How to Wash and Care for Bathroom Rugs

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Mild laundry detergent or carpet shampoo
  • White vinegar
  • Soft brush or carpet rake
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Rubber gloves
  • Large sink, bathtub, or outdoor space for washing

Prepping and Removing Debris

Before washing, shake out and vacuum the rug thoroughly to remove any loose debris or dirt. Use a soft brush or carpet rake to dislodge any caked-on particles. Scrape off any sticky substances with a dull knife. Make sure to get into the crevices and scrub all sides of the rug. Vacuuming first will allow the wash to be more effective.

Washing Technique

Washing Machine: If your rug’s label indicates “machine washable”, you can wash it in the washing machine. Use cold water on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. Avoid hot water as this can cause dyes to bleed and shrink the rug. Air dry or tumble dry on low.

Hand Washing: For rugs not suitable for the washing machine, hand washing is best. Fill a bathtub or large sink with cool water and add a small amount of mild detergent or carpet shampoo. Submerge the rug and gently swish it around to loosen dirt and stains. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain the dirty water and repeat the process until the water runs clear. Don’t scrub too hard as this can damage the fibers.

Outdoor Washing: You can also take smaller bathroom rugs outside and hose them down with a spray nozzle. Lay the rug on a flat surface and gently spray both sides until soaked through. Use a soft brush to work in detergent and dislodge grime. Rinse thoroughly. Hang or lay flat to air dry.

Removing Odors

Baking soda is great for absorbing unpleasant odors from bathroom rugs. Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface. Let sit for a few hours before vacuuming up. For stronger odors, make a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water in a spray bottle. Lightly mist over the rug and let sit for 30 minutes before rinsing.

Drying and Fluffing

It’s important not to put a still damp rug back in your bathroom. Make sure it is completely dry before returning to use. Hang large rugs outside or lay flat and rotate periodically to expose all sides to air. For quicker drying, place smaller hand-washed rugs in the dryer on a no-heat air fluff setting.

When fully dry, use your fingers or a stiff brush to fluff up the rug fibers and restore pile height. Vacuum once more before placing back in your bathroom.

Regular Maintenance

To keep your bathroom rugs fresh between washes:

  • Vacuum weekly to prevent dirt from settling deep in the fibers. Use attachment tools to reach corners.
  • Immediately spot treat spills and stains with carpet cleaner. Blot gently and avoid excessive rubbing.
  • Consider spray-on rug protections that create a barrier against liquid and dirt. Reapply as directed.
  • Occasionally hang rugs outside or spread flat to air out and prevent musty odors.
  • Wash most rugs every 1-2 months following the techniques above. Wash more frequently for high-traffic areas.

When to Replace Your Rug

Despite your best care, bathroom rugs do wear out over time. Look for these signs that indicate it’s time to replace your rug:

  • Fraying, unraveling edges
  • Thin, flattened piles
  • Permanent stains or discoloration
  • Mildew or musty smells
  • Backing or gripper material deteriorating

With proper washing and regular maintenance, you can enjoy soft, sanitary, and stylish bathroom rugs for years before needing a replacement. Follow these tips on how to wash and care for bathroom rugs to keep them looking their best!

Frequently Asked Questions About Washing Bathroom Rugs

How often should you wash bathroom rugs?

It’s best to wash bathroom rugs every 1-2 months with regular use. Wash them more frequently if they receive heavy use or get exceptionally dirty.

What is the best way to wash a bathroom rug?

Hand washing smaller rugs or washing machine for machine washable rugs produces the best results. Use cool water, mild detergent, and air dry. Always check the label first.

How do you sanitize a bathroom rug?

In addition to washing, you can sanitize rugs by spraying lightly with a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution. Rinse thoroughly. The vinegar kills bacteria and removes odors.

Should you put bathroom rugs in the dryer?

It depends on the material. Always check labels first. Most cotton, nylon, or polyester rugs can be tumble dried on low heat. Rubber-backed rugs should air dry to prevent melting. Never put wool or delicate rugs in the dryer.

How do you fluff up a flattened bathroom rug?

Use your fingers or a stiff brush to gently brush the rug fibers in different directions. Vacuum over the rug to lift the piles. Avoid excessive brushing that can damage the rug.

What is the best way to clean bathroom rug grime and stains?

Scrape off any sticky buildup with a dull knife then use a soft brush and carpet cleaner to gently loosen and dissolve grime and stains. Always blot, never rub aggressively at stains.

How can you make rugs smell fresh?

Baking soda or vinegar solutions help deodorize rugs. Borax and enzyme cleaners also remove odors by breaking down odor molecules. Avoid perfumed products that just mask scents temporarily.

How do you keep bathroom rugs from mildewing?

Wash frequently, allow proper drying, and alternate rugs to completely dry out between uses. Check for dampness or moisture under rugs. Disinfect with vinegar. Replace if mildew is already present.

What causes bathroom rugs to turn brown?

Dirt buildup, dyes from colored bath products, mildew, and uneven sun exposure can all discolor rugs to dingy brown shades. Bleach them back to bright white. If that fails, it’s time for a replacement.


Keeping bathroom rugs fresh, clean, and sanitary requires regular washing and care. By hand washing, machine washing, spot cleaning spills, removing odors, and drying thoroughly, you can keep rugs looking neat and hygienic. Replace bathroom rugs once they become overly worn, damaged, or permanently discolored. With proper maintenance and frequent washing, your bathroom rugs can remain soft, colorful, and pleasant-smelling additions to your space.