Carpet for bathrooms: hygienic advice and choosing the right material

Carpets for the bathroom are not as common as they once were. Concerns about hygiene on carpet longevity has meant many bathrooms are fitted with tiles or laminate. However, it is possible to fit a carpet in your bathroom and evade the common pitfalls. Read on to learn how.

In this guide:

It remains one of the most contested decisions in all of home furnishing and decorating: whether or not to lay a carpet in the bathroom.

Briefly a trend in the 1990s, these days bathroom carpets are regarded by many as an indisputable misstep. With horror, these people question why you’d even consider doing such a thing.

“What about hygiene?”

“Don’t you want your bathroom to look inviting and sanitary rather than grotty and unclean?”

Yet it’s possible to fit a carpet in your bathroom and evade the common pitfalls. Read on to learn how.

Are bathroom carpets hygienic?

The strongest argument against carpeting your bathroom concerns hygiene. It isn’t like putting down a towel or bathmat to catch your drops as you climb out of the bath or shower—carpet is permanent, and not something you can easily throw in the washing machine (unless it’s our Aqua bathroom carpet!). Therefore, stopping it from becoming a breeding ground for mould and other bacteria is vital.

Your bathroom is going to get wet and humid—it’s unavoidable. And left to its own devices in such a moist atmosphere, that mould, bacteria and mildew will build up over time. So what steps can you take to prevent it?

Choose the right material

Natural or man-made?

Your bathroom gets a lot of foot traffic and your carpet needs to be tough enough to handle it. It must also be able to resist stains, not just from water but from any cosmetics or cleaning products you might accidentally spill while you’re in there.

With this in mind, consider a carpet made of a synthetic (man-made) fibre, whether that’s nylon, polyester or polypropylene. These:

  • dry quickly and easily
  • withstand wear and tear
  • repel stains
  • resist mould

Don’t be tempted to go for a wool carpet—they’re very absorbent and extremely slow to dry out.

Short or long pile?

For bathrooms, the flatter the carpet, the better. Short-pile carpets don’t absorb as much moisture and, when they do get wet, will dry much more quickly.

Clean regularly

Scientific research has shown that while mould loves moisture and humidity, it also thrives on grime. The studies compared mould growth on clean and soiled carpets and found that the fungus bred much more readily among dirtier fibres. This is because dirt itself is very absorbent and soaks up any available moisture from the air and the surfaces it has contact with.

Taking this into account, you should keep the carpet as dirt-free as possible, which means regular cleaning.

Keep the room as dry as possible

If humidity and moisture are your carpet’s enemy, the answer is to keep them at bay as best you can. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Get the room warm—Condensation forms on cold surfaces, so by heating the room beforehand you’re giving the water vapour fewer places to condense. If you have tiled walls, there’s not much you can do there beyond extensive renovation, but using your radiator and closing the door to block draughts (and keep moist air away from the next room!) should help.
  • Provide good ventilation—Make sure you open a window before you bathe or shower so the steam has somewhere to escape. Yes, you might feel cold briefly but you’re stopping that water vapour from covering the walls and surfaces inside your bathroom.
  • Use an extractor fan—Particularly important if your bathroom has no window, extractor fans suck the moist air from the room and dispatch it (usually) outside. In a lot of homes, the fan comes on when you switch on the light; other times they have a separate pull cord. If you have neither a window nor an extractor fan, installing at least one of the two is highly recommended if you’re to protect your carpet.
  • Wipe down wet surfaces—When you’ve finished your bath or shower, take the time to wipe the sheen of condensation from the tiles and glass. It’s also worth removing any excess water that might be covering the white sealant around the bath/shower, as this will rot and turn black over time.

You can find more tips and advice for cleaning your carpet by visiting our guide: Cleaning your carpet—vacuuming, deep cleaning, professional carpet cleaning and tips for removing stains

Are bathroom carpets waterproof?

Most carpets won’t be completely waterproof as they come, and will only withstand a certain amount of dampness before they suffer damage. However, with the aid of a special waterproof backing, they can be made to resist water and protect the floor beneath.

Our Aqua bathroom carpet comes with a hard-wearing, waterproof waffle back. This means the carpet can be fitted straight to the floor, without the need for underlay.

Are bathroom carpets practical?

Carpeting the bathroom can be a matter of safety if you have young children or elderly people in your household. Rather than risk them slipping on a wet tiled or linoleum floor, having a carpet means providing more grip for when your family members climb out of the bath or shower.

Are bathroom carpets comfortable?

Perhaps the main reason for fitting a bathroom carpet is to provide that warm, luxurious feeling underfoot. But don’t go for the thickest pile you can find, as this will cause you some of the problems mentioned above. Instead, look for a carpet made specifically for the bathroom—these have a short pile but provide ample padding thanks to their waterproof underlayer.

Related content

Guide to cleaning and maintaining your carpet

How to choose your carpet material

Carpet colours & how they can be used in the home


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