Guide on How to Clean a Yoga Mat and Keep it Fresh

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Cleaning your yoga mat should be an important part of your yoga practice. While you may visit your yoga mat a few hours every day or week, it’s important to clean your mat regularly to prolong the life of your yoga mat and ensure it does not harbor any bacteria or worse, give you issues with your skin, such as pimples or rashes.

Keeping your mat clean after every class is ideal. Every so often, it’s also a good idea to really give your mat a thorough cleaning to remove any bacteria, oils, dirt, and germs that have built up over time. Your yoga mat spends a lot of its time on the floor and can pick up debris and dirt. Fortunately, it’s very simple to keep your mat smelling fresh and germ-free!

In this yoga mat care and cleaning guide, we will cover the following:

  • Ways You Can Keep Your Yoga Mat Clean
  • DIY Natural Cleaning Recipes
  • How Often Should You Clean Your Yoga Mat
  • Tips for Keeping Your Yoga Mat Cleaner for Longer

Ways You Can Keep Your Yoga Mat Clean

1. Give it a Deep Clean Wash in the Bathtub

Sometimes a mat may benefit from a deep clean treatment. Here are instructions on how to clean your mat thoroughly. We recommend deep cleaning your yoga mat at least once a month

  1. Plug your bathtub and fill it up with an inch or two of lukewarm water. 
  2. Add 4-6 drops of essential oil and a 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the tub and mix the solution with your hand.
  3. Immerse your mat for 2-3 minutes and rub your hands against the mat to clean the soiled areas. 
  4. Unplug the bathtub, lift your yoga mat and allow the cleaning solution to drain from the mat. You can also squeeze and press certain parts of the mat to drain any liquid from the mat if your mat is porous.
  5. Drape it over your shower curtain rod and allow the yoga mat to air dry naturally. You can also lay the mat on top of a dry towel to dry. It will take 1-2 days for your yoga mat to fully dry. 

Pro Tips:

  • If your yoga mat is made of natural porous rubber, avoid drying in direct sunlight because it will harden the rubber and make your yoga mat crack and crumble.
  • Most mats will usually dry overnight but may take longer in humid weather. Avoid rolling up your mat while it’s wet, or mildew and bacteria can thrive in the moist environment.
  • Do not place your mat in the drying machine or place it on top of a radiator or space heater.
  • Also avoid using any cleaning tools that can scratch the surface of your mat, such as a brillo pad. 
  • Remember to always read the directions on the label of your yoga mat first, as some materials may have specific cleaning requirements.
  • If you’re using a cleaning solution that lathers, make sure you rinse all the soap off or else it can cause slippage and be dangerous while you practice.

2. Wash it While You Shower

This is probably the most convenient but does take some coordination in the bathtub. This is a great method to use when cleaning your mat with a solution that creates a lather and suds. Here are steps to cleaning your yoga mat in the shower:

  1. Clean the yoga mat with 1-2 inches of water and 4-6 drops of dish soap or all-purpose cleaner in the tub first.
  2. Afterward, unplug the tub and while showering, run water down the front and back of the mat until the suds are gone.
  3. Gently wring out and then dry your yoga mat over the shower curtain rod to air dry naturally. The mat should dry within 1-2 days. 

3. Spray and Wipe Down Your Yoga Mat Before and After Each Practice

Clean your mat as you go. One of the most important things you can learn to help enhance your yoga experience is how to clean yoga your yoga mat regularly. Many studios will offer a cleaning solution that you can use to quickly wipe down your mat after every practice. You can also make and bring your own cleaning solution. 

Also make sure you read the directions on the label of your chosen cleaning product, and test any product on a small area first. If you clean your yoga mat after each use, this way it will stay fresher for longer. This way, you should be able to extend the length of time between each thorough, intense clean.

4. Wash Your Mat in the Washing Machine

Some yoga mats are machine washable. Be sure to check with the manufacturer’s website before throwing your mat in the machine. Most eco-friendly mats are meant to only be hand-washed and can get damaged or destroyed in the washing machine. Cleaning a yoga mat is pretty easy, but think twice before throwing it in the washer, as the churning and spinning can tear the delicate material. 

Here are steps to cleaning your yoga mat in the washing machine:

  1. First, check the care label on the yoga mat, if there is one – it might be possible for it to be placed in the washing machine.
  2. If you can machine wash your mat, gently place it into the machine upright and in a rolled up fashion.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of mild laundry detergent and set the temperature to cold. 
  4. Run the wash on delicate with OR without a spin cycle. Omitting the spin cycle will allow your yoga mat to last longer.

Remember, only use the washing machine if you’re sure that your yoga mat is machine-washable!

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DIY Natural Cleaner Recipes

You can buy pre-made mat-sanitizing sprays or go the homemade route and make your own cleanser.

Try to avoid harsh cleaners when treating your yoga mat. Commercial mat sanitizers sometimes contain bleach or alcohol which can leave a smell or irritate your skin. Bleach solutions can be useful to destroy most viruses and bacteria, but the solution can be very irritating to the skin. Tea tree oil is effective and less irritating.

Commercial cleaning solutions may be corrosive to a yoga mat’s material as well as irritating to the skin. Plus, their chemical smells may leave a stench when you’re trying to relax in child’s pose.

I prefer to stick to natural cleaners such as essential oils, citrus juice and white vinegar. Vinegar and certain essential oils have antibacterial properties. Here is an easy DIY cleaner solution recipe that does not include any soap or lather:

Spray your mat liberally and rub dry with a hand towel. Optimal essential oils to use include tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, mint or grapefruit. Make sure the scent of your cleaning solution is not overwhelming to others. Also make sure that you are not allergic to the essential oils you choose.

If you’re looking to wash your mat in the bathtub, you can use a natural dish soap solution using this recipe:

  • Fill your bathtub with 1-2 inches of water
  • 10-14 drops of natural dish soap
  • Lather with your hand until you create a sudsy solution to clean your mat. 
  • Add your mat to the solution and work the solution into your yoga mat.
  • Rinse the solution off of your mat while taking a shower or by running the mat underneath lukewarm water.

Be careful not to use too much soap and to wash all the suds away! Soap residue can cause your yoga mat to be slipper during practice and potentially make your future yoga practices dangerous.

And finally, I also use a cleaning solution with all-purpose cleaner from Mrs. Meyers. I use this solution to clean my yoga mat immediately after practice. A lot of yoga studios will use this same cleaning solution as well.

Spray the solution over your mat and wipe it down with a hand towel. Repeat this after every practice and your mat can stay clean longer.

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How Often Should You Clean Your Yoga Mat

In an ideal world, giving your mat a quick spray down after every session would be a best practice. However, if that’s not feasible, giving it a wipe down once a week is a good rule of thumb. Finally, we recommend giving your yoga mat a deep clean treatment once or twice a month. 

Cleaning your yoga mat is a simple task that keeps it sanitary and odor-free. Germs, viruses, and bacteria love sweat and bodily fluids. Even shared mats at studios and gyms can become homes for fungus and bacteria. Bringing your own mat to practice and keeping it cleaned regularly is the best way to stay hygienic.

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Tips for Keeping Your Yoga Mat Cleaner for Longer

Here are some easy tips that are easy to implement to keep your mat in mint condition. Create a regime that can easily be done after every practice. This will help keep your mat as good as new and for as long as possible. 

  • Keep yourself clean! Washing your hands and feet before practice will help keep your mat clean. Never practice while your body is dirty, as it can transfer bacterial or fungal infection to yourself or others. 
  • Don’t share your yoga mat. Ensure you know the cleanliness of your mat by not sharing it with others. 
  • Wipe down your yoga mat after every use. I recommend spraying a cleaning solution into a hand towel and rubbing away at the surface of your yoga mat.
  • If your mat is damp after practice, hang your yoga mat over a rod and allow it to dry before putting it away. If a rod is not available to you, take your mat home and drape it over your shower rod or a chair to dry. 
  • Use a yoga towel on top of your yoga mat during hot and sweaty practices. If you sweat a lot, you may want to consider buying a yoga towel. The towel will absorb the majority of the sweat and bodily soils that you deposit during practice. These are designed to fit the entire length of your mat and are made from extra absorbent material (usually microfiber) that also dries quickly. Some of these yoga towels even have rubber dots on the bottom to prevent slippage. Yoga towels can be hand-washed or tossed in the washing machine, making it easy way to keep your mat clean.
  • Store your mat properly. Use a yoga mat bag or strap to keep it rolled up and away from any dust and debris that may collect on the sticky surface. 

Whether you practice daily, weekly or even monthly, it’s worth it to take good care of your mat. Like any regular routine maintenance in your life (ie. keeping the home clean or car running), you will be thankful when your yoga mat can support you for years down the road. 

Final Thoughts

Keeping your mat clean will extend its life and support your practice for a long time. Staying sanitary means you’ll not only practice saucha, it will also help you enjoy all the benefits of a regular yoga practice. 

Yoga sessions are a time of peace and connection with the self and the world around us, and your mat should be a sacred place to cultivate your yoga. Preventing any smells and bacterial growth will help sustain your practice. Remember to clean and care for your mat regularly, and you will practice yoga not only on the mat, but beyond it too. 

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