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The Secret to Cleaning Your Outdoor Rug

One of the best ways to create a relaxing and comfortable campsite is to use an outdoor rug. However, at the end of an epic camping adventure, it will likely bear dirt and other residues from the great outdoors. Keep reading if you want to know how to clean an outdoor rug after your camping adventure or summer patio season ends. We’ll share the secret to keeping your outdoor rug looking new. Let’s get started!

What Is the Point of An Outdoor Rug?

Outdoor rugs are popular both around the home and during recreation. The primary reason for an outdoor rug is to capture dirt and sand from shoes and keep it from being tracked indoors.

While you may like to camp in the wilderness, you’ll want to keep it out of your tent or RV. Many campers place outdoor rugs outside their tent or RV entrance to create an area to take off shoes before entering. However, these rugs can serve a much larger purpose than keeping the inside of your camper or tent clean.

An outdoor rug can help create a comfortable and inviting space at your outside patio area or campsite. Being in the wilderness doesn’t mean you can’t spruce it up. Outdoor rugs can improve the vibe of your campsite and keep you from getting your chairs and feet dirty while you relax.

How to Clean an Outdoor Polypropylene Rug

Are Outdoor Rugs Hard to Keep Clean?

While outdoor rugs require minimal maintenance, cleaning them occasionally doesn’t hurt. You can use a scrub brush with dish soap and water to clean both sides of the rug.

After giving the rug a good scrubbing, spray it with a water hose to rinse away the soap and any dirt. If you spray it on sloped ground, it will help the water drain away efficiently. Let your rug sit in the sun long enough for both sides to dry thoroughly before rolling or storing it.

RV with outdoor rug next to it.
An outdoor rug not only makes your campsite cozier but also helps to keep dirt out of your RV.

Can I Wash Outdoor Rug in Washing Machine?

You’ll want to check the recommendations from the manufacturer of your outdoor rug before throwing it into the washing machine. Always follow the wash recommendations. 

Depending on the size of your rug, you may need a giant washing machine to do the trick. Large 8 feet by 10 feet rugs will need at least a 3.8 cubic feet washing machine. You may be able to find one of these at a laundromat, but it may still be hard to fit that large of a rug into a machine.

Use cold water and ensure the detergent is safe to use on your mat.

Can You Pressure Wash An Outdoor Rug?

A pressure washer can work if your outdoor rug is overdue for a cleaning. However, don’t use too powerful of a tip.

A power washer can be extremely powerful and cut right through both the stubborn gunk on your rug and the fabric. You don’t want to create a giant hole in your outdoor rug trying to get it clean. When in doubt, go as gently as possible to avoid causing damage. 

With the power washer, slowly work your way in lines back and forth to make sure you spray all the fibers in multiple directions. This works out all the dirt that may be hiding and helps ensure you don’t miss a spot.

Pro Tip: We found an Easily Washable Rug for your RV interior that we think will change your life!

Small travel trailer with striped outdoor rug in front of it
Some RV rugs can be cleaned in the washing machine while others require a little more labor to clean.

How Do You Clean Outdoor Rugs?

The best way to extend the life of your outdoor rug is to keep it clean. Let’s look at the steps you can take to keep your outdoor rug looking good for years to come.

Remove Any Debris

The first step is to remove any debris from your rug. You can use your hand, a broom, or a vacuum to eliminate any dirt or debris clinging to your rug. You may even consider giving it a good shake if you can lift the mat. Once you’ve cleaned all the dirt off, move it to a clean surface to prevent more soil from gathering. A paved driveway or grassy area can be a great place to finish cleaning your rug.

Rinse Off With a Garden Hose

With your outdoor rug clean of as much debris as possible, you can spray it down with a garden hose. Some people will use a power washer, but we caution against using too much power. You run the risk of doing more harm than good to your rug.

Spray the entire rug down and focus on any areas that appear the dirtiest. You want to get it wet enough that you’ll be able to move on to the next step. However, please don’t overdo it and be wasteful with water. You’ll run up your water bill and potentially flood the area.

Apply Soap and Scrub the Rug

You can make a soap-water mixture in a bucket or apply the soap directly to the rug. Use a scrub brush to get any stubborn pieces of dirt and debris from your rug. Be delicate and avoid applying too much pressure or using a harsh scrub brush. You don’t want to damage your outdoor rug while attempting to clean it.

Person scrubbing rug with soap
Apply soap and scrub your rug after removing debris and vacuuming.

Rinse Off All Soap

Once you’ve scrubbed the entire rug, grab the garden hose and spray off all the soap from the mat. If you’re unhappy with the results, repeat the process and focus on any areas needing attention. Rinse off all the soap before moving on. 

Hang to Dry

Now that your outdoor rug is clean and looks as good as new, you will want to hang it up to dry. Avoid draping it over a railing or an object, as it could cause the rug to lose shape. Ensure it dries completely before rolling it up or storing it. Storing a wet outdoor rug is never a good idea.

Pop-up camper with outdoor rug set up
Make sure your rug is completely dry before you store it away for your next adventure to avoid mold forming.

How Do You Dry An Outdoor Rug After Washing It?

One of the biggest mistakes outdoor rug owners make is drying their rugs. They toss it over a table or railing to expedite the drying process. However, this can cause your outdoor mat to lose its shape and make it difficult to store or use in the future.

The best way to dry an outdoor rug is to find a large flat spot with plenty of exposure to the sun. Depending on the materials in your rug, it can take some time for them to dry completely. Once the top is dry, flip it over and ensure the bottom dries completely.

Can Outdoor Rugs Be Left in the Rain?

You can leave a quality outdoor rug in the rain without any issues. However, if you buy a budget-friendly rug with cheap materials, it may not last nearly as long. If you’re spending at least $30+ on your mat, you shouldn’t have any issues leaving it in the rain. The rain will likely help wash away any dirt and debris.

The biggest culprit will actually be the UV exposure from the sun. If the manufacturer didn’t design the rug with UV protection, it will breakdown after a long enough time in the sun. Color can also fade. If you’re setting up your outdoor patio for a long period of time, we suggest investing in a higher-quality rug for longevity.

Pro Tip: Cozy up your campsite with one of these 11 Best RV Outdoor Rugs That Will Complete Your Campsite.

Two people sitting in front of RV on outdoor rug on the beach with lots of sand.
Keep sand, dirt, and other debris from your adventures out of your RV with an outdoor rug.

Do Outdoor Rugs Grow Mold?

If you properly clean your outdoor rug, you shouldn’t experience any issues with mold. However, you’ll need to clean it regularly and ensure it dries completely before storing it.

Those who have encountered their outdoor rug growing mold typically stow their mat when it’s still wet, or moisture gets under it, and there’s not enough air circulation for it to dry completely. So ensure you’re regularly moving your rug or that there’s no moisture underneath it if you want to avoid mold.

Pro Tip: These are the Best RV Vacuum Options for Keeping Your RV Clean.

REVIEW: Is Mountain Mat the BEST Outdoor Rug for Your Camper or RV?

Keeping Your Outdoor Rug Clean Will Keep Your Home Clean

An outdoor rug is a great way to spruce up your campsite or any outside seating area. It can create a home-like environment that is relaxing and inviting. They also trap dirt before it can get into your home or camper!

If you’re looking for a way to create a welcoming atmosphere for your friends, family members, and fellow campers, an outdoor rug is a must-have. You can find them at all different price points, but they’re worth every penny and will last for years.

Do you have an outdoor rug for your RV or tent? Tell us how you keep it clean in the comments!

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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