Best of Friday Question: Who Can We Blame for the Carpet in the Bathroom Trend?

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[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at!]

Bethany: This year, we started a regular feature on our Facebook page where we ask a question every Friday. Sometimes the questions are about the real estate business, but sometimes, like our choice for Best of Friday Question, it’s about a hot button topic that everyone has a very firm opinion on. 

Carpet in the bathroom. For us, a discussion about it started with a picture someone sent for a folder I keep of random godawfulness for a future Wednesday WTF piece.

I showed it to Executive Editor Joanna England, because this is how we torture each other during the workday. One thing led to another, and suddenly we had another Friday Question, which we posed on our Facebook page as a poll: “Carpet in the bathroom is a) Gross, stop it; or b) A perfectly lovely choice.

What shocked us is how rapidly people weighed in. Folks, people have some strong opinions on carpet in the bathroom. Strong, and immediate. I’ll admit, my reaction was strong and immediate, too — I can vividly recall the stomach-churning, nausea-inducing crunch that came along with a childhood friend’s carpeted bathroom. Carpet should not crunch.

We also posted a poll on our new Twitter account.

Needless to say, except for a very small number that we deeply worry about (seriously, who hurt y’all?), pretty much everyone is against the concept of carpet in the bathroom.

Which leads us to our next quest — finding out who thought it was a good idea to begin with.

So I started searching — and it seems nobody really wants to take the blame for this, and rightly so. When I was crowdsourcing a possible timeframe, someone said that perhaps carpet in the bathroom is still a thing because of the weather, to which I replied, “All the nopes. That’s why Jesus invented radiant heat flooring.”

Shag carpeting, the ultimate urine trapper. (Photo Courtesy Better Homes and Gardens, circa 1970)

I mean someone, at some point, thought, “You know what would be great? Covering this floor with something absorbent that will soak up all the fluids that ever hit it.”

“Socks? Slippers? Never heard of ‘em. Obviously, the only solution is an absorbent pad and a layer of fiber material that will funnel the fluids directly to that pad. Because my feet must not get chilled.”

At least, that’s how it went down in my head.

But here’s what I’ve surmised from doing some deep digging: Wall-to-wall carpet became popular in the 1950s when it became more affordable for everyday families and not just the wealthy, but it seems as if the consensus is that carpet in the bathroom really became a thing sometime in the 1960s and 1970s. This Pinterest page seems to shore up that idea.

While Pam Kueber’s excellent interview on Retro Renovation with Emily Morrow of Shaw Floors doesn’t specifically speak to carpet in the bathroom, she does outline a history of how carpet as we know it came to be in our homes, and what it looked like prior to World War II.

Carpet had been a luxury during the war – as many home goods had been –  and once the war was over, there were plenty of stay-at-home moms that were ready to decorate their homes with products they couldn’t get during the war years,” Morrow told Kueber. “At the same time, there were technological advances taking place in the carpet industry – tufted nylon provided a similar look as the woven wool carpets and rugs from the pre-war years; however, nylon was more durable and much more attainable to the growing middle class. This combination of factors was really the perfect storm that led carpet to grow exponentially in the 1950s.”

There is also a hilarious thread on Reddit regarding carpet in the bathrooms.

“My parents’ house came with a carpeted half bath. And laundry/utility room, kitchen, and dining room,” one Reddit user said. “This meant that the door to the backyard had carpet next to it. Even better, it wasn’t regular carpet, it was ‘outdoor’ carpet where the pad is attached and the whole shebang is glued to the floor. The 70s was a dark time for some people. I imagine drugs were involved. Don’t carpet your bathroom.”

“My ex’s mother not only has wall-to-wall carpeting in her bathroom, she also has shag on her toilet seat, tank and lid,” another user said. “She tells male guests to ‘Sit or have good aim’ because she doesn’t want her ‘expensive carpeting to get stained by careless guys.’”

Even Bob Vila is against it. On his website, his writers answer a question from someone about carpet in the bathroom, and well, they use the word moist.

“Carpet is a magnet for moisture and its by-products,” they said.Between steamy vapor from the shower and water dripping off your body, bathroom carpet is bound to get wet—and soak up the moisture like a sponge.”

I needed a full five minutes to quit shuddering at the phrase, “moisture and its by-products.”

The Centers for Disease Control also recommends taking carpet out of bathrooms, and never doing it again.

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, we’ll post a hot-button question on our Facebook page. Sometimes, they’ll be serious. Sometimes, they’ll be more light-hearted. Want to take part? Like and follow us, and be on the lookout for this Friday’s question.


Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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