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.
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.