Cleaning A Dirty Bath Mat

Simple cleaning steps to keep all kinds of bath mats looking like new.

Most Americans spend an average of 12 minutes washing themselves in the shower daily, but few of them scrub the soles of their feet. As a result, what's underfoot--in the tub and just outside of it--needs regular cleaning.


Many households use a tub mat made of rubber to prevent slips and falls in the bath or shower. Because the mat is textured, dirt--and sometimes mildew--can accumulate in its grooves as well as underneath it. Regular cleaning is important.

One simple way to remove embedded dirt from tub mats is to use a pressure washer. This is a special attachment for your garden hose that concentrates the force of the water on a small area. You may already use a pressure washer for your deck, patio furniture, whitewall tires, or the outside of your home.

If you have a pressure washer, use it to clean both sides of your bathtub mat. Most stains should vanish on contact.

Be sure to use the pressure washer outside. The force of the water is very strong. Indoors, water can bounce off the bath mat and soak the surrounding room.

Some families prefer to use a scrub brush on the bathtub mat when they're cleaning other bathroom fixtures. Be sure to remove the mat and clean underneath it, too. That's a common hiding place for mildew.

You can also wash most bathtub mats in the laundry. Put your mat into the clothes washer with a small amount of laundry detergent and a bath towel. The towel will rub against the mat during the wash cycle, and help to scrub it clean.

Never dry any rubber or plastic product in the dryer. Hang it up in a well-ventilated area instead.

In between washings, you can reduce the stains on your tub mat with a rinse of diluted hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach. Be sure to check the instructions that came with your bathtub mat first; some rubber and plastic products can be damaged by chlorine bleach. (Be careful not to mix chlorine bleach with other cleaning products. Read product labels for warnings.)

Oxygen stain removers can work well on many stains. If you're using a powdered cleaner, mix a paste with water and apply it to the darkest stains. Wait about 20 minutes, and then rinse. Repeat as necessary.

The harsher the chemicals that you use on any rubber product--including the tub mat--the sooner the rubber will start to wear out. So, start with the gentlest approach to stains first.

If stains won't lift with routine cleaning and they look unattractive, it may be time to replace the mat.

In a household where stains are common, choose a darker bathtub mat so that dirt and stains are less obvious. Popular stain-hiding colors include moss, eggplant and indigo blue. Or, look for stain resistant tub mats made for hotel use. These cost more, but can last years longer and remain stain- and mildew-free.


Bathroom floor mats may also need special attention, especially if your household includes small children or an adult who works with grease, oil, or dirt.

Most families launder terrycloth bath mats weekly with the bathroom towels. This is a good way to prevent stains from setting into the fibers. Add a laundry booster or an oxygen stain remover for extra cleaning power.

To remove heavy stains such as tar, oil, or grease, pre-treat the mat with a degreaser. Some cleaning products are specially designed for grease and related stains. Orange oil products have been especially popular for this in recent years. But, dishwashing liquid is also designed to cut grease and can work nearly as well.

Wash your bathroom floor mat in hot water to lift difficult stains. If any stains remain after laundering, presoaking or repeated washings may help. In some cases, you may need to cover permanent stains with other decorations such as embroidered appliques.

After washing, line dry your bath mat if it has a rubber backing; never put it into the clothes dryer. The rubber can melt and damage both the mat and the dryer.

If your bath mat is heavy terry cloth or doesn't have a special backing, it should be fine in your household dryer. Use a carpet rake to raise the pile if the mat looks too flat after drying.

Some companies make extra durable bath floor mats for hotels, too. If you're shopping online, look for manufacturers that supply the hospitality industry.

Bathtub mats and floor mats are an important part of your home decor. By keeping ahead of dirt and stains, your bathroom will look fresh and clean every day.

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