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How to Clean a Wrestling Mat

Mop and bucketKnowing how to clean a wrestling mat is integral for every coach and wrestler. Cleaning is traditionally done by mopping the mat with disinfectant solution. Being able to properly disinfect your wrestling mat and keep it clean will not only extend its life, but it will also protect your wrestlers from skin diseases caused by bacterium, fungi, viruses, etc. The information in this guide will walk you through the process of cleaning your mat, which will benefit you and your wrestlers.

1. Sweep the Mat

Before you begin to mop, you must first remove any excess dirt, dust, hair, and other particles from the surface of the mat. The best way to do this is by using a soft-bristled push broom. Keep the broom in contact with the mat, and push all particles off of the mat. You can do this one of two ways:

  1. Start at one corner of the mat, and move the broom in a straight line. Push all of the particles onto a space off the mat and shake the broom out each time you reach the opposite end.
  2. Start at one corner and keep the broom in contact with the mat the entire time. Turn or pivot the broom when you reach each end of the mat (keeping the collection of particles on the mat) and eventually push all the particles off the mat near the entrance of the facility.

The sweeping procedure depends on the space you have available. Just make sure to sweep all of the debris into a pile somewhere away from the mat. This way the wrestlers won’t walk through it and track the debris back onto the mat.

You may also use a wet/dry industrial vacuum cleaner to remove particles from the surface of the mat. If your vacuum has a wide mouth attachment, use this to quickly and effectively clean the mats. Note: Do not use a traditional household vacuum that has a “beater bar” (the rotating brush) within the vacuum unit — this could damage your mat.

Hot Tip: Clean the Cracks

It’s easy to forget about that tiny space between the edge of the mat and the wall. This space is the perfect spot for dirt, dust, and more importantly, germs to accumulate. Make sure to clean this space regularly. Also, try not to let excessive amounts of water drip into this space while cleaning. Excess water will cause mildew to form, damaging the mats and possibly affecting your wrestlers’ health. You should regularly clean underneath your mat, as well.

2. Mix the Cleaning Solution

Mix your cleaning solution with warm water in a bucket. If you are using a bucketless mop, mix the solution directly into the container on the shaft of the mop. Disinfectant solution should be changed every day; you should never clean your mats with used solution.

It’s recommended that you use a specially designed disinfectant to clean your mats. Disinfectants specifically made for wrestling mats have the correct amount of chemicals that clean the mat without leaving any extra residue that could harm the mat or your wrestlers. Follow the mixing instructions for any disinfectants exactly.

Household bleach may also be used in place of cleaning solution. When using bleach, make sure to use the correct ratio of water to bleach, which is roughly 10:1. If you use too much bleach, a residue may be left on the mat that could harm your wrestlers and the mat.

3. Apply the Cleaning Solution

Depending on the equipment you are using to disinfect your mat, the procedure for applying the cleaning solution may vary:

  • If you’re using a “traditional” mop and bucket, dip the mop head in the cleaning solution (mixed with water). Wring the mop head out until it is not dripping profusely, but make sure it’s still very damp.
  • When using a bucketless mop, all you need to do is push the “trigger” to release the cleaning solution as you mop. (Bucketless mops have a sprayer that releases the cleaning solution onto surface in front of the mop head.)
  • You can also opt to apply the cleaning solution directly to the mat just before you mop it. The best way to do this is to use an industrial sprayer to evenly distribute the solution on the mat area.

4. Mop

Once your cleaning solution is set in place, you can use whatever cleaning equipment you have to mop the mats. Whether you’re using a mop with a traditional head, or a bucketless mop with a pad, always use clean equipment. It is unacceptable to use a mop head or cloth that has not properly been cleaned after being previously used.

Start mopping in the corner furthest from the entrance. This will allow you to move all debris on the mats toward the exit for easier disposal when you’re finished. Starting at a spot furthest from the exit will allow you to exit the facility when you’ve finished mopping without walking back over (and dirtying) the clean mats. Depending on the equipment you are using to mop, the procedure of how you mop will vary.

Mop & Bucket

When using an old fashioned mop and bucket, place the mop head on one corner of the mat. While standing behind it, move the mop in a sweeping motion from side to side. Try to cover as large of a width of space as possible. Move backwards and continue to move the mop in a sweeping motion, keeping the mop in contact with the mat the entire time. When the mop head begins to dry out, submerge it in the cleaning solution and wring it out as necessary. Continue this process until an even layer of cleaning solution is applied to the mat. The more cleaning solution you apply, the better. However, there shouldn’t be so much liquid on the mat that pools form.

Bucketless Mop

If using a bucketless mop, you will also start with the mop in one corner of the mat. Stand behind it and push the mop forward in a straight line. Apply pressure to the mop head so you keep it in contact with the mat. This will allow also you to pick up any debris left on the mat after sweeping. From here, the process is very similar to sweeping the mat:

  • You can move the mop in a straight line, pushing any debris off of the mat at each end.
  • You may also keep the mop in contact with the mat the entire time, pivoting it when you reach the end of the mat. Make sure to push all debris completely off of the mat when you are done.
Hot Tip: Don’t Forget the Tape!

Don't forget about removing the tape before you mop. Leaving mat tape on your mat for long periods of time allows the adhesive to bond with the mat, which could permanently damage it. Small amounts of particles and germs can also build up around and under the tape over time, as well. Make sure to replace the mat tape roughly every 1-2 weeks so that you can disinfect the area underneath it.

5. Let it Dry

Allow the mat to dry completely after you have disinfected it. This is very important because as the mat dries, all the germs will be killed. To help the mat dry faster, open a door or window to allow better air circulation. You can even bring in a portable fan to increase the air circulation. If you’re in a jam and need to get on the mat immediately, use clean towels to soak up the excess liquid.

Get into a Routine

You should now have a better idea of how to keep your wrestling mat clean. Make sure to follow the instructions for any cleaning product or equipment you are using to maximize their effectiveness. Doing this will help prevent your wrestlers from communicable disease, and it will also extend the life of your mat. Over time you will get into a routine and keeping your mat clean will become much quicker and more efficient. Remember, you can also allow a team manager or a wrestler you trust to take on the cleaning duties if you are short on time.

Good luck, and stay clean and healthy!

All coaches and wrestlers should know how to clean a wrestling mat properly. Check out this guide to understand the cleaning process, from start to finish.
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