How to wash bathroom rugs

How to wash bathroom rugs

Even though bathrooms may be cleaned from top to bottom on a regular basis, bathroom rugs tend to be forgotten about. This is due to two main reasons. Firstly, after removing the rugs to clean the bathroom, the last thing you want to do is more cleaning, so you put them back. Secondly, their shape, size, and piling typically makes them pretty difficult to clean. Rugs that are smaller or more shaggy have a greater chance of being sucked up by a vacuum’s rotating brush. Further to the above, bathroom rugs typically look more or less clean, so people may not think to actually have them cleaned. However, that definitely isn’t the case.

In this post we look at how to wash your bathroom rugs. We will look at how often you should have them cleaned, and how to take care of rugs depending on their composition.

How often should bathroom rugs be washed?

This will really depend on how busy your bathrooms are, but in general you want them to have them washed every few weeks at least. This might seem fairly often since bathroom rugs don’t really seem get ‘dirty’, but consider the features of the room that they are in. Rugs in bathrooms can attract a lot of moisture (perfect for bacterial growth), hair, and if you have young potty trainers, they definitely get dirty.

Determine rug material

First, you want to determine whether your rug has a plastic or rubber backing attached to it. This might seem like an obvious step, but it’s easy to forgot to do and whether there is a backing or not will determine the proper way to wash the rugs.

How to wash rugs with rubber or plastic backing

Before you do anything, take your rugs outside and give them a good shake. This is a great way to remove most of the bulk material (hair, dirt, anything else on there) which makes the washing process much more efficient. Give the plastic/rubber backing a wipe with a wet microfibre cloth as well. The more material you can remove prior to washing the better.

Once you are done, double check the rug tags for any special care instructions. For example, some rugs may state that they must be air dried. Best to check as to avoid destroying the rugs during washing.

Finally, before you place them in the washing machine, inspect the rubber backing. If it’s cracked or otherwise damaged, it might actually be best to dispose of the rug. Rubber and plastic backings that have started to deteriorate can come off during washing and clog up your machine. It’s much better to dispose of a rug than to have to call a large appliance repairman, or even worse, have to buy new appliances.

If you decide the bathroom is okay to be washed, then toss it in the washer. We recommend washing no more than two or three rugs at a time. This ensures that the washing machine can do a good job. Make sure to wash with cold water and a gentle detergent. Do not use chlorine bleach or vinegar with rubber backed rug mats, as both chemicals will destroy the rubber backing over time. You may use half a cup of Borax to disinfect, and oxygenated bleach (e.g., Oxiclean) for any staining.

Once the wash cycle is done, we recommend air drying the rugs. This is ideal as even low heat from a dryer can adversely effect the glues of the rubber backing over time. If you must use a dryer, then we recommend tumble drying on low for the shortest cycle possible. Once the cycle is over, remove the rugs immediately. You don’t want them sitting with the residual heat even when the dryer is off.

How to wash rugs without a backing

If your rugs don’t have a plastic or rubber backing, then the wash process is really straight forward.

As with the rubber backed rugs, first take them outside and give them a good shake to remove whatever loose material you can.

Similarly, check the tags for any special care instructions.

Load up the washing machine with rugs. Again, take care not to overload the washer. Two or three rugs is ideal per wash cycle.

Use a gentle detergent, and this time you can use vinegar to disinfect and chlorine bleach for any staining. However, chlorine bleach is in general pretty nasty stuff, so we recommend once again using oxygenated bleach for the stains on the first try.

Wash with cold water.

Air dry or tumble dry on low. While the fabric will be fine when dried with a dryer, air drying is still the more gentle method of the two.

Bonus tips

The team over at Houston Texas Painters have washed a rug or two in their time (painting gets messy) and have given us a couple of their pro tips.

Tip #1 – Don’t use liquid fabric softener when washing your rugs. The softener will actually make the rugs lose their absorbency over time.

Tip #2 – Vinegar will help keep your rug fibres from matting, and the rug will stay fluffy. However, above we said you shouldn’t use vinegar if you have rubber backed mats. Well the answer is baking soda. The matting typically occurs because of some sort of buildup on the fibres. Add 1 cup of baking soda to your wash to help clear that out.


So there you have it, our pretty easy guide to washing bathroom rugs. Even though most bathroom rugs are ignored, washing them is pretty quick and effortless. Keep your home just a little bit cleaner with our tips here. As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments. The WestMaids team is always to assist.

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