Are Rugs Machine Washable?

Lauretta Tassel Rug from Sequined by NuLoom

Your rugs get a lot of love- kids and pets run across them with their dirty feet and paws, people wipe their shoes on them, and, of course, there’s the occasional spill. All this traffic and mess means one thing: you’ll eventually need to wash your rug. Washing your rug doesn’t just help remove the dirt and grime, it also helps keep your rug looking fresh.

But, how exactly are you supposed to wash a rug? Can you just throw it in the laundry machine with the rest of your dirty clothes? Or, are you supposed to wash it by hand? And, how often should you really be washing it? Washing rugs can certainly be a bit confusing. After all, many people don’t even know they are supposed to wash their rugs.

So, what should you do with your rug? Are rugs machine washable? Read on to find out the answer to this question and more.

Are Rugs Machine Washable?: Sometimes

AMS-1019 from Amsterdam by Surya

So, are rugs machine washable? The answer is: sometimes.

If you have a rug that is made of cotton or synthetic fibers, you can wash it in the washing machine. This even includes rugs that have a rubber, no-slip backing, as well as rugs that are woven or braided.

Rugs made of synthetic fibers include:

What about rugs made of natural fibers? Rugs that are made of natural fibers are, unfortunately, not machine washable. Rugs made of natural fibers include:

There really aren’t any synthetic versions of seagrass, sisal, or jute. There are, however, synthetic versions of wool that are widely available.

How to Wash Synthetic and Cotton Rugs

Flatweave Noreen from Sitara Flatweave by NuLoom

Now that you know you can wash synthetic and cotton rugs, the question is: How? Unfortunately, many rug labels do not come with specific instructions on how to machine wash a rug, which can make the process a bit of a challenge. Therefore, it’s important that the first time you wash your rug in the washing machine, you wash it by itself. If the rug isn’t colorfast, the last thing you want is it ruining all of your clothes. To figure out if your rug is colorfast or not, rub it with a clean, damp white rag. You can also wet down a cotton swab and rub it into the fibers of your rug. If any colors transfer to the rag or the cotton swab, you will know that your rug isn’t colorfast and it can’t be washed with other garments.

Before you throw your rug in the wash, you will also want to pre-treat it for any stains. Pre-treating the rug will yield better results than if you were to just throw your rug in the washing machine. Different stains call for different spot treatments, so be sure you use the right method. You will also want to take your rug outside and vigorously shake it, as this will help remove any food or dirt particles. After you’ve done all of this, it’s finally time to load your rug into the washing machine.

To machine wash your rug, you will want to use cold water and a liquid detergent. If you need to balance the load, add a couple of bath towels. You can also add more than one rug as well. Set your machine on a delicate cycle, for a large load. Fill it with cold water and add the detergent. After you are done washing your rug, you’ll want to hang it on a clothesline to air dry. You should never dry your rug in the dryer, as this can cause shrinkage and deteriorate the backing.

If weather keeps you from drying your rug outdoors, hang it over the shower or on a drying rack inside.

If you find that your rug is too large to fit in your home washing machine, you will need to take it to a laundromat, as they have industrial-sized washers that can get the job done.

How to Wash Natural Fiber Rugs

Lauretta Tassel Rug from Sequined by NuLoom

Now that you know how to wash synthetic fiber rugs, let’s talk about how to wash rugs with natural fibers.


Vacuuming your natural fiber rug on a regular basis is very important because it helps remove loose dirt and debris before foot traffic grinds it into the fibers and causes permanent damage. Try to vacuum once a week to prevent this from happening.

Raise the Stains

After you’ve vacuumed your rug, the next task is to raise the stains. Unlike synthetic rugs, natural fiber rugs do not do well with moisture. So, soaking a natural fiber rug in water is never a good idea.

For most natural fiber rugs, the best thing to do is to mix one teaspoon of laundry detergent with one teaspoon of vinegar. Then, add the solution to 2 quarts of lukewarm water. Next, take a clean white rag and dampen it with the solution. Blot the stain gently with the rag until the stain is completely lifted.


As we said, natural fiber rugs really dislike moisture. Therefore, you should never leave your natural fiber rug out to air dry, as this can cause the rug to shrink and distort.

Once you’re done spot cleaning the rug, roll it in a clean, dry towel. This will absorb any excess moisture and will prevent future damage. You may have to repeat this step several times until the rug is completely dry.

Tips for Spot Cleaning Rugs

Hargis Labyrinth from Carnival by NuLoom

Spot cleaning a rug is important before you put it in the washing machine. We already talked about the best way to spot clean a natural fiber rug, but what about the synthetic ones?

Get It While It’s Wet

Once a stain dries, it becomes much more difficult to clean. Try to spot clean the rug before the stain has dried.

Always Blot

Many people make the mistake of trying to remove a stain by wiping it. Blotting is the best technique for removing a stain. To avoid spreading, start at the outside of the stain and work your way inward.

Start With Just Water

Many people’s first reaction to a rug stain is to dump all kinds of solutions on it, but it’s actually best to just start with water. If you get to the stain before it starts to soak in, blotting it with water should do the trick. If it doesn’t, you can move onto more invasive solutions.

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