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How to Clean a Yoga Mat

how-to-clean-a-yoga-matAt some point during your practice, you’ll find that your yoga mat gives off a strange smell, or that you lost your grip. Because we usually walk barefoot around the studio before class and then we sweat during our practice, we invite all sorts of dirt, oil, debris, and dust to our mats. When we do child’s pose, our faces greet and come in direct contact with the gunk. Yuck!

Humans need bacteria in the world or else we wouldn’t survive.

But yoga mats don’t and can’t.

Regardless how much you spent on your mat, it’s an investment. And cleaning your yoga mat regularly extends the mat’s lifespan.

How often should I clean my mat?

Clean once a week :

  • If you do yoga 2-3 times a week

Clean after every class:

  • If you sweat a lot
  • Practice Hot Yoga, Bikram Yoga, some Hybrid Yoga classes
  • When you use your mat for other classes like aerobics and pilates where your running shoes come in contact with it
  • When you practice outdoors

Deep clean once a month

Clean right away when you purchase a new mat to get rid of possible film residue left by the manufacturer

Out of all the methods, what is the best way to clean a yoga mat?

Answer: It comes down to preference, how much time you have, and budget. You can go the DIY way or simply purchase commercial yoga mat cleaners.

… But!

If the mat you purchased comes with set a of instructions, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Cleaning your mat the wrong way may result in discoloration, tears, and even mess up your mat’s stickiness.

If you don’t have instructions, then the 5 methods below are all good. Remember to use a microfiber or cotton cloth when cleaning!

5 ways: How to clean a yoga mat

best-way-to-clean-a-yoga-mat

1. Prepare a homemade cleaning solution spray

Here are two popular DIY recipes to fill your spray bottle with:

  • Mix vinegar, water, and an essential oil (preferably one that has both antifungal and antibacterial properties like tea tree oil).
  • Mix a teaspoon of baking soda, lemon, and water together.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Natural and Chemical-free
  • You probably already have all the ingredients in your house
  • Fast drying time
  • Portable

Cons:

  • Takes time and hassle to prepare
  • Leftover vinegar fragrance on your mat
  • Messy if the bottle leaks

2. Buy a yoga mat cleaning spray

This is a longer topic which I will be exploring in one future article. Stay tuned!

Pros:

  • Convenient
  • Quick-cleaning
  • Portable
  • Fast drying time
  • Natural and Chemical-free (depending the brand)
  • No slippery residue (usually)
  • Pleasant fragrance (depending the brand)

Cons:

  • Can be messy if the bottle leaks
  • Can get expensive depending on frequency of use and what brand you buy
  • Sometimes too many choices

3. Buy yoga mat wipes

This is an interesting, and I think – novel idea. I will be taking a closer look at mat wipes in a future article.

Pros:

  • Convenient, easy to use
  • Fits easily in gym bag or purse
  • Natural and Chemical-free (depending the brand)
  • Pleasant fragrance (depending the brand)
  • Fast drying time
  • No slippery residue

Cons:

  • Not environmentally friendly – more garbage
  • Can get expensive depending on frequency of use and what brand you buy

4. Bathtub or shower

Give your mat some TLC in the bathtub! Use a homemade solution or a commercial yoga mat cleaning spray. Your mat will be dripping lots of excess water so be careful not to slip when handling it after the wash.

Pros:

  • Thorough deep cleaning
  • Really *thorough* deep cleaning
  • You just know you did a good job at cleaning it

Cons:

  • Recommended to use this method sporadically as soaking the mat too frequently in water can affect its durability
  • Need to rub it quite a bit to make sure all the dirt and sweat is out
  • Hassle and time-consuming to clean and dry
  • You can get quite wet yourself while cleaning 🙂

5. Outdoors with a hose

Again, use a homemade solution or your favorite commercial yoga mat cleaning spray.

Pros:

  • Thorough deep cleaning
  • You leave the mess outside

Cons:

  • Can only be done in warm weather (depending where you live)cleaning-yoga-mat
  • Hassle and time-consuming to clean and dry

Drying your yoga mat: 3 methods

After a deep cleaning:

Hang your mat on a rack or clothesline to air dry.

Don’t ever squeeze the water out of the mat.

If you want to speed the drying process up – simply press and blot the excess water off with a towel from both sides.

or
If you have a shortage of space, place a towel on each side of the mat and roll it up. Keep in mind this method will not fully dry the mat.

or
Air dry your mat outdoors in the shade. Avoid hanging the mat in direct sunlight as it may make it crumble and cause discoloration.

Ways NOT to clean your yoga mat

  • In the washing machine. I know there are some websites that say it’s safe, but I wouldn’t risk it. [Hell no, I would never do this, that’s just crazy!] Depending what you mat is made of, you might destroy it. But if you really insist, double check and contact the manufacturer to be safe.
  • In the dryer. Umm no. Just no. The heat from the dryer will just damage the mat. Period.
  • Baby wipes may dry out your mat and interfere with the mat’s stickiness. They also give off too much soap which makes it quite messy.
  • Using any abrasive sponges. Avoid it like the plague, please.

Other tips

  • Take time to dry it. Plan ahead!  Drying time takes 24-48 hours when deep cleaning your mat. You don’t want to be left mat-less at your next yoga class.
  • Consider buying a backup mat.
  • Place a yoga towel on your mat to limit (especially your face) from making contact with sweat, dirt, and oil during your practice.

 

Now you’re an expert on cleaning your mat!

In a way, when you take care of your mat well, it will give back to you: you’ll be sure to enjoy every single yoga class soooo much more.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get cleaning!

 

What is your favorite way of cleaning your mat?

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

PS: I respond to all comments.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Evie smith Evie smith

    Some interesting info there and I think I like the idea of the homemade version with essential oils – maybe some bergamot or lavender?
    I always find my mat to be slippy (sweaty palms sadly) so I have a set of yoga gloves and feet (yoga paws). They stop my mat getting messy too. Usually I just wipe down with water and kitchen paper.

    • Thanks for stopping by Evie.

      Lavender is known to be a healing and soothing scent so I think this would work well. And I’m totally down to use anything that has a scent which prolongs the sense of peace in both body and mind.

      I think you’ll get better results when you try a homemade spray then simply wiping the mat with water and kitchen paper. The grime and other yucky germs need to be eliminated since they sink into your mat and they can’t in this case. But hey, whatever works for you.

      I also use yoga paws! I like to use them especially on cold freezing winter days.

  2. Richie Richie

    I suppose I did not think it through when I purchased my mat, and I normally roll it up and put it in my bag. I am glad I read your article. I do not get to do much Yoga these days, but my son uses the mat. He is like me and probably just rolls it up after use. Can you get something that is travel sized that would fit into my sons backpack? After reading this I definitely want him to clean it. Thank You for this article

    • Hey Ritchie! I’m glad you enjoyed this article.

      I think yoga mat wipes would be the most convenient for your son and they would for sure fit into his backpack. There are travel size yoga mat cleaning sprays, but if your son carries a laptop in his bag then I wouldn’t risk using spray bottles in case they would leak (unless you put it in some separate pocket).

      Anyway, it sounds like your mat desperately needs a deep cleaning in the tub. Now the question is: since your son adopted your mat, is it you or him who will do the cleaning? 😉

  3. Brandon Brandon

    Hey Vanessa, my partner LOVES yoga, and I was just thinking if this will help her or not. I feel yoga mats will get dirty quite fast with all the dirt and dust on the ground, either way I’ll share this page with her and see what she thinks.

    Thank you heaps for this post.

    • You’re welcome Brandon. I’m sure your wife will find a method that works for her. Let her know that she can always contact me if she has any further questions, and I’ll be glad to help.

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