How to wash bathroom rugs: a person stands barefoot on a clean bathroom rug

The Busy Person’s Guide to Washing Bathroom Rugs and Mats

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Ever wondered why your bathroom rug might not feel as fresh as it used to? Could it be time to wash bathroom rugs more effectively? Stepping onto a clean, dry mat feels great after a shower, but it’s easy to overlook the proper care these rugs need. 

Regular washing, ideally every week when you’re cleaning the bathroom, keeps bathroom rugs and mats in prime condition. But exactly what temperatures should you use so they don’t fall apart? Read on for the quick answers, plus tips to treat stains on your bathroom rugs and mats before washing.

Machine Washing Bathroom Rugs

Wash your bathroom rugs in a load of their own and avoid overcrowding the machine. Use your usual laundry detergent but skip the fabric softener, which reduces absorbency. Select the wash temperature and drying method based on the material:

  • Microfiber: Machine wash in cold or warm water with a gentle detergent. Tumble dry on a low heat setting or air dry.
  • Memory foam: Machine wash with cold water on a gentle cycle. Always air dry, since heat can damage the foam.
  • Cotton and chenille: Machine wash in warm water with a mild detergent. Tumble dry on a low setting or line dry.
  • Synthetic: Machine wash in cool or warm water. Tumble dry on low heat or air dry.
  • Shag: Machine wash in cold water on a gentle cycle and tumble dry low or air dry. 

Pro Tip

To whiten bathroom rugs, use oxygen bleach or a homemade version combination of ½ cup each baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Enhance the whitening effect by using the hottest water temperature the care label recommends.

Handwashing Certain Rugs

Handwashing is best for bathroom rugs with damaged backings so they don’t ruin your washing machine. It’s also the best method for handwoven bath rugs or soft woven bamboo fiber mats.

Fill a tub or basin with cool water and add a small amount of gentle laundry detergent. Add the rug and agitate it by hand to release dirt, then let it soak, rinse with clean water, and press out the excess. Let these types of rugs air dry flat, away from direct heat or sunlight.

Pre-Washing Tips for Bathroom Rugs

Shake or vacuum before washing: Before washing bathroom rugs or mats, shake them outside or vacuum them with the dust brush attachment to dislodge hair and dirt, so they’ll get cleaner.

Inspect the backing: If your bath rug has a rubber or plastic backing, inspect it before washing. Cracking or flaking backings can damage your machine and rugs.

Special Care for Stains

As with any kind of laundry, check for stains before washing your bathroom rugs so they don’t set in permanently.

Urine stains: Soak the area with a 50-50 mix of water and white vinegar for 10 minutes then launder.

Blood stains: Apply liquid laundry detergent and rinse with cool water after 10 minutes. If the blood stain remains, use a paste of oxygen bleach and water, or hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, and rinse after 10 minutes. Avoid heat until the stain is gone.

Mold and mildew: Wash in the hottest temperature recommended on the care label and add 2 cups of vinegar to the washer along with your usual detergent. Rinse twice to remove all spores.

Even with the best of care, bathroom rugs and mats are meant to be replaced every two years. In the meantime, keep them looking and smelling their best with routine washing.

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