Can You Wash Rugs in the Washing Machine? Get the Facts!

When it comes to cleaning household items, there are always questions about what can and cannot be washed in the washing machine. Rugs are no exception. There’s a common misconception that all rugs should be taken to a professional cleaner, but did you know that many rugs are machine washable? In this article, we’ll explore the facts around whether you can wash rugs in the washing machine.

Understanding Machine Washable Rugs

Machine washable rugs are designed to be washed in a washing machine without causing damage to the rug or the machine. These types of rugs are typically made from synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester, or polypropylene, which can withstand the agitation and high water temperatures of a washing machine cycle.

Machine washable rugs differ from other types of rugs that require specialized cleaning methods, such as hand washing or professional cleaning. By choosing a machine washable rug, you can save time and money on cleaning while still keeping your home clean and comfortable.

Benefits of Machine Washable Rugs

There are several benefits to using machine washable rugs in your home:

  • Convenient cleaning: When your rug gets dirty, you can simply toss it in the washing machine for easy cleaning.
  • Cost-effective: Traditional rug cleaning methods can be expensive, but machine washable rugs offer a more affordable option.
  • Eco-friendly: By washing your rugs at home, you can reduce your carbon footprint and avoid using harsh chemicals.
  • Fresh and clean: Regularly washing your rugs can help to eliminate odors and prevent the buildup of dirt and allergens.

Considerations When Choosing Machine Washable Rugs

When selecting rugs to wash in the machine, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Material: Look for rugs made from synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester, as these are typically machine washable.
  • Size: Check the size of your washing machine to ensure that the rug will fit comfortably inside without causing the machine to become unbalanced.
  • Construction: Avoid rugs with delicate or intricate weaves or those that are heavily embellished, as these may not hold up well in the washing machine.

By paying attention to these factors and choosing the right rug for machine washing, you can ensure that your rugs stay clean and fresh while avoiding any damage to your machine.

Choosing the Right Rug for Machine Washing

Not all rugs are created equal, and some are better suited for machine washing than others. When selecting a rug to wash in the machine, consider the following factors:

MaterialRugs made of natural fibers, such as wool or cotton, may shrink or deteriorate in the washing machine, while synthetic materials like polyester or nylon are more durable and can withstand machine washing.
SizeLarger rugs may not fit in your washing machine, so consider the size of your machine and the rug before attempting to wash it.
ConstructionFlatweave and low-pile rugs are generally safer to wash in the machine than high-pile or shag rugs, which may become tangled or damaged.

Additionally, check for any care instructions provided by the rug manufacturer. If the care label specifically says “dry clean only,” do not attempt to wash the rug in the machine.


Choosing the right rug for machine washing is an important step in ensuring a successful cleaning process. By considering the material, size, and construction of the rug, you can select a rug that is both safe and effective to wash in the machine.

Preparing Rugs for Washing Machine

Before tossing your rug into the washing machine, it’s crucial to take a few preparatory steps to ensure it comes out clean and undamaged. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Remove loose dirt: Shake the rug well outside to remove any loose dirt or debris. You can also vacuum it with a handheld attachment to remove any excess dirt or pet hair.
  2. Spot-treat stains: If there are any stains on the rug, treat them with a stain remover. Use a brush to gently scrub the affected area and rinse with warm water. Avoid using hot water, which can set the stain.
  3. Check care instructions: Before washing your rug in the machine, check for any specific care instructions on the tag. Some rugs may require special handling or washing instructions.

By following these preparatory steps, you can ensure that your rug is ready for the washing machine.

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Setting Up the Washing Machine for Rugs

Before washing your rugs in the machine, it’s important to properly set up the washing machine to ensure they come out clean and undamaged. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Choose the right washing machine

Make sure the washing machine is large enough to accommodate your rug comfortably. You don’t want to force it into a small space, as this can cause damage to the fibers, or lead to incomplete cleaning.

Select the right water temperature

The water temperature is an important factor in washing your rugs in a machine. Check the care label on your rug to determine the appropriate water temperature. You may need to use hot water for heavily-soiled or stained rugs.

Use the right amount of detergent

Don’t overuse detergent, as this can leave a residue on your rug and damage its fibers. Use the recommended amount of detergent for your rug’s size and soil level.

Select the right cycle

Choose a gentle cycle for your rug, such as the delicate cycle or the hand-wash cycle. Avoid using the heavy-duty cycle as this can damage your rug.

Avoid using fabric softener

Fabric softeners can leave a residue on your rug, making it harder to clean in the future. Avoid using fabric softeners when washing your rugs in the machine.

How to Clean Rugs in the Washing Machine

Cleaning rugs in the washing machine is a simple process that can save time and effort compared to other cleaning methods. Here are the steps to follow for the best results:

  1. Remove Loose Debris: Before washing, use a vacuum or brush to remove any loose dirt or debris from the rug’s surface. This will prevent clogs in the washing machine and ensure the rug is thoroughly cleaned.
  2. Spot Treat Stains: If the rug has any stains, treat them before washing. Follow the care instructions for the specific stain type, or use a mild detergent and water solution to gently scrub the affected area.
  3. Check Care Instructions: Always check the care label on the rug before washing. Some rugs may not be suitable for machine washing, or may require specific care instructions. If in doubt, it’s best to consult with a professional cleaner.
  4. Load the Machine: Once the rug is prepped, load it into the washing machine. Be sure not to overcrowd the machine, and avoid washing multiple rugs at once. This can result in uneven cleaning and potential damage to the rug.
  5. Select a Gentle Cycle: Choose a gentle cycle on the washing machine to avoid damaging the rug’s fibers. Avoid using hot water, as this can cause color fading or shrinking. Use a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics.
  6. Avoid Fabric Softeners: Fabric softeners can damage the fibers of the rug and affect its ability to absorb water. Avoid using these products when washing rugs in the machine.
  7. Air Dry: Once the washing cycle is complete, remove the rug from the machine and air dry it. Avoid using a dryer, as the high heat can shrink or damage the rug. Lay the rug flat on a clean surface to dry, and rotate it periodically to ensure all areas dry evenly.
  8. Fluff and Groom: Once the rug is dry, use a brush to fluff up the fibers and groom the rug. This will restore its texture and appearance, making it look and feel like new.

Drying and Post-Washing Care for Rugs

Once the washing cycle is complete, it’s essential to take proper care of the rugs to avoid damage and ensure a long lifespan. Here are some tips to help you dry and maintain your machine-washed rugs:

Air Drying

For delicate rugs or those made of natural fibers, air drying is the safest option. To air dry your rug, gently squeeze out excess water without wringing or twisting the fabric. Then, lay the rug flat on a clean, dry surface, preferably in a well-ventilated area without direct sunlight. You can also hang the rug on a clothesline or drying rack, taking care not to stretch or deform the material. Allow the rug to air dry completely before using it again.

Using a Dryer

If you prefer using a dryer, choose a low-heat setting and add a few clean towels or a couple of tennis balls to the load to help fluff the rug. Avoid high heat, which can damage the rug’s fibers and cause shrinkage or distortion. Check the rug frequently during the drying cycle, and remove it promptly once it’s dry. Avoid folding the rug while it’s still warm to prevent creases.

Post-Washing Care Instructions

Follow the care instructions on the rug’s label or packaging, if available. If not, use the following guidelines:

MaterialCleaning Method
CottonMachine wash cold on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. Air dry or tumble dry on low heat.
WoolHand wash with cold water and mild detergent, or use a washing machine with a gentle cycle. Dry flat or air dry. Avoid exposing to direct sunlight or high heat.
Polyester or NylonMachine wash on a cold or warm cycle with mild detergent. Tumble dry on low heat or air dry.
Synthetic BlendsFollow the care instructions for the most delicate material in the blend. If no instructions are available, use the gentle cycle and low heat for washing and drying.
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Finally, inspect your rug carefully for any signs of damage or discoloration after washing. If you notice any problems, stop using the rug immediately and seek professional advice from a rug specialist or a cleaning service. With proper care and maintenance, your machine-washable rugs can provide years of comfort and beauty to your home.

Alternatives to Washing Machine for Rugs

While machine washing is a convenient option for cleaning certain types of rugs, it may not be suitable for all. Here are some alternative methods for cleaning rugs:

Professional Cleaning Services

For delicate or valuable rugs, professional cleaning services may be the safest option. Professional cleaners have specialized equipment and expertise to clean rugs without damaging the fibers or colors. They also know how to treat different types of stains and apply appropriate cleaning solutions.

Hand Washing

If your rug is not suitable for machine washing but can be wet cleaned, hand washing may be a viable alternative. Use a mild detergent and cold water to gently clean the rug, wringing out excess water before air drying.

Spot Cleaning

For minor stains or spills, spot cleaning may be sufficient. Blot the affected area with a clean cloth and mild detergent, then rinse with water and blot dry. Avoid rubbing the stain, which can spread it further.


Regular vacuuming can help keep rugs clean and free of dirt and dust. Use a vacuum with adjustable suction and a brush attachment to gently clean the rug’s surface and remove any loose particles. Avoid using high-powered vacuums or beater bars, which can damage the rug fibers.

Before attempting any cleaning method, always check the care instructions on the rug’s label and test any cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area first. When in doubt, consult a professional cleaner for advice.

Tips and Precautions for Washing Rugs in the Machine

While washing rugs in the machine can be a convenient and effective way to keep them clean, it’s important to take proper precautions to avoid damage or other issues. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Always check the care instructions for your rug before washing it in the machine. Some rugs may not be machine washable or may require specific care.
  • Remove any loose dirt or debris from the rug before washing it. This can help prevent damage to the machine and ensure that the rug is thoroughly cleaned.
  • Avoid washing very delicate or valuable rugs in the machine. These may be better suited for professional cleaning or hand washing.
  • Use a gentle cycle and avoid overcrowding the machine. This can help prevent damage to the rug and ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned.
  • Avoid using hot water or harsh detergents, as these can cause damage or fading to the rug. Instead, use a mild detergent and cool or lukewarm water.
  • Consider using a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect the rug during washing. This can also help prevent tangling or snagging.
  • If your rug is particularly large or heavy, it may be best to wash it at a laundromat with a larger machine.
  • After washing, allow the rug to air dry completely before using it again. Avoid hanging it in direct sunlight, as this can cause fading or damage.

By following these tips and taking proper precautions, you can safely and effectively wash your rugs in the machine, keeping them looking clean and fresh for years to come.

Stain Removal and Spot Cleaning for Rugs

Accidents happen, and rugs are no strangers to spills and stains. Here are some tips on how to spot clean and remove stains from your machine washable rug:

Step 1: Blot the Stain

Use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot the stain as soon as possible. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this can spread it and make it more difficult to remove. Continue blotting until no more liquid is absorbed.

Step 2: Apply Cleaning Solution

Choose a cleaning solution that is safe for your rug’s material. Test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the rug first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration. Apply the cleaning solution to the stain, following the instructions on the package.

Step 3: Blot and Rinse

Use a clean cloth or sponge to blot the stain again, working from the outside in to avoid spreading the stain. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water, and blot again to remove excess moisture.

Step 4: Air Dry

Allow the rug to air dry completely before using it again. Avoid placing the rug in direct sunlight or using heat to dry it, as this can cause shrinkage or damage to the fibers.

Pro Tip: For tough stains, consider seeking professional help or renting a steam cleaner to deep clean the rug.

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