My Backyard Hangout

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Often exposed to rain, dirt, and mud, your outdoor rugs should be at the top of your spring cleaning list. If you’re wondering how to clean an outdoor rug or if you even have the right tools, keep reading. Returning your rugs to their bright and clean state isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Note: Check the recommended cleaning instructions for your specific rug before applying any products or tools. This can often be found online or on the product tag. 

Step 1: Remove Loose Debris

The first step in how to clean an outdoor rug is removing any loose debris, such as small rocks, leaves or clumps of dirt. There are several ways you can do this. If the rug is too long to pick up by yourself, have someone help. Pick up each end and shake it out by hand. You can also sweep the surface using a broom. Another, easier option is to use a leaf blower. If you don’t have a leaf blower, you can also use a shop-vac or a regular vacuum. I would only recommend a regular vacuum for fine dirt and debris. Anything large may damage your machine. 

Step 2: Spot Treat

Stains are a common issue for any outdoor rug. Add kids or pets into the mix and they’re pretty much inevitable. If you don’t think a spot will come clean, try spot treating it before washing. You can do this using a stain remover spray. Or, if you don’t have any on hand, some people suggest using vinegar and baking soda.

Step 3: How to Clean an Outdoor Rug  

In most cases, you don’t need any special cleaner. Dish or laundry detergent with some water does fine for most materials, such as polyester or polypropylene rugs. You can, of course, mix it in a five-gallon bucket and use a brush to clean it by hand. But a less time and energy-intensive way is to hose it down using your pressure washer. If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can also use a carpet shampooer. If you go with this method, though, you’ll need to buy a cleaner that is compatible with the machine. 

Step 4: Rinse

After you’ve gotten it as clean as you’d like, make sure to rinse out all the detergent. If you’re not using a pressure washer, the next best way to do this is using a water hose. If possible, you should position the rug so that one side is more elevated than the other. This allows the dirt and excess detergent to move down the rug as you spray. Starting from the higher end, rinse the rug until all the suds have been removed. 

Step 5: Air Dry

If you normally leave your rug exposed on a concrete patio or somewhere, it will probably be fine to let it air dry in that same spot. Just make sure to check it every few hours. For thicker rugs, you might also flip it to ensure both sides dry. But if you keep it under some type of covering, like a pergola or roof, you’ll want to put it somewhere that it can be exposed to full sun. If you have the space, you can also hang it up or drape it over something like a deck railing.   


When considering how to clean an outdoor rug, there are several different methods you can use. You don’t necessarily need any special tools or supplies. But having some common household appliances can save time and energy. Depending on the type of material, the best way to clean an outdoor rug is by first removing surface dirt and debris with a leaf blower or vacuum. You can follow this with some spot cleaner for stains then a pressure washer with mild detergent to clean and rinse. Finally, you’ll want to move the rug to an open, sunny area to dry. 

Looking for more backyard DIY ideas? Check out these 8 outdoor bars you can build yourself. 


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