January 27, 2021

Disinfectant mats against COVID-19: are they necessary?


With the onset of the pandemic, ways to maximize the effectiveness of antiviral resources have increased considerably. Hand liquids, disinfectants for surfaces, ozone machines for different environments, etc.

Ozone machines as a coronavirus disinfectant: neither effective nor safe

Ozone machines as a coronavirus disinfectant: neither effective nor safe

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To this list of objects is added another object: the disinfectant or sanitary carpetss. Although most of the actions to reduce the risk of contagion of Covid-19 focus on the hands and face (disinfectant gel and mask), another possible critical point, which is the feet and shoes, is often overlooked. .

Virus and shoes

There have been several warnings that the virus can enter any house or building through the shoes we wear on the street. Even before this pandemic, a study I already warned that more than 90% of shoe soles have high levels of disease-carrying microbes. And with the pandemic came the recommendation of the health authorities to take off our shoes when we got home.

According to an investigation carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus spreads easily and quickly in the ground from various areas of Huoshen Hospital in Wuhan, China. Based on the study, half of the health workers’ shoes tested positive for Covid-19 and areas where there were no patients, such as the pharmacy floor, also tested positive. This indicates, therefore, that hospital workers carried the virus from one room to another.

Despite results like this, World Health Organization (WHO) recognized a few months ago that the probability of Covid-19 being transmitted through footwear is low, although this does not mean that it does not recommend leaving them at the entrance of the house, as the Spanish Ministry of Health also does as a precaution additional.

For CDC experts, disinfecting shoe mats could somewhat alleviate the risk of viral transmission of Covid-19 through the ground. Your sale in the livestock field it was already very widespread. And now it does it in public buildings, offices, hospitals, hotels, shops and areas with a lot of traffic.

How disinfectant mats work

Most sanitary or disinfectant mats are made of a synthetic rubber on which the disinfectant is put, which is usually a mixture of water with sodium hypochlorite (WHO recommends a 0.1% or 1000 ppm mix, one part 5% bleach to 50 parts water). In some cases, there is a second mat to dry the sole.

The objective is that, when stepping on the disinfectant mat, the entire sole of the shoe is covered so that the action is more effective. But for there to be disinfection it is not enough to go over and that’s it. Several conditions have to be met, such as staying in contact with the disinfectant for a while, that there is sufficient disinfectant and the way it is applied.

Health authorities recommend, for example, clean all surfaces before disinfectingtherefore, the same should be done with shoes. This would limit the effectiveness of these sanitary mats somewhat.

Factors such as:

  • The disinfectant used: not all disinfectants are the same. The fact that a chemical is classified as capable of killing the virus (the Ministry of Health offers a list one of the most effective ones that you update periodically), it does not mean that it is safe to use on a mat or doormat. The most commonly used disinfectants are bleach (chlorine-based), quaternary ammonium salts and iodines. Ammonium salts are considered safer to use in soil because, although bleach and iodine can kill viruses and bacteria, they also stain and damage soil. Quaternary ammonium is generally relatively insensitive to temperature and matter, making it very suitable for use on carpets and rugs.
  • The use made of the mat: In addition to the disinfectant used, another of the most important factors in killing the virus is time. For a disinfectant solution to be effective, it must come into contact with the surfaces to be disinfected, in this case, the soles of the shoes. Therefore, it is important that the carpets constantly have the appropriate disinfection solution to cover the sole well.

The periodicity with which the disinfectant must be renewed of a foot mat depends on aspects such as the amount of organic matter that is deposited on it, the type of disinfectant used, whether it is outdoors (it could be diluted by rain or affected by sunlight), etc.

As has been insisted since the pandemic appeared, the main concern with Covid-19 has to do with physical contact, neither with clothing nor with shoes. The virus, on rough surfaces, such as the sole of a shoe, tends to dry out because needs moisture to survive, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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