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Easy Ways To Keep Dirt Out – Part I

September 10, 2009 By: NB Category: Clean Principles

avoid punch, no be there

avoid cleaning, no let dirt in

Listen to Mr. Miyagi.  If we were to ask him the best way to save time cleaning he would tell us to not let dirt in to begin with.  In the words of an age old idiom – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Makes sense, right?  And a whole lot easier said than done . . .unless you know where dirt gets in and how to stop it.  The truth is that a full 85% of the dirt that comes into your house is transported in through your doorways on the clothing and shoes or feet of people and pets.  The other 15% comes in through windows, cracks, heating and air conditioning duct work, exhausts, vents, and flues or is created inside by cooking, smoking and pet dander.

So if doors are the worst offenders for allowing dirt in our homes how do we stop it?  Well, honestly, you can’t stop every particle of dirt from entering your home unless you hermetically seal the house and nothing or no one ever goes in or out.  But you can eliminate around 75% of the incoming dirt at doorways with one simple thing – proper matting inside and out.  The keyword here is proper.  Let’s explore some outdoor matting choices and find out which one keeps the most dirt from coming into our homes.

Decorative Cloth Mats – While these may be decorative, declaring “Welcome” to your guests or proudly bearing your name they are of limited use in keeping dirt out.  Additionally, moisture will eventually cause them to rot.

Smooth Rubber or Plastic Mats – These might have little knobs to knock dirt off of shoes but the solid base makes it likely that someone else will pick the dirt back up from the mat and carry it in the house.  These won’t rot but they could mold or mildew.

Sisal, Jute or Hemp Mats – This kind of mat can catch a fair amount of dirt. The problem is that the dirt falls through the mat onto the surface below.  When you pick the mat up to clean it you’ll also have to clean the surface under it.  Natural fiber mats, like cloth, are prone to eventual rotting.

Metal Grid, Chain or Rubber Chain Mats – Like natural fiber mats dirt will fall through to the surface below unless the mat is backed.  Even with a backing these types of mats are an accident waiting to happen for someone in heels.

Synthetic Grass-Type Mats – These won’t rot.  The grass knocks a lot of dirt off shoes and boots and it’s easy to clean.  This is the best choice for outdoor matting needs.  If you really don’t like the “fake grass” mat look for any rough, non-perforated, rubber or plastic backed mat.

Ideally, the outside mat should be large enough to cover 3 to 4 strides from the doorway.  But ideal is rarely reality.  Do the best you can given the entry, covering, porch and stair configuration you have to work with.

While outside matting will help reduce the amount of incoming dirt it is only half the battle.  The other half is inside matting.  Yes, outside AND inside mats.  There is ony one type of mat worth your time and money acquiring and when I explain why it’s the only one worth it you will understand why any other type is not.  You want a commercial grade vinyl or rubber backed nylon mat.  The nylon creates a static charge the pulls dirt from shoes and clothes and absorbs mud and water into the roots of the mat.  They can be vacuumed regularly or washed when needed by hosing them down, brushing a little cleaning solution on them, rinsing and hanging to dry.  They last for years and are available in many colors in widths of 3, 4, or 6 feet and any length.  No other throw rug, runner, or mat will come close to keeping as much dirt out of your home as one of these.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re serious about keeping dirt out of your home so you can spend less time cleaning and more time living, you want inside and outside mats at every external door including the garage entrance.  Wait . . . don’t these mats cost a lot?  I thought this site was about saving money too.  True.  These mats are not your local discount mart $14.95 door mats.  But even if one good 4 x 6 commercial nylon mat costs you $80.00, if it lasts for 10 years then the cost per year was $8.00.  And because less dirt is getting into your house you’re not having to clean as much.  You’re also not having to have your carpets and upholstery cleaned as often, or your drapes.  Do you know what the biggest source of damage of hard surfaces, like floors and walls, in your home is?  Dirt and grit.  It grinds into the surfaces and destroys the finish – so you won’t have to wax and polish your hard surfaces as often with good matting.

So you’re saving time by the tasks you don’t have to do as often as well as the cost of outside services, tools and supplies.  Is all that worth $8.00 a year?  An unequivocal “YES” in my book.  It really is true . . . you get what you pay for.

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