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Can You Wash Bathroom Rugs With Towels?

A collage of different ways to clean rugs.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with bathroom rugs for years. There’s nothing better than feeling the plush cotton when I step out of the shower. At the same time, I worry that it’s picking up bacteria in the bathroom. I wash my bathroom rug frequently for this reason. Recently, I began wondering if I could wash my bathroom rug with towels. Here’s what I discovered. 

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Can You Wash Bathroom Rugs With Towels?

A bathtub with towel and a rug.

The short answer is, yes, you can wash bathroom rugs and towels. However, before you toss your rug in the washing machine, there are some things you should know. 

Why Wash Your Bathroom Rug With Towels? 

First, why are towels a good laundry mate for your rugs? One reason is that they are typically made of similar materials. Most bathroom rugs are made from cotton. Some are made from terry cloth or microfiber. Towels can also be made from these materials. 

Another reason is that these items have a similar weight. Washing items with a similar weight together can help you extend the life of your items and washing machine by keeping it balanced. 

The last, and most important reason, for washing your bathroom rug with towels is because your rug may release lint when washing.

Lint is simply fibers from the cloth. It won’t cause any harm to your clothing, but it can stick to your clothes. Wearing a blouse with rug lint is not attractive, so it’s best to avoid washing them with your rug. 

Is there a Downside to Washing Towels with a Bathroom Rug? 

A dirty bathroom rug on a white background.

Some people worry about the germs that may be present on your bathroom rug. They picture toilet water splashing on it, and dirty feet standing on it. 

Your bathroom is certainly a germy place, but is your rug a biohazard?

The truth is, your towels can also harbor bad bacteria. In fact, one study conducted by the University of Arizona, found 90% of towels contained coliform bacteria, and 14% contain E. coli. This bacteria typically grows on used towels. 

So, your used towels are probably just as germy, if not more so, than your rug. There’s no reason to avoid washing them together with your rugs due to bacteria. 

There is one reason you may not want to wash your rugs with towels, however.

The first is that color can bleed, particularly if you are washing the rug for the first time.  Of course, if you don’t mind your towels staining with color this isn’t a problem. 

One potential issue when washing rugs with towels is that rugs should typically be washed on a gentle cycle.

Towels are typically washed on a different setting than rugs. You can wash your towels with the same setting as rugs, but they may not get as clean. 

What Else Can You Wash with Your Rug? 

A woman taking laundry out of the washing machine.

We know that you shouldn’t wash your clothes with bathroom rugs. Is there anything else that you can wash with them?  

The best thing to wash your rugs with is other rugs. They are typically made of similar materials, and often have similar washing instructions. 

Washing them together keeps your washing machine balanced, and removes any concerns about lint getting onto your clothing. 

How to Wash a Bathroom Rug 

Now that you know what you can wash with a bathroom rug, let’s take a look at how to wash them. Washing them properly can extend their life and keep them looking great. 

Shake the Rug

The first step is to shake your rug. This will remove loose dirt and debris from the rug, so the dirt doesn’t go into your washing machine. The best place to shake it out is outside. If you do so indoors, be sure to sweep up the dirt when you are done. 

Inspect the Rug 

A person with gloves checking on the orange rug.

Now, you’ll need to inspect your rug. Most bathroom rugs have a rubber material attached to the back to prevent it from slipping. 

Over time, this material can crack. If the back of the rug is cracked, you shouldn’t wash it. The pieces of backing will get into the washing machine, and can damage it. Instead, you’ll need to toss the rug and get a new one. 

You should also check the care instructions on the rug. Most rugs are fine to wash in the washing machine, but check the label to be sure. 

Don’t Overload the Washer 

You can wash rugs together, or with towels. However, be sure not to overload your washing machine. The washing machine cleans using water, soap, and agitation. If you overload the washer, it won’t be able to agitate properly. Your rugs will not get as clean as they should. 

Choose the Right Setting and Detergent 

It’s recommended to wash rugs in cold water, and using  the gentle or delicate cycle. This is easier on the rug than other settings. However, it isn’t as effective at cleaning as other cycles. 

If your washing  machine has an adjustable spin cycle speed, lowering this speed can help keep the rug backing intact. If it doesn’t, the gentle cycle will automatically reduce the spin and agitation speed. 

Personally, I wash my bathroom rugs in warm or hot water. Hot water is better at cleaning and killing germs than cold water. It may shorten the life of your rug, but the trade off might be worth it. 

When it comes to detergent, your standard laundry detergent is fine. 

Drying A Bathroom Rug

Bathroom rug hanged on a curtain rod.

You can easily toss your towels into the dryer after washing. In fact, I recommend doing so. The heat of the dryer can kill any bacteria that might remain on your towels, ensuring that they are clean and sanitized. 

When it comes to your bathroom rug, however, you shouldn’t dry it with heat. 

If you put it into the dryer, be sure to use the no heat or air dry settings. Heat from the dryer will damage the rubber backing on the rug. 

When you pull the rug from the washing machine, shake it. This will help remove any wrinkles or lint. Next, hang it to dry. You can hang it on a clothes line, or a drying rack. 

Don’t worry if there’s a few wrinkles or creases in the rug. Once you lay the rug down, the warmth from the bathroom will release any wrinkles. 

Can You Wash Bathroom Rugs with Towels FAQs

A washing machine and a laundry basket.

How often should you wash your bathroom rugs and towels?

You should wash your bathroom rug once a week. If you live alone, you can wash the rug every 2 weeks. Towels should be washed after 2 to 3 days of use. Hang the towels up to allow them to dry after using. 

How do I keep bathroom rugs clean between uses? 

You can shake the rug out daily. If the rug gets wet, you should hang it to dry. If you leave a wet rug on the floor, fungus or bacteria can grow. 

Can you use bleach on bathroom rugs? 

You want to get your bathroom rugs clean, but you shouldn’t use bleach. Bleach can damage the rubber backing on the mat. Bleach will also cause color to fade, so you can’t use it on colored rugs. You can use laundry sanitizer.