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Rugs can be one of the biggest home decor investments we make, and they also take the brunt of our messes. Whether they’re in a high-traffic hallway, the dining room, or the kitchen, rugs get messy. And while it’s totally your prerogative if you want to keep your treasured rug daintily displayed in that one sitting room no one ever actually sits in, we want to talk about the rugs we really use. Those that take beatings from shoe tracks, spaghetti sauce spills, pet accidents, and everything else. While spot cleaning is the quickest method for tidying up a rug after a spill, there’s quite a bit that a washing machine can take care of that a rag and some cleaning solutions can’t. Machine washability is also helpful for bigger messes, seasonal changes, and kids.
But what makes a rug washable? Spot cleaners and carpet shampooers aside, we’re paying close attention to rugs that can be gathered into a washing machine, possibly even machine-dried afterward, and unrolled like new in a matter of hours. While some website listings describe rugs as “washable,” it’s important to understand the materials rugs are made from to know which ones can be washed once a year and which ones can withstand a wash every month. For example, cotton rugs, while soft and natural, can shrink or distort when machine-washed on high heat or too often. Polypropylene-based or polyester rugs are designed to withstand moisture as well as the rigors of a washing machine, but they’re often less soft and typically used outdoors. A washable rug is one that combines the durability of an outdoor rug with the attractiveness and comfort of an indoor rug.
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What to Consider When Buying a Washable Rug
Break out the measuring tape! Types of rugs are first classified by size and shape: runners, area rugs, doormats, etc. When it comes to runners for hallways or kitchens, 2.5′ x 7′ is the most conventional size. With area rugs, 5’x 8′ through 9′ x 12′ is standard, though the former can more easily fit into compact washers and dryers. First, decide where you want your washable rug to go, then narrow down your material options.
It’s important to keep in mind that the larger your rug’s size — even if it’s an ultra-thin Ruggable topper — the more space it’ll take up in your washing machine. Take stock of your machine’s size to make sure using your washable rug to its fullest potential is feasible. If your rug is 6′ x 9′ or larger, you may need to utilize a 60-pound washing machine, like the ones found at laundromats or wash-and-folds. Home washing machines usually handle around 20 to 25 pounds.
Sometimes, a rug that’s crafted from a single material source — 100 percent long-staple cotton, for example — can be measured in GSM, or grams per square meter. This measurement is used to determine the fabric’s weight, and a higher GSM means a fluffier, thicker, and higher pile fabric. A rug’s KPSI, or knots per square inch, can determine its value as a hand-knotted textile. The more knots per square inch, the longer a rug takes to make, and the more expensive it will be. If you’re able to take a good, up-close look at a rug, you can see just how much time and effort went into it by examining a single square inch of its surface.
The style of your rug can determine its thickness and density, which in turn, effects its ability to clean and dry well, especially in a washing machine.
Tip: You can tell a rug is machine made if its fringe is sewn or glued on, the edges have visible surging, or the back of the rug is completely uniform. Handmade rugs are usually crafted in one piece and their backstitching isn’t completely perfect.
When it comes to washable rugs, the weave and materials are particularly important. We’ve broken down the more prevalent materials used to make washable rugs lighter in weight and easily washable. Keep in mind that shopping for a washable rug will present you with materials you may not recognize or have been told to run away from (hi, polyester!). These rugs are built for wear and tear, so their materials will reflect what they’re designed to do. That said, you’re not sacrificing feel or look for functionality with any of our winners.
Ensuring that your rug is non-toxic, especially if you have pets or kids, is a non-negotiable. We looked for washable rugs and brands with as many certifications as possible, whether they are environmentally or socially conscious (or both). Here are the ones most worth noting when it comes to rug shopping in general, a few of which you’ll see in our list.
What We Look for in a Washable Rug
We tested washable rugs across a range of materials, sizes, and brands to determine our winners. Our picks span a variety of sizes and colors, so keep in mind that if we tested a runner in red, you’ll likely find it available as a 5′ x 7′ area rug in other hues and patterns as well. Our criteria are:
Finding a washable wool rug is rare, and Revival comes in clutch with their Tschudi rug. Boasting a funky and modern design complete with cutouts, this washable wool rug is a great way to add some character to your space. Best List Editor Britt also loved that even though this rug was made of a traditionally tricky material, “it can be tumble dried on a low setting, which was extremely convenient since I don’t really have a good spot to hang dry it.” It will shed a bit in general, but that’s to be expected when working with natural fiber. Britt also confirms its durability, saying “It held up nicely in the kitchen, which is obviously a high-traffic area at our home.”
Who It’s Best For: Those who prefer natural fiber rugs; those who want something plush with a high pile.
Good to Know: This rug would benefit from pairing it with a rug pad for both comfort and longevity.
This Herringbone rug further proves why West Elm is a staple in home decor. This rug was made from long-lasting and durable fibers which make it vacuum-friendly and machine washable with minimal to no shedding, all while offering a simple and chic design sure to fit into any space. Home Projects Director Megan waxed poetic not only about how cozy the rug is (“This rug is SO soft”), but also about how the design worked in her space (“The edges look really neat and clean and the pattern is nice — subtle but still visible, so it’s great for anyone who doesn’t want something super loud underfoot”). It’s also great for high-traffic areas of your home, as it held up well to Megan’s dogs, “who both tracked spring mud onto it, and any stains came out in the wash.” However, it did start to shed during the wash process and might benefit from only washing a couple of times a year. Overall, Megan “was really impressed with the quality for the price, though—this rug looks nicer than its $200 price tag.”
Who It’s Best For: Those who aren’t looking to break the bank for a durable and design-forward rug.
Good to Know: You may need to invest in a grip pad with this rug as “the grip that’s on the rug isn’t quite enough to hold this in place in high-traffic areas.”
Ruggable has made a name for itself in the washable rug game, and for good reason—they are long-lasting and offer a huge variety of unique designs. The Iris Apfel Birds of a Feather rug found its home in Best List Editor Britt’s home, and she can attest to the brand’s dependability: “I’ve used a number of Ruggable rugs in different rooms and they’ve always held up really well — this one is no exception!” With Ruggable rugs, you’re able to detach the rug cover from the rug pad, which makes laundering so much easier while also preserving the grip of your rug pad. “I adore this rug! It’s so lively and colorful, and it makes a great addition to my dining area (although I could see it placed anywhere in my apartment).”
Who It’s Best For: Those who prefer to wash their rugs often; those prioritizing design.
Good to Know: Ruggable rugs are made to order, which actually doesn’t result in a super long wait time, but it does cut down on the waste that often comes with textile production.
Finding the perfect rug to tie your living space together can be a daunting task, but an Everwash rug will always be a dependable option. This Everwash Treasure Striped Area Rug features a textured design made of soft yet hard-wearing polyester yarns as well as a sturdy cotton backing, which all aid in maintaining its durability. Our tester, Yvette, confirms it’s “comfortable to walk on and is the perfect size for a small to medium size room. It matches my decor perfectly!” It’s perfect for high-traffic areas and is Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX certified, so you can rest assured that it’s safe for both kids and pets in your home.
Who It’s Best For: Those who prioritize functionality; those with allergies.
Good to Know: You shouldn’t use fabric softener or bleach, dry clean or iron, but you can put in the dryer on a low setting.
Our top choice for bedrooms is the plush Stripe rug from Revival. Made of recycled materials and a super comfortable pile, this rug will be sure to warm up your bedroom space. Commerce Editorial Assistant Nikol loves “the look and feel of my rug; it’s much softer than I expected it to be. I placed it by my bed because I have wood floors, and it’s nice to step on something soft in the mornings.” Though the rugs are lightweight and foldable enough to pop in the wash, they still maintain a level of thickness that offers a substantial amount of cushioning for your bedroom space. This style does tend to be a bit slippery, though, so “be careful when walking across in order to avoid an accident.”
Who It’s Best For: Those who prefer something plush yet lightweight; those who prefer to sit on the floor.
Good to Know: Revival produces both restored vintage rugs as well as new ones, heavily prioritizing the construction and longevity of their products.
The sign of a great kitchen rug is one that can withstand heavy foot traffic as well as the inevitable food spills. This Rugs USA Navy Mitzy Washable Checkered Area Rug is a durable and stain-resistant option, even sporting a throwback checkered pattern paying homage to old-school diners and kitchens, alike. “I put it in my kitchen to define an eat-in dining area and I love how it looks,” says Associate Lifestyle Editor Sofia. “The feel isn’t amazing but it doesn’t have to be where I’m using it, and I adore the color and the slightly variegated checkerboard pattern—it feels more lived in to me than a straight up graphic checker print.” Made from sustainably sourced fibers, this rug easily pops into a washing machine to clean up all your kitchen messes.
Who It’s Best For: Those who heavily use and/or entertain in their kitchen; those who want a low-maintenance washable rug; those who prioritize function over comfort.
Good to Know: This rug’s one-piece design lays down flat right out of the gate, and you shouldn’t have to worry about matching corners or smoothing out any bubbles.
The most important feature of a hallway runner has got to be its durability, as it will be seeing a ton of foot traffic. That’s why the washable SAFAVIEH Tucson Korneliya Oriental Medallion Rug is our top pick for runners. Our tester, Hernetta, was impressed with its grip, saying “Though I did add corner grips to it because it’s in the hallway, this rug has a non-slip bottom that helps it stay in place.” It’s also especially durable, able to withstand its quality after frequent vacuuming and washing. “It held up really well after washing, and air-drying it took less than an hour!” says Hernetta. This runner is also stain resistant, kid and pet friendly, and non-shedding.
Who It’s Best For: Those who prefer to wash their rugs often; those with high-traffic hallway spaces; those who want kid- and pet-friendly rug
Good to Know: Though this specific design is only available in one size, SAFAVIEH has hundreds of other design options in various sizes.
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