One of the most common problems faced by restaurants that use table mats is maintaining them. To start with, different materials need different methods of cleaning. If you have ever visited the laundry of a good hotel, you will appreciate the amount of effort that goes into maintaining their linen. As a stand alone restaurant you may not have the luxury of having your own washing unit. Hence the first step is to locate a launderer who is equipped and has the knowledge to handle your table linen.
Cotton Table Mats
Table mats made from cotton based fabrics are preferred because of their elegant looks and cost. They usually come coated with non-absorbent synthetic material to reduce the effect of stains. Even then some stains left by food are hard to remove. Using strong stain removing agents may end up bleaching the mat itself or damaging the fabric. Repeated washes with normal cleaning agents will solve the problem to some extent. Remember that even a slight hint of stain on a table mat can ruin your reputation. Having extra mats and replacing the stained ones may sound as an expensive suggestion. But it is a wise one when compared to the price of loosing your customers. Choosing mats with multi-colored designs instead of plain color, if it goes with your décor, can be of help. One must know that re-usable table mats and table cloths made from fabric, particularly cotton, contributes substantially to the running expenses in a restaurant.
Synthetic Table Mats
Many restaurateurs think using synthetic table mats will solve the problem of maintaining them. Unfortunately it is not so. Although such mats can be just wiped clean, they too need proper cleaning periodically – at least once a week. Here it is assumed that you have bought table mats which can withstand scrubbing. Stack them on a flat surface and use regular dish washing cleaning agents and scrub them mildly, top down, one after the other. Rinse them in running water and store them vertically to drip dry. Synthetic mats tend to stick together when they are wet and thereby trap water between them. This can make them messy and smelly. To avoid it ensure that there is some space between each mat while drying. If you do not have specially designed equipment for this, a simple vertical plate rack will serve the purpose.
Bamboo Table Mats
You should avoid them in a restaurant in the first place. But if you have them, then it is imperative to go through the rigmarole of cleaning them. Brushing them clean is the worst thing you can do. Food particles stuck between the slats become powdery with brushing and will get further embedded into the gaps. This renders the mat extremely unhygienic. Best way to clean them is to vacuum them, wipe/wash them to remove any stains. And when washed, they cannot be left to dry on their own. You need to use high pressure air or hot air to dry them.
Like all other things in your restaurant, table mats need proper care and maintenance. Neglecting it can make your restaurant un-hygienic and lose customers. And depending on the material chosen, cost of maintenance can be much more than the cost of acquiring them.