How to Clean an Outdoor Rug

Indoor outdoor carpet next to wooden flooring
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20
What You'll Need
Garden hose
Vacuum cleaner
Clear dish soap
Soft scrub brush
What You'll Need
Garden hose
Vacuum cleaner
Clear dish soap
Soft scrub brush

Indoor/outdoor rugs offer versatility and durability. They can usually withstand more wear and tear than rugs meant simply for use inside. They still need cleaning, though. Check our guide on how to clean outdoor rugs below.

Cleaning these carpets is a straightforward process, but it does require care and diligence. By following these steps, you will know how to clean an outdoor rug or carpet.

Outdoor Carpet Purpose and Placement

Outdoor carpeting provides warmth and aesthetic value to outdoor space. Some of these carpets mimic lawn grass like artificial turf. Others offer pops of color or blend in with natural tones.

In addition to their design value, they can also be installed for safety or comfort reasons, such as to prevent slipping near the pool or being softer on your feet than concrete.

Outdoor carpets are manufactured using synthetic materials that are more resistant to extreme weather conditions, but the carpet will still need some maintenance and cleaning.

These outdoor grass carpets are mainly prone to staining due to oil, salt, or mold and mildew, so these are aspects you need to take care of.

Step 1 - Pick the Right Day for Cleaning

Cleaning outdoor carpet is relatively easy, but you have to do it at the right time.

To get a clean outdoor rug, choose the right day to embark on this project. You’ll want to pick a span of a couple of days without rain in the forecast to ensure you have good weather conditions for washing and allowing your rug to dry.

Step 2 - Remove Furniture and Debris

The first step in cleaning outdoor rugs is to remove any furniture so that you can reach every inch of the space. Next, use a broom to sweep away any dirt and debris such as leaves, loose dirt, and so on from the indoor/outdoor rug.

You may also want to pick it up and shake it off if possible. If it is a true carpet, this may not be possible, and you may want to use a rake instead to get rid of some dirt and grime.

Step 3 - Prepare the Cleaning Solution

A variety of cleaning products

Use a big bucket and fill it with warm, clean water, measuring how many gallons it takes to fill it. For every gallon, put one teaspoon of mild and clear dish soap into the water and mix it well. Do not overuse the soap as this could damage your rug.

Step 4 - Dampen the Rug

The best way to clean an outdoor rug is to apply even moisture. Use your hose on the sprayer set to dampen the entirety of the rug.

Step 5 - Scrub the Rug

hand cleaning rug stain

Dip a soft scrub brush into the soapy mixture you created and let the excess water drip off into the bucket. Scrub the rug well, either completing a spot treatment where stains exist or scrubbing every inch of the carpet.

If your rug hasn’t been cleaned in a while, you may just want to go to town scrubbing the entire thing to get it as clean as possible.

Step 6 - Rinse the Rug

pressure washer cleaning rug

Using your hose and the sprayer setting again, rinse the rug thoroughly to ensure that all soap has been removed.

Step 7 - Hang the Rug to Dry

rugs hanging outdoors

Find a spaceperhaps over the railing of your deck or top of a fenceto hang your rug to dry. After it’s hung, you may want to give the carpet one more quick spray down with the hose to get rid of any lingering dirt.

Allow the rug to dry for a day or so to ensure that it’s rid of all moisture.

If the carpet or rug is not moveable, you could consider using fans to help it dry faster.

Outdoor Carpet Maintenance Tips

Close up of grass indoor outdoor carpet

There are a few other things you can do and keep in mind to ensure your indoor/outdoor rug lives a long life in your yard or home.

Getting Rid of Deep Stains

Most outdoor carpets are highly resistant to stains. This is one of the benefits of the acrylic or plastic design that these carpets feature.

However, one type of substance that will invariably cause a stain of some kind is oil. Even a small spill of any type of oil may leave that part of the carpet looking dull and greasy.

To address this issue, pour a small quantity of liquid dish soap onto a sponge, scrubbing brush, or cloth and rub it into the carpet. Continue to rub at the stain until the soap lathers up. Rinse it off with a small quantity of water to remove the stain.

You can also use detergent to remove oil stains. If the stains persist, employ diluted vinegar or bleach.

Keep the Rug Dry

rug and chairs by pool

After a rainstorm, you’ll want to make an effort to remove excess moisture from your outdoor rug to keep it clean and mold-free. Do this by pushing a plastic broom over top of it to squeeze water out to speed up the drying process.

Occasionally, your carpet will get wet from rain, pet urine, or other liquids. This can give rise to a persistent odor. Not allowing sufficient time for the carpet to dry after wet cleaning can cause an enduring odor.

Damp carpets also encourage mildew growth. It is best to wet clean your carpet on days when there is plenty of strong sunlight. This allows the carpet to dry as quickly as possible. Slow drying is likely to encourage damp conditions, mold, mildew, and consequently, a nasty smell.

How to Clean Mildew Off an Outdoor Rug

Mold and mildew are common problems for outdoor carpets. Unlike indoor carpets, these fixtures tend to get wet and dry again multiple times, even throughout a single day. This makes them an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew.

To address mildew, it's oftentimes best to leave your carpet out in direct sunlight on a warm day for a few hours. This can kill most of the mildew.

How to Clean Mold off Outdoor Rug

If your carpet is moldy, treating it with a solution of about four parts water to one part bleach is a good way to address the problem, although the bleach may cause some discoloration of the carpet.

There are also separate cleaning solutions that are free of bleach if you're concerned about the colors on your carpet. You can also apply diluted bleach or vinegar.

Clean the Carpeting Often

outside rug

Clean the carpeting on a regular basis. Use a cleaning brush to remove dust and other debris.

For a more thorough cleaning, remove the carpets and use a vacuum cleaner, preferably a strong one, and then apply detergent and scrub the carpets. Dry the carpets before you put them back outdoors.

Brush the Carpet

In most cases, brushing your outdoor grass carpets will be sufficient to keep them clean and remove the dirt that accumulates over time.

Alternatively, you can vacuum these carpets, and this solution will also help reduce the crushed appearance outdoor grass carpets tend to have after a certain time.

Remove Salt

If the carpets are exposed to salts during winter, the salts will leave white stains. These can be removed using vinegar. Spray some vinegar on the affected areas and let it soak for up to 30 minutes and then rinse.

You may have to apply vinegar several times and rinse in order to remove salt stains completely.

Steam Clean

It is a good idea to steam clean your indoor-outdoor carpet a couple of times a year. This will reinforce your regular cleaning action.

Steam cleaning is a thorough and effective way of making sure that all trapped dirt and debris are completely removed from the carpet. It will leave your carpet smelling extremely clean and fresh.

Clean Food Spills

It is a good practice to rid the carpet of spilled food and drink immediately. This goes a long way in keeping odors at bay. You’ll need to expend more effort if you wait longer before you clean spilled food. A delay in cleaning also encourages stains and odors to develop.

Use Carpet Fresheners

Capet fresheners can go a long way in keeping odors at bay. It is best to apply some carpet freshener after you’ve vacuumed and cleaned the carpet thoroughly.

Alternatively, you can sprinkle some baking soda or fine ground coffee onto the entire carpet. It works effectively to neutralize odors. This should be done before vacuuming. It also keeps the carpet smelling fresh for longer.

Leave the baking soda or ground coffee to set into the carpet before cleaning. Allow about 8 hours. If able, you should leave it on overnight and then vacuum it well. White vinegar is also useful.

Mix with water—one part vinegar and three parts water. Apply onto the entire carpet surface. Use a brush to scrub both the surface and underside. Rinse with mild soapy water then put out in the sunshine to dry well. Carpet fresheners can be safely used twice a month.

Keep Pets Clean

This is important if your pets frequently use the indoor-outdoor rug. Clean pets are less likely to contribute to odors from the rugs. Clean your pets regularly. When kept clean, you can enjoy their presence both indoors and outdoors with fewer concerns about odors.

Now that you know how to clean outdoor carpet, check out our guide to indoor carpet cleaning and care.