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After All They Do For Us…

Mats Need Some Cleaning and Care, Too

June 09, 2015
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As a cleaning contractor, you hear quite a bit about the value of mats—they help keep soil and moisture out, which helps keep buildings cleaner and healthier. But you might know less about how to actually care for and clean mats.

If the mats at the facility you maintain are rentals, picked up, and replaced by a service, then only some of the cleaning and care tips in this article apply. But if the building managers you work with have purchased high-performance mats, which are generally considered more effective at capturing and trapping soils, than these tips are for you.

For instance, as warmer weather approaches, it would appear appropriate to roll up mats that were installed for winter weather. However, this is not recommended. Rolling the mats can put pressure on their backing, which can damage them. When storing mats, always lay them flat in an area where they will not be walked on and where nothing will be placed on top of them. This will help ensure they are healthy and ready to go when winter weather returns.

Other matting tips include the following:

  • Mats must be vacuumed regularly. Vacuuming frequency depends on foot traffic. While mats do collect moisture, the bulk of the contaminants they capture are dry soils, which are best removed with vacuuming.
     
  • Vacuum mats in multiple directions. Back-and-forth vacuuming is fine as long as it is accompanied by side-to-side vacuuming. This helps ensure that more of the dry soils captured by the mat are vacuumed up.
     
  • Pick up mats on a regular basis. In winter weather and humid conditions, moisture can build up, especially under the mat. For this reason, it is wise to regularly inspect underneath mats. If there is moisture, mop the floor and clean the back of the mat using a pH-neutral cleaner. Allow mats to thoroughly dry before replacing. Even if there is no moisture buildup, it is a good idea to clean under the mat regularly.
     
  • Replace mats when necessary. It is recommended to install at least five feet of matting outside a facility. Mats installed outside will generally require more of your time and attention, such as more frequent vacuuming. Outdoor mats are often referred to as “scraper mats,” because they scrape off large soils and capture great amounts of oil and grease from shoe bottoms. Because of this, check the matting regularly. If it appears heavily soiled, especially with grease and oil, remove it and replace it with fresh matting.
     
  • Consider carpet extraction. In most cases, high-performance mats can be cleaned using carpet extraction. Often it is best to do the extraction cleaning outside. Pre-spray the mats as you would carpet, adding more solution to heavily soiled areas. After a few minutes of dwell time, begin extraction. Once this is done, lay the mats flat on a safe floor surface. Like carpet, the mats may take six to eight hours to thoroughly dry.

Note that the care and cleaning suggestions here typically apply to mats at building entries. But you may encounter many types of mats used for other specific purposes, such as anti-fatigue mats, antimicrobial mats, flow-through mats, and others.

The proper method for cleaning some of these mats—for instance, the flow-through rubber mats—may be obvious to some. Depending on the soiling, a flow-through rubber mat should be cleaned/brushed with a mild cleaner, rinsed with water, and allowed to dry.

But when it comes to the other types of specialty mats listed, it is best to hold off cleaning until you are sure how it is done. Usually the distributor or the manufacturer’s customer service department will provide all the cleaning and care details necessary to do the job.

Mats do a great job of keeping facilities cleaner and healthier. Giving them proper care and cleaning will protect the investment made in mats so they will be effective for years to come.

For more information and tips on matting, including how to install and care for them, and an index of 10 different types of mats, view Adam Strizzi’s article, “More on Mats Than You Ever Thought Possible,” in the March 2015 issue of Cleaning and Maintenance Management.

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