Thousands of people are injured each year while getting in or out of a bathtub after showering or bathing. This number would be much higher if not for the wide variety of non-slip surfaces applied to bath and shower floors. While this simple and important addition can prevent you from knocking your noggin’, the surfaces themselves can pose problems of their own.
For the very reasons that non-slip surfaces are just that…non slip, they are also fantastic breeding grounds for bacteria and fungus. They are textured to create friction and resistance to keep you from slipping. With your feet softened by the sweat of a long day at work or by the water you are cleaning them with, the sometimes coarse, friction surfaces will slough off dead skin, catch body oils, and hold on to all the things you got in the shower to rid yourself of.
In order to keep your shower or tub looking and smelling fresh and to make certain you are not creating an unhealthy and unsanitary environment for you and your feet these surfaces must be regularly cleaned or replaced.
There are a number of non-slip options sold as small adhesive strips or in whimsical patterns. Steer clear of these. Because the individual pieces have less individual surface area they are often much more abrasive than other options. If not replaced often they will create an unsanitary environment and because of the nature of their application they do not hold up as well to cleaning products. The adhesives can also leave discolorations on the tub/shower surfaces when you go to remove or replace them
Stick with a one piece mat of a material that can be removed, cleaned, and then put back into service. Many of these rely on textures and large surface area to prevent slippage while others will have a series of small suction cups to hold them in place.
In addition to going easier on your feet they are not likely to cause damage to any of the surfaces they come in contact with.
Keeping It Clean
You have noticed your one piece, suction based, low abrasive, tub safe mat is becoming discolored or feels slick or has a funny smell. Time to get this thing cleaned up. Another good thing about a one piece mat is that you can use the tub itself as a basin to clean it. While wearing rubber gloves and eye protection fill the tube with enough hot water to cover the mat. Depending on your level of chemical sensitivity or environmental concern you can add cleaning agents directly to the water. If your sensibilities will not be offended carefully add 1 cup of bleach to the hot water and leave it to soak. This should give you a good start to killing any bacteria that may have begun growing in the textured surfaces or under suction areas. After 30-40 minutes drain the water and rinse the mate until all the bleach is gone and it is safe to handle the mat. If you chose a non-chemical method and have the resources (and a heavy duty mat) a “power washer” can rid these surfaces of just about anything. Caution and safety gear must be used when using water under pressure, but even a low rated washer should be able to knock the “grime” out of the textured surfaces of your mat. If you do not have a pressure washer you could always transport your mat to a car wash and use one of theirs. Make certain no to set them on the ground or to bring home any foreign grit or dirt that might damage your surface and somewhat negate your cleaing.
Chemical cleaning and pressure washing are generally a better idea than a good old fashioned scrubbing as a brush tough enough to do the job will also likely create more small groves and scratches where grime and bacteria will build when the mat is put back on the surface.
Whatever method you choose to employ, the key to any cleaning project is to do it often and to realize when you have gotten your money’s worth about a product like these and will do better purchasing a new one.
Things to Remember
- Go for the one piece for ease of application and removal and because what is essentially sandpaper will be harder to clean and will get dirty faster.
- Use hot water and bleach OR
- Use water under pressure to force dirt and grime out of textured surfaces.
- If mold and mildew seem resistant to cleaning it might be time for a new mat