Can Outdoor Rugs Get Wet?

Outdoor rugs help spice up your outdoor space while offering protection against bare floor surfaces like cement and wood. They make the area look cohesive and tie together all other furniture, creating an extension of your living room outdoors. But as with other items used in the open, you may be wondering – can outdoor rugs get wet?

Yes, outdoor rugs can get wet. Even though most outdoor rugs are water-resistant, they can still get wet or soaked after prolonged exposure to water. And causes may range from heavy wet foot traffic to water invasions like floods and snow. 

A wet rug can cause unpleasant damage not only to your rug but also to your flooring and health.

In this article, we will discuss how to identify a wet outdoor rug and what you can do to ensure the problem doesn’t get worse. 

Can you leave outdoor rugs outside?

Yes, you can leave outdoor rugs outside because they are made to withstand weather conditions out there. They are commonly made of synthetic materials which are fade and water-resistant. As a result, they absorb less water and dry very quickly. Also, outdoor rugs made of materials like polypropylene are UV-resistant, so they can withstand sunlight without fading. 

However, it is worth noting that even though these rugs are water-resistant, they are not often waterproof or indestructible. 

You should take extra care while using them in inclement weather conditions. It is best to take the rugs inside the house if the weather gets worse. This will help to maintain their beauty and extend their useful life. 

Also, avoid exposing the rugs to direct sunlight. It would be nice if you have them under a pergola or some shade.

When the rugs get wet or soaked, be very quick to dry them. This will greatly help in preventing mold and mildew buildup.

How to identify wet outdoor rugs

Prolonged wetness can damage not only your rug but also the floor beneath it. Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious when the rug is wet.

The rug doesn’t have to be soaked or rained on to get wet. Other elements like precipitation, variable humidity, wind or water splashing can cause moisture to build up within or under the rug.

In most cases, if the rug doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, you may not be able to tell whether or not it’s wet by merely looking at it. 

So how then do you identify wet outdoor rugs?

One of the easiest ways to spot a wet rug is through smell. If you perceive a foul or musty odor whenever you are around the rug area, then that’s a good sign there’s a moisture problem.

Another indicator of a wet rug is discoloration. If you notice a stain on any part of the rug, especially when there’s no spill or rain, then the area may be wet. These discolorations or stains might be from mold or mildew growth. Mold formation is often caused by moisture buildup. 

As earlier indicated, it’s very important to act fast whenever you notice a wet rug, or else you risk damaging the rock or your flooring. 

What to do if your outdoor rug gets wet

When you notice a wet rug, the next reasonable thing to do is hang it up to dry. 

The exact way to go about this might not always be obvious. So I will go over the steps.

Remove the moisture

The first thing is to remove excess moisture from the rug by soaking it up. You can either use a wet vacuum or towel, depending on the type of material the rug is made from. 

For extremely durable outdoor rugs, a wet vacuum should work fine. Suck out the excess moisture with the vacuum and get the rug for drying. If you don’t have a wet vacuum, consider renting one. 

Vacuum thoroughly, and don’t go in one direction. This is essential to get through to the bottom of the rug. Most times, when a rug stays wet for a long time, dirt sinks to the bottom, and this often results in the formation of mold spores. 

For rugs that are a bit fragile, I advise using a towel. Just press it over the area that is wet. Then repeat with another dry towel after the old one gets saturated.

Another option is to spray the rug with a spray treatment to get rid of any foul smell. This could be a vinegar solution or a commercial deodorizer. To make the vinegar solution, mix an equal amount of water and white vinegar. 

Dry in Sunlight

After you soak up the moisture in the rug, you can proceed to dry it under sunlight. 

Using direct sunlight will help ward off mold spores and mildew. However, it could also be a source of concern depending on the rug material. Rugs made of polypropylene or similar synthetic material will do just fine. 

To dry the rug, hang it over a fence or railing. The exact time it takes to dry will depend on the rug size, prevailing weather conditions (humidity), and type of material. Generally, outdoor rugs tend to dry fast.

If there are no fences or railing to hang the rug, then you can lay it out on the ground. But make sure it’s completely exposed to the sun. Don’t forget to turn it over so both sides can completely dry out. 

Avoid using a dryer, or you risk damaging the rug fibers. 

What do you do with an outdoor rug when it rains?

As earlier indicated, most outdoor rugs absorb less water. So they will dry out on their own after a rain. However, this might take a while, depending on the weather conditions and whether or not your rug has a pad. 

Can outdoor rugs get wet, outdoor rugs drying outside

That said, I don’t recommend leaving your rug to dry on its own since there’s a chance it won’t dry out completely. 

So whenever it rains, take it out and dry it under the sun. 

To speed up the process, you could vacuum it first using a shop vac or some other wet vacuum. This will help suck up excess water from the rug, so it dries fast when you hang it under the sun.

Don’t use your indoor vacuum, or you could ruin the rug fibers. 

How long does it take for mold to grow in a wet outdoor rug?

There’s no specific time for mold to grow in a wet outdoor rug. It all depends on the prevailing conditions. However, under normal circumstances, after a rug gets wet, it takes around 24-48 hours for bacteria and mold to begin to form and about 3-12 days for the spores to start colonizing. However, it might take up to 3 weeks before you start seeing the spores.

Wet outdoor rugs exposed to high humidity levels have a higher chance of inhabiting mold sooner. Again, the timeframe could be longer or shorter depending on the variables such as ambient temperature, type of flooring, number of materials or furniture in the rug area, and the mold type. 

It is worth noting that once the mold is allowed to thrive in your rug, it can spread to other furniture nearby. 

Can I leave my outdoor rug outside all winter long?

Yes, you can leave your outdoor rug outside all winter, but this is probably not the best thing to do. Long exposure to moisture from snow can encourage mold growth, which can affect the durability of the rug.

While outdoor rugs can withstand the conditions outside regardless of the weather, it is usually better to roll them up and store them away till winter is over. This is important, especially if it gets silly chilly. 

If you live in an area with a moderate climate and rare freezing weather, then you can live the rug out throughout the year. But that means you constantly have to dry it whenever it gets wet from the rain. This might not be feasible since it will be raining most of the time during winter. 

So the best plan is to remove the rug and keep it in storage. Make sure to clean the rug before rolling it up for storage. Don’t fold the rug…roll it! 

How to prevent outdoor rugs from getting wet

Why wait till your rug gets wet before doing something about it? All the bashing from wet foot and inclement weather will eventually take its toll, and the rug might not last as long as it should. 

With this in mind, here are some useful tips to prevent your outdoor rug from getting wet.

  • Clean Spills Immediately

If you’re hosting a party or get-together and hit a spill from juice, wine, or any other liquid product, clean it up immediately. Don’t give it time to settle, or else it could stain the rug permanently and cause mold breakout. Usually, a mild detergent and warm water will do the job. 

  • Dry Rug after Rain

Whenever there’s a rainstorm and your rug is outside, make sure to dry the rug once the rain stops. The same thing applies whenever you wash near the rug. 

In drying the rugs, make sure both sides get a fair dose of direct sunlight. This is important to prevent mold growth. You can hang the rug over a fence or deck railing. 

They must be completely dry before you place them back on your porch, patio, or deck. 

Don’t allow the rug to dry on its own, whether it’s under a shade or in the open yard. 

  • Store Rug Away During Harsh Weather

Even if the label on your outdoor rug says “all-season,” don’t take it at face value. It is far better to store them away anytime they are not in use, especially during those chilly winter months. Your rug will last longer that way. 

Roll the rug up and cover it with a plastic tarp. You can use a strong rope or bungee cords to hold it. Then find a free space in your garage or storage room.

  • Use a Shade

A shade is not only used to minimize sun exposure; it can also reduce the amount of rain that gets to your rug whenever it rains. If you’re using your rug under a porch or pergola, there are fewer chances it will get soaked with water when it rains lightly. 

This doesn’t apply to the winter season. During those months, it’s best to bundle the rug and bring it in for storage instead of leaving it under a shade at the mercy of rain and snow. 

  • Minimize Moist Foot Traffic

After soaking in the pool, it’s common for some of us to head straight to our mini outdoor living space.

Rugs that are subjected to high traffic foot moisture can become wet, especially in humid atmospheres when the sun is not as bright. To prevent this from happening, try to clean the water off your body first before going to the rug area, or you can minimize the times you jostle between the pool and your deck or patio. 

  • Locate Rug Area away from the pool

Although you may not be able to prevent rain and accidental spills, you can still work at making your rug area a water-free zone. 

You can do this by locating your rug area away from pools, sprinklers, and other parts of the yard or equipment that potentially splash the rug. Those tiny water splashes may not seem like a big deal, but the compound effect can be destructive to your decking or flooring (especially if it’s made of wood).


Like every other investment, your outdoor rug deserves to be protected from wetness. This will ensure it lasts for years while looking fresh.

Failure to prevent moisture or attend to a wet rug can cause foul smells and result in mold and mildew growth. These toxins do not only attack your rug and furniture but also pose a serious health risk. 

So you want to get rid of them before they permeate the rug pad. Because once they do, it becomes nearly impossible to remove them. 

Hopefully, now you got the answer to the question, ‘can outdoor rugs get wet?’. You also know how to detect a wet rug even when the source of moisture is not obvious. I have also shown you what to do to get rid of the moisture as well as how to prevent your rug from getting wet.

Let me know if you have any more questions, and we will be glad to help. 

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