If your organization has a clean room, you know how important it is to keep dust, dirt, and other contaminants out of the clean room so they don't enter the clean environment.  Sticky mats are a vital component to prevent dirt and other contaminants in your clean room. Sticky mats work by trapping dirt and debris as you walk across them. They are sticky (hence the name) and go by the names sticky mats, tacky mats, or adhesive mats.

But how should you use them, so they are most effective? There are right ways and wrong ways to use sticky mats. Here are 10 tips for proper sticky mat usage.

Place Your Sticky Mat in Front of the Door to Your Clean Room

Sticky Mats are excellent at removing contaminants, but they won't do their job if they're just inside your clean room. Your clean room needs to remain clean, which is why you need to have the sticky mat where it can pick up the dirt outside of your clean room and not spread it inside. You may have sticky mats inside the clean room where there area gowning and staging areas, but you also need sticky mats outside the clean room to remove contaminants before the workers enter the clean room. To this end, be sure your sticky mat is wide enough to catch all traffic entering your clean room.  Although you may be able to get away with a mat that isn't as wide as the door frame, it's important to be sure that it is wide enough to accommodate most traffic.  Wider is better.

Have a Long Enough Sticky Mat to Clean Shoes

Many companies get sticky mats in the same size as a doormat, but those aren't very effective. The reason why is that at the most, the sticky mat is picking up dirt once from each shoe. On many occasions, the sticky mat isn't long enough for a person's stride, causing them to step on it only with one foot and not the other one. You need to have a sticky mat long enough for a person walking on it to step on it with both feet at least once. What is better is having a sticky mat long enough for two to three steps with each foot. That way, you can guarantee the person stepped on the mat at least twice with each foot and removed more debris.

Reposition Your Sticky Mat if You're Using it Like a Doormat

If you have a sticky mat that is the size of a doormat, instead of placing it horizontal to the door, try placing it so that the long vertical portion is in the path of traffic. That way, your workers will step on the mat at least once with both feet. 

Clean the Floor Before Installing Your Sticky Mat

You can only use sticky mats on hard flooring. When you get ready to install your sticky mat, you'll want to clean the floor with alcohol (IPA) and clean, deionized water in the ratio of 70 percent IPA and 30 percent water. You will need to clean the floor each time you install a new mat to ensure that you clean up any old adhesive on the floor. If you don't clean the floor, you run the risk of delaminated it. Make certain the floor is completely dry before installing a new sticky mat.

How to Install a New Mat

Installing a new mat requires care, as you will be sticking it directly to your floor.  Be sure to clean the floor as mentioned above. You will then need to carefully remove the bottom protective sheet to expose the adhesive. Place the first two corners on one end of where the mat needs to go and hold up the rest of the mat away from the floor.  Press down at the corners and smooth the mat down carefully, just like you would if you were applying a sticker.  Slowly smooth the mat into place pushing it firmly from one end to the other to remove all air bubbles.

How to Walk on a Sticky Mat

When you or your workers walk on the sticky mat, you need to be sure that the entire sole presses firmly on the mat to remove any dirt that is attached to the bottom of your shoes. That way, you can ensure that the dirt doesn't enter your clean room.

Which Colors Are Best?

Sticky mats come in both light and dark colors. The choice is up to you, but most organizations prefer lighter colored mats because they will often show dirt easier. It really doesn't matter what color you get because all sticky mats are designed to remove dirt.

How Often Should You Remove the Old Top Sheet?

You'll want to remove the older layer as it becomes dirty, usually around 50 walkthroughs or less. This, of course, depends on the amount of dirt on people's shoes, the dust in the environment, whether the person who walks through is pushing a cart, or other factors. When in doubt, remove the top layer and start with a fresh sheet.

How to Remove the Top Sheet

When removing the top sheet, it's tempting to simply rip it off, but that causes dirt to fly off into the air and may cause particulates in the clean room.  It also increases the likelihood of static electricity. Instead, find the tab and pull up slowly, rolling the old sheet into a ball as you go to keep most of the dirt from flying into the air. Dispose of the old sheet. Be careful to just remove one sheet at a time and not layers or you will be wasting sticky mat sheets.

Best Places for Sticky Mats

The best places to install sticky mats are in the following areas:

  • In front of your clean room door
  • In the staging area inside your clean room
  • In the gowning areas, both outside of the clean room and inside the clean room
  • In the hallways leading up to your clean room

If you're looking for a quality sticky mat, check out our Enviromat® at International EnviroGuard. They come in a range of colors and sizes.