Go Ahead, Rent a Floor Scrubber

Flipping houses on a budget means buying homes in pretty pitiful condition. The floors are usually the worst. I’ve seen black grout, hard patches of mystery goop and and mold colonies in various stages of evolution. But for some reason I’ve always been reluctant to rent a floor scrubber.

I guess I always thought of them as big, bulky heavy duty machinery. And because I didn’t have a high school or stadium hallway to clean, I didn’t bother. But did you know that they have small models that are great for use in little kitchens and bathrooms? Now that I’ve rented one I can’t believe I waited so long.

When do You Need One
I waited until I encountered a floor that made me gag, but you don’t have to wait for conditions to get that dire. They’re great for quickly cleaning dirty, unfinished grout before you strip and re-finish the floor. But you can use them any time you were considering getting on your hands and knees with a scrub brush.

How to Rent One
Your local supercenter (Wal-mart or what not) probably has floor scrubbers available for rent in the heavy duty supplies section in the back. Or, if you like patronizing your local mom and pop hardware or rental outfit, call around and see what you can find.

Once you’re there, look over the floor scrubber. Make sure the rental agent notes any dings, scratches or defects on your contract. Make them plug it in and walk you through its operation. You’ll also need the cleaning solution manufactured for use with the machine. It should be available to buy right next to where the rental units are kept. Substituting other cleaning solutions may damage the machine.

At Home
You’ll want to sweep first to minimize the amount of dirt you grind into the tiles. Next cover the baseboards with painter’s tape. The instructions won’t tell you to do this but if you don’t you’ll risk scraping or brushing the paint of of the trim near the tile. There’s no reason to learn that lesson the hard way.

Next, wet the floor with hot water. Put it in a spray bottle or squeeze it out of a sponge. Now sit down and read the instructions. Cover to cover. There’s all sorts of safety and important information in there that will keep you from losing your deposit when you return the machine. And while you sit and read, the hot water will have time to sit. If you’re not going to read the instructions, check your e-mail or something. You have to give the hot water at least five minutes to soften up the dirt.

Using it is easy. Put the washing fluid into the floor scrubber’s solution reservoir and cold water into the water reservoir. Both will be clearly labeled. Plug it in and set it to scrub and dispense fluid. You’ll know how to do all of this if you read the manual like you were supposed to. Then, just push it back and forth over the floor. Push slowly to give the scrubber time to scrub. Cover one five square square foot area at a time.

When the scrubbing water starts to look gross, switch the floor scrubber’s suction action on. Run the floor scrubber over the floor to suck up the waste water. If your floor was as filthy as mine you’ll have to scrub again. Keep scrubbing and sucking in the same area until it’s clean. Once that area is clean move on to the next.

When the floor is clean, mop the floor with fresh water. Don’t let the dirty water dry on the floor or you’ll have to start all over. Hand scrub the edges around the toilet and by the baseboards. A nylon scrub brush, water and a little of the floor scrubber’s solution will do the job. Mop again and you’re good to go.

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