Weekend Projects

How to (Finally!) Wash the Filthiest Thing in Your Bathroom

published Mar 13, 2020
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I know this sounds weird and that it’s totally a product of what I do and why I do what I do (which is to say, write a bunch of stuff about cleaning) but I love the light-bulb moments of discovering a new way to clean something or of realizing there’s something dirty I need to clean.

Actually, I take it back. I bet you love those light-bulb moments, too! That’s why you’re here. This weekend’s project falls into the category of cleaning something that’s dirtier than we realize: our bathmats.

We step on them when we’re at our dirtiest—right before we step into the shower or bath—leaving behind whatever sweat and dirt might be clinging to our feet. And then we step on them again when we’re our cleanest, immediately after showering or bathing.

No one wants to step right back into their old dirt. But bathmats, which live in the humid and warm environment of your bathroom, may also be teeming with mold and bacteria, especially if they don’t dry out completely between showers. We’re going to take care of all that this weekend.

Credit: Jessica Rapp

This Weekend: Wash your bathmats.

Bathmats that have no rubber backing are the easiest to clean and can be washed just as you’d wash towels:

  • First, shake them out to dislodge any larger dirt and debris. You may want to do this outside. Or do it in the bathroom and then vacuum (and clean the rest of your bathroom while you’re at it!).
  • Next, apply a stain remover to any stubborn dirt and toss in the washer. Add vinegar or bleach to help address germs and mildew.

Bathmats with rubber backing require a bit more care:

  • If the rubber is already beginning to crumble, it may be time to consider replacing your mats. You definitely don’t want to put crumbling rubber mats in the washer because pieces that come off could clog your machine.
  • If your rubber-backed mats are still intact, wash them on a cold cycle in the washer, again adding vinegar, bleach, or OxiClean to loosen dirt and help combat microorganisms.
  • To get them dry quickly, you can put these mats in the dryer on low heat, but, preferably, you should hang them to dry. A sunbath, if weather permits, will further brighten and disinfect your mats.

In addition to being clean, your freshly-washed mats will be more fluffy and welcoming than ever. Going forward, plan to wash frequently used bathmats weekly (tie the chore to your bathroom-cleaning routine). Bathmats that are heavily used or don’t dry out completely between uses need frequent washing. Less regularly used mats can go longer between washings.

You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.