How to Wash a Bath Mat or Bathroom Rug

Updated: Feb. 29, 2024

This is how to wash bath mats so they're fresh, fluffy and free of bacteria. Plus, find out how often to wash them—and when it's time to shop for replacements.

When it’s time to give your bathroom a deep clean, there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget to wash—the bath mat. There’s not much that’s more satisfying than stepping out of the shower onto a clean, fluffy mat or bathroom rug. But how exactly do you wash bath mats? Well, it depends what kind of mat you have. Here are the best cleaning methods for every type of bath mat, along with how often you should incorporate this task into your cleaning schedule.

How to wash bath mats

The first step is to check the care label. The label will tell you if your bath mat should be machine- or hand-washed. Most types of bath mats, including cotton, chenille and memory foam, can be washed in the washing machine. If your rug has a rubber or latex backing, it’s safe to put it in the washer unless it’s starting to peel. At that point, it’s time to replace the mat; otherwise, the backing might come off in your washing machine. Keep in mind that even without damaged backing, you should replace your bath mats about every two years, according to Kohler.

In the washing machine

Machine-washing is the fastest and easiest way to ensure your bath mats are clean and free of bacteria. Here’s what to do when throwing them in the washing machine:

  1. Shake away any debris on the mat.
  2. Toss the mat in the washer, and wash it through a regular wash cycle on the cold setting. Use your regular detergent and avoid vinegar or bleach, which can damage some mats.

Bath mats can get heavy in the wash, so don’t wash more than two at a time. (In fact, some experts suggest never using the washer for bath mats to avoid potential damage to the washer.)

Check the mat’s care label for drying instructions. Generally cotton, chenille and polyester rugs can be put in the dryer on the low setting. Hang dry memory foam mats to help maintain their shape. You should also hang dry mats with rubber backing; they are one of the many things that should never be put in the dryer.

Without a washing machine

If you don’t have a washing machine, or your bath mat requires hand-washing, here’s how to do it.

  1. Shake away any debris on the mat.
  2. Fill a large container, bathtub or sink with cold water and about a teaspoon of laundry detergent—feel free to use one that smells amazing.
  3. Let the rug soak for about 15 minutes, then agitate the water with your hands.
  4. Drain the soapy water, then rinse the rug by filling the container again with clean water or rinsing the rug under a running tap.
  5. Squeeze away excess water, then hang dry.

How often you should wash your bath mats

We recommend washing your bath mats once a week, on the same frequency as cleaning your bathroom. If your bathroom is extra humid, you might need to let your mats hang dry after showering or bathing. Keeping them as dry as possible in between washings will help prevent mildew and bacteria from developing.

Next, learn how to clean a shower head and shower curtains to keep your bathroom spotless.


  • Kohler: “How Often Should You Replace These Common Bathroom Items?”

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home