How to wash bath mats and remove nasty odors in five simple steps

Experts reveal how to wash bath mats to keep your bathroom fresh and clean

Yellow bath mat on floor in front of shower door with bamboo plant
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Keep everything in your bathroom clean and learn how to wash bath mats for a fresh and tidy space. 

While you may be used to washing yourself in there, without clean linens and bathroom essentials, you'll still feel a little messy. Bath mats naturally build up dirt, grime, and odors, but you can blitz it in these five easy steps.

Our laundry experts share the best way to wash bath mats to remove all those nasty bits. It's actually easier than you may think if you know how to do laundry the right way.

How to wash bath mats

Over continued use, your bath mat may build up debris like dust, dirt, or loose hair — extra important if you style your hair in the bathroom). And if you struggle to keep your small bathroom dry, they may start to smell damp or even get moldy.

"Establish a regular washing routine to prevent mold, mildew, and bacterial growth, maintaining a clean and hygienic bathroom," says Angela Rubin, a cleaning expert from Hellamaid.

First, make sure you have all your laundry room essentials together like laundry detergent and a good stain remover (we like Miss Mouth's stain treater available on Amazon ). 

Angela Rubin, cleaning expert at HellaMaid
Angela Rubin

Angela Rubin works at Hellamaid, a top-rated cleaning company in Canada. Hellamaid are industry experts specializing in residential and commercial cleaning services. 

White abstract pattern bath mat on floor with slippers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Step 1: check the care label

You may tempted to just throw your bath mat in the wash, but first, make sure you know the special requirements it may need. It's important to check the material as bath mats can be made with cotton, chenille, polyester, or nylon. The laundry symbols on the tag will give you some guidance. 

"Always check the care label on your bath mats for specific instructions. This will guide you on the recommended water temperature and any other special considerations," says cleaning expert, Karina Toner.

Karina Toner, Operations Manager, Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is a cleaning expert and the Operations Manager at Washington D.C.-based Spekless Cleaning. 

Step 2: shake it out

Take your bath mat outside and give it a good shake to remove any loose debris that may be stuck in the fibers. You'll want to get rid of any excess hair, crumbs, or dirt that comes loose as this will just clog up your washing machine.

Step 3: treat strains

You may have spilled a hair product or some body wash on your bath mat and left a stain on the material. Before throwing it in the wash, treat it with a stain remover and let it soak for a couple of hours. For heavy-duty stains, we like using OxyClean Max Force stain remover, available on Amazon.

"If you notice any stains on your bath mats, pre-treat them before washing. Use a stain remover or a mixture of mild detergent and water for spot cleaning," says Karina.

Step 4: wash on gentle cycle

Stick to a safe setting and wash your bath mats on a delicate cycle. "Place your bath mats in the washing machine and select the gentle cycle. Use cold or warm water, depending on the care label instructions, to prevent damage to the mat's fibers," says Karina. 

To kill off nasty bacteria, you may want to use an antibacterial laundry detergent, such as this Lysol Laundry Sanitizer, available on Amazon with over 89k reviews.

Step 5: air dry

If your bath mat has a plastic backing be careful not to damage or melt the material. "Air-dry the bath mat whenever possible to prevent damage from high heat. If using a dryer, choose a low-heat setting," says Angela.

If you're drying laundry in a small space a drying rack, such as this Amazon Basics rack with over 60k great reviews. 

Bathroom with gray bath and slippers

(Image credit: Getty Images)


How can I get odors out of a bath mat?

If your laundry detergent isn't cutting it, try adding an odor-eliminator to really target those nasty smells. "To eliminate any lingering odors, add a cup of white vinegar to the wash. This helps neutralize smells without compromising the integrity of the bath mats," says Karina.

Vinegar is a great natural odor-killer and its usual scent will not cling to clothes, but if you don't like the odor when handling it, this lemon-scented cleaning vinegar concentration from Amazon also comes in eucalyptus, lavender and orange scents. Just remember to add water to make a properly diluted solution before use.

How often should I wash a bath mat?

We'd recommend washing your bath mats pretty often to keep them fresh and odor-free. "Aim to wash your bath mats regularly, at least once every few weeks, to prevent the buildup of dirt and bacteria," says Karina.

While you may have gone to all the work of deep cleaning your bathroom, washing your bath mats will finish it off so it feels polished from top to bottom. Just remember to wash your towels while you're at it. 

Trust us, there's nothing like stepping out of the shower into a fresh, fluffy towel to make your small bathroom feel like a spa.

Emily Lambe
Deputy Editor

Hey! I’m Emily and I’m the deputy digital editor at Real Homes. I’m here to bring you the latest decor trends, inspirational ideas, informative how tos, the latest celeb homes style and the best budget-friendly buys. I live in a rented apartment, making the most of small spaces and using accent pieces to make things pop. When I’m not writing, I’m usually doing yoga, eating chocolate or working on my skincare routine.