3 Reasons Why Teak Culture Will Not Sell Diatomaceous Earth Bath Mats
Ok, diatomaceous bath mats are very trendy, eco-friendly, and anti-bacterial–just like our teak shower/bath mat.
They go by many names—and all are made of the same material: diatomaceous earth.
Sometimes they’re called: stone bath mats, diatomite bath mats, or diatomaceous bath mats.
So what is diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms (single-celled algae) called diatoms.
Diatoms viewed under a microscope
These fossilized diatoms are made of silica, which over time accumulates in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans, from which they are then mined.
Diatomaceous earth has many uses—one of which is as a pesticide.
It causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the insect's exoskeleton.
You’ll be surprised to learn, too…
Diatomaceous earth is used in many skin care products, toothpastes, foods, beverages, medicines, rubbers, paints, and water filters.
The Food & Drug Administration lists diatomaceous earth as "Generally Recognized as Safe."
"Food grade" diatomaceous earth products are purified. They may be used as anti-caking materials in feed, or as clarifiers for wine and beer.
If you want to learn more about diatomaceous earth read this thought-provoking article from Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
So why make diatomaceous earth into a bath mat?
Or, more to the point: what’s the problem with regular fiber baths mats that diatomite bath mats claim to solve?
According to microbiologist Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Files…
Plush fiber bath mats have a large surface area that absorbs and retains water, and they can easily stay wet or damp for hours—making them a haven for growing colonies of bacteria and fungi.
That’s why plush fiber bath mats should be washed as often as you clean your toilet: about once a week.
However, just one load of laundry requires between 15 to 45 gallons of water. That’s a lot of wasted water.
And yet, if your kids or grandkids are running around in your home, not washing your bath mat could lead to...gastrointestinal infections, if their face (nose or mouth) comes in contact with an unwashed and dirty bath mat.
A dirty bath mat could also lead to fungal infections of the toes and feet.
So, as a healthier alternative to fiber, plastic and rubber bath mats, an anti-microbial bath mat made of diatomaceous earth (or a mat made of naturally anti-microbial teak wood—like the one we sell) is a more prudent option.
Besides, who wants to step on a soggy, sopping-wet bath mat or towel.
How does a diatomaceous bath mat work?
So when you step out of the shower or bathtub, the water that drips from your body falls through the pores of the mat and is absorbed.
Depending on the thickness and quality of the mat, the water absorption rate can be either instantaneous, or it can take hours before your wet footprints totally disappear.
However, any given diatomaceous mat can hold only so much water before you end up with a water-filled stone bath mat.
In that case, you’ll need to carefully lift the mat and pour the water out of it, much as if you’re emptying a bowl of water.
To avoid this problem, it’s advised to towel dry yourself before stepping onto the stone mat so you don’t flood it.
What is the lifespan of a diatomite mat?
Theoretically, because the main raw material of a diatomite mat is inorganic, it has no expiration date or life limit.
However, because the pores of a diatomaceous mat will eventually become blocked or filled with everything from sebum (skin oil) and dander to any other organic or non-organic particulate, it needs to be cleaned regularly.
Otherwise, its ability to absorb water will be degraded.
How to clean a diatomaceous bath mat
Fortunately, cleaning a stone mat can be relatively easy.
Thoroughly clean the front and back of the bath mat with a brush, or a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, and put it out in the sun to fully dry, so that any residual moisture can fully evaporate.
If a diatomaceous mat becomes stained, you can wash it with soap or detergent.
If it’s deeply stained, you can literally sand it with 80-100 grit sandpaper to remove the stain.
However, if you sand your diatomite mat too often, and too deeply, you’ll wear it down, and effectively limit its absorption capacity.
And if that happens, you’ll have no choice but to replace it.
Some manufacturers actually recommend that you replace a diatomite mat every 6 to 12 months.
And because these mats are generally not very expensive, it shouldn’t be too much of a financial burden if you choose to go that route.
So with all these great reasons to own a diatomaceous bath mat…
Why did we decide not to sell these mats on our website—notwithstanding the fact that, currently, we sell only teak bath mats?
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t sell quality products made from materials other than teak—which is renowned for being waterproof, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and insect-resistant (not to mention teak is a beautiful wood that if properly maintained can last for 70 years or longer).
So what stopped us from selling diatomaceous bath mats?
We did our research.
We visited websites and marketplaces where customers left reviews of the diatomite mats they bought from various manufacturers.
Overwhelmingly, the reviews were positive—initially.
However, there were numerous instances where customers received mats that were BOA (broken on arrival).
It happens! After all, these stone mats are relatively thin and ceramic-like. Drop it and they’ll shatter like a glass plate.
Having said that, we too have received emails, though fortunately few and far between, from customers who complained our teak mat arrived damaged or broken.
Of course, we immediately and sincerely apologize, and ship out a replacement ASAP!
Nevertheless, the customer has been inconvenienced—and sometimes is really pissed off.
And that, in turn, pisses us off. Because we don’t like pissing off and inconveniencing a customer.
But, I’ll venture to say that there is not a product manufacturer, past or present, who has never produced a lemon or pissed off a customer.
Like I said, it happens.
But it seems to happen a lot with diatomite mats—far more often than we or our customers would accept.
That’s knock #1 against diatomite mats.
We've also read far too many reviews, written weeks or months after purchase—after the euphoria of new ownership has dissipated—complaining about the bowing or warping of the stone mat.
We’re not sure why that happens.
We can only speculate that the mats didn’t dry out sufficiently or quickly enough in certain areas (probably in the middle, in the high-traffic areas).
Or, the manufacturing process was faulty, or the manufacturer used cheap, low quality diatomite.
I like walking barefoot in my house, and I thoroughly dislike walking on hard, unforgiving tile floors.
I like walking on wood, laminate flooring or carpeting.
So, standing on a hard, stone bath mat, compared to standing on a teak bath mat that flexes with my weight, and that’s relatively soft underfoot—well, that teak wood bath mat wins my vote every time.
And I’m the boss. It’s my company. So I’m not selling diatomaceous earth bath mats.
End of story.
Do you think I made the right choice? Please leave your thoughts below—I’d really be interested in hearing them.
In the meantime, and until next month when I'll publish the next episode in the continuing and riveting saga of The Truth, stay teak strong!
Well researched and well written, thank you. Thought-provoking too, which I particularly appreciate. Previously, I had only understood “diatomaceous” to refer to the sand used in a typical home pool filter.
Well done and good read. I’m looking forward to my birthday present to myself being a teak bathmat. I love my teak bench!