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Your Complete Guide to Buying Washable Area Rugs

by Staff Account February 24, 2022 11 min read

Your Complete Guide to Buying Washable Area Rugs

A rug can be quite a chore to keep clean, especially if you have children or pets around the house. Washing a rug by hand is time-consuming and potentially costly.

The good news is, you’re about to find out everything you need to know about washable area rugs. What sort of material should you choose? When and how should you wash it? Read on to answer these questions.

Machine Washable Area Rugs

Size and Weight

If you want a rug you can wash in the machine, the first step is to check if it will fit. It’s no good buying a lovely new rug only to find yourself paying for professional cleaning after a few months.

Check the weight limit on your washer machine and see whether the rug will fit. Some of the largest rugs will likely not fit in any washing machine for the home and will need to be cleaned commercially.  

You may also consider the local laundromat as they are usually equipped with industrial sized washing machines intended for bulk washes.  The trek to the local laundromat may be worth it as it is a lot more economical than having your rug professional cleaned.


    What Kind of Rug Materials Are Machine Washable?

    With so many materials available, it can be confusing to work out which sort of rug can go in your machine. Some materials are more easily washed than others, and some can only be hand washed.

    Fear not - here’s a short primer on which rugs can and can’t be washed in the machine. 

    Natural Fibers

    These rugs are eco-friendly and generally not treated with chemicals. They can be less durable, but they’re super soft.   However, some of them cannot be machine washed.  

    • Cotton - This is a natural fiber that is cozy and soft underfoot. It’s also one of the few natural materials that you can machine wash. Ensure that you check the label beforehand to get the right wash temperature. Putting a cotton rug through the drier will also shrink, so make sure your dryer machine is set to the lowest temperature.  Or you can also choose to air dry a cotton rug to save on electricity.
    • Wool - Somewhat durable but very soft, wool is a great choice for children’s rugs or as a throw rug for hardwood floors. It can’t usually be machine washed though, so it’s advisable not to place it in a high foot traffic area where it will quickly wear out.
    • Jute and sisal - These rougher materials are perfect for outdoor decking or balconies because of their durability. Jute in particular is versatile and can be weaved into a variety of patterns.  Unfortunately, jute and sisal rugs cannot be washed as the tight weaving will trap the moisture and cause it to mold very easily.  

    Synthetic Fibers

    These materials are hard-wearing, absorbent and usually resist fading. They’re fairly inexpensive and come in an array of designs and colors.

    • Synthetic materials such as polypropylene, polyester, and nylon can be machine washed easily, though you should take care to wash them solo in case of color run. Machine drying a synthetic rug can also result in the fibers melting, so again, it’s best air-dried.
    • Chenille: Originally a natural fiber, today chenille rugs are commonly made from rayon and olefin. It can be machine washed and dried, though you must take care to use a cold wash, mild detergents, and a low heat dry cycle to avoid damage. It’s a long-lasting and soft rug material that’s very easy to keep clean.

    The Runner Rug

    These long rugs are the perfect complement to a long hallway. They also work well in a kitchen with an island or long worktop along one side. They combine form and function, helping to keep your feet warm in the winter while filling out otherwise empty floor space.

    Here are some tips when choosing a runner rug for your home.

    What Size?

    A kitchen runner rug should extend the length of the kitchen and leave around three to six inches on each side to allow for space between the rug and cabinets. These rugs will typically come in sizes 2 to 3 feet wide and 7 to 14 feet long.

    A runner rug can range from 2 to 3 ft wide and 6 to 14 feet long and should leave around 4 to 5 inches of space on each side. You can experiment with placement, positioning furniture on either side of your rug or down one side.

    What are the best materials?

    • Cotton and wool - These are decent rug materials for high traffic areas like the kitchen or hallway. They are hard wearing and easy to clean, but beware - wool cannot be washed in the machine.  Cotton is more suitable for the kitchen, as it can be thrown in without fuss. These rug materials are usually all-natural, breathable, and soft.
    • Synthetics - Materials such as polypropylene or nylon can have brighter colors and can be more resistant to wear and tear, but are treated with chemicals to achieve this. However, they can be cleaned very easily in the machine. Rugs made from synthetics are usually much cheaper than those from natural materials.
    • Other natural materials - Jute and sisal are durable, but they’re not machine washable, so using them in a high footfall/high spillage area might not be the best idea.

    Color and Style

    These all depend on the sort of décor you have and how messy it gets. A darker color rug will hide spills and stains better, so it may be more appropriate for the kitchen and hallway areas.

    Getting the right contrast for your décor is important too though, so choosing a rug with dark colors against a bright and airy kitchen theme might not be the best idea.

    Solid colors and bold designs are usually present in oriental-style rugs, for example. This can fit with modern or boho-themed kitchens and hallways.

    • A high pile rug in the hallway may seem like an odd choice with the amount of foot traffic it will see, but there’s nothing better than the feeling of soft carpet on your feet after a long day. Having a higher density pile will also reduce the noise in your hallway as a bonus!
    • A low-density pile is much better for the kitchen, as the number of spillages and debris will make it much harder to maintain and keep clean.
    • Different styles for different themes. Choose contemporary, traditional, or transitional design types based on the décor of your home. See our other handy guides to help you choose.

    The Small Area Rug

    This little rug is a multipurpose addition to any room. It can be placed indoors or outdoors, on balconies, patios, and decking. Read on to see the top tips for the small area rug:


    A small rug is usually around 3 by 5 feet. Since they are so versatile, knowing how much space to leave around them is difficult. You should tailor it to the room they are placed in. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to leave a few inches to be on the safe side.

    Where to put it?

    Since these rugs are so versatile, you need to know about placement. Here are some tips:

    • For smaller hallways, this rug can provide the same effect as a long runner, filling space and adding texture and color to the area. It’s nice to step into a house with a welcoming rug!
    • In the kitchen, these rugs can be placed in front of the sink, or symmetrically around a central island to create ‘conversation areas’ for you and your guests.
    • For a bedroom, a small rug can fit neatly beside a bed or between beds for when you awaken. They can be quite useful if you don’t want to purchase a large area rug. However, if you do have one, you can layer a smaller one on top, at the foot of the bed.

    The Best Material?

    This depends on which room you place your rug in. It’s best to match the material to how heavy the footfall is in a particular area of your home, and how soft you want the rug to be. There are style considerations as well, but first, here are some tips for materials:

    • If it is going in a high footfall area such as the kitchen or hallway, or in-between furniture in the living room, it’s best to go for a tough material that won’t wear through easily – natural fibers including wool, hemp, sisal, and jute are a good choice.
    • For the bedroom, softer materials are best, such as plush or shag rugs. Your bedroom rug won’t be subject to high traffic like in the hallway or kitchen, so you can afford to trade some durability for comfort.
    • A small outdoor rug can be constructed of jute or sisal since they are durable rugged and long-lasting. They have added the bonus of looking perfect for an outdoor area.

    Style and Color

    Tied to the choice of material is how you want your rug to look and what sort of décor you have in your home. A brightly colored, high pile rug is obviously going to look out of place in a down-tone, modern kitchen. Here are some style tips:

    • For the hallway and kitchen, you want a low pile, as these are high footfall areas. Darker colors are better at hiding stains and mud and can contrast with a neutral color scheme. A low pile is also best in these areas, as it is much easier to keep clean.
    • For the bedroom, a high pile rug feels great underfoot, and there’s just something classic about a shaggy white rug. If you’re layering, a mix-and-match approach can look great. Try placing a rug with intricate designs over a larger rug with bold color.
    • Rugs made of the correct material (such as jute or sisal)  are a match for your outdoor space. The rugged look fits perfectly with a paved or decked seating area.

    The Large Area Rug

    These jumbo-sized rugs are great for the larger rooms in your home such as the living room and dining room.

    They are great for grouping furniture together and covering hardwood flooring and come in a range of sizes and designs. This means you’ll always be spoilt for choice.

    Read on to find out some tips when purchasing your area rug.


    Though sizing varies, the most common dimensions are (in feet) 5 by 7, 6 by 10, 8 by 9, and 9 by 12. Even larger sizes are available but are becoming less common in favor of smaller rugs. . As always, measure the dimensions of the room you want the rug in before you buy!

    Which Room?

    The area rug is versatile. You can place it in any of the larger rooms of your home. Let’s go through some of the options:

    The Living Room

    • This is a classic place for a large rug. You can put a larger area rug under your furniture and create a grouping, or opt for a small rug just for a coffee table to create a central focal point. You can even hang a rug on the wall to get that Bohemian style (or if you just want to fill a blank wall).
    • When it comes to living room rugs, you can be less picky about pile and material -   it’s a versatile space and you can place almost anything there. Consider how much time you want to invest in maintaining the rug, as well as the style and design you want, and let that guide your purchase. Get something machine washable if you will only clean it occasionally. If you are willing to spend a bit more time maintaining it (as well as giving it a scrub) you can go for a woolen rug.
    • For something more ornate, consider silk. It needs professional cleaning though – for formal living or dining areas that don’t get much use, silk is the perfect luxury natural fiber.

    The Bedroom

    • Like with the living room, you can afford to be less picky about materials and focus on style and design. Softer materials such as chenille and wool are great for the bedroom - they feel great underfoot.
    • The placement of a rug in the bedroom depends on what sort of bed you have – if you have one with lots of space underneath and no skirting, you can place a rug directly under the bed, making sure you leave around a foot of space around.
    • If your bed has to skirt, it’s best to place the rug where it can be seen and fill space.

    The Dining Room

    • A larger rug is better for the dining room, as a smaller rug will trip up your furniture and become frayed and damaged in the process. If your rug has ample space around the chairs then it’s about the right size.
    • Materials with a low pile that are easy to wash are good for the dining room, especially if you have messy kids that frequently spill liquids and food. Machine washable materials such as chenille or synthetic fibers are great for a dining room rug.
    • Hemp is another mold-resistant material. It’s not machine washable but it’s another option that can withstand messy areas.

    The Kitchen

    Washable rugs for the kitchen area can be tricky to select because it is a high footfall area, which also generates much mess. Therefore, it’s best to choose easily washable materials such as recycled plastics – Lorena Canals has a range for this. You can also choose stain-resistant materials.

    • Absorbance - Some rug materials are more absorbent or resistant to spillages than others. Wool is moisture resistant but leaving a stain unwashed for too long can cause damage but not machine washable, whereas cotton stains easier but as noted, is easily washed in the machine.
    • Seagrass  - This is a great natural material for the kitchen – it’s non-porous so will not absorb liquid. It’s also stain-resistant. But that’s not all – it’s mold and mildew-resistant so you don’t need to worry about those spillages creating long-term damage. Surely there are plenty of things you’d rather be doing than scrubbing off mildew – with a seagrass rug, your time is your own.
    • Cotton  - It’s easily washed but less durable than synthetic materials. In a place like your kitchen, it’s better to have a rug that can withstand wear and tear. It’s also best to opt for a lower pile, to avoid dirt and debris becoming ensnared in the fabric.
    • Hemp - It can withstand wear, and is mold-resistant. 

    The size of a kitchen area rug will obviously depend on the size of your kitchen. If you have an island worktop layout it’s best to go for a narrower runner rug, but an open plan kitchen should have enough space for a larger rug.

    Round Washable Area Rugs

    A round rug can be an asset to a room with circular furniture, curved walls, and other unique features. Read on for some tips and tricks!

    • If you have a smaller round dinner table then a rug of the same shape will fit perfectly underneath. It’s especially potent in the corner of a room, where you can create a defined space.
    • Sofas with curvatures around a central coffee table are perfect for a larger round rug, especially if you are using bold, block colors. Arranged like a yin-yang symbol, this layout is pleasing to the eye and can be the centerpiece of a living room.
    • You can use them to create the illusion of space in small rooms (especially using light colors). The curves detract from hard edges, reducing the boxy feel of square or rectangular rooms with limited space.
    • Using other features such as lamps, ceiling fixtures, corner coffee tables to accentuate an area using a round rug also works well. Experiment and see!

    Kids Rugs

    No article about machine washable rugs would be complete without telling you some of the best kids rugs out there. Ruggable rugs have a few special features that mean they are perfect for children to play on!

    • Detachable rug pads - These handy rubber under pad attaches to the bottom of the rug and prevents slippage.  This also makes it super easy to clean – all you need to do is detach the top layer and throw it in the wash. The detachable underlay is common to all Ruggable rugs, meaning you can swap rug styles as you wish!
    • Chenille - Most Ruggable rugs are made from chenille fabric, which is tough and soft and so great for babies or small children. It’s also pretty easy to wash if it gets dirty.

    Rug Care

    Your rug should only be machine washed every 12-18 months, and this depends on how much usage it sees. Repeated washes may cause damage.

    Here’s a couple of alternatives if you need to spot clean a rug:

    • Baking soda - Sprinkle it over the trouble spot followed by hoovering. This works to get rid of bad odors.
    • Steaming -  This is also an effective way to remove a stubborn stain. (This is not suitable for absorbent materials like wool).
    • Freezing - If there’s a clumpy spillage, it can be worth trying to freeze the offending area then removing the debris in one go.

    In Summary

    So there you have it - everything you need to know about washable area rugs. From materials to size, style to alternative cleaning methods, you’re equipped to choose the right rug for your home.

    Wool isn't usually machine washable, but that’s not the case with the Lorena Canals range. You can check out this rug to compromise on the soft, cozy feeling of wool!

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