about areas of floor care, i.e., ultra high speed burnishing and carpet cleaning equipment.


Based on the national average, cleaning crews in most buildings are spending 50%-55% of their total available working time on floor and carpet maintenance. According to the most reliable sources, an average cleaning budget breakdown would be subdivided approximately as follows:

Item  %Of Total labor Time
Floor & Carpeting 52%
Fixtures & Equipment 19%
Walls & Woodwork 13%
Ceiling 6%
Windows 6%
Lights 4%
Total Labor Time 100%

A building with a five-man crew, for example, with each man working eight-hour days, five days a week, 50 weeks per year, requires about 5,200 man-hours per year for floor and carpet cleaning. If each man is being paid $5.00 per hour, this represents an investment on labor of $26,000 per year, plus cost for fringe benefits, vacations, insurance, etc.

Unless you already have your cleaning program highly mechanized, you won’t be far off if you use this national average to estimate your floor and carpet cleaning cost. Simply take 52% of the total number of man-hours being spent for cleaning and maintenance in your building each year, and multiply times your crew’s average individual hourly wage. Also add your fringe benefit cost (total man-hours per year x .52 x hourly wage plus fringe benefits equal amount cost for floor and carpet care.)

Unfortunately, there are still dozens of cleaning chores required around any building where there’s no substitute for “elbow grease” and hours of tedious labor. As yet, for example, there’s no known way to “mechanize” washing a window, sanitizing a washroom, or cleaning a light fixture.

Floor and carpet cleaning, however, can be highly mechanized, and since this is where at least half of any cleaning crew’s total time is spent,, substantial labor savings are possible. When time spent for floor and carpet care is reduced, the man-hours saved can be used t\for other cleaning jobs to upgrade the overall level of maintenance in the entire building. In many cases, the mechanization of floor and carpet cleaning makes it possible to properly maintain a building with fewer people on the maintenance staff. Many organizations, however, choose not to dismiss employees as these time savings are realized. Instead, as employees leave because of normal turnover or retirement, they are not replaced. In this way, the employees are not demoralized by thinking the “may be replaced with a machine.

Selecting The Proper Autoscrubber

Floor Pad Size

Floor Area Mod. Obstructed Very Few Obstructions
 (Sq. Ft.)
3,000-5,000 17” 17” or 20”
5,000-7,500 20” 20” or 26”
7,500-10,500 26” 32”
OVER 10,500 26” or 32” 32” or 38”

Checklist for evaluating automatic scrubbers

Does the machine have sufficient weight on the brush to provide efficient scrubbing/polishing?  Is the pressure variable?  Can additional pressure be applied for scrubbing extremely soiled areas?

Most floors require polishing and dry vacuuming approximately ten times more than wet scrubbing or stripping.  Can the machine be quickly and easily converted for polishing and dry pick-up?

If selecting a battery-powered machine, will it run long enough on each charge of batteries to clean the entire area you must maintain as often as required?

 Are the pick-up tanks easy to empty of both liquid and dry materials?

If the machine is to be used frequently for aisle work, how many passes of the machine will it take to cover the aisle, allowing at least 2” overlap on each pass? (You may find you are able to clean the aisle with no more passes with a smaller less expensive machine.)

Will the machine be operated in a multi-level building without elevator facilities?  If so, be sure the machine is light enough to be carried up and down stairs.

 Is the machine self-propelled both forward and reverse?

Is solution control fully variable?

Does the machine have a wiping squeegee blade with suction only at the center of the blade, or is a double-bladed squeegee used which creates suction over the entire width of the blade?

If selecting a battery-powered machine, does the unit require special high-cost replacement batteries, or can standard, popular brand batteries be used?

What Size Automatic Scrubber Would Best Fit Your Needs

Generally, an automatic scrubber really comes into its own, and offers all the cost-saving advantages for which it was designed, when you have 3,000 square feet or more to maintain on a fairly frequent basis. There are cases, however, when an automatic scrubber is an excellent investment even though the floor area is less than 3,000 square feet.

These would be cases where an unusually high cleaning frequency rate is necessary to maintain the desired cleanliness/ appearance level, or where the floor area is not heavily obstructed with equipment or furniture. Many small to medium size buildings with considerable walk-in traffic during bad weather months have this type of situation. 
One important factor to consider when selecting the proper size automatic for your buildings is the width of the aisles or corridors in which the machine will be used. You may find, for example, that there would be no advantage in buying a 26” machine over a 21” machine because the width of your aisles would require the same number of passes with either machine.

(Allowing 3” overlap on each pass)

Cleaning Width of Machine Effective Cleaning Width
Width of Aisle
Number of Passes
(Brush or Pad Width) (2” Overlap Each Pass 5 Ft. 6 Ft. 7 Ft. 8 Ft. 9 Ft. 10 Ft. 11 Ft. 12 Ft. 15 Ft.
17” 15” 4 5 6 7 8 8 9 10 12
20” 18” 4 4 5 6 6 7 8 8 10
21” 19” 4 4 5 6 6 7 7 8 10
26” 24” 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 8
32” 30” 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 6
38” 36” 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5


Power Sweepers/Litter Vacuums

Sweeping is one of the most frequently required tasks, and very often one of the most expensive, in a building cleaning program. Most buildings require hundreds, and some even thousands, of man-hours per year for sweeping. Unless this job is mechanized, many dollars in labor are needlessly wasted.

Checklist for evaluating sweepers

  • Is the brush pressure on the main broom adjustable to provide for brush wear?
  • Can the main broom be quickly and easily replaced?
  • Is the machine self-propelled both forward and reverse?
  • Is the machine equipped with a side broom that can be lifted out of the way except when sweeping alongside walls or curbs? Is the pressure on the side broom adjustable?
  • Does the machine have sufficient dust filtering capacity? Test the machine thoroughly to be sure it does not create a dust problem.
  • If selecting a battery-powered machine, will it run long enough on each charge of the batteries to clean the area you must maintain?
  • Does the vacuum system have a shut-off that will prevent pulling water into the filters when sweeping wet or damp surfaces?
  • Does the hopper have sufficient capacity, and is it easy to remove and empty?
  • If battery-powered, does it require special, high-cost replacement batteries, or can popular-brand batteries be used? If a gas or propane model, does it have an electric starter? Does it have an engine with at least 1 h.p. for each 6” of main broom width?
  • Is the machine easy to turn in its own length? Does it have a brake? Can a riding sulky be attached to gasoline and propane models?

Single Disc Floor Machine Job -Time


Requirements - Scrubbing

Floor Pad Size Time Req. To Scrub
1,000 Sq. Ft.

Labor Cost per 1,000 Square Feet At Hourly  Wage

$5.00 $6.00 $7.00
13” 33 min. $2.75 $3.30 $3.85
15” 27 min. $2.24 $2.70 $3.13
17” 23 min. $1.91 $2.30 $2.67
20” 16 min. $1.33 $1.60 $1.86
22” 12 min. $1.00 $1.20 $1.39


Tank-type vacuums, which rely entirely on suction, do an efficient job of removing loose dirt and grit from carpeting, but proper carpet maintenance also requires periodic brushing to remove bits of thread, lint and soil clinging to the pile of the carpet. Beating and brushing action will loosen these particles for easy pick-up by the vacuum.

There are two types of upright beater carpet machines:

1. Household
This type of upright, carpet vacuum is relatively light in weight, and has a lower initial cost than a commercial upright. It has only one motor that is used to turn both the beater brush and the vacuum fan blades. While this type of machine does not have the vacuum power of a commercial vac, it does have a place in certain commercial applications where the traffic is light and where women are required to lift the machine on and off cleaning carts. An example of this would be the daily cleaning of guest rooms in a motel.

Upright carpet vacuums manufactured for the home market are not designed for the long hours of work required of a commercial machine. The average homemaker might run the carpet vacuum 15 or 20 minutes a day, whereas a carpet vacuum in a hotel, office building or retail store might be in continuous use several hours a day, five or six days a week.

2. Commercial
Commercial carpet vacuums are built for continuous, heavy-duty service. Machines of this type are now available with a revolving beater brush powered by a motor separate from the vacuum system. That is, the machine has one motor to drive the beater brush, and another motor for the vacuum. This separate motor system is essential if the vacuum and brush are to have sufficient power for thorough, deep cleaning. Carpet vacuums of this type should have an adjustment that enables the operator to vary the beater brush for use on all types of carpet.

Commercial carpet vacuums are available in several sizes with the beater brushes ranging in width from 12” to 28”. They are capable of cleaning 3,000 square feet or more per hour. This type carpet vacuum is recommended for most commercial and institutional establishments because of its greater cleaning efficiency and ability to withstand the demands placed upon it by continuous operation over long periods of time.