What Is a Washable Rug, and What Makes These Textiles Washable?

Here's why these floor coverings are laundry safe.

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Washable rugs have exploded in popularity in recent years, and it's no surprise why: They're ideal for high-traffic areas like the kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and more because they're just a wash cycle away from looking good as new when dirt starts to build up. With that in mind, it's easy to understand why they're so popular among families and pet owners. But what, exactly, makes a rug washable? Why can some floor coverings go straight into the washer, while others require a costly professional clean? We asked an expert for the answers to both questions, among others, ahead.

living room interior with colorful area rug
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What makes a rug washable?

The ultimate factor that determines whether a rug is laundry-safe or not is its material. "Generally, if all the materials used in making your rug are washable, the whole rug should be," explains Samantha Gann, the Director of Digital Marketing at Rugs.com. But that doesn't mean that all rugs made from washable materials are washing machine-ready; certain glues, stitches, and dyes do not hold up well in your appliance.

What are the benefits of washable rugs?

Kids, pets, and heavy traffic can all wreak havoc on your rugs, especially in areas like family rooms, bedrooms, nurseries, and playrooms. "Having the option to wash your rug is such a nice benefit for busy parents who also want their homes to look good," Gann says, adding that it's usually a question of when rather than if when it comes to spills. "More and more people want to invest in an easy-to-clean rug that can look like new after a quick cycle in the washing machine."

How are washable rugs made?

Washable rugs come in a variety of materials, including synthetic and natural options, which include cotton, polyester, olefin, and polypropylene. "Washable rugs, such as Chindi cotton rugs, have been around for generations, but the new synthetic washable options now offer more prints and styles than ever before," Gann explains.

How can you tell if your rug can be washed?

If it's been a while since you purchased your rug, and you can't remember if it can be washed, Gann suggests checking the backing. "Many machine-made rugs have a jute backing," she says. Since jute is notorious for absorbing water, it's a good indicator that your rug won't be safe in the washing machine. "A cotton backing is a good sign that it is probably washable, but before you wash any rug, make sure to check all the materials used," she adds. Whatever the fabrication, you're better off playing it safe. "It's important to always check the care label on your rug before throwing it in the wash," she explains. "If the care label is unclear, try to contact the manufacturer."

How can you keep your rug looking its best?

Even if you have a washable rug, throwing it into the machine shouldn't necessarily be your go-to cleaning method. "Spot cleaning tactics should be used for small messes between washes," Gann says. "Throw it in the machine every few months when you need a complete refresh." Directions will vary, but your rug should be safe when washed in cold water with laundry detergent. "Air-drying is preferred to machine drying. Synthetic materials can be damaged by high heat," Gann concludes.

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