How To Clean An Outdoor Rug

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Outdoor living spaces are a fabulous way to expand your home and provide a restful retreat or extra entertaining area. Laying a rug on your grass or patio helps define zones and transform spaces into more of a room. Of course, it’s still outside, which means it’s prone to more dirt and grime, so how do you clean an outdoor rug?

Can Outdoor Rugs Be Washed?

The good news is, since outdoor rugs are designed for outside spaces, they’re relatively easy to clean. If you really want to keep things simple, you can even buy a washable outdoor rug from a company like Ruggable. Shake it out, toss it into the washing machine, and you’re good to go.

Other outdoor rugs might not be machine-washable, but you can still wash them in other ways. Use some mild dish soap and gentle scrubbing, then hose down the rug, or pressure wash your outdoor rug.

Should You Pressure Wash An Outdoor Rug?

You can pressure wash an outdoor rug, using the low setting on your pressure washer and a gentle cleaner. There are store-bought cleaners available, but a mixture of water and dish soap also does the trick.

Make sure to use a low setting that won’t damage your rug’s fibers. Depending on your rug and pressure washer, you might start on the lowest setting. Then, gradually increase it a bit for tougher stains and dirt.

All you need to pressure wash your rug is a pressure washer, cleaning solution, bucket, and garden hose. If you have stubborn stains to tackle, you may also want to use a scrub brush to help loosen up dirt in these spots. However, consider the type of brush carefully so you don’t damage or pull your rug.

Six Easy Steps For Pressure Washing An Outdoor Rug

Gather your supplies and then it’s time to get started. If you don’t have a pressure washer, there’s no need to buy one for this task. You can simply rent one at your local home improvement store. It’s affordable, and you won’t have to worry about storing or maintaining a pressure washer that you only use a couple of times a year.

1. Loosen Up Stubborn Dirt And Stains

Before pressure washing, use a soft-bristle brush to loosen up dirt and stains. Shake out the rug or vacuum it to get rid of as much dirt as possible. Another trick is to flip the rug upside down and give it a good shake.

For extra-tough stains, consider using a stain remover. However, carefully read the instructions first to determine if it’s appropriate for your rug’s material. If so, spot-treat the stains and let it sit for a few minutes before proceeding with pressure washing.

2. Mix Up Your Cleaning Solution

If you use a store-bought cleaner, follow the directions carefully. You can pour it directly into your pressure washer’s soap tank. Alternatively, add a small amount of dish soap to a gallon of water, then pour it into the tank. If your pressure washer does not have a soap tank, you can apply the solution directly to the rug.

If making your own solution, dilute the dish soap before adding it to your pressure washer. Also, regardless of what cleaning solution you use, when finished, flush it out with plain water.

3. Prep Your Pressure Washer

If your outdoor rug isn’t already near a water source, position it nearby to make things easier. Connect the pressure washer to your garden hose and test the pressure on an inconspicuous area of the rug. A high-degree nozzle is the best choice for this task.

Remember to start on the lowest setting and adjust as needed. Follow the instructions for your specific pressure washer.

4. Start Cleaning The Rug

Once you’re confident in the necessary pressure setting, start moving the wand back and forth steadily. Avoid getting the nozzle too close to the rug as this can cause damage. Aim to stay about 18 inches away from the surface.

Start at the end of the smaller edge of the rug (if there is one) and walk backward as you clean. It’s important to avoid stepping on the parts of the rug you’ve cleaned so you don’t leave marks or track dirt.

If you’re cleaning an extremely large rug, work your way across and back to avoid stepping on wet areas. Take your time, and just like you would on a blind date, leave yourself an exit.

5. Rinse Your Outdoor Rug

After pressure washing the rug, use the garden hose to rinse off the soapy residue. If desired, you can also flip the rug and rinse the reverse side if you feel it’s necessary.

6. Let The Rug Dry

Choose a sunny day to pressure wash your rug to make drying easier and faster. Leave the rug flat to dry to avoid creases and funky bends. It can take between one and two days for your rug to dry completely, depending on the size, material, and texture.

Cleaning An Outdoor Rug Without A Pressure Washer

If you don’t have a pressure washer, follow steps one and two above, then gently scrub and lather up the rug with a soft-bristle brush. Afterward, follow steps five and six to rinse and dry your rug.

Always check your rug’s manufacturer instructions and care label first before cleaning.

How Do You Get Mold And Mildew Out Of Outdoor Rugs?

If you have spots of mold or mildew on your rug, try a paste of white vinegar and baking soda. Test it in an inconspicuous spot first to check for color fastness, and avoid using too much.

Apply the paste to the areas, let it sit for several minutes, then rinse. If mold and mildew are excessive, it’s best to replace the rug.

Final Thoughts On Cleaning Outdoor Rugs

Cleaning your outdoor rug isn’t difficult, it just takes a little time and elbow grease. A pressure washer makes the task easy, but you can clean your rug without one.

If you really want to go simple, consider a machine-washable outdoor rug from companies like Ruggable. These rugs can be on the pricier side, but the reduced time and effort it takes to clean them might be more important to you.

No matter how you choose to clean your outdoor rug, doing so keeps your rug fresh and beautiful. Routine cleaning also extends the lifespan of your rug and makes stepping outside an inviting and relaxing experience.

Related Guides:

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

More by Stacy Randall