Outdoor rugs are a popular way to define and add style to patios, decks, and outdoor living spaces. But what happens when the weather takes a turn and your precious outdoor rug gets caught in the rain or heavy dew? Can outdoor rugs really withstand wet weather conditions without getting irreparably damaged?
The short answer is yes – with the right materials and care, outdoor rugs can survive and even thrive with a little moisture. However, not all outdoor rugs are created equal when it comes to water resistance. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through how different materials hold up when wet, proper placement and care, and restoration tips if your rug happens to take on too much rain or moisture damage. Arm yourself with the knowledge to keep your outdoor rug looking fabulous despite the weather!
The Pros and Cons of Different Outdoor Rug Materials
Outdoor rugs come in a range of material options, each with their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to handling moisture:
Polypropylene is one of the most popular choices for outdoor rugs thanks to its inherently water-resistant properties. The synthetic fibers don’t absorb moisture readily and dry quickly if they do get wet. Polypropylene is mold and mildew-resistant, easy to clean, and highly durable in outdoor conditions. The downside is that polypropylene can feel “plasticky” and lack the plushness of natural fibers.
Similar to polypropylene, nylon fibers are naturally water-repellent while still being soft underfoot. Nylon dries quickly and resists mildew when wet. It’s strong and colorfast when exposed to sunlight. However, nylon is less resistant to chemicals and oils that could break down the fibers over time.
Polyester has excellent water wicking properties to prevent absorption and drying quickly. It maintains its color and shape well in wet environments. Just avoid abrasive cleaning as polyester is prone to pilling. It can also attract lint and pet hair more readily than synthetic counterparts.
Materials like jute, sisal, sea grass and more add texture but absorb and retain moisture easily leading to mold/mildew growth. Natural fiber rugs require indoor storage during damp seasons and benefit from waterproof backing layers.
Ideally, look for an outdoor rug made of synthetic fibers but with a small percentage of natural fiber blended in for enhanced softness and visual appeal. The construction, weave density, and backing also impact wet performance.
How Does Water Affect Outdoor Rugs?
To understand how an outdoor rug handles wet conditions, it helps to know how water can affect the materials:
Discoloration – Natural fibers like jute and sisal will readily bleed dye and discolor when wet. Synthetics are colorfast but dirt trapped in fibers can bleed into the rug when soaked.
Warping & Shape Loss – Excessive moisture can cause the rug backing to curl, crack, or warp over time. The fibers may also compress and mat down under the weight of wetness and furniture.
Mold & Mildew Growth – If an outdoor rug doesn’t dry fully and quickly after getting wet, mold and mildew growth is likely in the damp fibers and backing. This leads to bad odors, stains, and deterioration.
Saturation & Rotting – In extreme cases, heavy rainfall can overwhelm even water-resistant rugs, allowing water to fully saturate the fibers leading to irreparable damage and rotting.
While synthetic materials resist water well, no outdoor rug is truly impervious if subjected to excess wetness over time. The level of damage depends on the material, construction, and frequency of moisture exposure.
Best Practices for Rugs Outdoors
You can maximize your outdoor rug’s water resistance by following smart placement and care tips:
- Choose a well-draining spot that won’t collect standing rain water.
- Flip periodically to evenly distribute wear and moisture.
- Allow ample airflow around and beneath to quicken drying time.
- Frequently rinse off dirt and debris that can trap dampness.
- Blot spills and moisture immediately before soaking in.
- Check for dampness, odors, discoloration after wet weather.
- Consider a waterproof backing layer for rugs prone to puddling.
- Rotate rugs indoors to completely dry out when overly wet.
Being proactive helps prevent excess moisture exposure that deteriorates fibers and backing over time.
Caring for Rugs Outdoors in Rain
It’s inevitable your outdoor rug will get wet eventually, whether from rainfall, sprinklers, or morning dew. Here are some dos and don’ts for wet weather care:
- DO bring thinner rugs prone to puddling indoors during heavy rainfall and store when not in use.
- DON’T leave natural fiber rugs outdoors uncovered for extended wet periods.
- DO flip the rug upside down to air dry fully on both sides after getting wet.
- DON’T place wet rugs directly back onto grass or dirt that can cake into fibers.
- DO use a fan or move indoors to accelerate drying time and prevent potential mold growth.
- DON’T rub or scrub excessively when wet to prevent damaging the fibers.
Frequent exposure to moisture takes a cumulative toll on durability and appearance over an outdoor rug’s lifetime. Be sure to inspect regularly for any musty odors, discoloration, or backing issues that indicate excess dampness. Catch and treat problems early before permanent damage sets in.
Restoring a Wet or Moldy Rug
If your outdoor rug takes on an excessive soaking, inspect closely for any of the following issues:
Mold/Mildew – First clean away any visible mold or mildew growth. Use a mild bleach solution, vinegar, or enzymatic cleaner to disinfect the fibers and backing then rinse thoroughly. Allow rug to dry fully in direct sunlight.
Musty Odors – Treat remaining odors with carpet deodorizing powder then vacuum up. Baking soda and white vinegar also help absorb and cut stubborn smells. Proper drying and routine cleaning will prevent odors from returning over time.
Backing Damage – Have a professional re-adhere any bubbled or cracked latex backing. Trim away unraveling edges to prevent further damage. Consider adding a waterproof backing layer for future protection.
Stains or Discoloration – Attempt to clean with carpet shampoo or spot remover first. Severe cases may require professional cleaning or dyeing to restore appearance.
If the rug remains excessively smelly, stained, or misshapen, replacement may be your best option. While outdoor rugs are durable, years of repeated moisture exposure can cut short their lifespan. Learn from the experience when choosing your next outdoor rug style and placement.
Outdoor rugs can survive the occasional bout of wet weather thanks to moisture-resistant synthetic materials and proper care. But left unchecked, excessive exposure to rain, sprinklers, and morning dew day after day can lead to odor issues, permanent stains, and deterioration over time. Being proactive to promote drying and frequently cleaning and inspecting your rug are key. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and store rugs away during overly damp conditions until the skies clear. With a little diligence, your outdoor rug can thrive through seasons of use despite the elements!