Getting Your Outdoor Rug Wet: No Biggie… Usually


photo of ourdoor patio with rug

We use rugs to pull together a room, to meld the furniture into a more cohesive look. Well, outdoor rugs do the same thing for us, adding a little bit of personality to our patios. Seeing as how we use these rugs in the same way, is it actually okay for us to use these rugs long-term outdoors, and are we going to build up any nasty mold stains, or mildew by leaving them outside? Let’s take a look at the different types of outdoor rugs and see if it’s okay to leave them outdoors all season long.

Outdoor rugs are made to withstand the elements. The synthetic materials used in fabricating most outdoor rugs are resistant to stains, mold, fading and mildew. It is perfectly fine to leave a synthetic outdoor rug in the rain, or hose it down to clean. Natural fiber rugs can hold onto water and are more susceptible to mold and mildew.

The Materials Used In Outdoor Rugs

Outdoor rugs can really be distinguished by what kind of fibers they are made from. There are synthetic fiber rugs and natural fiber rugs. These fibers, at times, can really change the way your outdoor rug looks, and functions, so I’ll quickly cover the most popular materials and the top benefits of each type of rug.

What Synthetic Fiber Rugs Are Made From:

Polypropylene – Definitively the most popular synthetic rug material. Polypropylene is a thermoplastic that is used in almost every industry. You probably have tupperware or a water bottle that uses this material. For outdoor rugs, the polypropylene is treated for fade resistance in order to withstand the suns UV rays. It’s also super resistant to water so feel free to hose it down, scrub it and leave it where it is when that rainstorm hits.

Polyester – Another popular material, this has a lot of the same characteristics as polypropylene, but it adds a bit of softness to the rug. You will often times see polyester in blends with polypropylene as well. Polyester adds a bit of bulk to an outdoor rug so it’s not as flat as a polypropylene rug would be. The main thing to note is the polyester cannot be bleached the same way a polypropylene rug can.

PET – This is an eco-friendly option because these rugs use polyester fibers made from recycled water bottles! These recycled rugs are very soft and versatile. They are fade resistant, and water resistant. PET rugs are also soft enough to be used for indoor applications as well!

Acrylic – These types of rugs offer good stain resistance and water resistance just like other synthetic rugs. Acrylic rugs have the advantage of dyeing well, and are softer, with a wool-like texture. One of the only drawbacks of acrylic is it’s tendency to pill (a “pill” is the fuzz that forms on the face of the fabric) so these are more often seen in indoor/outdoor rugs.

Nylon – You’ll see nylon in many outdoor products like tents, and cushion covers. These have great water resistance and have a very smooth service. You’re more likely to see these in blended fabric rugs as nylon can be a bit shiny. Nylon also does not have the fade resistance that polyester and polypropylene rugs do, so these are best suited for areas with at least partial shade.

Whats So Great About Synthetic Fiber Rugs?

The majority of outdoor rugs are made from synthetic materials. These rugs are so popular because of how durable and affordable they are. Compared to natural fiber rugs they are easier to clean, wash, and are far more resistant to fading, discoloration, mold and mildew. Synthetic fiber rugs as compared to natural fiber rugs are also:

  • Lighter
  • Less expensive 
  • Durable, able to withstand high-traffic and poor weather conditions

With all there benefits, synthetic rugs still have some disadvantages over their natural fiber counterparts. Let’s go over what natural fiber rugs are made from and why they also have some merit in the outdoor space.

What Natural Fiber Rugs Are Made From:

Bamboo – Bamboo has been a staple of Asian culture for many many many years. There has been an explosion of bamboo related products rising in popularity, specifically using a newer form of this grass, bamboo silk. Bamboo silk is very durable and a rug made from it can be a great addition to an indoor/outdoor area. Bamboo silk can still fade and is often backed with other natural fibers to increase softness, so mold and mildew can still develop.

Jute – Derived from plant fibers, rugs made from jute are very soft because the manufacturing of jute rugs includes soaking the fibers in water for a long time. Because of this you may think getting these wet might not be an issue, but these rugs release oils in the fibers, which can brown the rug. With it being so soft, the durability suffers a bit as well.

Sisal – The most durable natural fiber rugs are sisal rugs. These handle high foot-traffic great and come in a large variety of colors and patterns. That durability means you’re sacrificing texture. These can be annoying for small children that crawl around on these rugs. Sisal easily absorbs water and will need to be thoroughly dried after getting wet.

Seagrass – Seagrass is FANTASTIC if you are looking for a natural, eco-friendly, sustainable outdoor rug. Seagrass can handle high foot-traffic, and is stain-resistant. These rugs are non-porous so they can get wet without the issue of absorbing and holding onto water. Do keep in mind, seagrass is limited in color and pattern, as you’ll generally only find them in beige or green hues.

photo of layered rugs

So, Then Why Choose A Natural Fiber Rug?

All natural fiber rugs will deteriorate faster that synthetic outdoor rugs. They are generally more expensive, they fade from the sun faster, and they do not handle getting wet as well either. Still, natural fiber rugs are a good choice if you want to be environmentally friendly due to the sustainability and non-toxic manufacturing processes. Compared to synthetic rugs, natural fiber rugs are also:

  • Non-allergenic
  • Softer underfoot
  • Sound-absorbent

Conclusion

No matter what type of outdoor rug, it’s a great choice to really bring your patio together. Getting a synthetic rug wet from a rainstorm or a quick hose down is not a big deal knowing that it’s the way it was intended to be used! You’ll most likely want to swap the rug out for a new “fresh” look long before the rug needs replacing. If that’s the case don’t feel bad for cleaning it up, drying it off, and saving it for next spring! Natural fiber rugs are also a great choice for eco-minded people, they just take a little bit more care in order to keep them in their best shape.

Related Questions

Can an outdoor rug be used inside?

Without a doubt! Outdoor rugs are generally made from synthetic fibers. While these rugs are not as soft as traditional indoor rugs they are more durable and can come in all sizes and patterns. These work well in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms because they are less prone to mold and mildew.

Can an outdoor rug be used on grass?

Most outdoor rugs can be used on grass. Synthetic rugs can actually benefit from grass as it adds a bit of softness. Because natural fiber rugs absorb and hold onto water – – mold, mildew, and staining are issues, it’s best to use natural fiber rugs on a dryer surface.

Michael Carpenter

Hi, I'm Mike. I grew up in North Carolina having a blast on trampolines, go-karts, and just sitting on the porch with my friends. I have since moved to Las Vegas with my wife, 2 children, and 3 dogs. When I'm not chasing the kids around the house, I am probably chasing them around the backyard!

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