‘I’m a Microbiologist, and Your Bath Mat Is Gross—Here’s What To Replace It With’

Photo: Stocksy/Trinette Reed
Bath mats are gross. "They've been recognized as a hotspot for microbial contamination in the home," says microbiologist Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Files. "Over 40 percent of mats tested in a study revealed enough colonies to potentially cause infection."

Tetro says you should be cleaning your bath mat as often as you clean your toilet, which he recommends doing about once a week. And while every type of bath mat needs to be properly sanitized, there are certain types that hold up better than others in the germ department.

According to Tetro, antimicrobial bath mats really live up to the hype. "They're indeed all the rage," he says. That includes certain wooden bath mats, too: "Some woods can be used to reduce the growth of microbes. But unlike what people may think, definitely not bamboo," Tetro says, as past research has found natural bamboo fiber has no natural antibacterial properties. Here are the best antimicrobial bath mats to buy for your own space.

Best antimicrobial bath mats

IPPINKA Natural Japanese Hinoki Non-Slip Bath Mat
IPPINKA Natural Japanese Hinoki Non-Slip Bath Mat — $90.00

This bath mat is a great choice for keeping bacteria and mold away. It’s made from Japanese cypress hinoki wood, which is quick-drying, mold- and mildew-resistant, and has anti-bacterial properties. (That’s why it’s also often used to make cutting boards.) You can clean wooden bath mats by gently scrubbing them with soap and water using a soft, non-abrasive sponge that won’t cause damage.

Sasawashi Japanese Bath Mat
Morihata International Sasawashi Japanese Bath Mat — $84.00

This bath mat is absorbent, quick-drying, and germ-free thanks the blend of washi paper and kumazasa extract—a Japanese plant that has natural antibacterial properties. To clean it, machine wash it in a garment bag.

Dorai Bath Stone
Dorai Bath Stone — $90.00

This beautiful bath mat is made with diatomaceous earth, which dries instantly under your feet, prevents mold, and fights off bacteria. Fun fact: Diatomaceous earth kills bacteria by causing it to dry out and die. To clean it, simply wipe it down with a soft cloth or sponge.

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SlipX Solutions Quick-Dry Bath Mat
SlipX Solutions Quick-Dry Bath Mat — $27.00

This Diatomaceous earth mat is great for small bathrooms (it measures 17.75″ x 13.75″) and dries in seconds, so you don’t have to deal with soggy bath mats sitting on the floor. It has a neutral look to match any bathroom decor, and it also comes with a non-slip rug pad to make sure it stays in place.

Sutera Bath Stone
Sutera Bath Stone — $60.00

Another Diatomaceous earth option is this Sutera bath stone. It comes with a slip-resistant mat and the top of the stone is engraved with a subtle, multi-level pattern to make it more grippy for wet feet. The mat is designed to be low-maintenance and long-lasting, but if you feel like it needs a bit of a refresh, just use the included sanding tool to buff the surface of the mat.

Bare Decor Teak Mat
Bare Decor Teak Mat — $90.00

Whether you have an indoor or outdoor shower, this teak bath mat will provide a quick-drying spot for you to step on. It has slats so any excess water can fall through, and rubber feet to prevent it from sliding around the floor.

This 10-step bath routine is self-care at its finest:

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  1. Gokarneshan, N, and Anish Khan. “Antimicrobial Properties of Bamboo Fibres.” Biomedical Journal of Scientific & Technical Research, vol. 32, no. 5, 2019, https://doi.org/10.26717/BJSTR.2020.32.005309.

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