How to Clean a Yoga Mat and Why You Should

Your yoga mat is an important tool as part of your routine, but it can also be a hub for some serious sweat, germs, and bacteria.

Read on for a “spiritual guide” that will enlighten you and give you some excellent tips for how to clean a yoga mat so you can twist, stretch, and pose worry-free.

Why You Need to Clean Your Yoga Mat

A yoga mat is important to give you space and a comfortable surface, which you need to practice the art in a productive way. From colorful designs to simple solid hues, these mats come in a wide range of sizes, styles, and formats to suit all your yoga needs.

But why should you worry about keeping your yoga mat clean? Well, to put it simply, these mats can easily become a haven for icky germs, dirt, and even some dangerous bacteria.

Whether you practice traditional yoga or hot yoga, you’re bound to sweat. This sweat will trickle onto your mat and can easily become absorbed into the material.

Over time, even dried-up sweat will leave unsightly stains and nasty smells on your yoga mat. No one wants to bring something to class that’s going to be offensive, so that’s just one reason why you should clean it on a regular basis.

There can even be dangerous germs that accumulate on your yoga mat like staph or various types of fungus. You definitely don’t want to come into contact with those!

Even mild forms of staph can lead to issues like urinary tract infections, and fungus can be dangerous for your body in a myriad of ways. Remember that most yoga studios are warm and moist, which makes them a haven for germs.

Aside from the ick factor, heavy use of your yoga mat can cause ugly stains and show signs of dirt buildup. You don’t want to bring a dirty mat to the studio because it’s not only embarrassing, but it’s also not healthy. 

Try a Spray For Quick Cleanings

Between yoga classes, work, and home life, you don’t always have time to keep your yoga mat pristine. Between your sessions, however, it’s a good idea to freshen the mat up.

For light stains or just everyday use, you can try a few different sprays that will quickly clean the mat and make it fresh. Make a homemade solution with two cups of water and a few drops of regular dish soap.

Put the solution in a clean spray bottle and lightly shake it up to create a soapy mixture. Spray your mat with one sweep, and rub any extra-dirty areas. 

Give your mat a final wipe with clean water, and then dry it completely with a soft cotton or terry cotton towel. Hang the yoga mat to dry before you use it again, or else you could accidentally slip.

If you’d rather not use dish soap, use the same mixture but substitute the soap for white vinegar. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to give the cleaner a fresh scent.

Mat-Spraying Tips

Lavender oil is a great choice since it evokes a calming aura. This oil is an excellent option to add to your homemade spray and it should help to mask the scent of vinegar.

Keep your spray handy by carrying it with you, or use it at home every time you return from class. One important thing to remember: always spray the back of your mat, too. It’s easy to neglect the opposite side of the mat, but remember that this is where it comes in contact with the floor.

Ideally, you should learn how to clean a yoga mat on a regular basis to keep dirt and germs at bay. Make it a habit to give it a good spray and wipedown between every use.

For particularly stinky or dirty mats, add a teaspoon of baking soda to your homemade cleaning spray. The baking soda does an excellent job of killing the excess odor.

Choose a spray bottle that produces an even, fine mist. You don’t want to overspray or soak the mat when doing fast cleanings since it will take a lot longer to dry.

When you hang-dry your yoga mat, keep it out of direct sunlight. Too much sun can fade the colors and cause the mat to become too dry and crumble.

Use Specially-Made Products

If you’re pressed for time, you can purchase products that are specially made for cleaning your yoga mat. Wipes are available that contain germ-killing ingredients that won’t damage the material of your mat.

Toss a few packaged wipes in your gym bag so you can give the mat a good wipe between uses. This is a great way to clean the mat quickly whenever you’re in a rush.

You can also find all-natural mat sprays that are pre-made to make life easier. These sprays also contain essential oils to make your mat smell fresh and feel squeaky clean.

Whatever product you choose, make sure it’s non-toxic and safe for your mat’s material. Not only are chemicals bad for your body, but they’re also bad for your mat and cause it to wear out or deteriorate.

If you’re really in a pinch, you can use cleaning wipes like Lysol or Clorox for a quick wipedown. Another great option is to purchase yoga mats made of special antimicrobial material. These mats naturally fight off germs and help to block the moisture that causes bacteria to flourish in the first place.

How to Clean a Yoga Mat: Toss It in the Washing Machine

When it’s time to give your yoga mat a deep-cleaning, the washing machine is your best bet. But there are certain things to keep in mind whenever you decide to give the mat a thorough clean so you don’t damage it.

Read the tag on your mat and make sure it’s machine-washable before you attempt this. Some brands specifically state that the mat is not designed to be washed using a machine.

If you’re in the clear, put the mat in your washing machine and set it to the gentle cycle. Don’t use any soap when you clean the mat, simply let the washing machine do its thing.

The agitation of the machine should loosen up any excess dirt that has deeply penetrated into the mat. After the cycle is done, hang it to dry just like you would after a spray-cleaning.

You might be able to dry the yoga mat in the dryer but do so with caution. Too much heat can cause the mat to shrink, warp, or fade.

A monthly cleaning in your washing machine should do the trick to get it sanitized and pristine. Make a note on your calendar so you can schedule this cleaning every month for great results.

The Tub Method

If you prefer to clean your yoga mat by hand but sprays aren’t enough, try soaking it in your bathtub. Use a mixture of cool water and a mild detergent, then fully submerge the mat.

Hand wash it thoroughly, then drain the tub and re-wash it in a tub full of clean, clear water. The trick to this method is the final step, which you’ll need to do to keep the mat from getting waterlogged.

After the tub soaking, squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Lay your yoga mat on a thick, dry towel and then roll the mat and the towel up together.

The roll method will get the mat dry, and then you can step on your mat-towel rollup to squeeze out any leftover moisture. Just like the other methods, you should finish this step by hanging the mat to dry.

Practice Yoga the Clean Way

Now that you have some tips on how to clean a yoga mat, you can practice your yoga in confidence. Remember, weekly cleanings should be a minimum, but try to spray it down between sessions for best results.

Make a handmade cleaning spray and use your favorite essential oils for a fabulous scent, or scrub the mat in your tub for a deep hand-cleaning. The washing machine is only recommended for certain yoga mats, so make sure you read the label carefully.

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