Our List of the Best Kitchen Rugs Includes a Vintage-Looking Runner That’s Only $26
And all of them are a cinch to clean.
Published Jan 26, 2022 1:00 AM
Kitchen floors are prone to messes—even the least clumsy among us have to admit to spending some time vacuuming up crumbs and blotting spills. It doesn’t make for the most practical atmosphere for an area rug, but who can deny the effortless chic that one brings to the space? So we started searching for the best kitchen rugs we could find, looking beyond the standard woven fibers to discover floor coverings that combat the most stubborn stains, from coffee droplets to tomato paste. These mats also had to be comfortable underfoot—after all, most kitchen floors feature materials that are far from warm and cushy, like ceramic tile and vinyl—and padded enough to make logging long hours in front of the sink or stove less tiresome. With these boxes to check, here are our top contenders.
- Best machine washable: Tumble Washable Cushioned Rug
- Best jute: Armadillo Kalahari Woven Rug
- Best stripe: Nama Standing Mat
- Best mosaic: Beija Flor Mediterranean Vinyl Floor Mat
- Best traditional: Chris Loves Julia x Loloi Runner
- Best contemporary: Slash Objects Circle Mat
Best Machine Washable: Tumble Washable Cushioned Rug
Dimensions: 2.5-by-7 feet | Material: Polyester | Washing machine–friendly: Yes
Why we chose it: Spillproof and machine washable? Yes, please.
Tumble’s spillproof promise may seem like a stretch—especially considering the rug’s low pile and range of patterns still offering a lovely textile touch and feel—but it’s the real deal. Knock over a cup of water and the liquid beads at the surface, much like on a rain jacket, making cleanup a breeze. But you can toss the rug right into the washing machine to sanitize sauces or juices from raw meats. Another genius feature: This rug ships folded rather than rolled, along with a plush, puzzle-like pad that comes in multiple pieces numbered with removable stickers for easy assembly. Simply line up the edges and press together before tucking each corner into the rug’s underside pockets.
What we like:
- Nonslip pad
- Spillproof, easy-to-clean surface
- May have to readjust pad after vacuuming
Best Jute: Armadillo Kalahari Woven Rug
Dimensions: 2.7-by-4 feet | Material: Jute | Washing machine–friendly: No
Why we chose it: Naturally durable.
The most popular natural-fiber rugs include sisal, wool, and jute. Designers favor the latter for hallways, entryways, and, yes, kitchens, because the material can withstand tons of foot traffic thanks to its tightly woven format. Armadillo’s Kalahari blends jute and wool for a tough yet soft feel. “Whether it is sumptuous wool or lustrous jute, natural fibers not only add visual and physical warmth to kitchen settings, they are incredibly durable and easy to care for,” notes Sally Pottharst, cofounder of the sustainability-minded Australian brand. “A rug made from natural fibers feels incredibly luxurious underfoot and will wear in, not out, over time, making it ideal for modern family living.”
What we like:
- Custom sizes available
- Pricey for size
Best Stripe: Nama Standing Mat
Dimensions: 20-by-48 inches | Material: High-density foam | Washing machine–friendly: No
Why we chose it: Nautical stripes you won’t mind standing on for hours on end (seriously).
People swear by those cloudlike floor mats, but their limited color range (read: black and brown) left much to be desired in the aesthetics department. Thankfully, House of Noa teamed up with Portland, Oregon–based designer Max Humphrey to up the category’s visual ante. This timeless stripe gives us nautical, lake-house-vacation vibes in a simple colorway that pairs well with everything from raw wood doors to painted cabinets. And all of the reviews are legit: The comfort is nothing to scoff at. We’re talking about a mat made with nearly an inch of high-density foam, the same material featured in our favorite mattresses and sofa brands.
What we like:
- Made in the U.S.
- Water- and stain-resistant
- No toxic dyes, phthalates, or chemicals
- Limited-edition design
Best Mosaic: Beija Flor Mediterranean Vinyl Floor Mat
Dimensions: 6-by-2 feet | Material: Vinyl | Washing machine–friendly: No
Why we chose it: Pretty yet practical Mediterranean tile without the install cost.
Like the hand-painted tiles that line kitchen floors in Spain, Greece, and France, this colorful vinyl mat feels like a vacation but is a lot easier on your feet. Designed by Maya Kunyevsky with crystal-clear patterns inspired by traditional motifs, it’s also much lower on the maintenance scale: These pretty squares will never crack, and if your whisking gets out of hand, simply wash the runner down with soap and hot water. The only potential downside? The mat arrives at your door rolled up and may take some time to lay completely flat. Retailer Food52 suggests applying heat by either placing the floor covering in front of a window with a lot of direct sunlight or taking a blow-dryer to creased edges.
What we like:
- Made with recyclable materials
- 11 color and pattern options
- Pricey for vinyl but selling fast
Best Traditional: Chris Loves Julia x Loloi Runner
Dimensions: 5-by-2 feet | Material: Polypropylene | Washing machine–friendly: No
Why we chose it: Classic vintage-inspired design without the antique price tag.
Domino readers are already big fans of Chris Loves Julia, but the popular DIY blog gave us even more to love about when it collaborated with cult-favorite rug brand Loloi on this power-loomed, polypropylene floor covering. Though synthetic fibers may have a bad rep when compared with their natural counterparts, these are engineered to be stain- and fade-resistant—in other words, they’re easier to clean and take care of, so you should be able to keep them around (and out of the landfill) for a long time. If your dream kitchen sports a thrifted find, give this vintage look a try. Putting it in an accident-prone, heavily trafficked room like the kitchen is a no-brainer.
What we like:
- Rich colors
- Soft underfoot
- Vacuum without a beater bar
Best Contemporary: Slash Objects Circle Mat
Dimensions: 20-by-36 inches | Material: Rubber | Washing machine–friendly: No
Why we chose it: Earthy terrazzo designs in funky, Matisse-like shapes.
Okay, you got us: Slash Objects’s funky floor mats aren’t traditional rugs in the sense that they’re not woven, but they win major points for being chic, comfortable, and resistant to stains. And if your particular pain point is a runner that always appears to be roaming about your floor (as was the case for Emily Dinowitz), then this option is a clear winner. The speckled, terrazzo-like design isn’t even the best visual statement. The mat comes in all sorts of cool abstract shapes, and cleaning it is easier than doing the dishes—just wet a sponge with soap and water, then wipe it down—thanks to its recycled rubber construction.
What we like:
- Weatherproof (you can put this outside, too!)
- Fun range of shapes and sizes
- Recycled rubber
- Not superwarm underfoot
We Also Like
How We Chose These Products
We’ve seen plenty of kitchens that feature lovely, old-world runners (the Armenian finds in this California kitchen, designed by Abbie Naber, and the vintage pieces that dot Shea McGee’s projects quickly come to mind). But placing an expensive, not to mention delicate, handmade-fiber rug—many vintage pieces, for example, are a blend of wool and silk—can be a pretty big risk, especially if you find yourself cooking and baking on a regular basis or have kids and pets. Here, we rounded up floor coverings beyond the typical rug that are a mix of good design, comfort, durability, and worry-free maintenance.
Our Shopping Checklist
Most kitchen (though not all) rugs can be defined as runners—they’re longer than they are wide, making them ideal for those narrow distances between the sink or stove and island. They’re also great for smaller rental kitchens. Typically 2 feet wide, runners can range from as short as 4 feet to as long as 14 feet. Stylistically, choose one that allows a couple of inches of your floor to peep through on either side for a better visual fit.
Fibers and Materials
For worry-free maintenance in high-traffic areas (i.e., the kitchen), stick to durable natural fibers such as jute and wool, or synthetic ones like nylon, polypropylene, and polyester. The latter hold dye well and are affordable and resistant to daily wear and tear, stains, and even mold and mildew. For instances where a soft textural element in the kitchen isn’t practical (think: kids and pets), there are vinyl, foam, and rubber mat alternatives worth considering, too. Or just stick to the ones you can toss in the wash.
Choose low-pile or flat-weave constructions—they’re less likely to hold onto crumbs, grime, and germs. The pile of a rug is determined by the height of its knots (like carpet, rugs are compiled through a series of loops that can be hooked or tufted by hand, but more often than not by machine). Shag rugs, for instance, feature piles at least an inch or higher. In comparison, rugs with low piles are often a quarter of an inch or smaller.
Color and Pattern
Kitchens are well-loved rooms where things can get a little messy. That’s why designers tend to favor multicolored rugs—they better hide stains, even those from past spills, while simultaneously bringing life to a sometimes utilitarian space. If timelessness is a concern, stick to classic options rather than of-the-moment styles like diamond or zigzag patterns.
Q: Where should I place a kitchen rug?
Most designers plop a kitchen rug right in front of the sink, but that may not always be the best spot for you personally. Think carefully about where you stand the most. Is it in front of the stove or at a certain spot near the counter? Your kitchen rug can tie the room together, but it can also save your arches from feeling sore.
Q: How often should I wash my kitchen rug?
As soon as it starts looking dirty! It’s always a good idea to pick up after any messes right after they happen—we break out a vacuum once a week at minimum. If you notice your rug looking a little worse for wear, consider a deeper clean, whether that’s a spin in the washing machine or a trip to the rug cleaner. This will depend on the material you opted for, so be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The Last Word
Given the kinds of messes kitchens are susceptible to, you may be wondering why anyone would put a rug in there to begin with. But the best kitchen rugs are as easy on the eyes as they are on your feet, featuring durable, easy-to-clean materials that you won’t mind standing on for long periods of time.
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