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Getting down and dirty

September 19, 2010
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You and your staff are vastly outnumbered in the battle against dirt, because dirt has many unwitting "foot soldiers" helping it get into your facility.

During wintry conditions, every 1,000 people entering a building track in about 10 pounds of it.

About 80 percent is carried in by people''s shoes and nearly everyone walking into your establishment is a carrier.

This dirt affects your bottom line in many ways:

  • More dirt entering a building means more work and decreased efficiency for your employees.
  • A facility''s public image can be affected when floors often look less than clean, soon after they have been cleaned.
  • Carpets need frequent cleaning and suffer from wear-and-tear as the grit damages their fibers.
  • The cost to achieve minimum standards of cleanliness keeps rising.

Looking for a solution to this dilemma?

Entrance mats made from the right materials and maintained properly can make a critical difference in managing the dirt problem.

Effective floor matting keeps most grit from spreading throughout a building and should be a primary component of any facility''s floor care program.

Tougher than dirt
Many facilities purchase entry mats to help trap dirt as people enter a building.

But, while any mat will trap some dirt, standard vinyl mats tend to wear out.

Under harsh traffic conditions, mats require frequent cleaning and if they are not highly durable, will frequently need replacement.

To enhance durability, high-quality mats are now made of Nitrile rubber.

Nitrile is a high-grade rubber compound engineered to be long-lasting and to resist curling and cracking under all climatic conditions.

These mats can stand up to harsh traffic conditions.

The deep, thick pile above the mat''s rubber base retains its thickness even with frequent industrial laundering.

The pile traps larger quantities of soil, dust and water in the body of the mat, keeping the surface looking clean.

That makes these high-quality mats a lot more effective as they require less frequent cleaning, and do not have to be replaced as often.

Appearances make a difference
Mats can be attractive, too.

Commercial floor covering patterns and designs can be incorporated into mats to enhance aesthetics and to camouflage soil or debris on a mat until the next clean mat delivery.

Developing a company''s or a facility''s brand and enhancing the attractiveness of entrances and high-traffic areas are often concerns for building owners and managers.

Today''s mat options include a wide range of colors, graphics and visual elements that can make mats instrumental to a facility''s marketing and branding program.

Coordinated color schemes give any area a more cheerful, organized and uncluttered appearance, enhance the feeling of comfort among employees entering a facility each day and make a better impression on visitors.

A clean mat means a cleaner building
All mats, even soil-resistant ones with deep pile, will eventually fill with dirt and debris and require cleaning.

When filled with soil, the mat is not working effectively and is probably not making a good first impression on visitors.

Whether you clean your mats in-house or use a rental service, mats should be cleaned on a routine schedule determined by client preferences and needs, which often are based on the amount and type of foot traffic, along with a consideration of the time of year.

For example, in regions that receive a lot of snow, entry mats and outdoor scraper mats require more frequent cleaning.

Option to consider
A mat rental/cleaning service can be a cost-effective solution to grit control for cleaning and maintenance managers concerned about ineffective mats loaded with dirt.

Information is available from the Uniform and Textile Service Association (UTSA), an international trade organization that represents textile service companies that rent, sell and lease a variety of reusable textile products, including floor mats.

But these companies do far more than simply provide and clean mats for those facility managers who might opt to outsource this part of their cleaning and maintenance operation.

Offering performance-related information about the latest textile technologies for mat construction, these companies use up-to-date knowledge of today''s textiles to help clients select mats that best meet the needs of all areas in their facilities.

David Hobson is executive director of the Uniform Textile and Service Association. He can be contacted at

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