When it comes to caring for walk-off areas, Spencer has a great analogy: “Just like you have to empty a shovel before you can get more dirt, you have to vacuum the mats so they can absorb more debris.”

At State Farm, the care of these walk-off areas is relatively simple. Because the tiles are permanent, there is no rolling, sliding or buckling; cleaning can be done with the mats in place. Depending on the soil and foot traffic of the facility, vacuuming will be done anywhere from one to three times a day. Beyond that, Spencer comments that deeper cleaning can be done quickly and easily.

“If there was a lot of debris, the staff will dump water onto the walk-off and vacuum it up using the wet vac,” he says. “It’s the ‘poor-man’s’ extractor.”

With regular maintenance, Spencer comments that by implementing the walk-off program, he has extended the life and look of his carpeting by three to four years.

“Our facility is cleaner because of our walk-off program,” he says. “The biggest mistake I see in other facilities is not having enough matting and not cleaning it as often as it should be cleaned.”

When considering a walk-off program, Spencer advises custodial executives first familiarize themselves with the outside environment and what debris can be tracked in, as well as the traffic flow of building occupants.

Traditional matting can be useful in facilities that have staff to monitor it regularly, making sure it hasn’t shifted, rolled, buckled or become oversaturated – all of which can result in slips, trips and falls. But for departments that can’t monitor the matting, walk-off might be a strong choice.

“You can build a walk-off area by building an edge on the outside and put the tile inside of it,” says Spencer. “Most departments don’t have the labor to properly monitor a matting program, so you are better off with something more permanent.”

Whether using matting or walk-off tiles, capturing dirt at the door is one of the most important maintenance tasks that can be done in a facility.

“The most harmful thing to a building, as far as life cycle is concerned, is dry soil,” says Spencer. “And most managers don’t realize how much debris is actually walked in the front door.” 

CORINNE ZUDONYI is the editor of Facility Cleaning Decisions magazine and CleanLink.com.

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Minimize Dirt with Walk-Off Matting