Bath Mat vs Bath Rug: What’s the Difference & Does it Matter?

August 1, 2023

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Did you know there’s a bath rug debate? It’s true. Google it and you’ll find: bath mat vs bath rug. So, what’s the big deal? And is there really a difference between bath mats and bath rugs? If I had to guess, it’s probably not something you’ve ever put much thought into before. Haha!

But today, we’re diving in. We’re going to find out what all of the talk between the two is all about.

While, the bath rug debate may not be a topic that comes up in everyday conversation. It’s certainly a topic of interest for those seeking to create the perfect spa-like bathroom.

The truth is, there is indeed a difference between bath mats and bath rugs. Understanding these nuances can help you make an informed decision when it comes to selecting the right option for your needs.

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The phrases “bath mat” and “bath rug” are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there are numerous key differences between the two. Choosing the best option really comes down to these 3 things:

  • personal preference
  • the purpose they’ll serve
  • and your budget

A high-quality bath mat can help prevent slips and falls on wet floors, while a plush bath rug can add a cozy touch to your bathroom design.

From the materials used to their size, shape, and even their cleaning requirements, each has its own unique characteristics. Let’s explore the key differences between bath mats and bath rugs to help you make an excellent choice for your bathroom.

Key Differences: Bath Mat vs. Bath Rug

Bathroom rugs and bath mats are both essential accessories for your bathroom, not only keeping your feet dry after a shower but also adding to the layout and decor of the space. Here are a few distinctions between the two:

The difference is in the material

The first main difference between a bath mat and a bath rug is its common materials.

Typically, the best bath mats are made of absorbent materials like cotton or microfiber. Both of these materials dry quickly and therefore, are more likely to prevent slipping on a bathroom floor.

The material of the bath mats is important for maintaining safety in the bathroom. This can be especially vital for seniors or children, as excess water on the floor can lead to accidents.

Large master bathroom with a vanity; 2 mirrors and a large white tub for bath mat vs bath rug post

Source: Casa Arte Group

In contrast, bath rugs are typically made of thicker materials like wool or chenille and can also include synthetic fibers like polyester.

This comfy mat provides a more luxurious feel for your feet to step out of the shower and onto. However, it does take a bit longer for the rug to completely dry.

Size and shape are not always the same

While both absorb water from your feet as you walk out of the shower, bath mats are generally smaller in size and rectangular in shape than bath rugs. Therefore, making them great for small spaces. Ultimately, the size and shape you choose will depend on personal preference and the design element you want to add to your bathroom.

Bath mats are ideal for smaller spaces and minimalistic designs, while bath rugs can add warmth and texture to larger bathrooms.

Additionally, bath rugs come in a variety of shapes, such as circular, oval, and square. This gives you even more options to create a unique look in your bathroom.

Bathroom with shower and a bath rug for bath mat vs bath rug post

Source: Board & Vellum

Here’s a breakdown of the most common bath mat vs bath rug sizes:

A standard bath mat vs bath rug size is 20″x30″. However, I personally prefer a rug that doesn’t get lost in the space. Therefore, if the room allows for it, I opt for a 2’x3′ or even 3’x5′ rug.

This bath rug from Amazon is super cozy and stylish at the same time.

Black bath rug for bath mat vs bath rug post

Amazon Affiliate Links Included

One is thicker than the other

Another key difference between a bath mat and a bath rug is the thickness. Bath mats are generally thinner than bath rugs. This is because bath mats are designed to absorb water quickly and avoid slips and falls.

Luxury bath mats are often made of materials such as microfiber or cotton. Both of these materials make the rug absorbent and therefore, quick to dry. They have a low pile height, making them easy to clean and dry.

Large shower and vanity in a master bathroom

Source: DNC Construction Inc.

Bath rugs, on the other hand, are designed to provide a soft and plush feel under your feet.

Often made of thicker materials, such as chenille or shag, they offer a luxurious and comfortable feel. They have a higher pile height, which makes them more difficult to clean, unfortunately.

But this thickness does provide more cushioning when standing at your vanity or stepping out of your tub.

Bath mats don’t have to be ugly. Here’s one that’s sure to match your style.

Gray bath rug

Shop my Bath Storefront Here

Bath mat vs bath rug: They serve different purposes

A bath mat is specifically designed to prevent slipping after a shower or bath, usually made of rubber or similarly textured material to provide grip for wet feet.

In contrast, a bath rug is often used for decorative purposes and to add a cozy touch to a bathroom. Bath rugs are typically made of plush materials like cotton or chenille. This provides a much more comfortable texture on your bare feet when stepping out of the shower.

Master bathroom with vanity and large window

Source: Hufft

While some bath mats may also have a decorative element, such as a pattern or color scheme, their primary function is safety. Due to their respective purposes, bath mats tend to be smaller in size than bath rugs. And often go directly in front of the tub or shower.

Serving more of a decorative and comfort role, cotton bath rugs can be placed anywhere in the bathroom.

​Adding a nice, plush rectangular bath rug in front of the sink, can make getting ready in the morning much more enjoyable.

I’m in love with these bath rugs. How cute would these look in a girl’s bathroom. Young or older. Haha!

Pink rug

How to clean your bath mat vs bath rug

In most cases, both bath mats and rugs are machine washable. Always check the care label for washing instructions.

Generally speaking, bath mats are easier to clean than bath rugs. Because bath rugs are typically thicker and more plush, it’s a little tougher to thoroughly clean them.

Since bath mats are thinner and made of various materials that are more absorbent, they tend to wash up very nicely in the washing machine.

Baby standing up at the outside of a bath tub

A good rule of thumb, is to wash your bath mat or rug with cold water. You’ll also want to avoid adding fabric softener. Fabric softener can stain or damage your rug/mat.

To bring back that super-soft feel, replace the fabric softener with vinegar. Works like a charm.

Bath mats and rugs can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wash them once a week.

Or you can go with this Scandi-vibe wooden mat and never have to run it through the washing machine.

 Bamboo wooden bath mat for bath mat vs bath rug post

Type of bath mat options to choose from:

  • cotton bath mats
  • bamboo mats
  • wooden bath mats
  • memory foam bath mat
  • microfiber bath mats
  • rubber bath mats

Type of bath rug options to choose from:

  • long-staple cotton rugs
  • luxury bath rugs
  • turkish cotton rug
  • tassel fringe rug

Why is it critical to understand the distinction between bath mat vs bath rug?

Safety is key

Safety should always be top priority in the bathroom. For this reason, understanding the difference between a bath mat vs bath rug is important. While both are great choices for keeping your feet warm and dry, they serve different purposes.

When choosing between a bath rug or mat for an elderly person or a child’s bathroom, the safer option will always be a bath mat.

Feet on a bath mat for bath mat vs bath rug post

Source: Amazon MontVoo Bathmat

As mentioned before, cotton bath mats are designed to provide traction and prevent slips on wet floors. Typically, they have a rubber backing that adheres to the floor and a textured surface for extra grip.

On the other hand, bath rugs are more decorative and are often made of plush materials like cotton. Although they can add style to a bathroom, they do little to prevent slips and falls.

Comfort is important

Bathroom mats are all about safety and offer very little comfort.

If a luxurious, warm feel under your feet is what you’re looking for, then a bath rug is your best choice. Bath rugs are ideal for adding a sense of warmth and relaxation to your bathroom.

Want that spa-like feel to start and end your day, then a bath rug is what you need to be shopping for.

Imagine stepping out onto this every morning. Yes, please…

Plush bath rug

It’s important to understand the difference between a bath mat vs bath rug. Since their primary purpose is to provide comfort and/or safety. Choosing the right one is truly based on your needs and personal preference.

Bathroom with a white tub and vanity

Source: Lyn’s Design Style

Bath mat vs bath rug: Style matters

When it comes to style, choosing between a bath mat and a bath rug can have a significant impact on the overall aesthetic of your bathroom.

Bath mats, with their practicality and smaller size, seamlessly blend into the space without overpowering the design.

They offer an opportunity to coordinate with other bathroom accessories such as shower curtains or bath towels. This allows for a cohesive and harmonious look.

On the other hand, bath rugs provide a chance to make a bold statement or add a pop of color with their larger size and plush textures. They can even become the focal point.

Whether you prefer a minimalist and sleek bathroom design or a vibrant and eclectic atmosphere, selecting the right bath mat or bath rug can make all the difference.

Bath mat vs bath rug: bath mat outside a white tub in a master bathroom

Source: CG&S Design-Build

It can be the perfect finishing touch, tying your shower curtains and other decor elements together.

In a nutshell, understanding the difference between bath mats and bath rugs is essential when it comes to picking the perfect addition for your bathroom. These necessary accessories can do wonders for both functionality and style.

Bath mats are all about keeping you safe. With their rubber backing and textured surface, their primary purpose is to prevent slips and falls.

On the other hand, bath rugs offer a touch of luxury, wrapping your feet in cozy comfort as you step out of the shower.

By considering factors like materials, size, shape, thickness, and cleaning needs, you can make an informed decision. One that suits your personal preferences and enhances the overall look of your bathroom.

So, whether you prioritize safety or prefer that plush, pampering, spa-like feel, I hope you now have more of an understanding to make a wise choice between the two. When it comes to this bath rug debate, which will you choose? Bath mat or bath rug?

Want to shop all of my favorite Bath finds? Here’s the link to my Bath Storefront.

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

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