Mats play a key role in keeping all facilities, including carwashes, safe, healthy and productive. This applies to mats placed inside and outside building entrances as well as carwash waiting areas and walkways.
For busy carwash locations, mats can play an integral part in keeping the facilities cleaner overall.
Types of mats
Several different kinds of mats are available, including “specialty” mats, which we will discuss below, as well as an array of mats for different needs, uses and situations.
To become more familiar with the different types of mats, it is important to learn some mat “lingo.” For instance, carwash owners and operators will often hear the term “high-performance matting.”
A high-performance mat is made of higher quality materials, has a longer warranty (one to three years or more), is usually purchased (not rented) and is more effective (as the name implies) at keeping facilities cleaner because it is designed to more efficiently capture and trap soils and moisture.
Some other types of mats carwash owners and operators should be aware of include:
- Antimicrobial mats: These mats are designed to inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, fungi and bacteria. The installation of antimicrobial mats is particularly important in laboratories, food processing facilities, health care facilities and industrial locations where there are concerns about microbial growth that could negatively affect the health of workers or the products being manufactured.
- Anti-fatigue mats (dry): Anti-fatigue mats are used in areas where workers must stand for long periods, such as the cashier and prep areas in a carwash, or in work areas. For these workers, discomfort, fatigue, sore feet and pain in joints and knees often develop over time. These mats are designed to reduce musculoskeletal pain and fatigue in several ways. More advanced anti-fatigue mats are made with a patented foam, which provides a gentle but definite “bounce” as the mats are walked on. This bounce helps increase blood flow to the lower limbs, which can reduce fatigue and pain.
- Antistatic mats: These mats are installed in electrical and mechanical areas of a facility where delicate electronic equipment is used. Static electricity can damage electronic components, and the “shock” it produces can potentially cause an accident. These mats are designed to prevent the buildup of static electricity by removing static charge.
- Flow-through mats: Carwashes should consider installing flow-through mats in wet areas. These mats typically have openings that allow spills, splashes and other moisture to flow below the surface of the matting. This keeps the walking surface dry, helping to prevent a slip-and-fall accident.
- Logo mats: Logo mats are designed to greet customers, enhance the area’s aesthetics and improve the first impression of a facility. For instance, a professional carwash could print a tag line on a logo mat, such as: “Exceeding every expectation.” Essentially, this tag line and mat would help market and brand the carwash.
Mat selection and care
As mentioned earlier, the mats discussed in this article are not rental mats from a linen or similar service. Rental mats are typically not designed to play the many roles we have described. Furthermore, carwash owners and operators are advised to do a little due diligence when it comes to renting mats. While they may seem less expensive, purchasing quality mats instead of renting may prove more cost effective n the long run. Moreover, it will be safer for the environment since so many rental mats end up in landfills after a short lifespan.
Note: There are several more types of mats than those discussed in this article used for many diverse purposes, especially those made for industrial locations, laboratories, etc.
When selecting a specialty mat, work with a distributor or manufacturer that has marketed or manufactured mats for a number of years. Unfortunately, the matting industry tends to have some “fly by night” companies that are here today and gone tomorrow.
When it comes to matting care and attention, here are some quick tips:
- Mats should be vacuumed at least once per day, and even more in a busy carwash. While they do collect moisture, the bulk of the contaminants they capture are dry soils and are best removed by vacuuming.
- Vacuum mats in multiple directions. Back-and-forth vacuuming is fine as long as it is complemented with side-to-side vacuuming. This helps ensure more dry soils captured by the mat are vacuumed-up.
- Pick up mats on a regular basis. If there is moisture under the mat, custodians should mop the floor and clean the back of the mat using a pH-neutral cleaner. Allow the mat to thoroughly dry before replacing. This can be more of a problem in a carwash facility than in other types of locations.
- Check mats regularly. If one appears soiled, especially with grease and oil, remove it and replace with a fresh mat.
This leads us to the actual cleaning of mats. High-performance mats, in most cases, can be cleaned using carpet extraction. Many carwashes have carpet extractors. These machines can be used to clean the mats. Prespray the mat with a proper cleaning solution, and after a few minutes of dwell time, begin the extraction. Once this is done, lay the mat flat on a safe floor surface and allow 24 hours to dry.
Adam Strizzi is marketing manager for Crown Matting Technologies, one of the oldest and largest matting companies in the U.S. He can be reached through his company’s website at www.crown-mats.com.