When it comes to green cleaning, an often underemphasized area is the need for matting at all hotel entries. Stopping dust, soils, and contaminants before they ever enter a facility helps reduce the need for cleaning and enhances indoor environmental quality. This is why it makes sense to place effective matting systems at the heart of any green cleaning program.
The most effective type of mats are referred to as high-performance mats, which are higher-quality mats that have a performance life of several years. These mats are often part of what is called a soil “source control” strategy.
Hotel managers, even cleaning professionals, overlook the immense impact that sidewalks, parking lots, entries, and other surrounding areas can have on the health and appearance of the indoor environment. But, as much as 90 percent of the dust and dirt that enters a facility “walks in” through building entries. Further, studies indicate that up to 24 pounds of dirt can be tracked in by just 1,000 people coming through an entrance over a 20-day work period.
Hotel managers who successfully implement a high-performance matting system as part of a green cleaning program can keep their properties cleaner and healthier for longer periods of time, which can keep chemical use—green or conventional—to a minimum. However, to better understand how this source control strategy works and why mats are so much a part of green cleaning, an education on high-performance matting systems is required.
Steps to Success
Building entry mats have been around for decades. In many ways, however, it has been just in the past 10 years that they have been recognized as an effective source control system. They are, in effect, a facility’s chief line of defense against outdoor contaminants.
Following this analogy, the line of defense can be broken into three core regiments: scraper mats, wiper-scraper mats, and wiper mats.
• Scraper mats: These are the first line of defense. Scraper mats should be placed outside a facility and at all major entry points. Approximately five feet of scraper matting is required to effectively trap as much as 50 percent of the soil and moisture found on shoes. Scraper mats serve as the first five feet of matting.
• Wiper-scraper mats: These mats are the second line of defense to further remove soils and moisture that are not captured by the scraper mats. They are typically found directly inside entry doors of a facility. These can be used alone, without a scraper mat, but they need to be of greater length in order to be effective. Approximately five feet of wiper-scraper matting is required when used with scraper mats.
• Wiper mats: The final line of defense is the wiper mat, which further removes light soils and dust and helps to dry moisture from shoes. Wiper mats make up the last five feet of matting.
Altogether, this is 15 feet of high-performance matting and there is a reason this amount of matting is required for an effective source control program:
• Fifteen feet of matting allows each foot to contact the mat at least three times.
• Fifteen feet of matting helps prevent the majority of soils from entering a facility.
• Fifteen feet or more of matting helps ensure that soil and moisture are stopped at the door.
It is also important to note that for matting to work effectively and be a key component in a green cleaning program, it must be properly cleaned and maintained. Once installed, matting must be regularly vacuumed—often several times per day in heavily trafficked areas—to keep them working effectively. Periodically, they should also be cleaned with a carpet extractor to remove deeply embedded soils.
One of green cleaning’s goals is to protect the environment, not only regarding the use of cleaning chemicals and products, but disposal of these items as well. The key issue with mats is performance life. High-performance matting systems, such as those described here, can have a performance life of many more years than conventional “rental” mats.
Some manufacturers of high-performance products have extended warranties of up to six years. This compares to conventional and some less-expensive mats that may have only a 90- to 180-day performance life, and when these mats are replaced, they usually end up in landfills. This means high-performance matting systems not only help hotel properties stay cleaner and healthier, but also help reduce the amount of building materials sent to landfills each year. And what could be more green than that?
More Dirt on Dust—An Addendum
• It is estimated that nine out of 10 computers fail due to indoor dust.
• At least one in five Americans is allergic to some component of dust.
• A buildup of less than a tenth of an inch of dust in a heating and cooling system can decrease efficiency by more than 20 percent.
• Eighty-six billion pounds of dust settle on the United States every year.
• Studies show that one square yard of commercial-grade carpeting can accumulate one pound of dust in one week.
• The estimated cost to remove one pound of dust is $500.
• Studies indicate that people working in dusty environments have a greater risk of lung cancer, heart attack, chronic asthma, allergy problems, depression, nervous problems, and skin problems.
• Dust particles on floors and other surfaces absorb or can react to many toxic gas matters, which cause the transfer of these toxic materials.
Brett W. Davis is the vice president of sales and marketing for Crown Mats and Matting, one of the oldest and leading manufacturers of matting systems in the United States.