Inevitable spills may make some folks shy away from putting a rug in the kitchen, but there are plenty of great reasons for using one in your busy cooking space between function, style, and comfort.
The warmth and cushioning rugs provide can be quite soothing in a room where you spend a lot of time on your feet. A rug also provides protection if you accidentally drop a dish, as these items are likely to bounce rather than break if they fall on a softer surface.
Aesthetically, the right rug can enliven kitchen decor, whether you want to add a bit of brightness to a neutral room or bring a sense of texture to otherwise flat surfaces. Yet no matter how pretty, a rug doesn’t belong in the kitchen if it can’t hold up to the daily abuse it’s bound to encounter.
Naturally, kitchen rugs should not pose a safety hazard in such a high-traffic area, especially if there are little ones running around. Ahead, learn how to choose the best kitchen rug for your household and find out why the following are among the leading options available.
- BEST OVERALL: Maples Rugs Pelham Vintage Runner Rug
- RUNNER UP: Safavieh Madison Collection Distressed Runner
- BEST VALUE: Unique Loom Sofia Collection Runner Rug
- BEST CUSHIONED: KMAT Cushioned Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat
- BEST BAMBOO: iDesign Formbu Bamboo Floor Mat
- BEST NEUTRAL: idee-home Boho Kitchen Rug Runner
- BEST COLOR: nuLOOM Tammara Hand Braided Runner Rug
Types of Kitchen Rugs
Some rugs are better suited for kitchen use than others. The increased likelihood of spills makes it necessary to choose durable, water-resistant, and stain-resistant rugs for the kitchen. If you actually cook in your kitchen, it’s simply not the place for an oriental silk carpet. You’ll also want to consider your kitchen flooring, to ensure the rug will look nice and function appropriately on it.
Whether shopping in person or online, check for important details, such as snug and uniform knots visible on the back side of the rug. In general, the more knots per square inch (kpsi), the denser the rug and the more durable it will be.
Look for snags, uneven color, and sloppy edges, all signs the rug is of substandard quality. Below, read about the pros and cons of the most popular types of materials used to produce kitchen rugs.
Nylon produces a durable and stain-resistant rug that’s well suited for kitchen use; not all nylon fibers are equally robust, so don’t just buy the first one that catches your eye. Cheaper nylon fibers, typically found in inexpensive rugs, are likely to wear out sooner than higher quality nylon rugs.
Depending on the type of weave, nylon rugs can be pleasantly soft, which is a plus in kitchens with barefooted cooks and playing children. Nylon is also mold and mildew resistant, a definite asset in a kitchen where a rug may become soiled from spills.
Polyester rugs resist stains, mold, and mildew, and they’re comfortable underfoot. They’re not as durable as nylon and some other materials, so they may not be the best choice for a kitchen that sees heavy traffic.
For an inexpensive kitchen rug you can take outdoors and spray with a hose for a quick cleanup, consider one made of polypropylene. Sometimes called bulk continuous fiber (BCF), polypropylene resists staining because its fibers are waterproof.
However, this material tends to be scratchy underfoot and, depending on the weave, can be challenging to vacuum due to its crumb-trapping, rough loops. Also, unless a polypropylene rug is explicitly made not to “shed,” you may find bits of the fibers tracked around your home.
These natural kitchen rugs feature bamboo strips in various thicknesses attached to a flexible, often nonslip mesh backing. If spills are wiped up quickly, bamboo rugs are relatively stain-resistant. If spills are left to soak in, they can permanently stain the surface, depending on the quality of the coating applied to the bamboo. These rugs offer an earthy look to a kitchen, complementing most color schemes due to its neutral hue.
One of the most common fibers available, cotton is natural and makes for a soft rug you can throw in a washing machine if it’s small enough (under 8 square feet of surface space). But cotton isn’t stain resistant and doesn’t hold up to high traffic as well as other types of rug material. This fabric is best suited to less-busy spots in the kitchen where it won’t see a lot of feet and spills.
Though technically not rugs, mats made of memory foam and gel foam can serve a similar purpose in a cook space. In fact, they’re quite common in commercial kitchens and industrial settings to reduce foot and leg fatigue for workers who stand for long periods. They have a smooth, scrubbable surface for easy cleaning and are typically affordable, but most do not add aesthetic appeal.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Kitchen Rugs
Once you have a good idea what type of rug material might best suit your kitchen, consider details like size and shape, visual appeal, and safety properties.
A rug should fit the space where it lays. Keep these guidelines in mind to find the right dimensions for your purposes.
- Kitchen table: If you’re looking for a rug to go under a kitchen table, choose one that extends 24 to 36 inches farther than the edge of the table on all sides. This allows the chairs’ front and back legs to all rest on the rug, which will prevent them from wobbling.
- Runners: These long, narrow rugs are usually 2 to 3 feet wide and can be up to 20 feet long. Runners are well suited to high traffic walkways, galley kitchens, and the space between a kitchen island and parallel cabinets.
- U-shaped: Rugs designed to go in front of a kitchen sink are often u-shaped, with the flat side designed to fit flush against the toe-kick. This arrangement provides a balanced look, as the rug aligns with the sink and offers the person washing dishes or peeling potatoes a bit of padded comfort.
- Eating bar: The same rule that applies to a kitchen table also applies here. A rug intended for chairs at an eating bar should extend 24 to 36 inches out from the edge of the bar or counter to comfortably accommodate chairs or stools.
Rugs should never slip underfoot. Many, but not all, kitchen rugs come with a rubber-foam backing that keeps them securely in place. If yours doesn’t, and your kitchen flooring is slick ceramic tile, polished hardwood, or linoleum, consider investing in a rug pad to put under the rug and keep it from slipping.
Color and Design
A kitchen rug should be functional while also complementing the surrounding decor.
- Aim to coordinate the rug with the flooring and cabinetry. If your kitchen features bright colors, you may incorporate a bit of that shade in a pattern, along with more neutral colors, so your rug will visually balance and complement the space.
- Adding a bright colored rug to a monotone kitchen, either under a kitchen table or as a runner when you enter the room, can help liven up the space.
- Select a pattern in sync with your home’s decor. Kitchen rugs are available in various designs, some with accoutrements, such as geometric prints, tufted surfaces, fringed edges, and even with images printed on the surface.
Our Top Picks
The best kitchen rug is durable, stain resistant, easy to clean, and will complement your kitchen rather than clash with or detract from its look. Above all, it should be comfortable and safe—with no slippage. The following rugs suit various styles and decor, and one may become a new addition to your kitchen.
If you’re looking for a quality runner to accent that narrow strip between an island and a row of cabinets, consider this standout favorite from Maples Rugs. The rug’s topside is made from soft nylon microfiber for a delightfully soft feel, and its underside features nonslip latex that grips the surface of the floor snugly to keep the rug in place. The subtle vintage scroll pattern adds a sense of depth to the rug, which is available in nine attractive two-tone color choices.
Made from polypropylene fibers, this Safavieh runner resists stains and is well suited to high traffic areas. Safavieh specifically designed this polypropylene rug not to shed, so you needn’t worry about finding errant fibers all over the house. The rug will withstand vacuuming, and you can take it outdoors to shake or spray down with a hose, if necessary. The subtle, pretty pattern has a distressed look that won’t overwhelm your kitchen color scheme, and it comes in six understated color combos.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to update your kitchen with an attractive rug. Made from shed-resistant polypropylene fibers, the Sofia rug resists stains and is easy to clean, but it may slip, so the manufacturer suggests pairing it with a nonslip rug pad (sold separately). The rug features a classic geometric pattern in nine muted two-tone shades.
For comfort while cooking, this cushioned mat is a solid, yet soft, choice. It’s made from cushy gel foam to reduce leg and foot fatigue for cooks who spend a lot of time standing. The mat is 20 inches wide and comes in a few different lengths, well suited for placement in front of a stove, island, or sink.
It boasts an attractive swirled surface texture in a choice of dark neutral colors and features PVC gel foam, making it both padded and waterproof. The KMAT is slip-proof as long as it’s on a completely dry floor. Cleanup is as simple as vacuuming and wiping off spills with a damp cloth.
Add earthy and tropical appeal to your kitchen with this bamboo runner rug from iDesign. The rug features durable bamboo strips treated with a protective coating for added water resistance and is attached to a rubberized nonslip pad for added safety. The ends and edges of the iDesign rug boast an attractive fabric border for a finished look. The bamboo rug can be taken outdoors and shaken if necessary, or you can wipe spills off with a damp rag.
Looking for a rug that won’t upstage your kitchen décor? Check out this soft, understated rug that is hand woven from a cotton blend and includes polyester for added durability and stain resistance.
This Bohemian-style runner features a subtle geometric pattern created by contrasting tufts down the center and woven lines on its outer edges that add visual impact. The ends of the rug feature knotted tassels that soften the look and create a carefree feel.
Note tha this rug does not come with a rubber backing, so you should pair it with a nonslip rug pad.
Brighten a neutral kitchen with a burst of color by adding this runner from nuLOOM. This runner is handcrafted in a repeating geometric pattern that will draw the eye, and its braided design is well suited to rustic, country, and other relaxed style kitchens.
Handcrafted rugs like this one tend to be more delicate than factory-made rugs and more challenging to clean, so perhaps place the nuLOOM rug in a spot where it won’t suffer too many spills and vacuum it with care (no powerhead brush). Consider adding a rug pad to keep the rug from slipping.
FAQs About Your New Kitchen Rugs
Not all rugs are appropriate for kitchen use, so if you still want more info, consider the answers to these common questions.
Q. What type of rug is best for the kitchen?
The best kitchen rugs are durable, stain resistant, and will not slip when you walk on them. The most popular fabrics for kitchen rugs include nylon, polyester, polypropylene, cotton, bamboo, and foam.
Q. How do you keep a rug clean in the kitchen?
Follow some basic rug cleaning techniques to keep any run clean: Vacuum to remove debris and blot spills immediately. You can shake small rugs outdoors, and some will withstand a carpet cleaning machine or the washing machine, but read the care instructions before doing so.
Q. Where should a rug be placed in the kitchen?
Put the rug wherever it looks best. Popular spots are between cabinets and islands, in walkways, and in front of sinks and work prep stations where they can provide cushioning and foot support for the cook.
Q. How often should a kitchen rug be replaced?
It all depends on the quality and durability of the rug. As long as it looks good and is holding up, there’s no reason to replace it unless you’re ready for a decor refresh. If it’s shedding (as some polypropylene rugs tend to do) or run down (like cotton rugs experience over time), it might be time for a replacement.