Can You Wash Rugs in the Washing Machine? (Steps to Wash)

Kids and pets often run across rugs with their muddy feet and paws, adults wipe their shoes on them, and of course, spills happen as well. All of this foot activity and muck implies one thing: you’ll have to wash your rug at some point. Cleaning your rug removes dirt and filth, plus it will give it a new-looking touch.

But, what’s the best way you wash your rug? Can you simply toss it in the washer with other clothes? Or wash it by hand? And how regularly should you clean your mat?

Rug cleaning might be a little puzzling. Besides, some people are unaware that their rugs need to be washed in the first place.

Read on to find answers to all these questions, from how to wash your rugs to the best rug washing machines. But, first, is it safe to wash a carpet in the washer?

Is It Safe To Wash a Rug in the Washer?

Rugs made of cotton or synthetic fibers can be washed, including those with a rubber, non-slip backing. If you’re up for it, it’s recommended to run it on the delicate cycle with cold water and not wash it frequently.

The main problem is that many rugs are far too large, heavy, and unmanageable to be adequately washed in a regular washer machine. Plus, there’s the matter of drying them for what seems like an eternity.

To properly wash braided rugs, put them in a mesh laundry bag or a zippered pillowcase before washing them. If your carpet has that rubber-backing, your best chance is to tumble dry it on low or let it air dry until it’s done and clean.

According to Crate & Barrel, if you’re dealing with a large area rug that won’t fit in your home washer, you’ll require an industrial-sized washer. In such a situation, you can take it to your local laundromat or simply get it dry cleaned.

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How To Safely Wash a Rug in the Washing Machine?

Step 1: Read and Understand the Label

Start with reading the rug’s care label—located on the back. Colors may run in the washer if it specifies dry clean only. Go ahead and wash it if it’s machine washable or if you took the tag off years ago and just want to have it cleaned quickly. The majority of throw rugs are washable.

Step 2: Shake It Off

Grab one end of the rug and slam it against something, such as the side of the fence or the rear of the shed. Then take out your mat and shake it vigorously to remove as much dirt and hair as possible.

The more dirt you shake out of your rug, the better—you don’t want all of that filth and pet hair to end up in your washer.

Step 3: Treat the Spots or Stains

After giving it a thorough beating, it’s time to scab off the tough spots. Pre-treating stains will go a long way toward restoring the rug’s former brilliance. If you know what kind of stain it is – chocolate, alcohol, or grease — proceed with caution.

But in case you don’t know, carefully rub any strong liquid laundry detergent (in small amounts) into the region—for minor stains, a toothbrush will be ideal. Then allow about 15 minutes for the treatment to take effect.

Step 4: Load and Balance

Throw the rug in the laundry once you’ve treated the spots. Wash two carpets together or add a towel or two to a front-load washer to optimize results.

Also, ensure the load is even on all sides in a top-load washer. To establish balance, distribute the rug evenly around the center agitator, adding towels as needed.

Step 5: Wash

Fill your washer with cold water and your detergent, then set it to delicate. Never use chlorine bleach if the rug has a rubber backing, as it can cause the rubber in the machine to deteriorate, resulting in an even greater mess.

Instead, you can use oxygen-based bleach—it’ll brighten your rubber-backed carpet without destroying it.

Step 6: Dry

Finally, drape the rug over a clothesline or dryer rack. To prevent fading the freshly washed hues, keep them out of direct sunlight.

The heat in the dryers can make your rug shrink and ruin the backing, so, regardless of how tempting it’s to throw it in the dryer, don’t! If there are any remaining creases, use an iron or tumble dry on low/air cycle in the dryer.

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How Do You Dry a Rug After Washing It?

Allow the rug to air dry entirely—it could take a few days, depending on your environment. You should flip the mat over after a few hours to allow both sides to dry. Additionally, fitting fans around the rug can accelerate the drying process and prevent fading on wool rugs.

Roll them into large cotton towels and stand on the roll to squeeze out as much water as possible before laying them out.

If you don’t want to use your dryer, the best alternative is to hang the rug in the sun. Use clothespins or clips to hang the smaller mats properly. You’ll have to put larger rugs over a clothesline. Or, you can use your hairdryer if you can’t hang it outside.

What Types of Rugs are Machine Washable?

1. Cotton

Cotton is among the few natural rug fibers that can be machine washed, making it a popular choice. Cotton carpets are not only economical but also comfortable, cozy, and machine washable.

You can easily replace a worn-out cotton rug because they are not inexpensive. Simply ensure that you air dry it. Otherwise, cotton rugs, like cotton clothes, can shrink when they are put in the dryer.

2. Olefin

Olefin is a polyester fabric ideal for indoor and outdoor carpets as it’s stain, mildew, and moisture resistant. Moreover, it’s available in a variety of appealing colors and shapes.

If a thorough cleaning is required, such as after an outdoor season, you can always wash your olefin rug in the washing machine.

A yearly wash will give your olefin rug a fresh look, but you may require seasonal washings in homes with children and pets.

3. Nylon

Nylon rugs, like most synthetic fibers, are machine washable. While nylon rugs are not as durable as other synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, they are an excellent choice for low-traffic homes.

The nylon rug can be washed once in a while to remove built-up dirt and dust, but be sure to use the delicate cycle, cold water, and avoid drying in the dryer. Air drying is the ideal option for drying your nylon rug after a wash.

4. Polyester

Polyester rugs are excellent for their low cost and silky feel. These carpets, like most synthetic rug fibers, can be machine washed.

When washing a polyester rug, use cold water and a gentle cycle with a light laundry detergent. You should wash polyester rugs solo, but avoid mixing the colors if you decide to combine them with another load.

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5. Polypropylene

Polypropylene rugs, like olefin rugs, are ideal for high-traffic areas and suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Plus, it’s one of the more durable synthetic rug fibers. And can be machine-washed or hand-washed with a garden hose and mild dish detergent.

However, polyester rugs cannot go in dryers, as other synthetic carpets would since the polypropylene fibers can be melted by dryer heat. Instead, let it air dry and avoid exposing it to direct sunshine.

6. Viscose

Viscose, semi-synthetic fiber is often categorized as natural fiber and synthetic because of its primary ingredient. Although viscose rugs are generally machine-washable, hand-washing or spot cleaning is the best method because of their delicate nature.

What Can I Wash in the Washing Machine?

1. Spin Mop Head

Many cleaning instruments aren’t sanitized frequently, making them unreliable. For example, most people would prefer to replace a mop head over going through the tedious cleaning by hand. You don’t have to waste time or energy hand-washing it—just toss it in the washing machine.

2. Stuffed Animals

A stuffed animal is most likely a child’s first comrade, meaning they go everywhere and do everything together—sleeping, eating, and playing outside.

And while this toy receives a lot of love, it accumulates a lot of dirt and grime over time, making your kid prone to infections.

Fortunately, you can regularly clean your child’s favorite furry companion in the washing machine.

3. Canvas Shoes

Shoes, like home rugs, get a lot of wear and tear. Canvas shoes are made of coarse hemp-based cloth. Since these fashionable shoes are costly, it’s critical to look after them and keep them in good condition. By removing any excess mud or filth first, washing your canvas shoes will be breezy.

4. Bed Pillows

Have you been tossing stains-filled pillows out, believing there’s no way to save them, and replacing them with new ones? Well, you’re in luck because I’ve got a money-saving tip for you!

Don’t throw away your soiled bed pillows—unless the label says “dry clean only.” Instead, toss them in the washer at the very least every six months.

5. Small Rugs

Your small-sized carpets are undoubtedly in need of some maintenance due to the quantity of foot traffic in and out of your home. Depending on the type and texture of your rugs, you may need to clean them differently.

However, including a machine-washable throw rug or runner with a load of laundry once a month is often safe.

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things in her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.