Bath Mat With Rocks In
April 9, 2012 11:43 PM   Subscribe

How do I clean a bath mat made of rocks and felt?

I've been trying to track down a weird odor in the bathroom for months. Turns out the bath mat needs washing, which is fine, but we have this river stone bath mat. It has a felt backing with stones glued to it, and the smell is definitely in the felt. How do I wash and dry this thing?
posted by kiripin to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Ask the manufacturer how best to clean it.
But if I peronally was dealling with the "eww" of a bathmat that for sure was the cause of the smell and I still had to "save" it I'd bleach it
Make a 3% solution (a capfull/splash/glug to a gallon of water is fine). Spray/soak, sun-dry for some nice radiation
Except, no promises on the final outcome for bleach!
Maybe it will discolor the mat, or loosen the glue
Bleach will kill most everything, including "germs that make bad smells"
Good luck! I hope other suggestions are better than bleach!
posted by bebrave! at 12:31 AM on April 10, 2012

I don't have that mat, but have worked with wool felt before.

My first suggestion would be to see if a dry cleaner would take it, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Washing it the same way that one washes wool felt or hand knits would probably be effective. I'm assuming that the glue is waterproof, since you're using it as a bathmat, but check first.

For basic washing, fill your bathtub with an inch or two of warm water, add a squirt of dish soap, and then immerse the mat in it. You can agitate it (gently--if it is, in fact, wool felt, excess agitation and/or sudden temperature changes can cause it to felt further, which could ruin your mat) with your hand, or just leave it sit a while. (Even if you're agitating it, still leave it sit for a while--the water will be slow to penetrate the wool fibers.) Make sure the mat's soaked through, then drain the water and replace with fresh water. Rinse the mat in the fresh water, and continue to drain and replace the water until you've gotten all the soap off. Put the mat to dry, felt-side up, and, if you can manage it, in sunlight.

If you're not worried about maintaining the color of the felt, you could use bleach in the water instead of dishsoap--my feeling is that you've got a better chance of killing the smell like that, but obviously run the risk of discoloring the backing (and maybe the stones? I don't know enough about stones to say.)

If that doesn't work, you could try baking the rug, which I know sounds crazy. I have, however, successfully gotten foot-smell out of woolen clogs by baking them at about 200F for about thirty minutes. There didn't seem to be any damage to the shoes, which were worn for the rest of the season, but this could vary by the type of fiber used, the sort of glue used, etc. Still, if you're contemplating tossing the mat out due to the smell, it's worth a shot.
posted by MeghanC at 12:35 AM on April 10, 2012

However you decide to wash it (and I'd go with some form of bleach or colorsafe faux-bleach), be sure to dry it thoroughly in bright, low-wavelength light. Bright sunlight or a UV lamp.

Sunlight is magical for de-stinking things.
posted by janell at 12:39 AM on April 10, 2012

Scent free Soak wash (and I'd rinse, even though it's rinse-free). And then yes, sunlight, lots and lots of sunlight.
posted by anaelith at 3:47 AM on April 10, 2012

The description says the stones are attached to indoor/outdoor carpet which makes me think it's probably not wool felt, but some synthetic material. If you have access to a hose outdoors, I'm thinking you could turn the mat upside-down, with the stone side down, apply some soapy solution and let soak for a while. Then blast it with a hose until all the soap is rinsed off. Then, leave it for quite a while to dry in direct sunlight. Janell is right: sunlight does have magical bleaching and antibacterial qualities. Make sure it's COMPLETELY dry before bringing it back in. And in the future I would try to give it an opportunity to dry completely as often as you can manage.
posted by primate moon at 5:45 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

White vinegar, not bleach. Much more gentle, and works well for deodorizing - it's what I wash my towels in to get rid of that mildew smell if I forgot the laundry too long.

Wash your mat with dish soap, and then follow with a 50-50 vinegar-water rinse. If you could, I'd put it in the top rack of a dishwasher and add the vinegar as a final rinse aid. If you end up hand-washing it, do the final rinse in hot water and vinegar. Following it up with a sun bake can't hurt.
posted by lizbunny at 5:59 AM on April 10, 2012

posted by blurker at 6:56 AM on April 10, 2012

Febreze won't de-cruft your bathmat; it will just render you incapable of smelling it.

Most stinks associated with damp bathroom things are some form of mildew, and you can kill that with a mild acid like vinegar. Soak the mat in a 1:20 dilution of vinegar in warm water, then roll it up and squeeze it as dry as you can, then leave it outside in the sun until it's completely dry.
posted by flabdablet at 7:58 AM on April 10, 2012

Also: in future, don't leave the bathmat sitting flat on the floor after use; hang it up on the side of the bath.
posted by flabdablet at 7:59 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wash it well, then put it in the hallway next to the door. You can keep your shoes on it. Seems like it would be a pain to keep it odor-free if it's getting wet everyday.
posted by barnone at 12:48 PM on April 10, 2012

Thanks all! I'll give some of these suggestions a try, including drying it in the sunlight, once we actually have some sunlight again. The odor is from months of accumulated pee dribbles on the corner that meets the it does need to be washed, not just sprayed with Febreze. Hanging it up after use should fix that problem.
posted by kiripin at 12:39 AM on April 11, 2012

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