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Washable Rugs Are Pricey, But Are They Worth It? (I Bought and Tested One)

It's got a thin feel, but it sure is easy to clean.

I’m a firm believer that the right rug always wins over carpet. While a rug is more delicate than carpet, it adds color and style to a room and complements hardwood flooring. It’s also much easier to get rid of if you want to redecorate. (Ripping up carpet is no easy feat!) Of course, traditional rugs come with a major problem: They’re hard to clean.

Notorious for trapping dirt and dust, woven rugs can cause year-round allergies. Yet a deep clean can damage and discolor the fibers if not done properly, and professional cleanings are costly. It’s no surprise, then, that so many homeowners are turning to washable rugs. But are they worth it? I recently bought an 8×10 area rug from RugsUSA (the Pink Brenda Hazy Heraldry for $295) to find out.

Don’t have time to read the details? My washable rug has several cons: It easily develops creases if folded, the rug likely won’t last as long as a traditional woven one, and some buyers may think it looks cheap. (Designs are printed rather than woven.) In my opinion, however, the pros outweigh the cons. Pros: The creases fade in about a month, I love the color and style of the one I chose, and it’s lightweight and easy to throw in the washing machine. The ability to wash it changed the game — I can quickly clean my floors and get rid of allergens. Read a comprehensive FAQ and my full review below.

Do washable rugs feel like real rugs?

Washable rugs admittedly do not have the look or feel of a traditional rug. In order to be washable, they must be fairly thin and lightweight. In fact, I can feel the grooves in the floorboards beneath my rug if I don’t place a rug pad underneath it. While the rug and pad together still feels somewhat thin, it’s much better than having no pad.

Are washable rugs thick?

Most washable rugs are thin, but there are some thicker options (such as this faux bunny fur rug and this striped, one-inch thick area rug). Keep in mind that there’s a limit to how thick and heavy the rug can get, because it must have enough flexibility to go in a washing machine.

underside of a washable rug
The underside of a washable rug.

Can you really wash washable rugs?

Yes. The method may vary depending on the brand, but these are the basic steps:

  1. Vacuum (on a gentle setting) any crumbs or dirt.
  2. Put the rug in the washing machine — no special method required.
  3. Machine wash with mild detergent (preferably color-free) and cold water, no bleach.

To dry your washable rug, either line dry or put it in the dryer on an air-only cycle, no heat. Important note: For 8×10 rugs, Rug USA recommends a washing machine that is at least five cubic feet in size. (Ruggable recommends a washer that covers at least 3.8 cubic feet for the same rug size.)

Can you get stains out of washable rugs?

Yes. Your best bet is to spot clean — most washable rugs are stain resistant. The quicker you can clean it after an accident happens, the better. Here’s what to do:

  1. Wipe up any wet crumbs, dirt, or debris. Don’t apply pressure.
  2. Blot the stain with paper towels or a color-safe cloth — no scrubbing.
  3. If needed, apply a stain remover. Let it rest for a few minutes, then gently wipe the area. (To play it safe, perform a patch test first. Apply a small amount of stain remover on a tiny area of the rug to make sure it doesn’t discolor it.)
  4. Rinse the area with cool water.

Can you vacuum washable rugs?

Yes. Vacuuming your rug will keep it clean between washes, reducing the number of times you have to wash it. (While washable rugs are made to go in the washer, you may cause the material to break down more quickly by washing it too frequently.) In general, most brands recommend vacuuming on the lowest setting.

How often can I wash a washable rug?

You can wash your rug as often as you like, but the general recommendation is to wash it once every four to six months. Infrequent washes will help preserve the fibers and prevent the edges and corners from curling. In between washing, you can spot clean and vacuum.

Are rug pads a good idea?

Rug pads are a good investment for washable rugs, which tend to be thin. They preserve the longevity of the rug and add a little padding under your feet. I purchased an 8×10 premium rug pad from Rugs USA for a sale price of $97.19 (the original price is $180) which has a strong grip that keeps the rug in place. It’s not very cushion-y, but it certainly makes the rug appear thicker and adds a layer of comfort.

Do washable rugs curl?

Unfortunately, this is a common complaint among washable rug owners — the edges start to curl with time or after a few washes. Most people recommend using wood-safe rug tape (such as Gorilla Grip Rug Grippers, available on Amazon for $12.99) to solve the problem. My own washable rug has yet to curl around any of the edges, but I’ve owned it for only three months.

What are the downsides of a washable rug?

The biggest downside of my washable rug is that it came folded rather than rolled. While I appreciate that this cuts down on packaging and makes it easier to ship, the rug had significant crease lines when I first spread it out on the floor.

creases in a washable rug
My rug when I first spread it out on the floor.

I was unhappy about the lines but decided to give it some time, and I’m glad I did — after about a month, the creases became almost nonexistent. I did nothing to help the process except walk on it. One line is still there, but it’s hard to notice and doesn’t run the length of the rug.

washable rug after three months of use
My rug after a month. Jenna Cartusciello

Another downside for some homeowners is that most washable rugs have a threadbare style — the one I purchased, for instance, has intentionally-faded colors. While I like the style, some homeowners may prefer rugs that look brand new.

One last potential downside: The edges may curl over time. As previously mentioned, mine have yet to curl — this may be because it’s only been three months, but I also suspect that leaving the rug pad un-trimmed has helped to hold down the edges. (Most people recommend trimming a half inch to an inch off the sides of the rug pad so that it doesn’t show.)

What are the positives of a washable rug?

My favorite feature of this rug is how little it weighs. Set up was easy compared to a traditional rug, because I could push and pull this one in different directions with little force. The pad underneath was also light and easy to place. Positioning the rug on top took some time — the pad grips it so well that it’s hard to undo a wrinkle in the material — but once it was settled, it stayed.

Cleaning has been relatively easy. The rug does tend to hold sock lint, which is a little hard to remove, but nothing a vacuum and a lint roller (for those very tough lint bits) can’t fix. I haven’t yet washed it in a machine since I want to preserve the quality — so I’ll add an update when I do.

Another benefit? While an 8×10 Ruggable and pad start at $828 ($489 for the rug and $339 for the pad), the Rugs USA washable rug start at $475 ($295 for the rug and $180 for the pad). My grand total was $362 because I found a discount code.

What’s the final verdict?

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase. The price was right, I love how the color brightens the room, and I’m happy knowing that I can throw it in the wash when it needs a deep clean.

Click through for more information on how to wash a Ruggable rug from our sister publication First for Women.

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