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For full-service washes, detail shops and even car dealerships, automated mat cleaners make sense because they increase employee productivity and reduce labor costs. In express wash and self-serve formats, the secure and dependable machines offer owners a worry-free source of additional revenue.
For these reasons, mat cleaners are now more widely used than ever in carwash operations. Today's machines can shampoo, scrub, extract, beat and dry customer floor mats. This cleaning flexibility, and their popularity with carwash customers, should preserve the mat cleaner's future for years to come.
Wet and dry cleaning
There are a number of automated mat cleaners available today. The majority of these cleaners wash mats with water and shampoo, and most are manufactured from stainless steel. This steel construction guarantees wet cleaning cycles will not affect operation, and the steel's durability has the added benefit of making the machines weatherproof.
Machines with wet cleaning cycles use a variety of cleaning and drying materials. One model shampoos the floor mats then uses absorbent sponge rollers for drying, according to Bud Abraham, president of Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems. Other machines can use brushes and extractors to clean mats with water and shampoo; then the mat is dried with an extractor or high-pressure air before it is output.
When it comes to cleaning mats without water, some wet machines offer dry cycles that only use brushes, vacuums or compressed air. The combination models dry brush and vacuum mats or dry brush then blow out grit using the high-pressure air, Abraham said. There's also a machine that literally beats the dirt and grit out of the carpet. This dry "beating" cleaner is especially effective at knocking pesky sand from carpeted mats.
Setting up mat cleaners can be a simple affair, not much is required on-site for their installation, Cynthia Lee, sales manager with Clean World Distribution Inc.,
As stated, most mat cleaners are made using heavy-duty stainless steel. This construction goes a long way to keep them secure in 24-hour or self-serve environments. "We also have two heavy-duty side panel bars and lock down capability for added protection of bill/coin transactions," Lee said.
Abraham agreed that the machines are relatively secure. "They are as secure as a self-service vacuum would be," he said.
Upkeep needs will vary by type of machine, but the cleaning schedule should not. "All need to be cleaned at least once a week, which involves washing out the excess dirt that remains in the machine from cleaning," Abraham stated. When it comes to needed part replacement, the most common culprits include bearings, vacuum motors and sponge rollers.
Lee said very minimal maintenance is required for mat cleaners. Some manufacturers offer a maintenance schedule that includes simple cleaning procedures and recommends changing out parts after normal wear and tear. These parts last up to two or three years, depending on how often the equipment is used. "These simple maintenance checks will prolong the use of our equipment and keep it in normal function," she said.