Many of us use the practice of yoga to achieve a sense of serenity and well-being. But performing the downward-facing dog on a funky-smelling, bacteria-coated yoga mat is not going to contribute to the benefits of yoga. Fortunately, cleaning a yoga mat is simple to do.
How Often to Clean a Yoga Mat
After every session, use a clean towel to wipe down your mat to remove sweat and any loose surface soil. When heavy soil is evident or at least monthly, the mat should be cleaned to remove odor and help preserve the life of the mat. If you practice yoga daily, a more thorough cleaning should be done weekly to remove bacteria and fungus that can cause skin and breathing problems.
Equipment / Tools
- Bathtub or large sink
- Sponge or soft cloth
- Spray bottle
- Microfiber towel
- Dishwashing liquid or gentle laundry detergent
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol
Instructions for Cleaning a Yoga Mat
Some yoga mats are labeled as machine-washable and can be safely cleaned in a front-loading or high-efficiency top-loading washer without a center agitator. All yoga mats will last longer if gently hand washed.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
Fill a bathtub or large sink with several inches of warm water. Add one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid or gentle laundry detergent per gallon of water and swish to disperse the soap.
If you don't have a bathtub or large sink, mix the cleaning solution in a bucket so you can spread the yoga mat outside for cleaning.
Submerge and Soak the Yoga Mat
Completely submerge the yoga mat in the soapy solution and allow it to soak for 10 minutes to loosen surface soil.
Wipe Down the Mat
After soaking, use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down both sides of the mat. Pay particular attention to the areas used most often for your hands and feet. Use a gentle touch to avoid damage to the mat.
Drain and Rinse
After cleaning both sides, drain away the soapy water. Fill the tub with fresh water for rinsing. Gently lift the mat up and down in the fresh water to remove any soapy residue. If the water looks dirty or soapy, drain the rinse water and repeat until the water appears to be clear.
Remove Excess Water From the Mat
Drain away the final rinse water and give the mat a good shake to remove excess water. Lay the mat on a large, absorbent towel like a beach towel. Roll the mat and towel together to absorb the water.
You can also place the mat between two towels and walk on the top towel to help it absorb water from the mat.
Never twist or wring a yoga mat. This will cause warping, wrinkles, or rips and tears. This is why a mat should not be placed in a washing machine. The agitation and spinning action are too severe.
Sanitize the Mat
After removing as much excess water as possible, use a commercial sanitizing spray or a homemade solution to kill any bacteria or fungus that may still be on the surface of the mat.
To make your own sanitizing solution, mix three parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol in a spray bottle. Mist the entire surface of the mat so that it is visibly wet. Do not wipe away the sanitizing solution.
Hang to Dry
After sanitizing, the mat should be hung to dry. Drape over an indoor drying rack or use clothespins to hang on an outdoor line. A pants hanger can also be used for hanging but may leave marks on the mat.
Skip the clothes dryer! The high heat and tumbling action can damage a yoga mat.
Do not use a yoga mat until it has dried completely. Trapped moisture could leave the mat slippery or cause damage to the floor underneath the mat.
Tips to Keep Your Yoga Mat Clean Longer
- Wipe down the mat after every yoga session. Allow it to dry completely before storing.
- Hang rather than rolling the mat during storage so that it receives good air circulation.
- Wash feet and hands before every yoga session.
- Keep the mat away from direct sunlight which can cause it to become brittle.
- If the mat feels slippery, restore the surface by sprinkling it liberally with baking soda and rub in the powder with your hands. Let the mat sit for 30 minutes and then brush or vacuum away the powder. This will also help absorb any foul odors.
- Avoid using creams, lotions, and essential oils that can stain surfaces and even break down rubber mats.
- If you sweat profusely, consider using a yoga towel on top of the mat. These can be tossed in the washer for easier cleaning.
- If your mat is cracked or beginning to lose pieces of rubber, cleaning can make the situation worse. It's time to replace the mat.