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As horrible of a cliché as it is, when folks are in the kitchen, we do tend to be barefoot. And when we’re standing in one square of space for extended amounts of time, our tootsies sure could use some help. That’s where anti-fatigue kitchen mats come in.
For ages, people have softened their tread in the kitchen with small rugs, natural fiber runners, and the like, but there’s only so much a scrap of fabric on a hard surface can do. Anti-fatigue mats, on the other hand, absorb shock and impact as you walk. Additionally, anti-fatigue mats tend to have textured tops that can help limit flat-footed standing.
"Focusing on ergonomics ensures that we prioritize our physical health, minimizing stress on the body and reducing the risk of injury," says Chad Severson, CEO of Ergotron. "Whether used in your office environment or the kitchen, anti-fatigue mats offer comfort, stimulate blood circulation and encourage slight lower leg movement, helping avoid fatigue or soreness."
They provide dynamic ergonomic benefits, helping you redistribute your weight as you shift, even as they encourage subtle adjustments of leg and calf muscles to keep them from cramping. In fact, a study conducted by ergonomist Mark Redfern at the Center of Ergonomics at the University of Michigan found that compared to workers standing on hard concrete, those who stood on softer flooring were able to reduce their level of discomfort by as much as 50%.
Of course, not all mats are made the same. There are different materials from foam rubber to polyurethane to choose from, plus shapes, sizes, and designs galore. Above all, "look for a premium construction backed up by a solid warranty," says Severson.
How much cushioning is enough? How do you choose the right amount to keep your more happily barefoot in the kitchen? These solutions answer exactly that. Here are our top picks for the best anti-fatigue kitchen mats.
Best Overall: WellnessMats Estates Collection
What We Love: Antimicrobial, 20-year manufacturer warranty, ADA-compliant, no-trip edges
What We Don’t Love: Pricey, limited sizes
You could say this company knows a little something about serious standing work. WellnessMats have been the brand of choice for Homeland Security and the TSA as well as many commercial restaurants since 1996. And it didn’t skimp when bringing industrial technology into the home kitchen, even though they dressed it up with décor touches.
I love Bella Collection's elegant etched scrollwork design, an additional texture adding interest to the default nonslip top. The Trellis design offers another debossed option, too, and if your taste runs simpler, the Linen and Granite Collections will do better than fine. All are backed by multi-year warranties should anything go wrong.
Regardless of which aesthetic you opt for, these made-in-America mats can handle heavy-duty traffic and are resistant to water, stains, heat, fading, punctures, and cracks. They’re made of polyurethane material that’s been specially engineered to provide consistent bounce-back, thick cushioning, and outstanding shock absorption. And the comfort begins even before you stand squarely on these 99.99 percent antimicrobial mats. Flat beveled edges, non-skid bottoms, and a lie-flat, no-curl promise reduce chances of tripping over your new best kitchen assistant.
Material: Polyurethane | Dimensions: 36 x 24 inches | Thickness: 0.75-inch cushion | Weight: 8 pounds
Best Budget: KMAT Kitchen Mat Cushioned Anti-Fatigue Kitchen Rug
What We Love: Thicker and stronger PVC than average budget mats, attractive neutral pattern, comes in a variety of colors to coordinate with kitchen décor
What We Don’t Love: Edge is not flush to the floor, narrow-range width, won’t last as long as other materials
If you want a pair of affordable anti-fatigue kitchen mats that stick to their simple job description and look good doing it, handsomely designed thick, heavy-duty PVC will do the trick. Most design-printed budget mats are about 8 millimeters thick, but this one is 20 percent more cushiony at 12 millimeters, which translates to just shy of half an inch. Plus, its construction is of ripstop premium phthalate-free PVC, making it more durable than most.
As with pricier materials, you simply wipe to clean this waterproof surface. It's textured for a foothold, atop a base that’s also textured to grip onto tile, wood, ceramic, marble, and other hard floorings. Any of these surfaces are well complemented by the classic neutral Moroccan Trellis/quatrefoil design, which is available in six colors to match any décor. If you prefer the pattern in a more subtle execution, such as in a border, the LuxStep Kitchen Mat Set matches all the specs and the price. Either way, the illusion of traditional fabric material does much to counter the industrial feel of an anti-fatigue mat.
Material: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) | Dimensions: 17.3 x 47 inches, 17.3 x 29 inches | Thickness: 0.47-inch cushion | Weight: 4.6 pounds
Best Fabric: MELAJIA Extra Wide Cushioned Kitchen Rugs
What We Love: Fabric-like appearance, unique texture, Textilene is highly resistant to mildew and flame
What We Don’t Love: Non-tapered edges could be a tripping hazard
It can be hard to let go of the traditional warmth and coziness of kitchen rugs as you switch over to a typically more commercial-looking anti-fatigue mat. However, this set finds a happy medium with a Textilene surface bordered by flexible PVC. Textilene is a fabric woven together from polyester yarns, which almost looks like thickly heathered tweed from afar. Imagine the feel of outdoor furniture fabric—that’s what this feels like. The PVC also forms the cushiony base of the mat and provides non-skid assurance with a grippy print below while the Textilene provides tactile support above.
Both materials are resistant to stains and water, and easy to clean. All you have to do is wipe it down. This twin pair is 12 millimeters thick for greater-than-average comfort and provides an even more casual, homey look than standard anti-fatigue mats.
Material: Textilene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) | Material: 20 x 39 inches | Thickness: 0.47-inch cushion | Weight: 6.5 pounds
Best Extra Large: GelPro Elite Linen Floor Mat
What We Love: Extra-thick foam core, beveled edges, phthalate-free, wide range of available sizes
What We Don’t Love: Very expensive, designs are on the plain or busy side
"An anti-fatigue mat should fit your daily needs," Severson says. "Pick the right size that fits your space and how you plan to use it." If your kitchen footprint is on the large side and you need an inexhaustible mat to cover it, the brand trusted by the likes of Food Network, HGTV, and Rachael Ray may be a splurge, but one your legs, feet, and back will thank you for. This high-quality, top-of-the-line mat may be on the homelier side with its choice of a handful of solid colors, but rest assured it’s geared for performance.
It starts with the beveled edges that prevent tripping and curling, a slip-resistant bottom, and a textured top you expect from a high-end anti-fatigue kitchen mat. But what sets it apart is a 0.75-inch phthalate-free polyurethane foam core that promises not to bottom out, and the layer of gel—part of their patented Dual Comfort Core technology—that gives this brand its name. If you want something that fits your style more, GelPro makes similar large-sized mats softened by the fabric-like linen or vintage leather and in damask prints.
Material: Polyurethane, polyester, cotton | Dimensions: 20 x 36 inches, 20 x 48 inches, 20 x 72 inches, 30 x 72 inches, 30 x 108 inches | Thickness: 0.75-inch cushion
Best Rug-Like: Rugshop Distressed Bohemian Vintage Anti-Fatigue Standing Mat
What We Love: Tremendous variety of unique designs, replicates traditional rug appearance
What We Don’t Love: Not as thick or cushiony as the others, non-beveled edges
If aesthetic and vibe are as important to you as functionality and practicality, this brand’s line of rug-style anti-fatigue kitchen mats will be right up your galley (…kitchen). I had a hard time choosing one headlining design; the options felt endless and exciting! And no wonder, as they specialize in rugs. From boho-chic and Persian flair to contemporary squares and timeless trellises and chevrons, Rugshop makes ergonomic stylish.
The designs are set on high-density PVC, which is resistant to stains, water, and oil, unlike the traditional fabric materials these prints usually appear on. The bottom is nonskid rubber, and although the edges aren’t tapered, it lays flat and decently close to flush to the ground. This is thinner, but something is still better than nothing! "The soft yet supportive design of anti-fatigue mats makes it more comfortable to stand," Severson says, no matter the thickness.
Material: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) | Dimensions: 18 x 47 inches | Weight: 4 pounds
Best Semicircle: Kangaroo Half-Circle Anti-Fatigue Cushioned Floor Mat
What We Love: Extra-thick premium cushioning, beveled edges, available in an assortment of colors
What We Don’t Love: Basic commercial appearance
The hard edges of squares and rectangles aren’t for everyone. For some, curves feel more soothing, especially if you’re working in a tight space or your kitchen itself takes the shape of gentler angles. An anti-fatigue kitchen mat in a semicircle or half-moon shape may be your best bet, then. It’s harder to find, which limits your options, but this one delivers premium performance for much less than its premium brethren, and with a more neutral style, too.
A diamond-top pattern helps your feet find traction on 0.75-inch thick stain-resistant, waterproof rubber and high-density foam, which make up two of the three layers that work to rebound springily and ease your aching feet. Low-profile sloped edges contour toward the floor to reduce tripping, too. Just because it doesn’t specify “kitchen” shouldn’t scare you off. "At the core, anti-fatigue mats for the kitchen and the office are the same, both designed to reduce the strain from standing too long and help alleviate discomfort," Severson says.
Material: Rubber, high-density foam | Dimensions: 32 x 20 inches | Thickness: 0.75-inch cushioning | Weight: 2.5 pounds
I highly recommend sticking with the pros at WellnessMats (view at Williams Sonoma) for its generous warranties, materials technology, and timeless designs. However, if your aesthetic is a bit more classic, good options for neutral fabric prints remain KMAT’s affordable pair (view at Amazon) and this unique set from MELAJIA (view at Amazon).
What to Look for When Buying an Anti-Fatigue Kitchen Mat
Anti-fatigue mats are a broad term that can include a variety of materials from foam rubber to polyvinyl chloride to relieve stress from your feet, legs, and back. "Mat materials and construction can vary widely based on application," says Severson. "Pick a material that’s a good fit for where you plan to use the mat."
If going the foam rubber route, you want to make sure that these two materials are listed together, as durable hard rubber won’t do you any favors when it comes to fighting fatigue. Foam rubber mats are typically multi-layer and feature a foam core to absorb impact. This is then encased by an outer shell made of rubber to provide longevity. For best results, opt for nitrile rubber if you can as it's naturally resistant to microbes, and will be highly resistant to degradation from grease and oil. You want to steer clear of unsealed foam mats. If the base is just glued on, it will be easily torn to shreds.
Gel is known to be a soothing material—it’s cooling and provides responsive give that then cushions your feet. However, they don’t do too much good on their own; you might just sink in unevenly if it’s a thin layer, or struggle for stability if it’s too thick. Anti-fatigue mats made with gel are typically reinforced with energy-returning foam to provide more structure, then wrapped in another material for water resistance, grip, and shape protection.
Also commonly known as just PVC, polyvinyl chloride is a very affordable and common material. It doesn’t last as long and has been known to ripple, crack, and curl over time. These mats feature a pleather-like surface that's easily printed on, which is why most of the ones with artistic designs (as opposed to textural patterns) are typically made of PVC. Bear in mind, though, what the “v” stands for. Vinyl can harden over time and may contain chemicals like phthalates.
Tackier than PVC, polyurethane is an excellent material if you’re looking for solid grip that just won’t slip. They’re loved as anti-fatigue mats since they offer great springy rebound, giving feet a buoyant, cushioned feeling as they disperse the impact of your step across the entire surface. Additionally, they’re less apt to tear, delaminate, curl up, or smell of chemicals. Finally, they’re usually molded, which means that, unlike glued mats, they won’t start splitting.
Beyond material and cushioning, there are a few features that you should keep an eye out for. Some are expected and necessary; others are just nice to have. You want your anti-fatigue mat to be at the very least resistant to water and stains. Better still is if it’s oil-resistant and waterproof. It’s extremely important that the bases be nonskid. A slippery or bunched-up kitchen mat can be very dangerous, particularly since it’s a high-traffic room where people often have to maneuver around quickly, carrying hot or heavy items. Finally, the better mats will have a sloped, tapered, or beveled edge that's flush to the floor. "A flexible, beveled edge can help reduce trip hazard risk," Severson says. This also reduces the chance of just losing your balance due to a sudden drop in floor height.
When shopping for an anti-fatigue kitchen mat, there are a few traits you want to screen reviews for and avoid. Delamination is when layers of a product separate. When it comes to anti-fatigue kitchen mats, this can happen in a few ways: a protective outer shell can break loose from the inner material and create a loose "skinfold" or the layers just start beginning to separate.
Additionally, check the memory foam. Similar to mattresses, it should hold your imprint long enough to absorb the pressure, then return back to its original shape. You don’t want a mat where your footprint remains, as that means no cushioning or bounce-back will be present to absorb your next step.
An anti-fatigue kitchen mat should be placed in the spots you spend the most time standing in. Typically, that’s going to be your favorite countertop workspace, in front of the stove, or the sink. Some people also like to put a mat or rug in front of the refrigerator, which can catch spills but might also make standing in front of the open door too welcoming!
You should measure the size you need based on the width of the focal point. For instance, in front of the stove or sink, you want to have a little bit of an overlap on either side so that you don’t accidentally slip off or trip, which can be a hazard. A few inches of buffer is fine. For a kitchen island, it’s better to go a little smaller than the full width to create balance in the room.
How do you clean anti-fatigue mats?
Easily! You can vacuum debris using a rollerless setting as I do, or just sweep crumbs right off it. If it’s sticky or dirty, a few swipes with a damp towel or cloth usually takes care of it. You can let it air-dry after that. But it’s important to remember that they are not machine-washable. Putting them in the wash can degrade the material and break it down, as well as cause separation between material layers.
Are anti-fatigue mats safe for all floors?
In older kitchens with carpeting, they’ll slide around and become a hazard. However, they are typically fine on wood, porcelain or ceramic tile, luxury vinyl, linoleum, marble, and any other hard surface where they can get a grip. Just check the type of backing your mat has, as some cheaper materials that are not heat or liquid-resistant may stick to your floor.
Also, don’t be afraid to let your kitchen floor "air out" from time to time. Constant pressure and placement on an anti-fatigue mat can lead to discoloration in light tile, and if your kitchen is sunlit, natural fading will not be even throughout the room if you keep a spot protected by your mat.
How often should you replace an anti-fatigue mat?
Depending on the material and how much traffic you’re subjecting it to, they can last up to 5 years. The best way to gauge if it’s time for a new one is to play it by ear and look for telltale signs of wear and tear, like worn-out patches, fading patterns and prints, and tearing of seams or layers. If the edges start curling, it’s definitely time to go, as they become tripping hazards. Along those lines, if you find yourself slipping while standing, the traction’s worn off and it’s time to toss. Finally, if it just doesn’t feel that good underfoot anymore, just let it go.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This guide was authored by Su-Jit Lin, who has over a dozen years of experience writing about food, twice that in cooking it, and thrice in enjoying all of it with extreme and likely unseemly gusto. She’s most often found on her feet, which are not indefatigable—hence this guide. When not standing (on an anti-fatigue mat) at her desk, she’s doing the same at her stove, counter, or sink.
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