There's nothing like sinking your toes into a plush bath mat when you step out of your bath or shower. It feels luxurious and warm on your feet and keeps your floors dry. As nice as bath mats feel, they can also be a trap for bacteria if you're not careful.
Keep reading for my best tips to help keep your bath mat clean and hygienic so you can enjoy it without worrying about nasty bacteria.
Are bath mats sanitary?
Bath mats look nice and can keep you from slipping on hard tile floors after you take a bath or shower, but they are a magnet for mold and other bacteria growth if you're not careful.
Although it is very easy for a bath mat to become a slippery slope to a bacteria-ridden bathroom, you can implement some simple good habits to make your bath mat as sanitary as possible.
With proper care and regular cleaning, you can minimize the amount of mold and bacteria growth so you don't have to feel grossed out about using a bath mat.
Why use a bath mat?
Many people couldn't imagine a world without bath mats. They are very helpful to soak up excess water as you exit the bathtub, prevent you from slipping, and provide a warm, soft surface to stand on instead of a cold tile floor.
These are some of the main reasons why people prefer to use a bath mat in their bathroom despite the risk of mold and bacteria. Also, many people do not feel threatened about the bacteria risk because some degree of bacteria is normal (and some would argue necessary).
How can you keep bath mats hygienic?
If you know you want to continue to use bath mats in your bathroom, it's important to know how to keep them as hygienic as possible.
Here are my best tips to minimize mold and bacteria growth on your bath mat. And the best part? These only take a few minutes every day, so it won't take too much time to have a big impact on keeping your bathroom clean and sanitary.
1. Allow your bath mat to air dry whenever possible
Once you have used your bath mat to towel off, apply lotion, or get dressed, it's essential to pick your bath mat up off the floor. When a wet (or even just mildly damp) mat is left to sit on the floor all day, it can become a hotbed for mold and other bacteria to grow.
It's a good practice to drape your bath mat over the edge of your tub or on a towel rack if at all possible. This will get it off the floor and allow airflow to get to all surfaces of the bath mat to dry it effectively.
When your bath mat can dry fully between uses, you prevent it from holding water in the thick fibers and minimize the chances that bacteria has a chance to make their home there.
2. Wash your bath mat regularly
One of the most important things to do to keep your bath mat hygienic is to wash it regularly. This sounds overly simple, but you'd be surprised how many people forget to wash their bath mats. And when I say to wash it regularly, I mean probably more often than you think you should.
My advice is to wash your bath mat when you wash your towels weekly (or more frequently if you can).
It's important to wash your bath mat with hot water to kill any bacteria before it becomes a problem. Wash and dry it thoroughly before using it again and enjoy your clean bath mat worry-free.
3. Towel off before exiting the tub or shower
Water is your bath mat's enemy. If you think you can just come out of your tub soaking wet and the bath mat will do most of the work, think again.
You shouldn't rely on your bath mat to absorb a lot of water. Think of it more as a little bit of comfort and an extra surface to absorb residual water, not a front-line solution.
The best thing to do is to towel off as thoroughly as you can while still inside your tub or shower enclosure before stepping out onto your bath mat. This means that you keep the water where it belongs, inside the tub, and minimize the amount of water that is coming in contact with your bath mat.
4. Close the toilet lid before flushing
We've all seen the images of how far the spray goes every time you flush the toilet. The water that is inside the toilet is sprayed in a fine, almost-invisible mist every single time you flush the toilet.
Depending on how close your bath mat is to your toilet, all of the bacteria that is inside that toilet is getting sprayed across the room and onto your bath mat. Gross, right?
To prevent the constant exposure to dirty toilet water, make it a habit to close the lid of your toilet before flushing. It's not a perfect solution, but it greatly reduces the amount of water and bacteria that is sprayed into the air.
5. Get a wooden bath mat
Wooden bath mats can be helpful in maintaining good hygiene in a bathroom because they are easy to clean and do not harbor bacteria or other germs like some other materials can.
To clean a wooden bath mat, you can simply wipe it down with a damp cloth and a mild cleaning solution. This will help to remove any dirt, grime, or bacteria that may have accumulated on the surface.
In addition, because wooden bath mats are made from a natural material, they are also a more eco-friendly option. They look great too!
Should you carpet a bathroom?
Although the trend isn't as popular anymore, you might be wondering if you could carpet the floor of your bathroom to make the whole surface cozy to step on. The answer to this is an almost resounding no.
Carpet is one of the most unhygienic things you can do in a bathroom because you really cannot get it clean.
At least with a bath mat, you can lift it up to dry and wash it regularly. A carpet is a permanent installation and cannot be cleaned often, so it is a magnet for mold and bacteria from day one.
Your best bet is to get a large bath mat that you like and make sure you keep it clean so you can enjoy the comfort of a soft mat with none of the risks of bacteria and mold growth.