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How to Wash, Dry, & Care for Bath Mats & Rugs 2022

clay bath rug
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome
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Most of us remember to toss our towels in the wash regularly, but routine bath mat and bathroom rug care often falls by the wayside. In many homes, these accessories are washed only during deep cleans or when they become so funky that you finally notice them!

Part of maintaining a clean, stress-free home is remembering to care for all your bathroom linens, including your bath mat and bath rug. Not only will you have a plush and clean surface to stand on after showering, but your bath mats and bath rugs will last longer with proper maintenance.

Learn how to wash bath mats, how to wash bath rugs, and care instructions for your bathroom accessories below.

Differences to Consider for Bath Mats and Bath Rugs

Bath mats usually live next to the shower and are the first place you step when you’re soaking wet, so bath mats are more susceptible to the moisture-loving organisms that you don’t want in your bathroom.

Bath rugs often live in front of the vanity and rarely get too wet, so washing bathroom rugs is more about maintaining softness and freshness. If you’re not sure how to wash bath rugs made of wool or another delicate material, it’s always a safe bet to hand wash with gentle detergent and lay flat to dry. 

To learn more about the distinction between a bath mat and a bath rug, explore the Bath Mats vs Bath Rugs: Everything You Need to Know guide.

How Often Should You Wash Your Bath Mat?

In general, you should wash bathroom mats every week or so. Because bath mats and bath rugs spend their lives on the floor, they accumulate dirt, dust and debris. Even if your bath mat or bath rug looks clean, it’s a good idea to set a regular weekly or biweekly washing schedule.

Ultimately, deciding how often to wash bathroom mats depends on your family and home habits. If you have multiple kids at home or you're an avid gardener or athlete, you should wash your bath mat much more regularly to avoid mildew and bacterial growth. If you live alone, you can get away with a more relaxed washing routine.

How to Wash Bath Mats and Rugs?

Can you machine wash a bath mat or bath rug? In most cases, yes. Your bath mat or bath rug’s manufacturer may provide care instructions on the tag. When possible, following these instructions is the best way to clean your bathroom rug or mat.

Otherwise, it's always a safe bet to wash bath mats in cold water using your normal laundry detergent. Try to avoid using fabric softener as it can actually stain or damage your bathroom linens.

As long as your bath mat is made of a durable fabric like cotton, it’s usually safe to clean your bath mat in the washing machine.

How to Clean Heavily Soiled Bath Mats and Bath Rugs

Sometimes your bath mat or bath rug might need a bit more effort to deal with stains, odors or other issues. In those cases, it's still best to avoid hot water to keep your mat or rug from shrinking or losing its shape. Instead, try a pre-soak with baking soda and detergent to deal with more extreme dirt.

If you share your home with a pet, make sure to remove lint from your bathroom rug or bath mat before washing for best results.

How to Dry Bath Mats and Bath Rugs

Most bath mats and bath rugs look their best and last longer if you use your dryer’s tumble-dry-low setting. If you dry your bath mat on a warm or hot setting it may shrink or change the look of the weave or knit. An alternate and universally safe option is hanging your bath mat on a towel bar or line-drying your bath rug in the sun.

Can You Wash Bathroom Mats With Rubber Backs?

Many bath mats feature a rubber backing for improved grip in the bathroom. If your bath mat has a rubber or plasticized backing, avoiding heat in the washing and drying process is even more important. 

Heat degrades rubber quickly and you’ll need to replace your bath mat more frequently, and can even potentially damage your laundry appliances. To be safe, always air dry rubber-backed mats.

How to Extend the Life of Your Bath Mat

Extending the life of your bath mat is fairly simple. All you need to do is maintain a consistent cleaning schedule and wash and dry your bath mat using the appropriate settings. Once you know how to wash bath mats, you’re well on your way to extending their life.

Most mildew, fungal and bacterial growth occur when your bath rug remains wet for too long or isn’t given a chance to dry completely between showers. Make a habit of hanging up your bath mat after each use and you’ll significantly prolong its lifespan.

How Often Should You Replace Your Bath Mat?

If you use it daily, you should replace your bath mat once a year or so. If you take great care of your mat, it may enjoy an even longer lifespan. Bath mats in guest bathrooms that are used less frequently only need to be replaced every few years if they’re well cared for.

Because bath rugs don’t get wet as often as mats, you only need to replace bath rugs every few years or when they show signs of wear.

Choose High Quality Bathroom Rugs and Mats

Poorly made, bargain-bin bath mats and bath rugs are prone to falling apart, fraying and losing absorbency more quickly. Investing in a high-quality bath mat will save you money in the long run.

Consider durable, absorbent bath mats like the Soft Rib Tub Mat or an Organic Cotton Tub Mat for a longer-lasting and easy-to-care for bath mat option. Machine washable bath rugs like the Sunset Bath Rug or the Braided Hand-Knit Rug take the guesswork out of keeping your bathroom accessories fresh.