How to Wash, Dry, and Care for Bath Mats


Bath mats are an essential part of any bathroom. Not only do they soak up water and prevent slips, but they also add style and coziness to the space. However, like any frequently used item, bath mats need proper care and cleaning to stay fresh and last longer. We will discuss everything you need to know about washing, drying, and caring for bath mats in this comprehensive guide.

Materials Used in Bath Mats

The material your bath mat is made of determines how you should wash, dry, and care for it. Here are some of the most common materials used:


Cotton bath mats are soft, absorbent, and machine washable. They are a popular choice for their durability and ability to withstand frequent laundering.


Microfiber dries quickly and is very absorbent. These bath mats can be machine washed and dried. Take care not to use fabric softener as it can coat the fibers and reduce absorbency.


Bamboo bath mats have natural antimicrobial properties. They can be machine washed cool and air dried. Avoid bleach when cleaning.


Rubber bath mats are waterproof and extra grippy. Use mild soap and water to hand wash and air dry these mats. Do not put rubber mats in the washing machine.


Polyester bath mats dry fast and resist mildew. Machine wash warm and tumble dry low. Fabric softener can be used on polyester.


Nylon dries quickly and resists mildew and bacteria. Machine wash cool and drip dry these mats. Do not use chlorine bleach.


Chenille bath mats are soft and plush. Wash them in cold water on a gentle cycle. Tumble dry low. Avoid using bleach.

Memory Foam

Memory foam mats provide cushioning and comfort. Spot clean only with mild soap and water. Do not fully submerge or machine wash.

How Often to Wash Bath Mats

How frequently you should wash your bath mat depends on the material, how often it’s used, and how easily it gets dirty or soaked. Here are some general guidelines on bath mat washing frequency:

  • Cotton, microfiber, nylon, polyester bath mats – Wash weekly or every 2 weeks
  • Rubber, memory foam bath mats – Wash monthly or as needed
  • White bath mats – Wash weekly to keep looking bright
  • Mats in kids’ or high traffic bathrooms – Wash weekly
  • Lightly used guest bath mats – Wash every 2-4 weeks
  • Visibly dirty or smelly mats – Wash immediately

Wash bath mats more frequently during illness, potty training, or if someone has heavily soiled feet or uses strong cleansing products that discolor it.

Washing Bath Mats in a Machine

Most bath mat materials like cotton, microfiber, and polyester can be safely washed in the washing machine. Follow these tips:

1. Shake Off Excess Dirt and Debris

Give the bath mat a good shake outdoors first to remove hair, dust, and other particles before washing.

2. Pretreat Stains and Heavy Soiling

Use a pretreat spray, stick, or paste on stains and heavily soiled areas before washing. This helps lift the grime.

3. Wash on a Gentle Cycle with Mild Detergent

Choose the delicate or gentle/permanent press setting. Use a mild, high efficiency laundry detergent.

4. Wash Towels and Rugs Separately

Wash bath mats on their own load to prevent pilling from towels or other laundry.

5. Add Vinegar or Baking Soda for Odors

For musty or mildew smells, add 1/2 cup vinegar or baking soda to the wash cycle.

6. Avoid Using Fabric Softener

Fabric softener and dryer sheets can leave a coating that reduces absorbency. Skip when washing bath mats.

7. Disinfect with Bleach or Hot Water

For a deep clean, add 1/4 cup bleach or wash with hot water above 140°F to kill bacteria. Check care labels first.

8. Line Dry or Tumble Dry Low

Lay flat to air dry or tumble dry on low heat to avoid damaging latex backing. Remove promptly when dry.

Hand Washing Bathroom Rugs and Mats

Rubber, bamboo, and memory foam bath mats need to be hand washed instead of machine washed. Follow these steps:

1. Shake Out the Mat

First, shake out as much loose debris and dirt as possible from the bath mat. Do this outdoors if able.

2. Fill Sink or Tub with Cool Water

Do not use hot water, as it can damage certain materials. Use lukewarm or cool water when hand washing.

3. Add a Mild Detergent

Use a small amount of mild liquid hand soap, dish soap, or laundry detergent suitable for hand washing delicates.

4. Gently Scrub and Rinse

Use your hands or a soft brush to gently scrub the mat. Avoid harsh scouring. Rinse thoroughly.

5. Drain, Roll, and Press

Drain the sink or tub then gently roll or press bath mats to remove excess water. Do not twist or wring.

6. Air Dry Thoroughly

Lay flat and allow bath mats to fully air dry before returning to the bathroom. Replace once completely dry.

7. Spot Treat Stubborn Stains

Use a pretreat stick or spray to target any remaining stains after hand washing. Rinse and let air dry again.

Drying Bath Mats

It’s important to dry bath mats thoroughly after washing them to prevent mold or mildew growth. Here are guidelines based on material:

Cotton and Microfiber

Lay flat or hang over a shower rod or towel rack. Can also tumble dry low.

Polyester and Nylon

Lay flat or line dry initially. Can finish drying on low heat in the dryer.


Lay flat and allow to fully air dry. Do not put rubber mats in the dryer.


Lay flat or hang to drip dry. Do not tumble dry bamboo mats.

Memory Foam

Lay flat and allow to completely air dry. Do not put memory foam mats in the dryer.


Lay flat to partially dry then can finish drying on low heat in the dryer.

No matter the material, check that bath mats are 100% dry before putting them back in your bathroom. Wet spots can breed mold and bacteria. Fluff periodically while drying.

Bath Mat Care Tips

Follow these care tips to keep your bath mats fresh and extend their lifespan:

  • Shake out mats regularly to prevent dirt and debris buildup.
  • Alternate between 2 mats to allow them to fully dry between uses.
  • Use rug gripper pads or rubber mat backings to prevent slips.
  • Spot clean spills and stains between regular washings.
  • Disinfect with diluted bleach or tea tree oil for odors and bacteria.
  • Use an old towel underneath to absorb excess moisture.
  • Avoid leaving wet mats balled up or bunched for long periods.
  • Replace bath mats once they become worn, thin, develop mildew, or lose gripping power.
  • Consider professional laundering for ornate or delicate designer bath mats.

What to Do If Your Bath Mat Smells Musty

If your bath mat starts to smell musty or mildewy, try these solutions:

  • Wash the mat with hot water, borax, and distilled white vinegar.
  • Rinse the mat with lemon juice or tea tree oil solution after washing.
  • Spray mats between washes with an antimicrobial cleaner or bathroom disinfectant.
  • Soak in an enzymatic cleaner like Odoban to break down organic matter.
  • Allow mats to dry completely in direct sunlight to kill mold and bacteria.
  • Replace bath mats that still smell after thorough cleaning and drying.

Prevent recurrent musty mat smells by washing bath mats frequently, drying them fully, and cleaning your bathroom properly to eliminate mold sources.

Removing Stains from Bath Mats

Bath mats are prone to all sorts of stubborn stains. Here are tips for removing common bath mat stains:

Makeup stains – Gently rub liquid dish soap on the stain then rinse. Or apply baking soda paste, let sit 30 minutes, then rinse.

Hair dye stains – Pre-treat with rubbing alcohol or non-acetone nail polish remover.

Bleach stains – Mix 1 part water with 1 part hydrogen peroxide and dab on the stain. Rinse thoroughly.

Mildew stains – Make a paste of lemon juice and salt. Apply to stain and rinse. Or use distilled white vinegar.

Blood stains – Run under cold water ASAP. Dab with hydrogen peroxide.

Rust stains – Make a paste with cream of tartar and lemon juice. Apply to stain, let sit, then rinse.

Urine stains – Blot the area to soak up as much liquid as possible first. Use an enzyme cleaner formulated for pet stains.

For tough set-in stains, rewash and thoroughly rinse mats after pretreating. Check care labels and test treatments on an inconspicuous area first.

How to Disinfect a Bath Mat

To kill germs and sanitize bath mats, use one of these disinfecting methods:

  • Machine wash with hot water over 140°F plus bleach or a sanitizing laundry additive.
  • Soak in a dilute bleach solution – 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of cool water for 5-10 minutes.
  • Spray with a disinfectant cleaner containing chlorine bleach or quaternary ammonium.
  • Wash by hand with a tea tree oil and water solution – 15 drops oil per 1 cup water.
  • Clean with an oxygen-based cleaner like Oxiclean or Odoban according to product instructions.
  • Steam with a garment steamer to kill bacteria and dust mites.

Always rinse thoroughly after disinfecting. Wear gloves when using harsh cleaners. Only use bleach on bleach-safe materials.

Extending the Life of Your Bath Mats

You can maximize the lifespan of your bath mats with these easy tips:

  • Alternate between 2 bath mats to allow fully drying between uses.
  • Shake and vacuum mats regularly to prevent dirt, hair, and debris buildup.
  • Wash on the gentle cycle according to material care guidelines.
  • Lift mats and allow the bathtub/floor surface to dry between uses.
  • Use a slip-resistant backing or rug pads to prevent sliding.
  • Spot clean spills right away to prevent stains.
  • Replace mats that become stained, worn out, develop mildew smells, or lose grip.
  • Consider professional laundering services for specialty bath rugs and mats.

With proper care and regular cleaning, most bath mats should last 1-3 years with frequent use. Higher quality materials like cotton and rubber can last even longer.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Bath Mat

Here are signs that indicate your bath mat has reached the end of its lifespan:

  • Visible mold or mildew
  • Pervasive musty or sour odor
  • Has darkened or dulled significantly
  • Thin, holey, or frayed sections
  • Backing is cracked or worn down
  • Stains that won’t come out after repeated washing
  • Slipping on the floor or not as grippy
  • Shedding lots of fibers or balls of lint
  • No longer fully absorbing water

When bath mats display any of these signs, it’s time to replace them with new ones for better sanitation, safety, and performance.

Where to Buy Bath Mats

You can find a wide selection of bath mats at these retailers:

  • Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • IKEA
  • Amazon
  • Wayfair
  • Kohl’s
  • JCPenney
  • Overstock
  • Lowes
  • Home Depot
  • Bath and Body Works
  • TJ Maxx/Marshall’s/Home Goods
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • Pottery Barn

Consider factors like size, color, materials, absorbency, price, and style when choosing new bath mats. Measure your space and shop smart to pick the perfect fit.

Bath Mat Types by Shape

In addition to material, bath mat styles differ by shape:

Contour or Toilet Lid Covers

  • Shaped to fit around and over toilet bases and lids
  • Stay in place better
  • Provide a cleaner place to stand when using toilet


  • Classic and versatile shape
  • Fits in front of sinks or tubs
  • Easy to launder
  • Can use multiple to cover more space


  • Provides full coverage for standing at sinks
  • Also used for decoration and layering
  • Combine with rectangle mats


  • Slightly rounded edges
  • Fit well in oval tubs
  • Soften the look of bath spaces
  • Provide adequate standing space

Extra Long

  • Provide ample “runway” space
  • Help avoid falls when exiting shower/tub
  • Allow for drying feet after bathing
  • Useful for open shower designs

Matching Your Bath Mats to Decor

Choose bath mats that coordinate with your overall bathroom decor:

  • Match mat color to towels, shower curtain, walls, or accessories
  • Complementary colors can provide a nice contrast
  • Repeat natural tones found in ceramic tiles, fixtures
  • Pick up pattern motifs like florals, stripes, or geometrics
  • Texture and pile height should fit the room’s style
  • Bring in accent colors used sparingly in space
  • Pair mat warmth with wood tones and cool hues with sleek metals
  • Consider rubber-backed mats if going for an industrial or rustic vibe

Tying in your bath mats is an easy way to pull a bathroom design together into one cohesive look.

Caring for Bath Mats Made From Natural Materials

Bath mats constructed from natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, jute, and sisal require a bit of special care:

  • Wash in cold water to avoid shrinkage
  • Air dry fully to prevent mold and mildew growth
  • Expect some shedding initially; this will subside over time
  • Natural rubber backing can develop a harmless white film
  • Spot clean to preserve colors from running or fading
  • Use a fabric softener to minimize stiffness after washing
  • Avoid using chlorine bleach or other harsh chemicals
  • Expect some fading over time from sunlight and washing

With proper washing and drying methods, bath mats made from natural materials can last for years. Their colors and textures bring warmth to bathrooms.

Kids and Pet-Friendly Bath Mat Options

When selecting bath mats for families, go for durable, stain-resistant options:

Cotton and Microfiber

  • Stand up to frequent washing
  • Available in fun prints and colors
  • Affordable and easy to replace


  • Quick to dry and easy to clean
  • Withstands daily wear and tear


  • Waterproof and protective
  • Provides traction for little feet
  • Can be sanitized easily


  • Colorfast and simple to wash
  • Provides cushioning for play areas

Darker hues also help conceal dirt and stains. Absorbent cotton and microfiber soak up spills quickly. Consider using a non-slip bath mat in children’s bathrooms.

Choosing Bath Mats for Seniors

For elderly individuals, prioritize safety, comfort, and ease of care:

  • Extra long mats with tapered edges help prevent slips and falls.
  • Look for rubber-backed, non-slip bath mats for stability getting in and out.
  • Absorbent, quick-drying microfiber prevents pooling water.
  • Washable cotton styles with grippy latex backing provide traction.
  • Machine washable mats allow for sanitizing regularly.
  • Soft chenille or plush pile mats add cushioning underfoot.
  • Light colors show dirt and debris needing cleaning.

Proper bath mats aid in stability and comfort, reducing accident risks for seniors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Caring for Bath Mats

Can I put my rubber bath mat in the washing machine?

No, you should always hand wash rubber bath mats to avoid damage. Machine washing can cause the backing to crack or peel.

How do I get mildew smell out of my bath mat?

Wash with hot water, distilled white vinegar, and baking soda. Then allow to dry fully in the sun. Odoban spray helps remove mildew odors too.

Why does my memory foam mat get slippery when wet?

The porous foam absorbs water, causing the surface to become slick. Look for memory foam mats with a non-slip rubber or latex backing to improve traction.

How can I stop my bath mat from moving?

Use a non-slip bath mat, double-sided rug tape, install a bath mat anchor, or place a non-slip pad underneath to keep your mat in place.

Should I wash new bath mats before use?

Yes, it’s a good idea to launder new bath mats prior to placing them in your home to remove manufacturing residues or chemicals that can cause skin irritation.