Mark Petruzzi

The less predictable and often more extreme weather we’ve experienced lately isn’t just a challenge for meteorologists. It’s forcing us to look at our cleaning programs differently. The two newest rescued family members at my house are Great Dane mix puppy brothers. There are two because the working hypothesis is that they entertain each other and not annoy the third older dog. So far, it’s been working, but part of the reason is the pet door to the back yard. Multiple times a day all three dogs freely head into the back yard for restroom and playtime breaks. But since Newton’s third law still works at my house, what goes outside eventually comes back inside.Most of you are well-versed in the benefits that derive from entryway matting. In fact, I’m sure you can readily cite that 10 feet (3 meters) is the minimum recommended length to ensure that people entering the building get several footfalls down before touching bare floor. Although I have put down scraper matting followed by absorbent matting, large breed puppies flying through the dog flap don’t always manage to get the requisite number of paw hits. While dry dirt, dust, pollen and other particulates are handled well by the matting, sweeping and vacuuming, wet dirt (aka “mud”) is more problematic when brought inside.Lately, my weather has seemed wetter than usual, so I checked, and the past three months have indeed seen 177 percent, 107 percent, and 154 percent of the average rainfall in my area. All the experience trying to catch dogs with muddy paws and wet fur with old bath towels and a microfiber mop got me thinking about how moisture impacts dirt and other contaminants that enter a building.

Your matting may be rated for holding a certain volume of liquid per square yard (or meter), but the center of the matting may get saturated with rain or melting snow before the edges. On a rainy day, the air is already saturated with humidity, so saturated matting and pools of moisture on the floor won’t dry as easily. Extremely wet matting may need to be completely changed out or vacuumed with a wet/dry vacuum to restore function.

Meanwhile, foot stomping and umbrella shaking can fling water droplets in all directions, not just the direction of travel. This might require additional cleaning of entryway walls or the front of concierge desks, for example.

Also, be prepared for moisture that gets past the entryway matting, which is then headed for flooring in elevators and offices that might not be as suited for exposure. And don’t forget about checking stairwells if occupants have ground-floor access to go up.

Then there are dirt and ice melting treatments. When dissolved in ice, snow or puddles, there may be more potential for absorption and staining than dry dirt that can be vacuumed or swept up from a surface.

Unlike dry dirt, liquids tracked into your facility have the potential to migrate into seams and cracks, or wick up the legs of desks and furnishings (which are often wood or wood composite). Consider adding protective covers to the feet of furnishings in areas that see frequent floor moisture.

Perhaps most importantly, wet floors create potential slip-and-fall hazards, so make sure appropriate signage is part of the interior rain, snow or ice cleanup.

Mark Petruzzi is Green Seal’s former SVP of Outreach and Strategic Relations. He’s in his third decade of striving for more sustainable purchasing and operations by using his engineering powers for good. He can be reached at