A runner rug adds personality, warmth, and softness to an angular kitchen. In addition to the visual effect, a cozy runner provides a plush place to land your feet while making your morning coffee or cooking dinner.
The best runner rugs for kitchen floors are durable and easy to clean. These rugs hold up to daily traffic and are easy to maintain, even when faced with crumbs, spills, and splatters. Read on to learn how to choose the best runner rugs for your kitchen, and explore some of the top options available.
- BEST OVERALL: Safavieh Madison Collection MAD611B Boho Chic Runner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ottomanson SUN2003 3X7 Sundance Collection Reversible
- BEST HANDWOVEN: nuLOOM Rigo Hand Woven Farmhouse Jute Runner Rug
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: DII Contemporary Reversible Indoor Area Rag Rug
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Unique Loom Sofia Collection Traditional Runner Rug
- BEST MACHINE-WASHABLE: Maples Rugs Rebecca Contemporary Runner Rug
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Runner Rugs for Kitchen Spaces
Runner rugs are the ideal accent piece to dress up a kitchen, but unlike living room or bedroom rugs, there are some extra factors to consider. Kitchen rugs need to put up with more foot traffic and spills than many other areas of the home.
To keep the kitchen safe, these rugs need a rug pad or grip to prevent slipping. When choosing a kitchen runner rug, consider its dimensions, material, weave, ease of maintenance, and design.
Runner rugs look best in galley-style kitchens—they can run right down the middle of the narrow galley. Another option is to place them off-center to one side, or between the kitchen counter and an island. Kitchens are rather forgiving when it comes to runner rug dimensions and placement. Unlike placing an area rug in a living room, kitchen rug placements are more flexible.
Most runner rugs measure between 2 and 3.5 feet wide, an ideal width to fit into the space between kitchen counters. The rug should cover two-thirds to three-quarters of the floor width for a balanced look and shouldn’t be placed edge to edge.
Runner length comes down to personal preference, and most runners are between 6 feet and 14 feet long. The runner can extend the entire length of the kitchen, line up with each side of an island, or take up the partial length of a galley kitchen.
Kitchen runner rugs are available in a range of materials, including cotton, sisal, jute, wool, nylon, polyester, and propylene.
- Cotton: Soft cotton rugs come in a range of designs and colors. Cotton is a convenient material for kitchen rugs since many cotton rugs are machine washable. However, soft cotton can wear faster than more durable materials, especially with frequent washing.
Sisal and jute: Sisal and jute rugs are made from grassy, fibrous strands, which gives them a rugged natural texture that is durable underfoot.
- Wool: Wool is one of the most popular rug materials, and for good reason. This natural material is durable, comfortable, and dirt resistant, but it’s often the pricier option.
- Nylon: Synthetic nylon is incredibly durable and easy to maintain. These rugs don’t tend to absorb grime and crumbs, and their fibers are sturdy to hold up well in high foot traffic areas.
- Polyester: Polyester is a synthetic material that has decent water resistance. Polyester rugs are the ideal option for placing near kitchen sinks.
- Propylene: Propylene is a synthetic material commonly used for indoor/outdoor rugs. Since they are made to withstand the outdoors, they are durable, liquid-resistant, and easy to clean.
A flat and dense weave is the best choice for a kitchen rug. Consider a rug with a low pile, although you can also make a medium-pile rug work with careful cleaning. A rug’s pile refers to the density of the rug fibers. Low-pile rugs are less than ¼-inch in pile height, while medium-pile rugs have a ¼-inch to ½-inch pile.
Flatweave rugs have no or low pile and tend to be more durable and easier to clean. These rugs have short and dense fibers and are often made of tightly woven materials, which can help lock out dirt and spills. A dense rug weave also tends to hold up well to high foot traffic.
On the other end of the spectrum, shag rugs have a high pile. While high-pile rugs look luxurious, they are best kept out of the kitchen. Thicker and longer rug weaves are harder to clean and can hold on to crumbs. They can also flatten and look dingy in areas with lots of foot traffic.
Most flat, dense rugs are on the thin side due to their low pile or lack of pile. Rugs with shorter fibers have a thin and compact texture. Flatweave rugs are almost always thin, and this is a benefit in the kitchen. Thin rugs with a low pile are easier to clean and won’t flatten under daily foot traffic.
However, one drawback is that thin rugs feel less padded underfoot. While a thin rug may not feel as luxurious as a plush, high-pile rug, the easy-to-clean design is a worthwhile trade-off in the kitchen. Adding a rug pad can increase cushioning. It also adds safety by keeping the rug securely in place.
A stain-resistant rug is an excellent choice for most rooms, but especially in the kitchen. A kitchen runner rug will be prone to all kinds of spills and accidents. Runner rugs designed for kitchen placement are often made with the following materials:
- Synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, and propylene are designed or treated to resist stains.
- Wool rugs naturally ward off water and dirt to prevent stains, although they are often the pricier option.
- While cotton doesn’t repel stains, most cotton rugs are easily washable and some are reversible, so another option is to flip the rug over.
- Natural sisal and jute can soak up stains, so spills should be spot cleaned as quickly as possible on these rugs.
Over time, a risk of staining is inevitable, regardless of the rug material. However, stains are less noticeable on a rug with darker colors or a busy pattern.
Ease of Cleaning
An easy-to-clean runner rug is a must in the kitchen. Whether from a pot boiling over or from messy kids and pets, crumbs and spills will find a way to reach a kitchen runner.
Water-resistant rugs absorb less liquid, which is a helpful first step to prevent stains and smells. To clean deeper grime, choose a rug that can be cleaned with water. Machine-washable options, like some cotton and synthetic rugs, can be thrown in the washer to scrub out messes. Other materials, like wool, jute, or sisal, need spot cleaning or hand-washing.
A durable kitchen runner can withstand frequent vacuuming. On a regular basis, shake out or vacuum the runner to keep dust and crumbs to a minimum.
Color and Design
Runner rugs are an easy way to add a pop of color or pattern to a kitchen without redoing fixtures or finishes. They are a great option for renters to add personality to the kitchen without making any lasting changes. Narrow runner rugs are also easy to roll up and store, making them a good option to switch out with changing seasons and tastes.
Runner rugs are available in a variety of designs and colors. Coordinating the rug design with the existing kitchen decor can create a cohesive design space.
Consider matching the rug design with the decor style. For example, vintage and traditional rugs may suit classic traditional kitchens, while a bohemian rug may give a more casual and relaxed feel in whimsical kitchens. Simple patterns or geometric shapes can suit modern and midcentury rooms. Contrasting styles can also add personality to a space and suit eclectic room decor.
Our Top Picks
The best kitchen runner rug is easy to clean, durable, and complements the kitchen’s aesthetic. It should also be comfortable and safe to offer padding underfoot without the risk of slipping. The following picks add a pop of style to the kitchen while also holding up to daily wear and tear.
Made for busy homes, this rug from Safavieh is crafted from premium nonshedding polypropylene. The durable fibers are comfortable, easy to clean, and stain-resistant to hold up to foot traffic and spills. Measuring 27 inches wide by 8 feet long, this soft rug is a colorful and bold statement piece.
This rug’s bohemian-chic design has a colorful medallion mosaic, bringing brightness to the kitchen. The busy pattern and distressed appearance give this rug an elegant but trendy look. The design can hide small spots and stains when the inevitable spills happen. With gradient colors on a cream background, this rug adds a cozy and colorful touch without overpowering the kitchen.
Most kitchen runner rugs will encounter a permanent stain in their lifetime. When the fateful stain happens, a reversible rug is an easy solution. Just flip the rug over and guests will be none the wiser. This indoor/outdoor and reversible rug from Ottomanson is a cost-friendly and long-lasting pick for the kitchen and more.
The design is reversible, with a flat weave pile and heather grey coloring on both sides. Made from durable polypropylene, the robust rug is easy to clean, making it ideal for high-traffic areas like the kitchen. Once this rug outlives its usefulness in the kitchen, it can find a new home on an outdoor deck or a balcony. Measuring 31 inches wide by 7 feet long, this rug is a versatile pick for an affordable price.
For those looking for an effortless and natural look, consider a natural fiber rug. This rug from nuLOOM is handcrafted from 100 percent jute. The braided rug combines style and texture to dress up plain kitchen floors. This model comes in a natural color, which gives the rug a light brown pattern from the crisscrossed jute strands.
Due to the jute material and hand-woven construction, this rug is more delicate than some other synthetic machine-made rugs. It is best to shake out and spot clean this rug rather than vacuum it. The trade-off for this less durable rug is its unique hand-woven design. Measuring 30 inches wide by 10 feet long, this runner rug makes a statement in the kitchen.
For those looking for an eco-friendly and stylish pick, consider this handmade rag rug from DII. Crafted from strips of recycled fabric, each rug is hand-dyed and handmade for a one-of-a-kind shabby-chic look. This rug comes in a patterned denim blue color and measures 2 feet by 3 feet to add a touch of color to the kitchen.
The stitched rag build of this rug is durable to stand up to daily wear and tear. It holds up to spot cleaning, too, but once one side starts looking worse for wear, this reversible rug can be flipped over for long-lasting use.
This thin and light runner rug from Unique Loom is an excellent pick for bright and airy kitchens. The traditional design features distressed cream, tan, and light brown elements to create a subtle pattern. Despite the light color, this rug is easy to clean with frequent vacuuming and spot cleaning as needed. The low-pile polypropylene material is soft, durable, and stain-resistant.
When paired with a nonskid rug pad, this rug provides a soft walking surface that won’t shed on kitchen floors. This runner measures 2.5 feet by 7 feet to make an elegant statement in the kitchen.
Safety is important in the kitchen, especially when it comes to putting down a runner rug. To prevent slips, this runner from Maples Rugs features a skid-resistant latex backing. This design means that an additional rug pad is not needed.
When it comes to cleaning time, the rug is machine washable to properly wash out spills. The built-in rug pad makes this rug easy to reinstall after each cleaning. There’s no need to fiddle around with a rug pad, which makes this rug an ideal pick for frequent washing.
The rug is made from 100 percent polypropylene, which is resistant to spills and stains. It is on the smaller side, measuring 1.5 feet wide and 5 feet long. With a dark navy blue background and a simple geometric pattern, this runner adds a subtle design to the kitchen.
FAQs About Runner Rugs for Kitchen Spaces
Runner rugs can add a cozy touch of style to hard floors, but not all runners are made for the kitchen. If you’re still considering the right runner rug for your kitchen, here are some common questions and answers to keep in mind.
Q. What are runner rugs used for?
Long and narrow runner rugs are used to add a touch of style to narrow spaces, but they can also be used in open floor spaces. They break up the monotony of plain flooring and also provide a soft and cozy spot to stand on hard floors.
Q. What is the standard size of a runner rug?
Most runner rugs measure less than 3 feet in width, but they can come in a wide variety of lengths to suit hallways, entryways, and kitchens. Lengths generally range from 6 to 14 feet.
Q. Where should a runner be placed in the kitchen?
In narrow kitchens, place the runner rug in the center of the space. Those with wide kitchens may choose to position the runner along one side of the kitchen, like on the sink side of the kitchen, or between the counter and island.
Q. How often should rugs be vacuumed?
Rugs should be vacuumed twice weekly. Consider using a HEPA vacuum to trap dust and allergens on high-traffic rugs like a kitchen runner.