A bathroom can pose some unique decorating conundrums. Ideally, it should be a calm, orderly room that is easy to clean, safe, and 100% functional. Like other rooms in your home, accessories add unique touches to personalize the space and make it your own. However, one of the ongoing debates is whether or not a bathroom needs a bath mat, which serves as both a functional and decorative accessory. While it provides a non-slip barrier between your bare feet and the floor, not everyone agrees that it is an essential bathroom accessory.
Although people refer to them interchangeably, they are two different products. Bath rugs are generally more fashion-than-function and seldom have skid-proof backing. Bath mats have a latex backing that prevents you from slipping once you've stepped out of the shower or bath. Look for mats and rugs constructed with material that absorbs dripping water. This prevents water from ending up on your bathroom floor and forming post-bath puddles. Over time, water leads to floor damage. It can deteriorate the sealer on a tile floor and discolor linoleum if you allow puddles to stand for any length of time.
A bath mat's latex backing creates the non-slip surface that you step out on once you exit your shower or bath. These backings vary in quality. A thicker layer of latex means the mat will stand up better to repeated washings and daily use. Thinner layers start to shred after a couple of washes and lose their ability to hug the floor. Some manufacturers have switched to using non-slip PVC dots instead of latex backing because they don't peel off.
The best materials for a bath mat are durable, absorb moisture, and repel humidity. Most manufacturers use mildew-resistant microfiber, a synthetic fiber with ultra-fine threads for maximum comfort and high absorbency. Many bath mats have a thick, memory foam construction. This unique, denser material allows air to move through it and reacts to weight and body heat. As you place your weight onto the mat, the memory foam forms to the shape of your feet, creating a soft, cushiony surface for you to stand on.
One of the major drawbacks of a bath rug is that some are not washable. A bathroom, no matter how clean, is a moist environment where germs thrive. A damp rug or mat creates the perfect habitat for mold growth. Those who prefer a bath rug over a mat should choose only those materials that are machine washable. Bath mats are generally washable. You can throw some styles into a dryer on low heat, but most manufacturers suggest line drying to preserve the latex backing and non-slip features.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the bathroom is the riskiest room in your home. More than one-third of bathroom injuries occur in the bath or shower, and in most cases, they're due to falls. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are smooth and durable, but these types of floors can be slippery when wet. Although there are slip-resistant floor options, most people don't know whether or not their floors offer this feature. A non-slip bath mat can add a level of safety by preventing slips and falls when getting out of the shower or tub.
Some people prefer the look and functionality of wood mats for a variety of reasons. Choose from teak, bamboo, Hinoki, or ash wood construction. Moisture evaporates faster on a wood mat than it does on fabric or latex-backed mats. This makes wood mats not only rot-resistant but also resistant to mold and mildew. For some people, the drawback is that wood mats don't absorb water, and not all are slip-resistant. Quality wood versions also tend to cost more than other types of bath mats.
Most interior design experts say it isn't a great idea to decorate a bathroom with wall-to-wall carpeting or a non-washable area rug. You're sending out an open invitation for germs and mold. While rubber-backed bath mats aren't everyone's cup of tea, there is a wide array of styles, designs, and fabrics available for those who prefer bath rugs instead. The 100% cotton rugs are a great option. They're highly absorbent and dry quickly. The thicker the cotton, however, the higher the quality and the longer they take to dry.
Bath mats come in standard sizes, such as 17 inches by 24 inches or 21 inches by 34 inches, but there are larger sizes available. Bath rugs are generally available in a wider range of sizes and shapes. If you need a rug that covers a larger space, you'll have no problem finding bath rugs up to 45-inches long. You'll also find a great variety of smaller sized-rugs to fit space-challenged bathrooms.
To make your bath mat last longer, manufacturers recommend hanging it up to dry after each use. Wash it at least once per week in hot water to keep it bacteria-free. A combination of detergent and white vinegar can remove stains or oily residues that end up on your rug or mat. However, read the manufacturer's care instructions before tossing it in the washer. Some bath rugs may be washable, but they're not colorfast, meaning that the colors could fade during washing.
Soaps and other bath products can create a slippery surface in the bath. The number one reason that people place mats inside the bath or shower is to prevent slips and falls while bathing. Suction cups on the bottom of the mat attach it securely to the surface of the bathtub or shower. However, mold and mildew buildup on the underside of the mat is a common issue. Manufacturers suggest that you rinse and hang the mat after use or toss it in the washing machine with detergent to clean.