Bath and shower mats can be made from lots of different materials; rubber, cotton, bamboo, earth stone, micro-fibre, cork, nylon and wood. Often bath mats are a combination of two materials, with rubber used to make the bath mat non-slip.

True definition of recycling

The term recycle means different things to different people and indeed there are different definitions. Recycle can mean ‘convert waste into reusable material’ this implies a mechanical process is required or ‘use again’ which is simply finding a new use or renewing a product so it is suitable for use. It’s really important that we separate these two terms into recycle and reuse. Reusing requires no energy or processes, so is great for reducing environmental impact. Recycling requires energy inputs and often chemicals to help prepare a material to be used again in manufacturing. Recycling is obviously much better than throwing into landfill or incinerating but does have an environmental impact.

We look at each material and give suggestions for reusing as well as investigating how easy the material is to recycle.

Which types of bath mats are easiest to recycle

You will find a summary below and the nn a more indepth look at the potential ways different materials can be reused or recycled.


  Recylable Feasability of being recycled  Reusability
Rubber yes low low
Cotton yes mid mid
Micro-fibre no low mid
Bamboo yes mid high
Cork yes low mid
Natural Earth Stone yes mid high


Can you recycle natural earth stone bath mats?

This is a very interesting product at the end of life. Stone can be infinitely recycled or reused in its original form. There is no use putting it in any curbside bin and you will need to ensure that the local recycling point sorts and recycles stone. Natural Earth stone mats have a number of practical uses when they become tired as bath mats. The first step is to sand any blemishes off them and continue to use as a bath mat. If they become unusable as a bath mat, why not consider the following suggestions:

1. Put under pets water bowl to absorb spillages
2. Put under plant pots to absorb overflowing water
3. Cut up and use as coasters
4. Place under dish drainage
5. Use in car or front door for putting wet shoes on
6. Dry a pet on after the bath
7. Put under car to absorb leaks
8. Grind up and mix with soil for improved water retention.

They can be sent back to us for grinding up and reused to enhance soil.

It is worth noting that all stone requires mining so its not as eco friendly as bamboo for example, although it does regenerate under the right conditions it takes far too long to be considered a truly sustainable material. That said, environmentally speaking a natural stone mat scores really highly for end-of-life reusability, longevity and low impact during use.

Can rubber bath mats be recycled?

The answer is that they can be, but it’s highly unlikely they will be. Try and reuse or rejuvenate first. Rubber is a great non-slip material but in its usual form has no anti-microbial or anti-mildew properties, that’s why you often see black marks forming on rubber bath mats. Unless regularly cleaned, rubber bath mats can become tired quickly and are often thrown out.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Rubber bath mats can be rejuvenated using white vinegar and tea tree oil. You can use bleach on them too but the first option obviously has the lowest environmental impact.
Sometimes rubber mats can be too far gone to have a place in the bathroom and alternate uses need to be found. Some great suggestion on include:

1. Use as a kneeling mat when gardening
2. Cut into small pieces and put under potted plants to keep them stable
3. Reuse them as car mats
4. Keep in the boot of your car during winter to provide grip in icy conditions
5. Use under your sink where cleaning products are stored to stop spillages
6. Use in garage to lie on if you are inspecting under your car

Rubber bath mats can theoretically be recycled, but the reality is this is unlikely to be. They would not be recycled if put in a domestic plastics bin and would need to go to specialised facilities. Even then, a rubber bath mat may be considered contaminated and too low quality to recycle. If, and it’s a big if, the local recycling centre did recycle rubber, you have to consider the distance travelled and how you got there, you may find your efforts to recycle had a greater environmental impact than the gain.

Rubber can be recycled either by refurbishing or broken down and reformed into and entirely new product. For example, old tyres can be retreaded, however, his is not an option for rubber bath mats. A more likely outcome is breaking down and forming into something like road of playground surfacing.

Before buying a rubber bath mat, its also worth considering that although it is a natural material, it is not a sustainable material and its very land and labour intensive, it’s also difficult to process at the end of life.

Can you recycle Cotton bath mats?

Cotton can be recycled but a cotton bath mat may not be. You would need to take your cotton bath mat to a clothes or textile recycling point. If the mat has a rubber or synthetic backing it maybe very difficult to separate and not worth the recycling facilities effort. Before buying a cotton bath mat it is worth noting that cotton production is very land and labour intensive and notoriously bad for the environment, a rubber backed bath mat will probably end up in landfill.

If you are about to throw out an old cotton bath mat, it is probably best to think about possible alternate uses:

1. Clean thoroughly and then use as cleaning rags rather than buying new?
2. Line the boot of a car to make it easier to keep clean
3. Use as a kneeling mat in the garden
4. Line cupboards
5. Roll up and use as a draft excluder


Can you recycle Micro-fibre bath mats?

Unfortunately, no. The materials used in microfiber bath mats are technically recyclable, but the weaving process makes them become non-recyclable microplastics. Worse still, microfibres contaminate the recycling process so they definitely shouldn’t be mixed with good recyclable material.

The best option for your old micro-fibre bath mat is to find a new use for it. Good options included:

1. Cutting up into cleaning rags.
2. Lining cupboards containing liquids,
3. Draft exclusion
4. Gardening mat

Can you recycle Bamboo and wood bath mats?

Bamboo is a super sustainable material that is being used in everything from toilet paper, nappies, toothbrushes to building houses. It is recyclable with out the need for energy intensive processing. In the UK this would require the bamboo to go to a wood reclaiming facility as anything left in a domestic bin would go to landfill. It can be home composed if broken up and will break down quite quickly in landfill.

Bamboo and wood bath mats are likely to have been treated to protect the wood in which case they will need varnish and glues stripping off. Bamboo bath mats are therefore most likely to be reused according to our definition rather than recycled. The best think to do is reuse the bamboo in your own house. Suggestions include:

1. Edging for a flower bed
2. Placing plant pots on
3. Entrance mat for shed or to put shoes on

Bamboo is a great material, the only question mark over it is whether it is really suitable for a bath mat that needs to absorb water, the answer is not really. Sometimes you can buy ‘eco’ products for the sake of it, when buying nothing at all may be the best option for the planet. In the case of soft and hardwoods, they are less sustainable than bamboo as trees take at least 25 years to grow, require areas to be cleared and require considerable chemical and water resources, where as bamboo can be harvested quickly and regrows in the same spot.

Can you recycle cork bath mats?

Natural cork cannot go into recycling bins, it would need to be sent to somewhere like Recorked UK for processing. It could also be composted. Cork bath mats are likely to be treated which may make recycling difficult and you would need to be sure they were 100% cork and not a mixture of composite material. Possible end of life uses include:

1. Lining cleaning cupboards
2. Gardening mats
3. Coasters
4. Use as a mat for boot of car
5. Dry pets on it

  If you have any questions about recycling bath mats or would like to know more about the environmental benefits of different mat types please visit our contact page on our website.