Keeping cleanrooms and laboratories free from dirt and dust can be a near constant battle. Every time personnel enter the room, they bring these particles in with them, mostly on the soles of their shoes. And any time that trolleys, dollies or other wheeled traffic are moved into the room, the castors and wheels also track in unwanted mess.
More and more sites are deploying ‘tacky mats’ to help tackle this problem, but they can be rendered ineffective if not used correctly.
What are tacky mats?
Put simply, a tacky mat is an entrance mat that has an adhesive surface on it. This surface collects the dirt and dust particles as the shoe or wheel passes over it, ensuring that the absolute minimum of contaminants makes its way into the controlled environment. The adhesive layer of the mat can then be peeled away when soiled, to leave a fresh, new adhesive surface.
How are tacky mats used?
Tacky mats are incredibly easy to use, and there’s just a handful of considerations to take into account.
Positioning. The mat needs to be placed at the entrance to the controlled environment, so that people can step onto the mat and then straight into the room with the next step. Any steps taken in between will negate the effects of the mat and allow contaminants through.
Size. The mat has to cover the span of the door, and ideally be deep enough to allow a minimum of one step with each foot or at least one full revolution of a standard sized castor, so that people and wheels cannot make it into the room without passing over the mat first.
Colour. The colour of the tacky mat you use doesn’t have any impact on its effectiveness. Most suppliers will stock mats in white, blue and grey, so which one you choose is really a matter of taste. It is worth pointing out, though, that the lighter the colour, the easier it is to see the build-up of contaminants – so choosing a white tacky mat can take some of the guesswork out of when to refresh the surface.
Make sure that the floor area you are placing the mat down on is cleaned thoroughly and disinfected. Most tacky mats have an adhesive underside to make sure the mat can be fixed into place easily and without any accidental shifting. Try to ensure that air bubbles aren’t present, as they can cause the mat to become damaged through use – the best way to do this is to peel back one side of the backing, press down into the desired space and then roll the mat down while peeling off the remaining backing.
If you are placing the mat down on a carpeted area or a surface that isn’t well suited to using an adhesive, you might want to look into using an additional frame to keep the mat in situ.
There is a common tendency to install the mat with the longer side parallel to the door frame, as you might a welcome mat. Best practice is to have the longer side perpendicular to the threshold, allowing a greater number of steps or castor revolutions on the mat and thus fewer contaminants in the room.
When the top sticky surface has reached saturation or is no longer effective, you’ll need to refresh the mat. The best way to do this is to carefully and slowly peel back the top layer, making sure not to release the collected particles into the air or into the controlled environment. Roll the sticky layer into a ball as you go to reduce static, and then dispose of it. You can do this on a fixed schedule if the protected room has a standard amount of visitors/entrants, or on an ad hoc basis if there is a broad range or frequency of entrants.
Depending on how frequently you are refreshing the mat, you might want to look at tacky mats with more or fewer peel-off layers. Most mats are available with a choice of 30 or 60 sheets, so get the one that fits your requirements the best. If there is high frequency of wheeled traffic (trolleys and dollies for example) you might want to stick with a 30-sheet option as it will be lower profile and allow for smoother passage.
Tacky mats have numbered layers, so you can always be aware of how many layers remain and easily check that any scheduled refresh has taken place.
Essentially, any time you want to keep an area free of dirt, debris and other contaminants you can use a tacky mat. Commonly used in labs and cleanrooms, they can also be very effective in construction sites, where you don’t want dust and debris from the construction area being tracked into the wider workplace. Food production sites and ingredient stores can also use tacky mats to great benefit, as can server rooms or other areas with delicate electronics.
For more information visit www.firstmats.co.uk