Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Kiera Coffee
Whoever said "don't cry over spilt milk" has certainly never had a stain on their plush rug or fancy upholstery. Unlike an article of clothing—which can easily be thrown into the laundry at your convenience—tidying up home decor requires the right timing, a heavy-duty stain removal formula, and sometimes, professional or fancy equipment. Well, until now, that is.
Over the past few years, a handful of direct-to-consumer brands such as Ruggable and Tumble have changed the design game with their machine-washable rugs. Of course, rugs aren't the only decor you can easily wash these days. A brand called Levity recently debuted onto the market, offering machine-washable, interchangeable upholstery for chairs. So what gives? Why is machine-washable decor having such a moment?
Why Is This Trend Popular Now?
For Zach Dannett, Tumble's co-founder, the phenomenon stems from the mounting frustration that comes with cleaning high-maintenance pieces.
"As furniture industry veterans—and, more importantly, frustrated homeowners—we saw first hand that there was a need for products that are beautifully designed, thoughtfully crafted, and offered at attainable prices," he shares. "For too long, nice home furnishings have been difficult to care for and remarkably easy to ruin."
And, after spending an unprecedented amount of time inside, people have been eager for a new way to do things around the house.
"During the pandemic, people started to spend more time in their homes than ever before, and the problems within the home became increasingly apparent and frustrating to consumers," adds Paul McCauley, Levity's director of product development. "It solves expensive and time-consuming cleaning concerns, issues with quality and product lifespan, and that nerve-wracking concern that a guest, child, or pet will ruin your favorite piece of furniture."
What Makes the Products Machine-Washable?
So, what exactly makes a piece of furniture machine-washable? While every company might have their own secret recipe, most brands use artificial materials.
"Rather than using harsh chemical treatments that are hazardous to people and the environment, we have chosen to use a 100 percent polyester fabric, which is naturally stain-resistant without any chemical treatments or additives," McCauley notes. "There has been extensive testing of the fabric to stand up to tough stain culprits like red wine, coffee, and oil."
Another must-have for machine-washable decor: It must be able to physically fit inside your laundry machine! Though fitting a larger item might seem like a challenge, Tumble's Dannett emphasizes that even a 8x10 rug can fit comfortably in your appliance. "In order to be machine-washable, the rug itself needs to be thin enough to fit a washer and heavy enough to lay flat on the ground," he shares. Thanks to Tumble's patented design, which connects the rug to a cushioned puzzle-like pad, you can get the best of both worlds. Of course, not every spill will merit a trip to the spin cycle. If you're looking to tend to a smaller stain, Dannett recommends blotting your problem area with a damp paper towel. Need to call in more reinforcements? He says to throw your rug in the wash and dry on low heat.
Is This Trend Here to Stay?
Machine-washable decor seems like a great idea, but the trend can be met with a tinge of skepticism. Does machine-washable decor look good? Do they last? For Ashley Dixon, the Atlanta-based interior designer behind Alexander Renee, they live up the hype.
"As a busy mom and pet owner, life messes happen," she explains. "I cannot afford to do major spot and deep cleans, or worry about the rug staining. There is nothing better than popping a stain in the wash, going on about the day, and then coming back to it renewed and fresh."
While finding machine-washable decor that holds up nicely over time can be a bit of a challenge, Dixon says that darker colors tend to be harder and faster to fade over a light color or pattern. But, no matter the color, one thing's for sure: This design phenomenon is here to stay.
"I think designers with clients looking to combine affordability and style with convenience will absolutely add them to projects," Dixon shares. "The better the technology and washable fabrics or rugs have, the more you will start to see these being used."