How to Wash and Care for Bathroom Rugs

Gray rug in bathroom

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 8 hrs - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to $10

Bathroom rugs get more use and are subject to more moisture and contaminants than almost any other floor covering in the home. Though they are often overlooked as towels and washcloths are washed weekly, bathroom rugs should also be washed regularly to get rid of bacteria and soap scum and prevent mold and mildew. How you wash it will depend on the type of fabric used in the rug, but generally, you will want to wash it in the warmest water possible, then air-dry it to prevent shrinkage and damage. A regular laundry detergent generally works well, but it's also a good idea to add a laundry disinfectant to ensure the cleanest possible rug.

Here's the best way to keep your bathroom rugs clean and germ-free.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine
  • Drying rack or clothesline


  • Laundry detergent
  • Stain remover (optional)
  • Laundry disinfectant (optional)


Bottles of laundry products

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

How to Wash a Bathroom Rug
Detergent Regular
Water Temperature Warm to hot
Cycle Type Regular 
Drying  Air-dry only
Special Treatments Reduce spin cycle speed on front-load washers
Iron Setting Do not iron
How Often to Wash Every one to two weeks

How to Wash a Bathroom Rug

  1. Shake Out the Rug

    Before you do anything else, take the bathroom rug outside, and give it a good shake. This will get rid of any debris such as lint, hair, and sand trapped in the fibers. Debris belongs outside, not in your washing machine filter.

    Gray rug shaked to remove excess debris

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  2. Read the Labels

    All textiles sold in the United States are required to have care labels attached. If this is the first time you have washed the rug, take a moment to read the label. It will provide valuable information on fabric content and instructions on how to clean.

    Care instructions label being read

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  3. Inspect the Back of the Rug

    If the bathroom rug has a skid-proof backing, turn it over, and give it a quick check. If the rubber or plastic is cracked, peeling, or missing chunks, it is time to replace the rug. Another washing may fill your washer with loose pieces of plastic that can destroy the water pump. A new bathroom rug is much less expensive than a washer repair.

    Back of gray rug being inspected

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  4. Load the Washer

    Bathroom rugs should be washed with similar fabrics and colors. Loads of towels often work best, as bathroom rugs will produce some lint and you don't want that on your clothes. If you are washing several rugs in a top-loading machine with a center agitator, be sure to place them opposite each other so that the machine will stay balanced. Do not overload the washer. You want the water and detergent to reach every surface easily.

    Choose warm or hot water, and wash with your regular detergent.

    Gray rug placed in washer machine

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  5. Reduce the Spin Cycle Speed

    If you have a washer with adjustable speeds for the spin cycle, reduce the speed if your bathroom rug has a non-skid backing. This will help prevent cracking and reduce any wear and tear.

    Choosing the correct washer cycle for a bathroom rug

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  6. Shake and Dry

    When you remove the rug from the washer, give it a good shake to remove wrinkles and creases. Hang the rug from a clothesline, or place it over a drying rack to air-dry. If any wrinkles or creases are present after drying, don't break out the iron. Just place the rug on the floor, and the moisture and warmth in the bathroom will relax the fibers and remove the wrinkles.

    Gray rug hanging on drying rack to dry

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Treating Stains on Bathroom Rugs

If you see a specific stain on the bathroom rug, treat it with a bit of your regular laundry detergent or a stain remover. Work in the product with your fingers, and let it remain on the rug for about 10 minutes before you toss it in the washer.

Bathroom Rug Care and Repairs

If the skid-proof backing of your mat has cracks or splitting, you can try to cover the damage with liquid latex applied with a wide paintbrush If this doesn't work, you should consider replacing the mat.

Storing Bathroom Rugs

Because of their skid-proof backing, mats should not sharply folded for storing. Instead, roll them into a cylinder shape, and keep in a cool, dry place, such as where you store your linens.

How Often to Wash Bathroom Rugs

Whether you use a larger decorative bathroom rug or a simple cotton bathmat, it should be cleaned regularly. The frequency depends on how many people use the bathroom and how careful they are with the mat, but keep in mind that the moisture and warmth in bathrooms produce the perfect environment for mildew and bacteria to flourish. If the rug is not hung to dry between uses and stays damp most of the time, it should be washed at least weekly. If it's allowed to dry fully after a single daily shower, you can usually wash it every other week.

Tips for Washing Bathroom Rugs

  • While allowing a bathroom rug to dry between uses is a very good thing, there's one type of drying you should avoid—automatic dryers. The high heat can melt any non-skid backing, and the tumbling action can cause backings to crack.
  • Make sure to hang your mat up after each use. This helps it dry more quickly and avoid mold and mildew.
  • Promote air circulation in your bathroom, either with a fan or an open window, so your mat and towels don't say damp for long.
  • Families should wash mats weekly to avoid mold and bacteria. If you live alone, you can wash yours twice a month.
  • Does washing a bathroom rug kill athlete's foot fungus?

    If you are concerned about athlete's foot fungus on the bathroom rug, add a laundry disinfectant to the wash cycle. Chlorine bleach is an effective disinfectant but it should not be used on colored rugs or those with rubber backings. Opt for a pine oil or phenolic disinfectant instead.

  • How can I wash a rug that's too big for my washer?

    Large rugs can be hand-washed in a bathtub or large laundry tub. Fill the tub with warm to hot water, then add a capful of carpet detergent or regular laundry detergent. Submerge the rug and agitate for several minutes. Drain the tub, then rinse under running water until the rinse water runs clear.

    Very dirty rugs may require two or more cleanings to get fully cleaned.

  • Can I use vinegar to reduce odors in a bathmat?

    Avoid using vinegar if your rug has a rubber backing. Vinegar is mildly acidic and it can break down rubber backing on a rug. Washing in hot water and fully drying the bathmat will usually eliminate odors. Adding a disinfectant to the wash water can also help.