We know a lovely couple who moved from England to our little corner of Western Massachusetts, so they were pretty familiar with chilly winters, slippery roads, and the unrelenting grey of late winter and early spring. They also knew that there are tons of outdoorsy things to do in these parts, plus lots of arts and culture to sample. What turned out to be an unwelcome surprise? “Nobody told us about mud season,” they opine. “Especially how long it lasts.” Or what havoc it wreaks on home décor, particularly the mudroom or entryway floor.
Sure, jokes abound about mud season in New England—from trading our snowshoes for mud shoes to playing Bobbing for Boots—and how it’s the unofficial fifth season on the calendar. There’s even a Mud Museum in the we-did-not-make-this-up town of East Mildew, Vermont. Mud season can easily last from late March all the way till May, and is such a big deal for those of us who live in the countryside, and especially—gasp!—on dirt roads, that we’ve become unwitting experts on mud containment and removal. Which is why we’re bringing you this helpful little public service announcement about how to choose a rug for your mudroom.
The way we see it, you’ve got three choices. Check out the pros and cons:
Woven cotton rugs are lightweight (read: easy to move around) and have a fun, casual vibe that’s perfect for spring. Because small sizes are usually all that’s needed for a mudroom, when it comes time to clean them, it’s simple to vacuum off the loose dirt, then hand-wash and hang to dry. Set-in stains can be a challenge, though, so be sure to clean stains promptly, and try white vinegar or an oxygenated cleaner for more stubborn mud marks.
Hooked wool rugs are very durable and can handle lots of foot traffic, and even stand up well to frequent vacuuming or a good, old-fashioned slap-and-shake. They also have a bit more of a plush, upscale look than their flat-woven cousins, and busier patterns are like magic for hiding dirt. The drawback to hooked wool rugs is that you can’t just dip them in the sink to clean them—most require professional cleaning—and their denser pile can trap dirt particles and hair down toward the base of the weave. We won’t say don’t use hooked wool rugs in the mudroom, but we will tell you to use caution with them, especially during mud season.
Indoor/outdoor rugs combine the best qualities of woven cotton (lightweight, casual, fun) and hooked wool rugs (durable and able to withstand all sorts of boot abuse). They one-up both in the mudroom environment, because they’re a cinch to clean—no matter how dark or old the stain. Take the indoor/outdoor rug outside and hang it over a porch rail, fence, bench, or even a pair of sawhorses; scrub it with a soft brush and some mild detergent; squirt it clean with a hose; and let it dry in the sun. You can do this all season long, and, because indoor/outdoor rugs are treated for fade resistance, so they’ll look as perky and bright as the day you first bought them.
For our money, indoor/outdoor rugs are the way to go in the mudroom, but they don’t have to be the only option. Just make sure you know how to clean the type of rug you buy, and mud season won’t seem quite so much like dud season.