Three Surprising Differences Between Street Sweepers and Vacuum Trucks

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Street sweeper rental

Have you seen the trash that accumulates on city streets?

The empty cartons, boxes, bottles?

The litter?

You may have seen large vehicles cleaning these streets.

But did you know there are two types: vacuum trucks and street sweepers?

The difference matters, and this article explains why.

Vacuum trucks have a pump that sucks water, sludge, and hazardous materials into a large tank. They remove debris, much like street sweepers do. 90% of street sweepers have brooms, however. And those aren’t the only mechanical differences. Here are three ways vacuum pumps and street sweepers differ.

Sites Serviced

Vacuum trucks service commercial and residential buildings. They often pump waste out of septic tanks, clean up oil spills in refineries, expose underground utilities for digging purposes, and suck up hazardous material.

Street sweepers serve a more basic function: They clean streets. They clean up dirt, trash, and litter, often sweeping it to the side of the curb. Invented by C.S. Bishop in 1849, they were once employed in horse drawn carriages. Today, they are used as parking lot cleaners or as part of a street sweeper rental. They are also known as sweeper trucks.


Vacuum trucks are employed by cities, municipalities, large industries, and contractors. They are used for specialized tasks like hydro excavation. In this task, water is shot at the surface of a drilling site and debris is pulled into the vacuum. Because vacuum trucks have more uses than the street sweeper, they are more valuable to companies.

Street sweepers are employed by cities and companies. They serve a basic purpose and its uses are limited. While street sweepers are known for use in urban areas, companies employ street sweepers in lower-density communities as well, as part of a street sweeping service. A street sweeping service may cover an area as small as a street or as large as a city.


Vacuum trucks have two major parts: a pump and a tank. The pump sucks up the liquid, the hazardous material, or the debris and puts it into the tank. The tank is later emptied, often into a sewer.

Street sweepers have two main parts: the brooms and the hopper. The brooms sweep the debris and deposit it into the hopper, which is a container at the back of the truck. They may have water hoses to loosen debris and vacuums for hard to get pollutants. Road sweeping services collect run-off pollution, which threatens sewer systems.

Vacuum trucks and street sweepers are different in the sites each service, where each is employed, and mechanical design. Vacuum trucks and street sweepers are available from contractors. Vacuum trucks collect human waste from sites, while a street sweeping service collects debris, litter, and pollutants from city streets.
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