How can condo corporations get the most out of purchased winter mats?
The American Institute of Architects strongly encourages building owners and managers to install entry matting at all key building entries.
According to the institute, mats offer the following benefits:
- Five feet of matting should be able to capture one-third of the soil and moisture on shoe bottoms;
- Ten feet, about 52 per cent; and
- Fifteen feet of matting, approximately 80 per cent.
ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association, has reported similar findings.
The ISSA also points out that it costs about $700 (US) to remove one pound of soil that has essentially walked in the building. This means mats can help reduce cleaning and maintenance needs and costs; however, much depends on the types of mats selected.
Compared to many types of rental mats, purchased mats tend to be ideally suited to moist winter conditions. Look for thick mats with dual-fiber construction — features that make them effective at capturing and holding soils and moisture.
However, purchased mats do need to be properly cleaned and cared for.
Custodial workers should vacuum the mats daily and in different directions, forward and backward and then side to side. This helps remove embedded soils.
If the mat gets slightly wet, it can usually be air dried. However, during snowy and rainy weather a mat can become heavily saturated quickly. Because the mat may also become heavy, picking it up could risk injury. Plus, the moisture may drip on interior floors.
In these cases, the best course of action is to use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to extract the moisture. Then pick up the mat to see if moisture has built up underneath. If so, the floor surface should be cleaned and allowed to air dry.
Roll out the mat, place it on a flat surface, and use air blowers to dry the mat. Air blowers can reduce drying time by nearly half. Once dry, leave the mat flat, out of the way of foot traffic.
Another reason mats should be stored flat is to avoid damaging their backing and curling their edges. However, if dry mats are to be rolled for storage, they should be rolled nap (fuzzy) side out. This way, when unrolled for use, the mat will lay flat on the surface.
During dry weather with moderate foot traffic, mats should be deep cleaned about every three months. During heavy traffic or adverse weather, more often.
A carpet extractor should be used to deep clean entry mats. It will remove embedded soils to ensure the mat works most effectively. Once the mat has been extracted, lay it out flat to dry. Do not roll it up.
On top of the cleaning procedures just mentioned, it is essential to inspect mats. Be sure the mats are flat and stable on the surfaces. This helps prevent tripping hazards. Also, look for tears and wearing. Purchased mats are durable, but they must be replaced eventually. If wearing is evident, it may be time to replace them.
Irina Kem is the senior director of marketing for Swish, a leading distributor of professional cleaning products, solutions, and equipment throughout Canada.