The humble bath mat may never be the star of the story – but when it comes to adding cosiness, comfort and colour to your bathroom, it’s certainly the unsung hero.

Typically laid out at the side of the tub, it’s not only essential from a safety (think anti-slippage) point of view – it can be the perfect accessory to add the finishing touch to your bathroom too.

So why is it so often overlooked? In defiance, here’s everything you need to know about the modest marvel…

1. Style and substance

Picking the right bath mat for your bathroom may require more thought than you anticipated, for the choice you make can transform the look of the entire room.

Before you start shopping, ensure you’ve got a clear idea of just how much floor space you have to accommodate the purchase.

Will you go for a rectangular, square, circular or abstract mat? Whatever the shape, it’s important it covers a big enough surface area as to not cause any slip issues when you emerge dripping from the shower or bath tub.

[Read more: 6 ways to stop your shower drain from getting clogged]

Next, consider colours. Do you want to go for a block, bold colour matched to the towels and accessories? Or a patterned design that will show off your personality? Relaxing hues of blues and greens are great for a tranquil, oceanic-like space – but be mindful of going too light as they will get grubby much quicker.

Finally – and perhaps most importantly – seek out the most suitable material.

Cotton rugs are most common: they not only tend to dry quickly, but they’re super absorbent and provide a soft and sumptuous treat for the feet. Alternatively, up the stakes with an Egyptian cotton rug, a mateiral renowned for its softness, strength and absorbency. Some are also treated with Micro-Fresh technology, which effectively reduces odours and keeps the mat fresher for longer.

Going for a spa-type vibe? A wooden bath mat offers a safe and sturdy landing space when you step out of the shower or bath, plus it’s great for durability.

2. Safety first

Investing in a non-slip bath mat is vital to safety in a bathroom – especially for young children, the elderly or those with impaired mobility. If you’re investing in a rubber mat that goes inside the shower or bath, look for high-quality rubber, one that fits the base well, and makes use of such features as suction cups.

In addition, help the environment by opting for a mat made from organic materials or similarly, one with anti-microbial properties, which come with built-in protection for allergy-sufferers against bacteria, dust-mites and mould.

[Read more: 5 tips for keeping towels soft]

3. Cleaning and care

It goes without saying that bath mats need washing regularly, but how often you throw it in the washing machine can depend largely on the usage and quality of the mat itself.

In general, it’s recommended that you wash it every one to two weeks – and if you’ve checked the care label and made a clever decision, you should just be able to chuck it in the washing machine, either alone or with the towels.

Shake the mat first to loosen any dirt, before applying some detergent and washing on a warm cycle to ensure a thorough clean and a fluffy finish. To dry: hang it out in the open air, or if weather/circumstances don’t permit, use an indoor airer.

Do you have any top tips when it comes to bath mats? Tell us in the Comment section below.