I often imagine myself barefoot on several square feet of fancy shag in a fabulous upstate home, but as a dog owner, I know my pet would eventually ruin it with a pee stain (or worse). But dog owners like me enjoy softness underneath their feet, too. And rugs are one of the first lines of defense when soundproofing an apartment (anything to dampen the sound of a canine feet due to a nighttime burst of energy).
To find the best washable and stain-hiding rugs, I asked a handful of interior designers, pet owners, and parents (toddlers wreak havoc on rugs it turns out) for advice on stylish carpet options that can take a beating and look good doing it. Here, their recommendations, some of which you can even throw in the washing machine.
Kelly O’Connell, an interior designer based in Brooklyn is well-versed in kid-proof textiles, as most of her clients are parents or parents-to-be. “Generally, I love machine washables for kitchen, runner and play rooms, where they get the most abuse. But I caution people to always read the care instructions — even if it says it’s washable, it might be fickle, and depending on how big it is, might not fit in your machine or need to be line dried. Personally, I’ve stuck with cotton or rag rugs — we have a vintage Swedish one in our kitchen.”
Etsy is a treasure trove for textiles. This striped woven rug is made of wool (which can be scary to the stain averse), but you can still throw it in the machine, as long as you wash it on a cold gentle cycle. For best drying results, hang it dry or lay it flat on a towel to make sure it doesn’t lose its shape.
Amory Wooden, VP of Brand at the home storage company MakeSpace is a mother of three (four if you count the dog). She’s a fan of rag rugs for their versatility. “The door to our backyard sees a lot of mud-filled foot traffic. While it would make the most sense to use an outdoor rug at this door, they aren’t easily washable. So instead, I use a rag rug from Ikea (which I love). It’s easy to toss into a load of laundry and clean in a few hours. As an added bonus, we use it to mop up under the water dish from our slobbery bulldog.”
With a house full of toddler and bulldog feet, things can get messy fast. Wooden relies of multiples of the same white bath mat for easy washing and bleaching. “Our bathrooms get very dirty. My favorite bath mat is actually white. I have two white cotton bath mats per bathroom, and I wash them very regularly. The white gets dirty, but it’s also the easiest to bleach.”
There’s nothing better than a two-piece set. Buying two identical bath mats means you’ll always have a replacement while you’re washing mud off of the first one.
For a little guilt-free luxury, this set of Turkish-cotton bath mats from Parachute will make your bathroom feel like a spa.
Devin Shaffer, an interior designer at Decorilla, has all of the best mom recs.
“Lorena Canals rugs are a common favorite that many of our mom clients have shared with us. You can find some of the rugs from this collection at PBKids. This rug is easy to incorporate into many designs styles; it’s washable and soft enough to be placed in a nursery.”
Not a polka dot person? Here’s another equally amazing Lorena Canals rug with a more design-y (but still playful) pattern.
For a less pricey (more adult-looking option) this washable rug from Secret Sea Collection looks like a family heirloom — much less maintenance required.
Writer Beca Grimm may have three cats in her house, but she’s had the same rug for years. “I have two cats and two dogs — technically three cats because my roommate has one. My rug is from Ross. It was around $30 and has stood the test of time (and various animal fluids). It’s machine washable, which rules.”
If you’re dealing with constant pet grime, an indoor or outdoor rug is key. This one from Ruggable is made to be thrown in the washer and comes with a stain-resistant rug pad to keep your wood floors from getting ruined.
Galina Holechek, an interior designer at Homepolish, gave us insight into camouflaging stains. “I tend to lean toward smaller, tighter-patterned rugs in darker tones for areas prone to lots of spills and wear and tear. The smaller patterns mean less surface area to show marks and spills, and selecting a darker color palette really helps hide stains. Hook & Loom has some pretty fantastic machine washable rugs in their flat-weave eco-cotton line.”
Kitchens and dining rooms tend to bear the brunt of our daily messes. This patterned kitchen mat is neutral enough to stylishly fit into your home and is handwoven from 100 percent cotton, so you can wash it easily.
Singer-songwriter Melaena Cadiz lives and works from home, so finding the right mix of form and function was extra important. “We have a toddler, and needless to say have lots of mishaps, so we wanted practical but beautiful rugs. My friend has these made in Brazil, and they’re awesome for folks with kids and pets.”
To mask any potential potty-training fails (from dogs or babies), consider something in a shade of yellow. This naturally dyed rug is machine washable in the smaller sizes (hang to dry please) and comes with tonal inconsistencies, so it will show stains less.
Laura Fenton, lifestyle director at Parents magazine, says, “We have a cotton rag rug that we used in our son’s nursery when he was a baby, and it was very handy to be able to wash it when he was crawling (and in the spitting-up-and-exploding-diapers phase of life). Ours is a vintage one, but you can buy similar new rugs from Willaby. I especially like the undyed option or the supersubtle stripes.”
Like bath mats, rag rugs in shades of white are great candidates for bleaching. This extra-large area rug is great for a child’s bedroom or family room.
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