How to Clean a Yoga Mat the Right Way



Ensuring a clean yoga mat is as crucial as the practice itself. For yoga enthusiasts and fitness seekers, maintaining a hygienic mat is not only good for health but also for enhancing the longevity of an often-pricey investment. In this guide, we’ll take you through the best practices—from identifying when a cleaning is due to the most effective cleaning methods and maintenance tips to storing your mat in top-notch condition.


The Importance of a Clean Yoga Mat

The connection between yoga and serenity is undeniable. When you roll out your mat, it’s an invitation to a zone of peace and personal growth. Hygiene is an integral part of this, as a clean mat ensures healthy contact with the environment and your body. Not cleaning your mat regularly can lead to the accumulation of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which can potentially harm your skin and cause infections.

Further, keeping your mat clean extends its life. Sweat can break down the rubber and other materials used in yoga mats, leading to cracks and wear. Regular cleaning maintains the integrity of the material and helps avoid the cost of frequent mat replacements.


The Hygiene Aspect

Sweat isn’t just salty water. It’s a mix of proteins, fatty acids, and salt. When sweat seeps into your mat, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Lurking within these layers of sweat, bacteria unmistakably start to flourish, and it’s not something you want to be rolling around in, especially if you’ve recently used public yoga spaces.


Prolonging the Lifespan

The longer sweat, oils, and dirt remain on the mat’s surface, the more they break down the materials. Over time, a layer of grime forms a smelly, stained barrier on your yoga companion. By regularly cleaning your mat, you remove these agents that contribute to rapid aging.

Effective Techniques for Yoga Mat Cleaning

There are various ways to clean your yoga mat, and the method you choose depends on personal preference, the age and type of your mat, and, sometimes, the manufacturer’s care instructions. Here’s a rundown of effective cleansing techniques:


DIY Natural Cleaners

Creating your cleaning solution can be cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Common ingredients include water, vinegar, and essential oils, which have natural antibacterial properties. A solution of water and a few drops of these oils can be very effective. Simply mist the yoga mat and wipe it down with a clean cloth.


Commercial Mat Cleaners

Many brands offer specially formulated yoga mat cleaners. These often contain natural or mild synthetic ingredients. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results, and always spot test to check for colorfastness.


Machine Washing 

Some yoga mats, usually made of closed-cell materials, can be safely machine washed. Always check the label first, and if safe, wash on a gentle or delicate cycle with a gentle detergent. Do not use bleach or fabric softener, as these can degrade the mat. Also, avoid hot water, high heat, or the dryer, as it can damage the mat or cause it to lose its shape.


Recommendations for Regular Cleaning

After each practice session, it’s important to give your mat a quick wipe-down to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. You can use a spray of either a homemade cleaning solution or a commercial cleaner along with a clean cloth to effectively eliminate bacteria and ensure a fresh surface for your next workout. This simple practice not only keeps your mat in good condition but also contributes to a healthier exercise environment.

Recommendations for Deep Cleaning

If you notice sweat marks, a strong odor, or visible dirt, it’s time for a deep clean. Smaller issues may also signal the need, like slipping during practice on dry floors where your mat once provided a reliable grip. Depending on the intensity and frequency of your practice, aim to deep clean your mat every two weeks to a month. This involves using an actual cleaning method—whether it’s a machine wash, a soak in the tub, or a more thorough application of a cleaning solution—and is necessary to address more deeply ingrained grime that could compromise both the mat’s hygiene and integrity. 


Maintenance Strategies for a Squeaky Clean Mat

Here are some top maintenance strategies to ensure that your mat stays in pristine condition for a long time. By regularly cleaning and airing out your mat, you can prevent odor buildup and maintain its appearance. Additionally, storing your mat properly when not in use can help prolong its lifespan and keep it looking its best.

Proper Drying Techniques

After cleaning, ensure your mat is dry before rolling it up to prevent mold and mildew. Lay it flat, draped over a shower curtain or drying rack, in a well-ventilated area. Direct sunlight can lead to color fading and may damage some mats, so choose a location that balances airflow and gentle drying.

Storing the Mat Correctly

Store your yoga mat in a cool, dry place when not in use. Avoid areas of high humidity or extreme temperatures, as these can cause the mat’s materials to break down more quickly. Rolls, not folds, help to maintain the mat flat and free of creases, which can become permanent over time.



The Ultimate Takeaway: A Clean Mat for a Mindful Practice

The satisfaction of a clean yoga mat is more than visual; it’s about knowing that the practices of mind, body, and spirit are grounded in a space that’s cared for just as tenderly. Regular mindfulness in the process will not only keep you feeling fresh and healthy but also extend the life expectancy of your yoga buddy, ensuring it’s there for you, strong and supportive, for many practices to come.

Next time you lay your mat down, whether in the studio, at the gym, or in the comfort of your home, it won’t just be any mat—it’ll be a crisp, pristine, and personally cherished space that you’ve meticulously cleaned and maintained to be a vessel of wellness. And that is a state of being worth a savasana.