How to Get the Odor Out of Bathroom Mats

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Mildew on the underside of rubberized bathroom mats can cause odor and bacteria buildup.
Mildew on the underside of rubberized bathroom mats can cause odor and bacteria buildup. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Bathroom mats can develop a variety of odors from hard water stains, pets and things brought into the house from your shoes. Most bathroom mats have latex or rubber backing, which can make the cleaning process a little more difficult. Odors are caused by bacteria and there are several ways to kill them. Heat is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this, but the backing prevents this type of treatment. Heat or bleach can cause the backing to fall off.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Baking powder
  • Plastic gloves
  • Safety mask
  • Fan
  • Scrub brush

Bathroom Mats

Take the bath mat outside and beat all the extra dirt off of it.

Vacuum the bath mat to remove remaining dirt particles.

Place the bathroom mat into the washing machine and launder per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Air-dry the bathroom mat. If possible, take it outside and sun-dry it. The sun is an excellent way to kill the bacteria that cause odors. Latex-backed mats can possibly be tumble dried; check the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure.

Without Washing

Vacuum the bath mat to remove dust and dirt particles.

Spread a thin even layer of baking powder over the bath mat. Baking powder is an odor absorber that sucks the odor-causing agents from the mat.

Allow to sit for at least an hour.

Vacuum the baking powder from the mat.

Bathtub Mats

Stop the bathtub.

Pour enough bleach into the bathtub to cover the plastic bathtub mat. Odors on bathtub mats are typically caused from mold or mildew. Bleach will kill these bacteria.

Don plastic gloves, eye protection and a safety mask. Open any bathroom windows and place a fan into the room to aid with ventilation. Bleach can be toxic and irritating to the skin.

Scrub the bathtub mat with a scrub brush to remove odor-causing particles and bacteria.

Drain the tub and rinse the mat well with cold water. Also, wash the scrub brush well to remove particles and bleach residue.

Tips & Warnings

  • Baking powder only works with odors caused from everyday use; it does not remove stains that cause odor.
  • Do not wash bath mats with other garments. Lint can get mixed into the bath mat fibers, and it can be very difficult to remove. Bath mats often shed lint, which can attach to clothing.

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