Easy Ways To Keep Your Mudroom Clean

Taken out of context, the word "mudroom" doesn't sound all that savory. It conjures up images of filth and grime and sounds like a place you wouldn't want to spend too much time in. Yet as anyone fortunate enough to have a mudroom in their home knows, these little spaces are priceless when it comes to keeping your house clean, free of clutter, and unsoiled by the wear and tear of everyday life.

A mudroom serves as a barrier between the outside world and your home. It's the holding room for all those muddy boots, sporting equipment, wet raincoats, battered umbrellas, weathered hats, treasured tents, pet accessories, and all the other accumulated gear needed to enjoy the great outdoors all year around. Mud is an unavoidable part of life but by having a handy little room close to the entrance of your home you can keep all that is unsightly and messy out of sight and out of mind. Yet be warned, it's all too easy to take a mudroom for granted and get a little lax with its upkeep and before you know it you're left with more of a messy and dirty cupboard than a fully functioning room. Here's how to keep your mudroom clean and fit for purpose.

Create a space for your pet accessories

Where would the world be without a dog to walk, a cat to feel inferior to, a parrot to talk to in the small hours, and a rabbit to munch carrots with? Pets are great! But living with all that fur, fang, and feathers comes at a cost. Pets don't care for the exquisite perfection of your cream leather sofas, or the aesthetics of your hardwood floors. When pets, particularly dogs, come in from the cold, they tend to bring a lot of the outside world in with them. Mudrooms prove their weight in gold as a holding area for muddy paws and wet coats. They can also double up as a grooming station and pet play area, but you must create a specially designed place for your pet accessories if you want to keep both the mudroom and house as clean as possible.

It's not just your dog that has a habit of attracting mud; their leashes, collars, balls, and frisbees will also attract their fair share, so clean them and find a hook to hang them on or a cupboard to store them in. Walking in and throwing them on the floor, or the nearest chair, is a recipe for disaster. Organization is key and by keeping all your pet accessories in one space, you're allowing your mudroom to fulfill its true purpose.

Ensure cleaning products are close to hand

By its very nature, a mudroom is going to get messy and dirty regularly. Not just a little, but a lot. Keeping cleaning products strategically located in your mudroom is vital if you want to keep on top of things and not be left with an industrial-sized mess. With cleaning products close to hand you'll tend to clean as you go and not put it off until later. Unless you swear solely by the cleansing power of lemons, vinegar, and baking soda, cleaning in the modern world involves chemicals and lots of them. It's important to always take note of what the labels on your cleaning products recommend in terms of storage and any warnings they may have.

Some chemicals in different cleaning products can react dangerously to one another which makes storing them in the same place a no-go. Additionally, they can also present a hazard if they're stored in hot or cold temperatures. All cleaning products should be kept stashed away and out of the reach of children and pets, so store them high on a shelf or safely locked away in a cupboard. It's also wise to keep a mop and handheld vacuum in the mudroom if you can.

Hooks are extremely handy

It doesn't matter if you're a fisherman or the sworn enemy of Peter Pan, hooks are extremely handy, especially around the house when it comes to maximizing all available space and storage. You can use a hook to hang a stocking at Christmas, but more importantly, you can use them 365 days a year to keep your mudroom looking clean and organized. Hooks are a great and convenient way to hang your trusted rucksack, coats, hats, gloves, and scarves when you come in from the cold and need to strip off those damp garments in the space of one red hot minute without making an almighty mess.

Hooks in a mudroom are peachy perfect because not only do they keep your floor and surface space free of clutter they allow wet clothes to drip dry. Hooks also come in all shapes and sizes and all styles, so they can add a subtle touch to the overall aesthetic of your mudroom. Try a gold and ornamental hook for a shade of old-school glamor, or one shaped like the claw of a demonic entity from the bowels of hell for a little gothic splendor. The choice is yours!

Shelves are your friends

Hooks alone do not make a clean mudroom. Shelves are also essential if you want to keep the space between your inner sanctum and the wider world ruthlessly organized and effortlessly efficient. Remember, a box of stuff on the mudroom's shelf is far better than a box stored on your mudroom's floor where it'll just end up in the way and add to the overall mess. Shelves not only help keep things clean and create space by helping you declutter, but they are also a great way of helping you add a personal touch to your mudroom.

Many people make the mistake that mudrooms are purely utilitarian spaces. Sure, their function is to prevent the mud and the general horror of mess from engulfing your wider home like an insatiable black hole, but that doesn't mean to say mudrooms cannot be stylish. As well as using shelves to store practical items, why not also use them for displaying a treasured framed portrait of your favorite abstract artist, romantic poet, or existential philosopher? A flowering cactus or a Venus fly-trap can be a great talking point in any mudroom. Some carefully selected books such as Proust's "In Search of Lost Time," or Arthur Rimbuad's "A Season In Hell" will help create an impression of culture and learning to impress a guest's wandering eye as they take off their dirty boots!

Double up on your doormats

Our grippy boots and shoes are great for when we're gallivanting across mountains, wood, and streams like a stag in the first glory of Spring. Yet, if we're not careful, such sturdy footwear also has a nasty habit of treading and spreading everything we've picked up on our travels across the floors of our mudroom and house like a Jackson Pollock painting. In such instances, a simple doormat inside the entrance to your mudroom is not enough. To maintain the domestic balance, double up on your doormats, and place one just outside the door of your mudroom. It's a simple trick, but a hugely effective one. By wiping your foot once on the outside and again on the inside, you're attacking the dirt, dampness, grime, and grit on two fronts. There's not much mud that can sustain such a prolonged and determined attack.

For an outdoor doormat, you ideally want one that is made from a water-resistant material such as rubber. Yet if the entrance to your mudroom is sheltered, a coarse and wiry coir mat is your best bet, because of its heavy-duty scraping action. Your inside doormat should cover a large amount of space and be capable of absorbing moisture. Both indoor and outdoor mats can be personalized with some funky little messages about life and the universe, or you could just opt for the old chestnut that reads, "Please! Don't treat me like a doormat!"

Rugs have a place and purpose in mudrooms

Although doormats fit a mudroom much like a burger fits a bun, you might not think that rugs lend themselves well to mudrooms, but, you'd be wrong. The shade and cut of a rug can add an exquisite charm and contrast to any room including those prefixed by the word mud! However, the trick with picking a rug for your mudroom is to opt for durability and practicality over style and sophistication. Nevertheless, a carefully thought out rug will not only enhance your mudroom, but pick up a lot of the accumulated dust, debris, and dirt you'd otherwise tread around the mudroom and into your home.

Interior Designer Julia Longchamps explained to Scary Mommy that when it comes to mudrooms, "A low-pile performance rug is the name of the game for a durable rug. Performance rugs are generally made of synthetic fabrics." Longchamps added it's also wise to check if the rug can be washed. Color-wise it's best to opt for darker shades over a hot pink or red cherry rug for obvious reasons. A pattern will help hide the blemishes that you just cannot avoid in a mudroom. To add a little plushness and stability to your mudroom rug, it's wise to invest in a rug mat to prevent it from sliding all over the mudroom like Bambi on ice.

Invest in a shoe scraper

Can you imagine a world without footwear? It's not pretty, is it? From fashion to function, the items we put on our feet can look good, feel good, and enable us to perform feats of sporting excellence. Without the sort of durable and sensible footwear needed for hikes uphill and across meadows, our ankles would be wrecked and the soles of our feet a mess. The downside is, that the grips and soles that support us have a habit of getting caked in the sort of stuff we don't want anywhere in our mudroom, let alone our home. The solution? A shoe scraper!

Positioned just outside the entrance to your mudroom, a shoe scraper can eliminate a lot of unwanted dirt before you even step inside the mudroom. Shoe scrapers are in a different league to doormats, because whereas the latter is a tried and tested tool for removing lightweight dust and dirt, the former is capable of tackling industrial-size situations. Usually made of cast iron, shoe scrapers can weather any storm and usually come equipped with a built-in boot brush. Some even feature a boot rack and jack to quickly whip your wellies off without the inconvenience of bending over. Foot scrapers come in all shapes and sizes from the ornamental to the purely functional, but whatever design you opt for, rest assured, they work!

Keep your fabrics durable

Make no bones about it, mudrooms take a severe bashing daily. The larger your family, the more wear and tear your mudroom will have to contend with. A mudroom is part of your home and so you want it to be as easy on the eye and as inviting as possible, but because of the constant demands placed upon it, it's difficult to keep your mudroom both clean and attractive. The key is to make durability your guiding light in all things related to your mudroom, from its fittings, fixtures, floor, and fabrics.

Everything in your mudroom should stand up well to a regular arsenal of washing, mopping, and scrubbing, particularly your fabrics. When choosing mudroom bench coverings and cushions for your mudroom, it's best to opt for those designed with outdoor use in mind. Not only are they tailored to withstand the elements but they are easy to clean. A designer silk cushion may look the business, but in a mudroom, it will become soiled and squalid in no time.

Tiles can make all the difference

Only the most reckless and hot-headed soul would risk angering the gods and goddesses of domestic harmony and put a carpet in a mudroom. However, many opt for wooden and laminate flooring which may give the mudroom a homey feel. Although it may absorb life's spills and splatters better than a luxuriant shag pile, it's nowhere near as low maintenance as a reliable tile floor. As a rule of thumb, the less porous a material, the safer option it is for your mudroom.

Floor tiles can keep on keeping on when all other types of flooring fall by the wayside. Porcelain and marble tile floors are a good option but wood-look tile floors are also very popular if you crave some organic ambiance. The geometric appeal of hexagon tiles can add a bit of funk and flavor to your mudroom and you could make a statement with some swirling patterned tiles. If you're feeling particularly adventurous why not also tile the walls with a mosaic mural? Just because something has a practical purpose doesn't mean it can't also be pretty.

Keep it dry with a drip tray

Let's face it! Even after the shoe scraper and double doormat hack have worked their magic, from time to time you're still going to be left with wet and muddy shoes that need somewhere to dry. No one wants a puddle of dirty water on their mudroom floor, so why not stay on top of the chaos with a drip tray? Plastic drip trays can be readily purchased, and do a dandy job, but why not get creative and make your own?

All you need is a long wooden box, big enough to hold multiple pairs of boots and shoes. If you can't find one, any budding carpenters out there will find them easy enough to make. The edges surrounding the drip tray don't need to be deep, but they must be able to accommodate a healthy assortment of stones you can purchase from any DIY store. Scatter the stones within the box to form a bed and when you place your muddy boots in the drip tray they'll absorb all the mud and mess like a sponge. Just remember to clean it out from time to time.

Assign personal areas for each member of your family

It's a universal rule that the more family members you have in your household the greater the mess, and the more organized you need to be to stay on top of it. A mudroom is specifically designed as a holding bay for all the misrule and disorder threatening to take over the rest of your home. Get it wrong here and all hope is lost! That's why it is of utmost importance to assign personal areas for each member of your family in the mudroom if you want to run a tight ship and keep things on an even keel.

If you have a storage cupboard or drawers, assign individual spots for each family member to stash their gear. Bags, gloves, sporting gear, and all the other flotsam and jetsam of everyday life. Everyone, regardless of their age, tends to take better care of something if it's got their name on it. Mess in the mudroom cannot and should not be tolerated. There is a place for everything and everything has its place. Find yours and build.

Keep all footwear out of sight and out of mind

You can never really have enough shoes. However, humanity's collective deep and abiding love for footwear brings its own problems and that is one of storage. A mudroom by its very nature isn't a sprawling and expansive space but one that everyone treats as a dumping ground, particularly for shoes. To prevent your mudroom from turning into a graveyard where old footwear goes to die, ensure you clean it, organize it, and store it out of sight and mind.

Footwear storage in your mudroom needn't be a chore, you can have fun thinking outside of the box in more ways than one when storing your shoes. Cabinets may be the most minimalistic and traditional approach, but shoe baskets are a cheaper and more convenient alternative. If you're struggling for space why not try hanging them on a hook? Shoe racks are foolproof and can be placed pretty much anywhere.

Store the winter woolies during the summer months

During the winter months, living isn't easy, and depending on where you live, getting ready to face the whipping winds and the unrelenting cold involves wrapping up in a lot of garments. Yet when the rivers unfreeze, the snowflakes melt, and the southern breeze blows it's time to put away the winter woolies and look with optimistic and eager eyes toward our summer wardrobe. As tempting as it might be to fling those big unsightly jackets and boots into some far-flung corner of our mudroom, or hang them on a peg until Jack Frost once again shows his pinched and frozen face, don't!

Keeping your winter woolies in the mudroom all summer long is a common mistake, but it's an unnecessary and unsightly one. Who wants to be reminded of the bleak midwinter amidst the raging glory of a midsummer's day? Ensure all your winter clothing is dry and free of dampness before you store them, or you may as well hand out open house party invitations to all the neighborhood bacteria and mold. Wool is always best folded rather than hung, and you cannot go wrong with a little vacuum packing before placing your winter woolies in the attic ready for the arrival of summer.

Regularly check for mold and mildew

Mud and moisture are regular inhabitants of any mudroom, and where there's dampness and dirt, you can bet your bottom dollar that mold and mildew will be following close behind. The silver lining of this particular cloud is that mold and mildew are not hard to spot. If you've got black spots anywhere in your room that appears to be spreading, you've got a problem that needs to be nipped in the bud, and quick.

If you're not sure if it's dirt or mildew, simply rub a little bleach into the area and leave for a couple of minutes. If it remains dark, chances are it's probably dirt, if it becomes noticeably lighter you have mildew or mold. It's important to regularly check behind storage cabinets for signs of mold and mildew, because the sooner you spot an infestation the sooner you can act. Although mildew only affects the surface and won't penetrate your home's structure, certain types of mold will lead to rot. If the damage is not extensive, clean it with a little soap and water before spraying the area with an antimicrobial spray to prevent the mold from returning.