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How to Clean a Rubber Bath Mat with or without Suction Cups

You may never have given much thought to how to clean a rubber bath mat. After all, you’re constantly using it with soap and water, so you’d think it might stay clean.

Clean rubber bath mat laying in bottom of bathtub

But that’s not the case. Like your bathtub or shower floor, bath and shower mats collect dirt, soap scum and minerals from hard water, and they can mildew.

Why Use a Rubber Bath Mat?

I recently bought an older home and had to have new baths installed. The manufacturer promised me they were textured to be non-slip and I shouldn’t use a mat with them.

This wasn’t true. New and refinished tubs are slick as can be, and these never got less slick, no matter what I used to clean them. Eventually I fell and hurt myself, and that’s when I decided to take a look at bath mats. Here’s the bath mat I got two of, and my household is loving them. 

Most rubber bath mats often have suction cups to stick to the floor of the shower or tub and really make that surface non-slip. You can’t use those on textured tubs/floors because the suction cups won’t be able to grip.

But they make mats with no suction cups that are simply heavy enough to lay at the bottom. They can move around, but not easily. And they make the surface so much less slippery. 

Why You Need to Wash Bath Mats

Rubber bath mats are constantly being exposed to water, soap residue, and body oils. This is a moist environment that’s great for the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew. You don’t want to be stepping or sitting on that.

Regular cleaning also helps with odor control. Over time, if you let bacteria or mildew grow on your bath mat, it will start to stink. Cleaning the mat gets rid of the things that cause those odors.

Rubber mats can also develop stains over time. Soap scum, mineral deposits, and other residues can alter the mat’s color and appearance.

Dirt and other crud can also make your mat more slick over time. The non-slip feature is the whole point of the mat, so you want to keep it clean so it never gets slippery.

Can You Wash Rubber Mats in a Washing Machine?

No, do not try to wash a rubber bath mat in the washing machine. You will need to clean your rubber mat by hand. Washing it in a laundry machine could damage both the mat and the machine. 

Even the rubber backing on bath rugs for your bathroom floor tend to break down with machine washing (even when they’re labeled machine washable). Rubber just doesn’t do well with washing machines.

How to Keep Bath Mats from Mildewing

There are some things you can do to clean shower mats and prevent them from getting icky. This can extend the time between deeper cleanings.

Hang it Up to Air Dry

Rubber bath mat drying on shower door handle

After each use, make sure to hang or lay bathroom mats in a way that allows them to dry completely. Avoid folding or bunching them up, as this can create damp areas where mildew can thrive.

I hang mine over the handle inside my glass shower door. You can also use a towel rack or put it over the side of the tub.

Ventilate the Bathroom

Use exhaust fans or open windows while showering or bathing to allow the humidity to escape the bathroom. That will discourage mildew.


It may sound odd, but you can put your mat out to dry on a deck or patio now and then, exposing the bath mat to direct sunlight. Sunlight has natural disinfectant properties and can help kill mold and mildew spores. 

Anti-Mildew Products

You can use anti-mildew or antimicrobial sprays or powders specifically designed for bath mats. I haven’t personally tried these products, but they are designed to inhibit the growth of mildew and keep your bath mat fresher for longer. 

Regular Light Cleaning

Clean your rubber bath mat in one of the ways described below on a regular basis. A light, regular cleaning is easy and will reduce how often you need to deep clean the bath mat.

Prevent a Moldy Bathroom

Preventing mold in the entire bathroom will help prevent mold in any part of it. Always immediately wipe up puddled water, cracking the door while showering or directly after, and use the exhaust fans while showering or bathing and for at least 15 minutes afterwards to clear humidity.

Also always hang up towels and let them dry between uses.

Replace the Mat as Needed

Over time, bath mats can wear out, lose their texture, or become impossible to clean. If you notice that despite your efforts, the mat keeps developing mildew or becoming discolored or deteriorated, it may be time to replace it with a new one.

NOTE: If your bath mat came with cleaning instructions, follow them. It’s possible that some materials may react badly to some of the cleaners suggested here.

Best Way to Clean a Bath Mat Without Suction Cups

This is easy because it’s just a flat, textured mat. And any of these cleaning methods will work on either type of bath mat. It’s just that there’s more detail on a suction cup mat, which we’ll get to next.

It’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves while working with some of the household chemicals mentioned below, as they can be harsh on skin. You probably know that and already wear gloves whenever you clean your bathroom.

Light Scrubbing

To clean a shower mat, soak it in water for a few minutes, then scrub it with a scrub brush or scouring pad to remove dirt and debris. Rinse the mat with water and allow the mat to air dry it on the back of a chair or outdoors in the sun.

Deeper Vinegar Cleaning

To clean your rubber shower mat without using harsh chemicals, go for vinegar. It is a natural and effective cleaner that helps to get rid of stains and odors. 

You can make a solution of 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar to 1 cup of water and use it to scrub the mat. Or you can or fill the tub with water, pour in maybe a cup of vinegar, and let it soak before scrubbing.

Bleach Sanitizing

Use bleach when you really want to sanitize or remove odors from your rubber bath mats. Vinegar is a great cleaner, but not a complete disinfectant.

Add 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water for normal cleaning. Add 1 cup (240 mL) of chlorine bleach to 5 gallons (19 L) of water for heavier cleaning. 

Dawn and Vinegar

If the mat is feeling slicker than it used to, it’s probably developing something like grease. This is where Dawn dish detergent is at its best.

In a spray bottle, mix 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of water, and two tablespoons of Dawn. Spray the solution on the mat, then scrub it with a brush. Rinse the mat with water and hang it to dry.

How to Clean Bath Mats with Suction Cups

The biggest difference between cleaning a mat with suction cups as opposed to one without is the amount of detail work in the cleaning. Yes, you’re going to need to scrub each suction cup and the area between the cups.

Don’t let that scare you off, though. To make is easier to wash your bath mat, you’re going to soak the mat, suction cup side up, in a solution to loosen the dirt, and then start scrubbing.

The cups are easy. Just scrub many of them at once with a large soft bristled brush. If your bigger brush isn’t getting all the dirt that’s in between the cups, use an old toothbrush.

Vinegar and Baking Soda Deep Clean

Vinegar and baking soda make a great team for loosening the dirt around the suction cups. To clean your bath mat with suction cups:

Fill your bathtub with warm water. Add 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda to it, then let the mat soak for 1-2 hours with the suction cups facing up. Scrub the mat and tub with a cleaning brush, then rinse well.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda Deep Clean

Peroxide will actually sanitize your mat. Baking soda helps to loosen dirt. Together, they’re powerful.

Add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide and about one cup of baking soda to the bath water. Soak the mat for a couple of hours. Scrub and rinse well, and let it dry completely.

Enjoy Your Clean Rubber Bath Mats

Learning how to clean your shower or bath mat is easy. Keeping your rubber bath mat clean and fresh is essential. You want to keep your bathing and showering space hygienic, fresh-smelling and refreshing.

Whether your bath mat has suction cups or not, the cleaning process is pretty similar. With the methods we’ve talked about, you can effectively remove dirt, stains and bacteria, and prevent the development of mildew.

Remember, a clean bath mat not only enhances the aesthetics of your bathroom but also ensures your safety by providing a slip-resistant surface. With these cleaning tips in mind, you can maintain a clean, fresh, and inviting bathroom environment.