Tatami care and furnishing

Any tatami flooring fans out there? One question we ask all our clients is how they feel about tatami. Some people (yours truly included) love the look, feel and smell of the traditional flooring, as well as its versatility and durability in different weather and a range of temperatures.
On the other hand there are those who try to avoid renting a property with tatami flooring, usually due to concerns about cleaning and maintenance. Tatami is actually super easy to clean and look after, and will last for years as long as you treat it right. Here are some tips for looking after your “wa-shitsu”

1. Let it “breathe” – tatami does not like to be covered up. If you are embracing your inner Nihon-jin and sleep on a futon, be sure to pick it up and air it out every day, not just for the futon, but also so the tatami can re-distribute any moisture absorbed during the night.

2. Sit on the floor!! – things like dining tables and chairs don’t work very well in a tatami room, not just because they look weird, but also they can indent the tatami, and constant scufffing of chair legs etc. will damage the top layer of the mats.

3. Carpet squares! – If you can’t live without a western-style bed, and you are worried about it damaging your tatami, you can buy (some places give them away) squares of carpet, and it you place these under the legs of your bed, you will do a lot less damage.

4. Stop smoking!! – because it’s better for you too. But also because tatami “breathes” it will absorb cigarette smoke, smells, and will also discolour over time.

5. Don’t cry over spilled Shiraz! – or do, because you should never waste booze. If you do happen to spill anything on your tatami, just grab the nearest, most absorbent material you can find, and mop it up. Try not to rub the liquid into the tatami, and if need be you can use a dry cloth to wipe the area. Be sure to let it dry.

6. Go with the grain! – Tatami can (and should) be vacuumed. You should vacuum in the same direction as the way the reeds are woven. Generally speaking sideways rather than along the length of each mat.

7. Mould! – even though you’ve done everything you can to make sure your tatami is clean and breathing, moisture can lead to mould in your tatami, if this happens, the quickest way to get rid of mould is with ethanol (home centers sell it) and a toothbrush. Get to scrubbing – gently.

8. Mites!! – or dani as they are known here. Less common in newer rental properties, but can be a problem if the tatami are old. Home centers and drug stores sell mite killer sprays etc. You will know if you have dani in your tatami mats, they bite, and the bites are super itchy.

Be good to your floor and it will be good to you!! Like a loving family member, it will always be there when you fall.