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How to Clean an Outdoor Rug

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Wondering how to clean an outdoor rug? Cleaning a dirty outdoor rug, including one with grass stains, is easy. See how I took mine from dingy to crisp and clean in about 15 minutes.

How to Clean an Outdoor Rug

Alright, I know the best time to publish a post about how to clean an outdoor rug is probably the spring. You’re getting your outdoor stuff out of storage and setting up your deck or patio, and you want everything to be sparkling clean.

But hear me out. The end of the season is the best time to clean an outdoor rug! That’s because it’s been exposed to the elements all season long. It’s probably caked with dirt and might even have grass stain. (Which aren’t as stubborn to remove as you might think!)

how to clean an outdoor rug
cleaning grass stains on a patio rug

That’s why I’m cleaning mine now—after Labor Day weekend, at the end of the summer when we’ll probably have it out for only about a month or so. (And I’m talking a deep clean, here. I’ll probably still hose it down in the spring before bring it out because it will probably collect some dust in storage over the winter.)

For more outdoor projects, check out my DIY HVAC unit screen, my post about how to hang flower pots from fences and posts, my DIY outdoor coffee table with a concrete top, and my full backyard tour post for this year!

Supplies for Cleaning Outdoor Rugs

(Affiliate links below. You can read more about that here.)

Here’s what I used to clean my patio rug. I am a big fan of these supplies for cleaning all of my outdoor furniture and our deck, too, so they’re nice to have on hand.

  • Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner: Okay, you’re going to take a look at this and think WOAH that is too expensive. But I’m still using the bottle I bought when we moved into this house in 2016. It’s highly concentrated, so you only need to mix a bit with water to achieve cleaning power.
  • Any stiff scrub brush like this one
  • A hose, we have a black expandable one that I love because it’s lightweight and shrinks when it’s not in use.
  • A hose head that has a “jet” setting
  • Cleaning gloves
  • Flat, sunny space

Here’s how to clean an outdoor rug.

Step 1: Remove excess debris first

Lay your rug out over a flat, reasonably clean-ish space. I used our driveway. Then rinse down the rug to remove any loose debris and caked on gunk. Using the jet stream setting on your hose will help loosen things, too.

Don’t be afraid to get closer to the rug and really try to shoot that stuff out. This will help when you’re scrubbing—no need to clog up the scrub brush with stuff you could easily remove with the hose.

cleaning grass stains on a patio rug

Step 2: Add some Sal Suds cleaner and start scrubbing

You can take one of two approaches here. You can just squirt some onto the rug, focusing on the spots where the stains are the worst. Or you can fill a bucket up with a squirt of Sal Suds and some water. You will undoubtedly waste more by squirting some cleaner directly onto the rug, but you’ll also save some time and won’t have a bucket to clean out.

Since I was feeling lazy and was running against a nap time clock, that’s what I chose to do. 🙂 I didn’t go overboard, though, because I didn’t want to be stuck hosing off the rug for hours. This cleaner is really concentrated. Remember, you can always add more if you need it!

Then use your stiff scrub brush to start scrubbing! I focused mostly on the white areas of the rug because those are obviously the spots that showed the dirt and grass stains the worst. I just did a quick once over on the dark gray areas for good measure.

What I really like about this cleaner is how much it foams up. It helps me see where I’ve already scrubbed so I can move on to another area. Also it just makes me feel like it’s doing an extra good job cleaning 😉

sal suds biodegradable cleaner
rubber cleaning gloves
stuff scrub brush
how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug

Step 3: Grab the hose!

Once I’d finished scrubbing the rug, I grabbed my hose and set it on the “jet” setting. I like using the jet setting because it really encourages the cleaner to foam up, and it helps rinse all of it out of the rug as well.

I like to start at the very top of the rug—the side closest to me—and spray in slow left-to-right streams, gradually moving down the rug to “push” the soap down. That way, you are actually rinsing the soap down off the rug. See what I mean in the photos below?

Hose jet setting
how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug

I did this twice. The first time, a significant amount of soap ran off the rug. The second time, it was less. For the third rinse, I switched my hose setting to “full,” which is just a little less concentrated and intense than the jet setting is, and fully rinsed the rug again. You can see below that there is significantly less soap suds than before. And you can also see how clean the rug looks! Yay!

After this, I draped the rug over a ladder to quickly rinse the bottom and let it dry in the sun. This step is optional—you can let the rug dry on your driveway in the sun. But there will be some water trapped under it, so you might want to flip it or move it so it can fully dry.

how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug

And here’s how it looks back in the space. I took the chance to hose off the deck while the rug was in the driveway. We also rearranged some of the furniture because we’re working on a sand/rock play box for Ramona right now, so more to come on that!

how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug

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how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug
how to clean an outdoor rug


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cassie bustamante

Wednesday 11th of September 2019

it looks fabulous- i need to try that! i used wet it and forget it on mine recently because finding time is so hard and i just sprayed it and then literally forgot about it and a week later the green was gone! but it's probably not the most conscious choice i could make.

Brittany Goldwyn

Wednesday 11th of September 2019

Well that's good to know!! Maybe next year I'll save myself 15 minutes and just use wet it and forget it!

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