How to Clean an Outdoor Rug in 6 Easy Steps

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One of the best – and easiest – ways to spruce up your balcony or patio space is to add an outdoor rug to your area. While outdoor rugs make for very stylish additions, they also tend to attract and pile up dirt and dust quite quickly, and this can impact the overall usage of your balcony. After all, who wants to spend time in a dirty and dusty space?

Luckily, outdoor rugs are very easy to maintain and keep clean as long as you stick to a regular cleaning schedule. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to clean an outdoor rug and discuss other tips that will extend the life of your outdoor rug and keep it looking like new.

Why Use an Outdoor Rug?

Unlike indoor rugs which are typically designed for style and comfort, outdoor rugs are designed to be durable, long-lasting, and fade resistant. They are almost always machine woven and made from synthetic materials that resist mildew and mold. This makes them a perfect addition to any outdoor space as they’ll be able to withstand weather and hold up to the elements.

Because the composition, uses and functions are so different for outdoor rugs versus indoor rugs, care is also entirely different.

How to Clean an Outdoor Rug

1. Clear the space

To properly clean your outdoor rug, you will first need to clear off any furniture or décor items that are resting on top of your rug. You’ll want to be able to easily access the top and bottom of the rug to complete the next steps.

2. Shake or pat down the rug

While almost all outdoor rugs are made from fibers that are mold and mildew resistant, it doesn’t mean that mold and mildew can’t build up, and this can happen when dirt, dust or debris have built up. Getting rid of excess dirt and grime is your best defense against this.

If you have a smaller rug that you can easily pick up, hold one end of the rug and shake off any dirt or excess dust. If your rug is on the larger side, hang the rug over your balcony railing and hit it with a broomstick or similar object to loosen the dirt and dust from the rug. Make sure you take care of both sides, so you’ll want to flip the rug over against the railing.

3. Vacuum

Once the larger pieces of dirt have been taken care of, it’s time to lay the rug flat again and vacuum anything that you might have missed. A vacuum will be able to pick up the smallest of dust particles that would have otherwise been missed in previous steps.

4. Spot clean

Are there any areas on your rug that need special attention, such as stains or heavily trafficked areas?

If you’re dealing with a stain, blot the liquid with a clean towel and try to lift up as much color as possible. If the stain has already dried and is solid, try to remove some of the hardened substance with the edge of a kitchen utensil or similar object.  

5. Wash the rug

Mix a simple solution of water with mild detergent or dish soap. Then, pour some of the solution over the rug and take a deck brush to scrub in the same direction as the weave of the rug. You can focus on your target/spot clean areas only if you choose, or you can scrub your entire rug.

Once you’ve scrubbed your desired areas, take the rug and hang it back over your balcony railing. Rinse everything off with a hose until all of the soap is gone. If you don’t have a hose, use a bucket to pour water over the scrubbed areas.

6. Dry

It’s important to keep your rug off the ground and hang it off your balcony railing or a clothesline to dry. You need to allow both sides to dry properly, and leaving it on the ground to stay soaked in water can potentially promote mold and mildew growth, which you definitely don’t want.

Additional Maintenance Tips

  • Unless you live in an area with great (and relatively dry) weather year-round, it’s a good idea to store your rug during the winter when it’s most likely to be pelted by rain or snow. Simply roll up your rug and store it indoors during the winter months. This will slow down any color fading and increase the longevity of your outdoor rug.
  • It’s always a good idea to check the care instructions for your specific rug before starting the cleaning process. The vast majority of outdoor rugs are made from the same materials and therefore respond well to the same cleaning methods, but it’s always best to double check.


Outdoor rugs are made to live outside and withstand weather, but they still get dirty. Committing to a regular cleaning schedule will extend the lifetime of your rug and ensure that you keep it looking like new.