Can Outdoor Rugs Get Wet? | Mold, Wood Damage, & More

In Lawn & Garden, Tips by Jamie

Putting a rug in your outdoor living space is a great way to add a sense of comfort and style. However, we tend to think of rugs as being exclusively for indoors. Investing in an outdoor rug and leaving it exposed to the elements may feel a bit risky. One of the biggest concerns with outdoor rugs is whether or not they can get wet and what happens if they do.

The short answer is, yes, most outdoor rugs are designed to withstand getting wet. However, varying factors, such as rug materials and the amount of weather exposure, are important to consider when choosing an outdoor rug. Proper care is also a factor in how much water can damage an outdoor rug or the surface it’s on.   

To help you determine how to address this situation, we’ve done some research and compiled the best tips and information we could find.

Interested in buying an outdoor rug? Check out our 10 Best Outdoor Rugs article here!

Outdoor Rug Materials – What Should I Be Looking for? (and Avoiding!)

Size, design, color, and cost are usually the main concerns when picking out an outdoor rug, but equally important is the type of material the rug is made out of. If your outdoor rug is likely to be exposed to wet or moist conditions, then you’ll want to go with a synthetic material such as polypropylene, nylon, or polyester. Synthetic materials are easier to dry and more resistant to water damage.

Some natural materials (such as bamboo, seagrass, sisal, and jute) are popular choices for outdoor rugs due to their durability. However, even these hardier natural materials are more prone to water damage than synthetic materials and shouldn’t be placed in an area where it will frequently get wet. If your outdoor space is covered and experiences minimal exposure to water, then a rug made from natural materials will do just fine.

Also, avoid using cotton or wool rugs for outdoor spaces. These rugs will warp, shrink, develop mildew, and quickly fall apart in most outdoor conditions.

Do Outdoor Rugs Get Moldy?

Whether your outdoor rug is made of natural materials or synthetic materials, mold will grow if the conditions are wet enough. The underside of the rug is the area most likely to develop mold. Rugs with thick fibers or densely woven materials are at risk of developing mold from top to bottom, creating a difficult cleaning task or even ruining the rug completely.

How to Prevent Your Outdoor Rug from Getting Mold

Keeping your rug dry is the best way to prevent mold from developing. If the rug gets wet, hang it out to dry or turn it over on a dry surface. Limit the amount of time the rug sits wet.

Also, regular cleaning will eliminate any early build-up of mold. Simply give it a good scrub with a soapy wash or even a mild bleach solution. Just be sure to double check on proper cleaning methods for your specific type of rug, especially if it’s made from natural materials.

If you expect heavy rain fall for an extended amount of time, the easiest thing to do is roll up the rug and store it in a dry place until the weather improves.

Will an Outdoor Rug Damage a Wood Deck?

outdoor rug on deck

Wood decks require extra care and consideration when it comes to outdoor rugs and water exposure. Materials that absorb and retain water, and are more prone to mold, should be avoided for a wood dug. Wood harbors mold and mildew more easily than other surfaces, and it’s more susceptible to damage.

Also, rugs that have been heavily or poorly dyed might release their color from repeated wettings, leaving a permanent stain on the wood.

You should air dry outdoor rugs on wooden decks to prevent any mold or mildew growth. Regular deck care and maintenance will ensure your deck stays in great shape for years to come.

What About a Concrete Patio?

With concrete surfaces, the biggest risk of a wet outdoor rug is staining from dyes in the rug. Such stains might be hard, or even impossible, to remove. In the case of mold or mildew developing, the concrete can be cleaned with a thorough pressure washing. However, a serious growth of mold might leave permanent stains.

That said, repeated water exposure to an outdoor rug on a concrete surface will increase the wear and tear on the rug, limiting the rug’s longevity.

What About a Grass?

It isn’t recommended to lay a rug over grass for a long period of time because it can end up killing your lawn. However, it is a great temporary outdoor flooring idea for a variety of events like weddings, birthday parties, and much more. We do have an article about 9 breathable rugs for laying over grass you can check out.

Long-term use of a rug on grass will kill your grass, and your rug will quickly grow mold/mildew and will not be of great use anywhere else. Be aware of this and use it with caution!

Do Outdoor Rugs Drain Themselves?

Some rug designs are capable of easy drainage. For instance, woven rugs made from recycled plastic are excellent for water drainage. The interwoven material allows water to pass through easily and leaves the underside exposed to airflow for efficient drying. The only drawback to these designs is that they lack the suppleness and comfort that is usually desired in a rug.

What is the Best Outdoor Rug Material for Rain?

Outdoor rugs made of synthetic materials are certainly the best for rain. Polypropylene and polyester are two of the best options. They’re durable against repeated wetting, resistant to mold, and easy to clean. And due to their durability, any mold that does occur can be cleaned without causing damage to the rug. Also, with synthetic materials such as these, colors are infused in the fibers, preventing the risk of dyes leaching out and staining the surfaces underneath.

To Sum Up, The Pros and Cons of Outdoor Rugs

With outdoor rugs, we believe that the pros outweigh the cons. The vast variety of materials and designs available makes it likely that there’s a perfect rug for you. The biggest downside to having an outdoor rug is choosing one that’s not suitable for the conditions it will be in. With careful, well-informed consideration, you can find an outdoor rug that fits your style and won’t be a hassle to maintain. The key to keeping your outdoor rug in good condition is limiting the amount of time it sits wet and giving it a regular cleaning.