How To Wash Bathroom Rugs

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The nonslip coating that makes bathroom rugs and mats safe also means they need special care when it comes time to wash them.

Stepping out of a warm shower or bath onto a cold, slick tile floor is neither fun nor safe. That’s why most bathrooms benefit from using one or more small rugs or mats. Depending on the size of your bathroom, you may have rugs in front of your sink, too, and some people even use mats near the toilet.

How To Wash Bathroom Rugs

Wherever yours are located, bathroom rugs see a lot of foot traffic and other messes, so it’s not surprising they collect bacteria and can develop mold or mildew. Washing them routinely is part of keeping your bathroom clean, and it’s not hard to do.

Step 1. Look at the Label and Backing

Most bathroom rugs are machine-washable, but it’s a good idea to see if yours has special care instructions such as heat-free drying. Some bath rugs and mats have a rubber or plastic nonslip backing. If yours does, be sure to check it before washing. If it’s cracked or flaking, it’s time for a replacement. Washing a mat with a damaged backing will leave fragments in your machine.

Step 2. Shake Outdoors

To protect your washing machine, shake your bath rugs outdoors before laundering them. If you can’t shake them outside, leave them on the floor and stand on either end while you vacuum them with the brush attachment. This step will dislodge loose hair, loose dirt, and debris, so your bathmats will get cleaner without clogging your washer.

Step 3. Double Up

Depending on the size of your bath rugs, you should be able to wash two at a time to balance the load. Never wash bath mats with other items like bath towels or sheets — the friction can damage the rugs’ backing and leave lint that will ruin their appearance.

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Step 4. Choose a Cold Wash Cycle

Wash bathroom rugs and mats in cold water unless the care label says otherwise. Hot water will shrink the fibers in chenille or woven cotton bath rugs and can damage the glue used on other rugs with nonstick backings.

Step 5. Use Mild Products

Pretreat stains if necessary with your usual laundry stain remover and a sponge or cloth, then wash them using a mild laundry detergent. Liquid chlorine bleach and white vinegar will both damage nonslip backings. To remove germs and kill mold or mildew spores, add 1/2 cup of oxygenated bleach or borax. Do not use fabric softener when laundering bath mats since the surfactants can trap bacteria and the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.

Step 6. Proper Drying

It’s best to line-dry bathroom rugs to preserve their rubber backing and adhesives. Line drying in sunlight helps sanitize them, too. When air-drying is impossible, use your dryer‘s lowest heat setting and tumble dry them just enough to remove most moisture but not until they’re completely dry — around 20 minutes. Then hang them on a drying rack or over the back of a chair until they’re fully dry.


Bath rugs that get wet frequently, like those placed in front of a shower or tub, can quickly develop mold and odors. Make a habit of picking these rugs up after bathing and hanging them on the side of the bathtub or over a towel rack so they have a chance to dry out.

How Often Do You Need to Wash Bathroom Rugs?

Bath and shower mats that see daily use should be washed weekly to control mold and mildew and prevent the spread of athlete’s foot. Rugs in front of sinks may not require frequent washing, especially in seldom-used guest bathrooms. With mats that don’t get damp on a routine basis, laundering once or twice a month is fine.

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  1. Kathy BUCK says:

    Should i use liquid fabric softner in the rinse when wahing my rubber back bathroom rugs?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I wouldn’t recommend it. Fabric softener makes towels less absorbent, and would do the same to the rugs.

  2. The backing on my new bathroom rugs turned yellow in the wash. This has happened every time I buy new rugs and wash them. Is it possible to get rid of the yellow? How do I prevent this from happening in the future.

    I have tried cold water and Woolite, regular detergent with baking soda to soften water and just detergent alone. It doesn’t seem to matter which method. I have even tried warm water to wash.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’ve never encountered this, Joann. Perhaps Oxiclean would help?

  3. Sad about bathroom rugs says:

    My bathroom carpets always get matted up even though I wash them. They’re all fluffy when you buy them and then they get flat. Can you unflatten them… LOL… You know make them fluffy again without having to buy new ones

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Ordinarily, the solution is adding 1 cup of vinegar to the wash. With bathroom rugs, that can destroy the rubber backing. So, I’d recommend adding 1 cup of baking soda instead. Chances are you’ve got some build up on them which is causing the fibers to clump.

    2. After washing it you can comb the rug.

  4. Megan Emery says:

    My white ones turned blue in the washer, I had used tide and bleach… will this help keep them white?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Well, I don’t know why your white ones turned blue so I honestly can’t answer your question.

    2. My white bath rugs turned blue in the washer too, all but one. It’s the strangest thing. I washed them alone. I spent some money on my rugs so I’m very upset by this. I’ve been searching for an answer to why they turned blue.

  5. I still have no answer for the thick bathroom pads I need an answer if I can wash them in my front load lg

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by bathroom pads. If you mean cloth bath mats, you should be able to wash them in your front load washing machine using a COLD cycle then air dry them.

  6. Dear Katie,
    My rug won’t come out clean from laundry; there are particles stuck in the fibers which my regular vacuum doesn’t seem to pull out, and the middle has a brownish tint (prbly from shoes)…
    Thanks in advance for your advice

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Anab2,
      You might try using an old comb or pet brush to remove those fibers. I’d add a bit of oxygenated bleach (like Oxiclean) to the wash cycle to remove the ground-in dirt stains. That works wonderfully on my white bathroom rugs.

  7. Liz-in-London says:

    What a useful tip to shake the bathmats outside before washing! Recently we’ve had to wash one of our dogs in the tub weekly. There is one towel in the tub to stand on, one towel to lift her out and then she’s zipped into her doggie hoodie. I hang these towels on the line before washing to get rid of most of the dog fur. I hadn’t thought of doing that with our human bathmats too!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I hope your dog is on the mend from whatever the problem is. ❤️