Protect Your Carpet From Ice-Melting Chemicals With Walk-Off Mats
Keeping Clean and Cozy – Winter Care for Carpet
After 20-plus years of living in the South, I tend to forget the hazards of winter that are commonplace in the Northern states. My nephew Mark is a disc jockey on a Chicago radio station, and whenever I hear him describe the meteorological horrors he endures every winter I feel myself lucky to live below the Mason Dixon line, no matter how good the pizza is in his neighborhood.
Consequently, I don’t worry much about what ice-melting chemicals will do to my carpet, but Lew Migliore does. His recent enewsletter, The Commercial Flooring Report, looks at how winter weather outside can affect the floors in our businesses and homes. Did you know that the pellets that melt ice so effectively on the front stoop can cause a lot of trouble if they get tracked in on the soles of shoes?
"Ice melt pellets, calcium chloride, are…effective at melting ice and snow especially at lower temperatures and this material will not damage concrete… It will however wreak havoc on interior flooring and leave a very dangerous residue on hard surface floors. Calcium chloride pellets, when dissolved, leave a residue that feels like “3 in 1” oil – very slick and slippery…. This chemical can also be tracked far into a building, not just at entry areas, but into elevators and up into the high regions of a building. It is carried on pedestrians’ feet to its final resting place anywhere in the building. It may not damage concrete but it will do a number on carpet."
According to Lew, calcium chloride is the same material used in the moisture-absorbing “fresheners” we put in our basements and closets to keep them from smelling damp. It actually pulls moisture from the air, creating a situation on your carpet that is prone to attracting soil. Over time, it could cause discoloring of the fiber and even more serious damage.
"Dark spots will form from the attraction of soil and unless this chemical is flushed from the carpet it will continue to create heavy soiling conditions. If it exists in sufficient volume it can actually weaken the laminate strength of carpet resulting in buckles and wrinkles. Not that this will occur overnight or with one contamination but left ignored it will cause damage."
How to keep these chemicals, plus the plain, old-fashioned messiness of snow and dirt at the door? Walk-off mats. Big office buildings may have walk-off areas permanently installed as part of the architectural plan – smaller businesses may rent mats from a service that exchanges them weekly for fresh ones. Whether in a business or home setting, it’s important to make sure walk-off mats are long enough to have time to work. It usually takes 3-4 steps to get shoes cleaned off, so at home, the best thing may be to just have everyone remove their shoes. Just be careful not to trip over the pile of shoes that tends to collect at the door.
Thanks to Lew Migliore for his good information about how important it is to keep dirt outside, especially in the winter. And to my relatives and friends up North, call me wimp if you want, but this time of year, my winter song goes, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow…Somewhere Else!!”