Everything you need to know about toilet/contour rugs and bathroom mats, including material options, style choices, and safety concerns, as well as new options for environmentally friendly bathroom rugs.
Growing up, we were all just a little jealous of those friends who had the nice cozy toilet and bathroom rugs in their houses. You know, the ones that kept our toes warm and were so soft we had to be properly convinced to leave the bathroom. Unless—of course—you were one of those friends, but in that case, there is little that has to be said in the way of defending toilet rugs and why every bathroom can be improved by having one.
Bathroom rugs—also known as contour rugs or around-the-toilet rugs—are specifically designed to fit around toilets. You can also get rugs adjacent to a tub or shower. They are made in all the same materials and many of the same design features as any other standard bathroom rug, and they often come in sets so that your bathroom fits a specific aesthetic. Contour rugs offer a touch of coziness and design aesthetic, but they can also be a necessary safety feature of any bathroom.
When looking for a bathroom rug—or any rug that has to hold up in the bathroom—there are a few things to keep in mind. Most important are:
- Material—the Material choice is a consideration for both comfort and function. Almost all contour rugs are made from cotton, chenille, nylon, polyester microfibers, or bamboo
- Size and style—While the size of contour rugs are pretty standard, there are many different fabric styles depending on personal taste. The most common are tufted, flat, or memory foam-enforced
- Maintenance and durability—How much care is needed for washing and drying the toilet rug and how long it will hold up under the required maintenance schedule.
- Safety features—Rubber backing on any bathroom rug helps to reduce the risk of slipping, antibacterial additions better help to prevent unwanted smells or growth, and environmental testing can help reduce the risk of irritation for sensitive skin.
- Other perks—How quickly your bathroom needs it to dry (i.e. how humid the environment it). Organic and environmentally friendly preferences are also becoming quite common.
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2 Main Types of Bathroom Rugs
You can get one or both. One fits around the base of a toilet or is a rectangle in front of the toilet. The other is placed in the bathroom to provide comfort and non-slip safety – usually adjacent to the tub, shower and/or vanity. If you have a large bathroom, you may have multiple rugs. Play your cards right and you can enhance the decor of your bathroom with the mats.
Here’s a photo showing one of each:
Contour rugs can be made from many materials, but the most common and safest for the bathroom floor are bamboo, cotton, polyester microfiber, chenille, and nylon. Choosing a material is one of the most important parts of picking a contour rug, both for safety reasons as well as a design aesthetic for your bathroom. Toilet rugs will be exposed to water and moisture on a daily basis, so they need to be absorbent, but they also need to dry quickly so they don’t become fast-breeding grounds for bacteria.
Cotton is an extremely common material for many household items. It is an extremely absorbent material, and it dries quickly in most environments. Cotton is also one of the softer choices for bathroom rugs and is generally accepted as the easiest to clean. On the same lines, an Egyptian cotton is also an option. It has the same base qualities as standard cotton, but it is slightly more absorbent and noticeably softer to the touch. Most cotton rugs, depending only on the weave and design of the fabric, can be tossed in a normal machine wash cycle, ensuring the cleanliness of your bathroom can easily be maintained.
Chenille is not as soft as cotton, but it is more resistant to water and water damage. Otherwise, this material is very similar to cotton and adds a touch of plush comfort to any bathroom.
Nylon is one of the more durable materials for a bathroom rug, and it is also a machine washable material. While not as soft as cotton, nylon is still a very comfortable option and is perfect for any bathroom. Its absorbency is slightly less efficient than cotton, but it dries a little more quickly.
Microfiber materials are becoming increasingly common as a synthetic substitute for many fabrics. Microfiber products absorb moisture, dry quickly, slip less, and usually are designed to last. Depending on what style this material is made into (e.g. flat versus plush), it can be one of the softest options for a bathroom rug. Microfiber is designed to keep your floor both dry and clean. It’s also machine washable, meaning your cleaning routine isn’t made more involved just for the sake of a single bathroom rug. The one downside to microfiber is that some synthetic properties can trigger skin allergies or cause mild irritation to those with sensitive skin; however, there are also options for hypoallergenic microfiber.
While much less common, bamboo mats are becoming increasingly popular as a substitute to traditional bathroom rugs (and some companies do make them to fit around toilets). Bamboo mats are entirely wooden, and therefore don’t absorb nearly as much water as fabric rugs. In traditional fabric materials, too much absorbency and not enough drying can lead to mildew and other unwanted bacterial smells.
There are a few different styling options for bamboo mats. Some of them lie flat on the ground and are designed to roll up, while others are denser wood pallets, elevated slightly to keep them off the bathroom floor, and some fall in between these styles. Many bamboo mats are slip-resistant, and some also have an additional varnish to fend off mold. Bamboo mats do lack some of the comfort and softness that other materials provide, but they make up for it in aesthetic; bamboo offers a sleek texture and a more modern, minimalist feel than fabric materials.
An important side effect of rug material is taking into consideration any maintenance you will need to perform, usually in reference to cleaning. All toilet rugs will need to be washed periodically, as do most things that live in the bathroom. Some of the above materials require more maintenance to keep clean, while others can simply be thrown in the daily wash. Make sure to glance over the care instructions before committing to your choice, so that keeping your bathroom clean doesn’t turn into more work than you want it to be!
Common stylings, regardless of material, are tufted or shag, flat, and foam-enforced.
Tufted fabric or shag rugs are a fairly common style for contour and bathroom rugs in general, as this looser fabric adds comfort and coziness—but this style can be more difficult to clean, as throwing them in the normal wash and dry cycle can tamper with the integrity of the design.
Flat rugs are also perfectly functional and are a better choice for those who prefer less bulky material.
Many bathroom rugs also have a layer of foam to add comfort, specifically when standing.
Organic bath mats are also becoming more popular, as well as the previously-mentioned wooden, platform-style mats that are often made from bamboo. Other fabrics are specifically manufactured to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible, and they are tested for all harmful substances. There are other options for eco-conscious toilet rugs, primarily through looking at how the fabric itself was produced. Materials production can fall anywhere on the green spectrum, but some methods, like ring-spun cotton, are particularly gentle on the environment. If the production of a rug has been environmentally friendly, it will be noted in the product description.
Size and Shape
Size is an important consideration for bathroom rugs for two reasons in particular: décor and safety. A rug that is too small or too large for the space you have may look out of place aesthetically.
In the case of toilet rugs, one that is too large might not lie flat around the toilet and can turn into a feature you trip over, rather than one that adds comfort and safety.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of contour rugs are made in dimensions along the lines of 20” by 24”, which accommodates all standard toilets and most bathrooms.
The shape of contour toilet rugs is less of an aesthetic or even functional choice than other bathroom rugs, given that their primary function is to wrap around the base of the toilet. They are generally rectangular, with a space cut out of one short end to fit the base of the toilet. The edges can be sharper corners or rounded, and that choice is purely for design preference.
Absorbency is also an essential property of toilet rugs, as a means to both prevent the growth of mold and lower the risk of slipping and having an accident. When choosing any rug for the bathroom, you want to make sure that it doesn’t collect water that could cause you to slip.
It should be absorbent enough, but it also needs to be able to dry before the stagnant water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, making your bathroom both smelly and unsanitary. Absorbency is different with each material.
Bamboo, for example, is resistant to water, to begin with, making it a great choice for maintaining a clean, dry floor, while cotton and other materials are simply designed to dry out quickly.
A slip-resistant rug is a good feature of any rug in the bathroom, and as such, most toilet rugs have a rubber lining on the bottom to prevent skidding. Unlined materials can shimmy around the floor. These rubber linings are made from either latex or silicone.
Some extra features that have become more common are anti-bacterial materials and memory foam for added comfort, as well as fade-resistant dyes for coloring and odor-resistant technology throughout, to help maintain cleanliness and comfort in your bathroom. Memory foam cushioning can add great comfort and support, especially for sore feet or even back pain. Plus, memory foam is a hypoallergenic material, and it absorbs water and dries quickly, similar to traditional fabrics.
Contour rugs can be found at any home goods store or department store, including their online outlets, as well as any large-scale online retailer. Anywhere that sells bathroom décor is a likely option to find the best contour rug for both function and design for any bathroom.
What does a toilet contour rug look like?
Here’s a photo!
Does material actually matter?
Yes. All true contour rugs are made from an absorbent material, which one of the primary constraints for rugs in the bathroom. For the most part, the material choice comes down to personal preference or texture. However, if you have a particularly humid bathroom, it is recommended you choose something like cotton to maximize drying, or you may want to look into antibacterial options that are made from the same material but have an added coating.
Do I need a slip-resistance?
It is recommended that households with small children look into bathroom rugs with a slip-resistant latex later to grip the bathroom floor, to reduce the risk of an accident. It is certainly a positive safety feature for everyone else.
Are there different sizes of toilet rug?
No. Most contour rugs are approximately the same size. They are made to fit around any standard toilet and don’t usually function to cover any additional floor space.
Are bamboo mats safe for kids?
Yes! Bamboo mats are usually designed to not hold water on the surface, and many of them have an additional slip-resistant backing.