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How to Clean Bathroom Rugs: Machine & Hand Wash

Don’t let your rugs get rugged.

Ever wondered how to clean your bathroom rugs and how often do it? Welcome to our ultimate guide on the topic!

If it’s been a while since you’ve done it, or you’ve never been sure of the best way forward, we’ll answer all your questions. In return, you’ll have super clean, fresh and aesthetic bathroom rugs again.

Key Takeaways

  • Wash bathroom rugs once a week to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Check the care label to see if the rug is machine-washable or needs hand-washing.
  • Shake or vacuum rugs before washing to remove loose dirt and debris.
  • Avoid using fabric softeners on bathroom rugs as they can trap bacteria.

What Is the Difference Between a Bath Mat and a Bath Rug?

A bath mat is typically used right outside the shower or tub. You stand on it upon exiting and it will absorb water so you don’t spread it around the bathroom.

A bath rug can do the same, but it can also be used for a variety of purposes. It’s more of a design piece, and many people use it to spruce up their bathroom area. It can still absorb water, but that’s not its main purpose. Therefore, it’s not usually as effective outside the tub or shower as a bath mat.

With a bath rug, you can put them anywhere in the bathroom. At the entrance, outside the shower, under the sink or just in the middle of the room!

How Often Should You Wash Your Bathroom Rugs?

We recommend washing bathroom rugs once a week, especially for frequently used rugs. If the rug stays wet for a long time, mold and mildew can easily grow.

If it doesn’t get too wet, or has a rubber backing which stretches in the wash, you can wash the bathroom rug every two or three weeks.

Can Bathroom Rugs Go in the Washing Machine?

Most bathroom rugs are machine washable, but always check the care label. We’ll teach you how to hand-wash rugs, too, so don’t worry if yours isn’t machine washable.

How to Clean Bathroom Rugs

We’ll teach you how to clean bath rugs whether they are rubber backed, chenille or memory foam. As recommended, always check the care label first as yours might have special instructions.

Also — always shake out your rug before putting it in the washing machine as there will be dirt holed up in there.

Lastly, your normal laundry detergent is fine, as long as it’s suitable for the material of your bathroom rug. However, we do recommend a milder detergent without any harsh chemicals. If you don’t have this, baking soda or distilled white vinegar can also be used.

How to Clean Rubber Backed Rugs

Rubber-backed rugs have a shorter lifespan than other rugs, but if you clean them carefully, they should last for a while.

  1. Shake the rug out to get rid of loose dirt and debris.
  2. Put the rug in the machine. If you have a top-loading machine, arrange it around the center agitator.
  3. Add in similar colored towels to encourage agitation. Just don’t overfill the washing machine.
  4. If possible, set the laundry load to “large”. The bath rug needs room to move around.
  5. Set it to cold water.
  6. Add half of the recommended amount of detergent.
  7. Start the cycle.

Bonus Tips

Hot water can melt the rubber backing, so always use cold. Once the cycle is finished, remove the rugs immediately. Lastly, if the rubber backing starts to crack, it will only get worse in washing cycles. So it might be time for some new rugs!

How to Clean Chenille Bathroom Rugs

Chenille rugs are plush and soft but need to be treated with care. Before we get started, make sure to shake out the rug to get rid of dirt and debris. Alternatively, you can vacuum the rug using the upholstery attachment.

  1. Shake out or vacuum the rug.
  2. Spot treats any stains. Blot instead of rubbing, and don’t use harsh chemicals.
  3. Put the rug into the washing machine. You may put some other chenille items in the washing machine, but nothing of other materials, such as towels. Don’t overstuff the washing machine either.
  4. Add about ¼ cup of mild detergent. It must not contain bleach.
  5. Set the machine to a cold, delicate cycle. Less agitation means the rug will remain in a better condition.
  6. Start the cycle.

Take Note

Many chenille rugs need to be hand washed, so make sure to check the care label first.

How to Wash Memory Foam Bath Mat

Memory foam mats hold a lot of water as they’re so absorbent. It’s important to clean them properly, and that always starts with reading the care label to check if it’s machine washable. If it is, follow these steps:

  1. Vacuum the rug to remove loose dirt.
  2. Spot treat stains with appropriate products that work on microfiber.
  3. Put the rug in the washing machine. If you have a front loading machine, face the rug up. If you have a top loading, arrange it around the center agitator.
  4. Put the machine onto a delicate cycle with cold water.
  5. Add half the recommended amount of a mild laundry detergent.
  6. Start the cycle.


Never use hot water or fabric softener with microfiber. Never use bleach or harsh chemicals.

How to Wash Bathroom Rugs by Hand

If your rug isn’t machine washable, here’s how to wash it by hand. You can do this indoors, but it’s easier to do it outside with a hose.

  1. Vacuum the rug or shake it out to remove dirt and debris.
  2. Either hang the rug up on a clothesline, or lay it down flat on a clean surface. If doing inside, skip this step.
  3. Spray or soak the bathroom rug with water, from either a hose or in the bathtub.
  4. Apply laundry detergent to the entire rug. You can use liquid or powder, as long as it’s mild.
  5. Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub in the detergent. Do this gently, in circular motions.
  6. Continue until the entire rug is saturated with laundry detergent. Keep scrubbing to lift stains.
  7. Rinse it well, removing all soap.
  8. Roll up the rug and squeeze to remove excess water.

How to Dry Bathroom Rugs

If the care label says it can go in the tumble dryer, you may tumble dry on a low heat setting. However, most rugs should be air dried.

To do this, hang them outside on a warm windy day on a clothesline. If you don’t have one, lay them flat. It might take them a while to dry because rugs are thick and absorbent.

If you can’t air dry them outside, hang them on a drying rack inside. Place a fan nearby to encourage air flow.


Never tumble dry rubber backed rugs as the heat can melt the rubber.

Cleaning Bathroom Rugs FAQs

Should You Put a Rug in Front of the Toilet?

Many people use a toilet rug, but is it worth it? Toilet mats can get very dirty, with urine and feces particles, as well as a general build up of dirt and moisture. If you’re going to clean them weekly, it’s okay. But it’s more hygienic to ditch the toilet rug and just steam clean or mop the floors every few days. Plus, it’s quicker!

How Do I Make My Bath Mat Fluffy Again?

If your bath mat has lost its soft fluffiness, there are some things you can try to get it back. However, keep in mind that bath mats typically lose their fluffiness quite quickly. This is because they get wet almost every day and are subject to a lot of foot traffic.

  • Clean and thoroughly dry your bath mat regularly.
  • Vacuum the rug regularly to get out dirt and debris.
  • Choose a delicate setting when washing so the material doesn’t get too agitated.
  • Always shake out the mat before washing.
  • If tumble drying, put wool dryer balls or a tennis ball in the cycle to encourage fluffiness.
  • Scrape the bath mat with a spoon to encourage the fibers back up without damaging them. This might add some fluff.
  • Dry the rug with a hair dryer, then fluff up the fibers with your hands.

Is It Ok to Wash Bathroom Rugs With Towels?

You should never wash microfiber, chenille, or memory foam rugs in the washing machine with towels. These items need to be washed with similar material items to avoid damage.

You can put cotton rugs in with towels, but you may want to avoid it.

Your bathroom rug will be full of dirt, bacteria and germs. Because you need to wash it cold, the bacteria won’t necessarily be killed. Therefore, it can spread through the cycle into other items, such as towels. If you do wash with towels to help agitate the bath rug, we recommend washing the towels separately afterwards with hot water.

Lastly, always wash your machine with hot water after washing rugs just in case some bacteria is retained in the drum.

Do Bath Mats Carry Bacteria?

Bath mats do carry bacteria, especially when they are given little chance of airing or drying out. They become a breeding ground for dangerous pathogenic organisms.

Should I Use Fabric Softener on Bathroom Rugs?

You shouldn’t use fabric softeners when washing bath rugs because they potentially trap bacteria that cause foot fungus like athlete’s foot.

Can You Use a Carpet Cleaner on a Rug?

You can use a carpet cleaner on a rug. They are just as effective and can help to deep clean to remove bacteria trapped in the fibers.

Spa Day

Everyone needs a spa day every now and then — even rugs! Make sure to regularly clean your rugs, about once a week. It does take a little while for them to dry, but it’s worth it when you think about how much dirt is harboring in the fibers.

Make sure to always check the care label. This will tell you if the rug is machine-washable or not. Before cleaning, don’t forget to vacuum or shake out the rug! And finally, think twice before buying a toilet rug.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!