Yoga can take you to a blissful meditative state of focus on your movement and breath unless you’re not getting distracted by an unpleasant odor. Depending on your sessions, you can go from a peaceful yin class to an ashtanga sweat bath.
In both scenarios, it’s important to keep your mat smelling fresh and germ-free. Read on to find out why, how often, and how to clean your yoga mat, to have it last longer.
The best way to take care of your mat is to follow the instructions it comes with. They can usually be found on a label or the website of the brand. This article expands on guidelines for commonly-used mat materials and is a comprehensive guide on how to keep your yoga mat clean.
Why do I need to clean my yoga mat regularly?
Bacteria, germs, and viruses thrive in hot, humid, and sweaty environments. This makes yoga mats incubators for skin infections and toenail fungus. People with weakened immune defenses could be even susceptible to the herpes virus or strep infections. As you can see, the risks of a dirty mat go far beyond the smell. Practicing on a clean mat at home, and especially in a studio, is safe and far more enjoyable.
Does this mean I should bring my mat to the studio?
If this is an option, then yes. Make sure to clean the bottom side of your mat after bringing it to a studio as floors can be equally soiled.
It’s not always feasible to carry a mat, so if you’re bound to use a common mat – don’t stress about it. Just give it a quick wipe before use because you never know how lazy or in a rush the person before you was. Having a microfiber towel to lay on your mat is also advisable.
How often should I clean my yoga mat?
Ideally, you should be cleaning your mat after every use. Of course, this depends on the intensity of your sessions. If you have just done yin yoga, which usually does not involve sweating, you can skip the wipe.
Another effective way to remove sweat and odor, although it can get messy, is to spread baking soda on top and let it sit for 10-30 minutes before vacuuming it off.
If you’re in a rush, use a yoga mat wipe or a regular wet wipe to disinfect and avoid sweat build-up. However, be mindful of the paper waste that creates.
In addition, aim for deep-cleaning your mat once a month if you use it daily. Otherwise, just let the smell be your guide – you’ll know when it’s time to wash.
As far as regular clean-up goes,
What's the best way to clean my yoga mat?
If you have invested in an absorbent, anti-bacterial yoga mat, you better follow the care instructions it comes with.
Generally, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the mat right after use. If you want to use a solution, it’s best to put it on the cloth rather than directly on the mat to protect the moisture-wicking layer of your mat.
What solution should I use for cleaning?
You can use a commercially-bought all-purpose spray but many of them have asthma, cancer, or skin-irritation promoting ingredients. Some mat makers may sell mat cleaners. Diluting a gentle dish cleaner or washing powder also works.
A cheaper and safer alternative is to prepare a natural solution.
Use a 1 part oil-free soap or vinegar to 20 parts water. This equals 1 teaspoon of soap/vinegar to 100 ml (3 oz) water. The spray bottles that come in air travel packs are ideal for this!
Add 10 drops of an antibacterial essential oil of your choice for a lovely aroma (unless your yoga mat care tips advise otherwise. This is the case with rubber mats, for example). Some essential oils you can use include:
- Clove Bud fights molds, yeasts, and bacteria. Its scent stimulates the mind.
- Eucalyptus energizes and helps clear the mind.
- Grapefruit seed has antifungal properties.
- Lavender scent can help you relax and go to sleep as it reduces anxiety.
- Lemongrass is antiviral, antimicrobial, and used as an insect repellant.
- Peppermint is invigorating and it can help alleviate headaches.
- Tea Tree inhibits the growth of airborne bacteria and mold.
- Thyme is effective against bacterial and yeast infections.
Shake up the solution, spray it on a cloth, and rub your mat on both sides. If you wish, you can use a clean damp cloth to rinse the mat after cleansing.
Let it dry fully for 5-10 minutes before rolling it.
In terms of deep-cleaning,
Can I put my yoga mat in the washing machine?
Only if your mat is machine-washable. This works best with front-loaded machines as the fins of the center agitator of a top-loader can ruin the mat.
Make sure to check the care label of your mat before popping it into a washing machine. Here are some symbols to look out for:
If your mat can be machine-washed, use a delicate cycle, and set the temperature to 30 degrees or less.
How can I deep-clean my yoga mat?
Pop it in the tub and use cold water and oil-free soap to rub it with a sponge and remove any stains. If your mat is heavily soiled, you can leave the soap to act for a few minutes before rinsing it off. It’s best to use minimal amounts of soap (a tablespoon would do) and water to prevent getting your mat waterlogged. Be gentle to your mat as quality products are made from non-slippery materials that you don’t want to damage.
How should I dry my yoga mat?
It’s paramount to dry your mat fully before rolling it in as bacteria grows in dark and humid.
Let your mat dry naturally, away from direct sunlight, or the dryer. You can lay it on a drying rack or hang it in the tub.
To speed up the process, you can wipe your mat with a dry towel but don’t leave it to dry rolled with a towel as this can deform its shape. Setting a fan nearby can also reduce the drying time.
Depending on the climate you live in, drying your mat can take 1-2 days.
How should I roll my yoga mat to keep it clean?
To avoid transferring dirt from the floor to the top layer of your mat, avoid rolling it in from bottom to top as most people do. Instead, fold the mat in half, with the practice surface being on the inside of the fold. Then, start rolling from the folded half. This technique is faster, cleaner and does not curl the ends of your mat.
Take note that mats with polyurethane leather (PU) are rolled with the top layer out to protect the surface.
What are some other ways to take care of my yoga mat?
Skip lotions or oils on your hands and feet before practice. Removing any jewelry, such as rings and bracelets, will protect both your skin and your mat.
Always store your mat in a dry place, keeping it away from sharp objects and making sure it is not pressed down or against something as this may damage its shape.
Final words of inspiration
Hopefully, this guide will inspire you to give a few quick wipes to your mat before rolling it next time. Proper maintenance is key to make anything last longer. Plus, who wouldn’t love a freshly-smelling mat?