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How Effective Are Sanitizing Entrance Mats In Fighting Germs and Bacteria?

Posted May 6, 2020 in Matting, Entrance Mats
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With the current pandemic, many people are looking at ways to maximize the effectiveness of their anti-viral strategies for their buildings, and are looking at introducing sanitizing mats as part of this strategy.  While sanitizing mats can make a huge difference, their effectiveness is greatly impacted by several different criteria.  The type of sanitizer used, the way people use the mat, and the type and construction of the mat can all drastically affect how effective the mats will be at killing germs and bacteria.  Here’s the three main points to consider when choosing the right sanitizing mat system for your building.

1. Sanitizing Solution

The actual sanitizing solution that you charge your mat with makes all the difference in the world.  Not all sanitizers are created equal!  Just because a chemical is rated to kill COVID-19 doesn’t mean that it’s safe for use in your sanitizing mat system, or even safe for contact with your installed flooring surfaces – many sanitizers can be incredibly destructive to installed floors.

There are three standard types of sanitizers that are generally considered to be “food safe” in the appropriate concentrations: chlorine (bleach) based sanitizers, quaternary sanitizers, and iodines.  But of these three, only one type is “floor safe”: quaternary sanitizers.  Bleach and iodines may kill viruses and bacteria, but they will also stain, damage, or destroy your installed flooring – so it’s vitally important to not use these solutions in your sanitizing mat system.

Which specific quaternary disinfectant you use in your sanitizing mat is really up to you – some businesses have pre-approved quats in their supply chain that they use, some businesses are using whatever they can find in stock, and some businesses are choosing to select a new quat from the approved list published by the Health Canada.  Our preferred sanitizing solution is a Chlorine Dioxide solution like Vital Oxide, which is one of the safest, easiest to use sanitizing solution on the market.  (Be careful not to confused Chlorine Dioxide with chlorine bleach – they are completely different things!)  Vital Oxide is approved for use on carpet materials by the Carpet and Rug Institute, has been proven to kill COVID-19 by the United States EPA, and is so safe to use that it can even be fogged into the air without harmful effects!

2. How People Use Your Mat

The most potent sanitizing solution in the world won’t be effective if people aren’t using your sanitizing mat system properly.  The two most important factors in killing viruses and bacteria are solution coverage and dwell time.  In order for a sanitizing solution to be effective, it needs to come into contact with the surfaces that need to be sanitized – so in this case, shoe soles!  It’s imperative that building operators keep sanitizing mats appropriately charged with enough sanitizing solution for users to fully cover their shoe bottoms with solution as they enter the building.

The second factor is dwell time.  Dwell time is the amount of time that the sanitizing solution spends in contact with the surface that needs to be sanitized.  At a minimum, all Health Canada-approved sanitizers need at least 2 minutes of dwell time to kill the coronavirus – and most need between 3 and 5 minutes of dwell time for a successful sanitization.  Sanitizing mat systems are meant to introduce the sanitizing solution to people’s feet, but the actual virus-killing action doesn’t happen until after they’ve walked on and into your building.  Ensuring that there’s enough sanitizer on people’s shoe soles to do the job after they go is hugely important – and the right sanitizing mat system can help make that job easier to manage.

3. Sanitizing Mat Types

It’s one thing to have a sanitizing mat system, but it’s a totally different thing to have the right sanitizing mat system at your entrances.  Most of the sanitizing mats on the market are meant for specialty environments, like meat processing plants, agricultural facilities, and laboratory cleanrooms.  These sanitizing mats are of the “open-tray” style; usually moulded from one-piece rubber, open-tray mats are like large, deep trays that hold anywhere from 4 to 20 litres of sanitizing fluid that’s 1” to 4” deep.

These types of mats are effective in specialty environments with able-bodied users wearing waterproof boots, but they don’t translate well to everyday environments.  A 4” deep pool of sanitizer is no problem if you’re wearing gumboots, but doesn’t work so well for dress shoes, high heels, or for people with mobility challenges!

Because tray style sanitizing mats are designed to hold a large quantity of sanitizing solution, that means they’re susceptible to another problem: they consume a huge amount of hard-to-get sanitizer to operate.  Using at 20 litres of sanitizer per charge, per mat, per entrance isn’t very efficient or cost-effective…or a very good use of a product that’s in very short supply right now!

Open tray sanitizing mats have one other fatal flaw: the height of their sides can make using the mat very difficult (or impossible) for some everyday people.  An open-tray mat with walls several inches tall can be very difficult for a person with mobility issues to step over and into, and virtually impossible for people who use wheelchairs or walkers.  Open tray sanitizing mats were never meant for use by the general public, so they have a lot of design elements that make them problematic in everyday situations.  A much better choice is a sanitizer mat system that’s been purposely designed for use by the general public and doesn’t have the industrial design drawbacks of open tray systems.  Grizzly Sanitize is such a system!

Grizzly Sanitize is built with Cart Edge ramped edging so it has no barriers to users, even for wheeled traffic!  And because Grizzly Sanitize only needs 2-litres of sanitizer fluid to charge, it’s incredibly efficient to use and won’t overflow onto street shoes.  Best of all – once the pandemic is over, Grizzly Sanitize can be used as a pair of high-performance, extra-absorbent entrance mats – unlike open tray sanitizer mats!

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