Let’s talk about one of the dirtiest items in our homes that are often neglected during cleaning time — bath mats.
Knowing how to wash bath mats properly is a must-have skill if you’d want your mats to last longer and keep them from becoming unsanitary, not to mention, who wants to step out of a yummy bath onto a dirty bath mat!
Not sure how to wash bath mats? I’ve got you covered, I’m going to walk you step by step through the best way to wash bathroom rugs in this post.
We all consider bath mats as essentials. After all, we use them every day to keep our floors dry, give our feet a warm, comfy place to rest on after coming out of the bathtub, and reduce our chances of slipping when we step out of the shower.
This begs another all-important question, how often should you clean your bathroom rugs, and why? If you’re also clueless on this one, I’ve got you covered.
Stick around as I share all you need to know about how to wash bath mats.
Let’s jump right in!
*This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
How Often Should You Wash Your Bath Mats?
I’ve heard cleaning gurus say over and over again that the grossest thing in a bathroom (that’s not cleaned regularly) isn’t the shower, bathtub, bath towels, or toilet — it’s the bath mats.
I couldn’t agree more.
Every time you step on your bathroom rug to get into the shower, you leave dirt and sweat on your feet on the rug. And as you shower, the rug will be right there waiting to do what it does best — soak up all the water dripping from your body before you leave.
And that’s where the problem lies.
Your bathroom rugs can’t dry up completely in a humid environment like the bathroom. So each time you (and everyone else in the house) shower, you contribute to the reoccurring build-up of grime and moisture on your rugs.
That’s the perfect environment for harmful microorganisms to thrive and survive for weeks!
In other words, a consistently warm, damp bathroom rug is notoriously unhygienic. It’s like a Disneyland for disease-causing bacteria, mold spores, fungus, and other nasty critters.
Let’s not even talk about the awful musty smell that unclean rugs emit.
Sorry if I’m grossing you out, but this is stuff I feel you need to know so you can learn how to wash bath mats so they stay clean!
So if you don’t clean your bathroom rugs often, you’re pretty much putting your health (and that of your family) at risk unknowingly.
And let’s be honest — the last place you’d want to get a fungal infection and other health issues is from that gorgeous, fluffy mat chilling innocently on your bathroom floor.
For these reasons, most experts generally recommend washing bathroom mats at least once a week to ensure germs, grime, and bad odors don’t camp on the mats for too long.
However, the question about how often you should wash bathroom mats depends on the size of your household.
For moms with a big family, try cleaning your mats more than once a week since they get stepped on multiple times. If you have a small family, you can get away with cleaning your bathroom rugs once a week.
Machine Washing Your Bath Mats
Before throwing your bathroom mat into the washing machine ( which btw is the easiest way to clean bathroom rugs), double-check the washing instructions on the care label.
While most rugs can be washed in the washing machine — think of generally cotton mats, memory foam mats, polyester rugs, and chenille mats — some bath mats aren’t machine washable because of their material.
So depending on what material your bathroom rug is made of, the care label will tell you whether it’s safe to toss it in the washing machine.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a machine washable mat with a rubber backing that’s already peeling off, it’s best to replace it instead of still washing it in the machine.
The rips and tears from the peeling rubber can damage your washing machine.
Once you’ve confirmed you can machine wash your bath mats, follow these steps to achieve fresh-smelling and bacteria-free rugs:
Step 1: Dust Off the Rugs
Before you wash bathroom rugs, take them outside and shake them thoroughly to get rid of the dirt and other debris hiding in the densely-packed strands.
It’s important that you don’t skip this part. If you make it a habit of tossing your mats in the washing machine without shaking off the dirt, these mats will eventually leave behind clumps of dirt that can clog your machine.
So give them a good shake, and use a vacuum to clear the remaining dirt on each bath mat.
Step 2: Remove Stains
After clearing the debris, check for any stains on the rugs and use your preferred stain remover to get rid of the stain.
You wouldn’t want the stain to spread widely while the mat is in the machine. Let the remover sit on the stained area for a few minutes before wiping it off with a microfiber cloth.
Step 3: Clean the Rugs
Once the mat is stain-free, toss it in the washing machine. Add about a teaspoon of gentle laundry detergent (DON’T use bleach) and set the machine to a cold water cycle.
Cold setting works best for machine washable mats for two good reasons:
- A brightly-colored rug can fade faster if washed frequently with hot water
- For machine washable mats with rubber backing, hot water can wash off the glue that holds the rubber. Your mat’s quality will deteriorate with each wash.
Another thing I’d strongly advise as you machine wash bathroom mats is to clean one rug at a time.
You see, most mats (like memory foam rugs) are made of material that absorbs a lot of water while in the washer.
If you toss several rugs in the washing machine at once, they may end up weighing way more than what your machine can handle, leading to functionality issues in the long run.
Lastly: Dry the Rugs
Once the bath mat completes its wash cycle, it’s time for drying.
But before you load your mat in the dryer to tumble dry, go over the care label again. If the drying instructions permit machine drying, you can use the dryer (always set it on low heat).
Too much heat will, sure enough, dry all the excess water. But it will damage your mats, particularly the rubber or plastic backing.
It’s also not advisable to dry memory foam mats in the dryer since the heat can ruin the foam backing.
But the thing is, almost all mats have a rubber or latex backing. So, even though the care instructions allow using a dryer, frequent exposure to heat may slowly ruin your bath mat.
What am I trying to say?
Nothing beats air drying. Period. Rugs that are strictly air-dried last longer than those always dried in the dryer.
So once you take your mat out of the washer, hang dry it on the drying track in your laundry room (or, if you have enough space, outside in the sun).
Pro Tip: Rather than letting your damp mats sit on the floor all day and night until wash day, try to always take them to air dry after everyone has used them.
Hand Washing Your Bath Mats
Okay, maybe doing laundry is your most dreaded chore, and washing bath rugs with your hands sounds like torture.
But if your washer can’t come to your rescue (because the washing instructions on your bath mat’s care label say using a machine is a complete no-no), you have to take the manual route — hand washing.
I know it’s not the easiest way, but it’s the safest if you don’t want to find yourself replacing mats every other month.
Just like machine washing, you can make your rugs fresh and bacteria-free by simply using your hands. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Dust Off the Rugs
Take the rugs outside and shake each mat well to remove as much dirt and debris as possible.
Step 2: Remove Stains
Check the mat for stains, and use a spot remover to clear away all the stains before you start cleaning.
Step 3: Wash the Mats
Fill your tub, sink, or a large basin with warm water, add a mild laundry detergent (not too much), and mix the detergent in a swirling motion.
Depending on how dirty you feel your rugs are, you can let each rug soak in the soapy water for several minutes, or hand wash them right away.
Wear your rubber gloves, submerge each bath mat in the tub, and get started. You can use a soft brush to scrub the rugs as you hand wash them in the soapy water.
Lastly: Rinse and Hang Dry Mats
If you’re satisfied with what you see, drain the dirty tub water and rinse the rugs with running water.
Be sure to gently wring the bath mat to remove excess water before taking them to the drying rack. Plus, remember to wash your tub or sink well when you’re done cleaning the rugs.
After rinsing, let your mats hang dry on the drying rack. Return the dry mats to their usual spots when they’ve fully dried.
How to Wash Bathroom Rugs 101: Final Thoughts
Besides injecting a modern, stylish vibe into our shower spaces, bath mats deserve a standing ovation for keeping us safe from out-of-the-shower accidents.
And while we never forget to step on a bath mat when coming out of the shower, many of us forget the most important thing — to show proper care to these life-saving mats by washing them correctly and frequently.
Here are some of my favorite Bathroom Rugs
I prefer to walk into a Target or Bed Bath & Beyond to stand on a bath mat in my bare feet to see if I like it or not. If you need something now, take a look at the below.
- This one is super comfy and feels spa like.
- The reviews on this one are good too.
- This one looks nice and plushy which is what I love.
A dirty bath mat is a hotbed of all the unpleasant things you can think of — bacteria, mold, grime, fungus… ….all of which can cause health problems.
Now you know the two best cleaning methods of washing bath mats, and you know how often you should be washing bath mats!
Now, go clean your bathroom rugs and get them looking nice and fresh again. IF they’re too far gone, throw them out and go buy some new ones and follow my handy washing tips moving forward!
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