Can You Put Car Mats in the Washer?

Taking pride in your car is a great thing. I've seen some that are garbage cans on wheels with all the trash strewn around. Regular washing and vacuuming of your car is a great thing to do but what can let all that hard work down is a dingy car floor mat.

You vacuum them as best you can but this simply doesn't remove the ground in dirt and they continue to look stained and essentially as if you did nothing to clean them. In this post we are going to look at how we can get these mats clean and determine whether we could simply throw them in a washing machine.

It used to be a big selling point with dealerships that they would throw in a set of mats for your car. Usually the cars came with a built in carpeted flooring of some description but these mats were always offered but why?

Well when we are out and about we are walking through all kinds of dirt and grime. At home we might take our shoes off before walking on carpeted surfaces but we don’t do that in the car. So all that mud, dust and goodness knows what else is transferred to the floor in front of the seat we are sitting in.

That carpet which is already in the car can not be easily removed and is very tricky to clean where it is. This then is why car mats come in hand. They cover this carpet and serve as a receptacle for all the nastiness on our shoes.

You can then take those mats out of the car and clean them in a whole host of ways so they look almost as good as new. The carpet beneath of course remains relatively pristine.

Can You Put Car Mats in the Washer?

The answer to this very much depends on what type of floor mats you actually have. Certain types of mats should never be put in the washer because quite simply it may destroy them or could be damaged by them.

Realistically the only type of car mat you might consider putting in the washer should be of the fabric variety. They are a more old fashioned type but they are softer and more like a small kitchen rug than the hard rubber mats that are more common these days.

On some of these fabric car mats you may even see washing instructions and if this is the case then you most certainly throw these in the washer as long as you follow the recommendations. All other types of mats should probably be dealt with in different ways.

How to Wash a Fabric Mat

As mentioned this is the only type of car mat that you should ever consider machine washing and then only if they are 100% fabric. If they have robust rubber backing this might make them unsuitable for a machine wash.

Fabric mats get very dirty and really hold on to the dirt and grime from your shoes. A simple run through your machine with a small amount of detergent should be enough to bring the mat out looking much better.

Once washed you can either give it a gentle run through the dry at a lower heat or let it air dry outside on a washing line or over a fence. They may be tough enough to be stepped on over and over but if you can avoid heavy spin cycles and high heat drying you will help to make them last longer.

Wash by Hand

This is a more labor intensive method for cleaning your car mats but it can be used on any type of mat you so choose. You simply need a bucket of warm soapy water ideally large enough to immerse the whole mat in.

With fabric or softer mats dip them in the soapy water and scrub them vigorously while in the water or as they are laid on a flat surface. Repeat the process until the mats come clean, then rinse them. Wring out any excess and dry them in the sun.

Rubber mats can also be hand washed by either dipping them in the soapy water or using a tough soapy sponge to scrub away the dirt and grim. Doing this often will make it easier as you do not allow the dirt to build up so much.

Rinse off the soapy water and dirt and allow the mats to dry in the sun before placing them back in the car.

Power Washing

I’ll admit this is probably one of the more fun ways to clean your car mats and it certainly has a satisfying feel to it as well. We don’t all have pressure washers at home so this can be done at the gas station if they have one there.

I should note this might not be good for fabric mats so perhaps only do this with the tougher rubber lined or entirely rubber types of mats. You simply lay them on the ground, start up the high pressure water and gleefully wash as the dirt and grime is forced out of the mats.

This high pressure water pulls the dirt up out of tougher carpet like materials and off of dirty rubber surfaces. You can literally see the nasty build up pushed out of the mats and run away with water. Once finished, allow your mats to dry before they go back in the car.

Can You Wash Rubber Mats in the Washer?

The answer is a resounding no, do not wash rubber mats in a washer. You will get a better result with hand washing or pressure washing. The washing machine will find it hard to wash these mats and in fact the rigid nature of them might even cause damage to your machine.


You can wash some car mats in the washer but not all of them. Soft fabric mats are the only ones that might be suitable for machine washing. All other types tend to be too rigid and unyielding to put through the washer.

There are other slightly more labor intensive ways to clean the rubber and non fabric mats. You can wash them by hand with soapy water or perhaps a pressure washer. It may take a little more time but it gets the job done and you don’t risk damaging the mat and most certainly you don’t have any chance of breaking an expensive washing machine.

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