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How to Clean Outdoor Rugs

How to Clean Outdoor Rugs
A colorful floral hooked rug in blues, pinks, and yellow on a wood floor, with a pair of yellow rain boots.

Aren’t doormats and outdoor rugs great? Just lay them down in front of the door or outdoor furniture and instantly outdoor spaces look brighter, seasonal, and updated. They’re also affordable updates for holiday and special occasion decorating. So let’s talk about how to clean an outside rug.

Outdoor rugs are made for weathering the elements. But, like anything, proper cleaning and maintenance keep them looking great season after season.

Outdoor Carpet Cleaning Solution

Rugs need regular maintenance. You don’t have to pull out the vacuum or hose all the time. Here are a few easy general cleaning steps to keep in mind when caring for your outdoor rugs.

Use a soft-bristled broom to sweep dirt and debris off outdoor rugs regularly. A handheld bristled brush may also work. Vacuum cleaners are ok, when necessary. In general, keep vacuuming to a minimum. It can be harder on the rug fibers and damage them.


Mildew-resistant outdoor rugs are synthetic, usually durable polypropylene. They are usually power-loomed (machine-made). The synthetic fibers make them mold-resistant. However, mildew-resistant does not mean they can’t build up molds and mildews. Dirt and grime are where mold begins, regardless of the surface. Clean them regularly and thoroughly. 

How To Wash An Outside Rug

After a thorough sweeping, use a soft-bristled brush and a mix of mild detergent and water to spot clean any stains. Baking soda is also a powerful cleaner and will remove odors. Avoid strong cleaning solutions. They can break down rug fibers and dull colors. If a deep clean is needed, apply several rounds of the rug shampoo.

Use a hose to rinse the rug. Shake off to expel excess water. Dry completely outside.


When you have a really nasty stain, like wine or ketchup, use the old standard and blot club soda on a white washcloth to get rid of the stain. The club soda neutralizes the stain and improves your chances of removing it.

How to Clean Mildew & Mold off an Outdoor Rug

Go straight to your kitchen cupboard for the white vinegar, and pour it full-strength onto the mildewy or moldy rug. Let it sit for about an hour. Then, add about a cup of vinegar to a bucket of warm water, and use a scrub or deck brush to brush the carpet clean. Rinse with the garden hose. Easy as that!

How to Dry an Outdoor Rug

After you’ve washed and rinsed your outdoor rug – or if it has just braved the latest tropical storm system – be sure to dry your rug thoroughly in the sun. Hang it over a deck railing where it will catch its share of rays, and flip it often to make sure that it dries from both sides. Don’t let it dry in the shade or sitting in the excess water that you washed it in—it will do it more harm than good. Remember, sunlight is the best sanitizer – literally & figuratively!

How to Store an Outdoor Rug

Depending on your weather, your outdoor rugs may see a wide range of outdoor time. Make an effort to store your rugs when they are not in use, to keep them from having to endure more weather than they need to. Roll it up and use stretch cords or rope to secure it. Store your rug in plastic or under a tarp, then find a spare corner of the garage to hold it until next season.

Ready to Decorate with Rugs?

Outdoor area rugs are wonderful ways to define your outdoor entertaining area and make patios and gazebos inviting. We have lots of ideas to help you get started in choosing indoor outdoor rugs for your space.

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