Parking lot sweeping: what equipment do I need to start my business?

So you want to start a parking lot sweeping business. Well, when you go out on the lot at night, what are you going to have to do? Obviously, you’ll need a parking sweeper, but you’ll want to make sure you get the right one for you. There are roughly four categories of electric sweepers and they are used for different purposes. You will want to identify which one will be right for you. There are a few different types of technology used in parking lot and street sweepers, some are mechanical, some use regenerative air, and some use a fan-based vacuum. Keep in mind that the technology used is not really relevant to someone starting out in the business. I recommend focusing on results, ie parking lots that are clean after you’re gone. With that in mind, here are the most relevant sweeper categories:

Truck Mounted: This type of sweeper is mounted on the chassis of a pick-up truck. For example, a Ford 150, GMC Sierra or Chevrolet S-10 chassis. The beds are removed from these trucks and a sweeping unit is mounted in their place. The cabin remains the same. These trucks may have one or two sweeper arms and are intended for sweeping parking lots. It’s pretty normal to see these trucks with a single sweeper arm, because that’s all it really takes to clear curved areas in a parking lot. They are also good for clearing out parking garages, because multi-story garages often have low ceiling clearance. Since this type of sweeper is mounted on a consumer vehicle, it can easily meet the clearance requirement. Street sweepers generally require sweeping arms on both sides, because they are meant to clean streets. This type of parking lot sweeper is not designed for street cleaning and often does not come with two sweeping arms.

Truck Mounted Box: This type of sweeper is also used to clean parking lots, but they are used for larger lots. They are able to sweep larger areas without filling the hopper as quickly (the hopper is where the trash that is vacuumed is stored). These types of sweepers would be used to clear parking lots for retail supercenters or large shopping malls.

Street sweeper: This type of sweeper is used by municipalities, cities, and counties to clean the streets. This is the type of street sweeper who is accompanied by maids who write tickets and knock when you forget to move your car on sweep days. They are very large and not relevant to someone looking to start a parking lot sweeping business.

Construction Sweeper: These are very heavy-duty road sweepers. They are often used in construction cleanup and are capable of vacuuming up bricks, nails and 2 x 4’s. You will often see these types of sweepers out in the open when there are road works going on. They are there to remove gravel and debris that surfaces when crews work the roads. This type of sweep tends to have a very high profit margin because the work is project-based, and since these types of jobs come up when construction projects call for them, they allow for more money to be collected.

Miscellaneous: There are a couple other types of sweepers worth mentioning. There are sweeper units that are designed to slide into the bed of a pickup truck. They are best described as truck mounted vacuum units and do not come with a sweep arm. These are great for people just starting out, and great for landscaping contractors. It’s not really necessary to have a sweep arm, with these units you would blow all the debris into the direct path of the truck and the vacuum unit would suck up all the debris. Sliding sweepers can deliver the same results as sweeper arm sweepers. Second, there are towable sweeper units. These types of sweepers are nice to have as backup sweepers, and good for people just starting out in the parking lot sweeping business. You can buy one of these sweepers much cheaper than all the other types. These will work to help you get started.

Now you know which types of sweepers are relevant to your needs. Since you are interested in starting a parking lot cleaning business, you will also need more equipment.


• A leaf blower

• High visibility reflective safety jacket

•GPS navigation

• Heavy duty work boots

That’s all you need once you’ve determined which sweeper is right for you. Once you have this kit, you are pretty much ready to start your parking lot cleaning business.

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