How to Clean Yoga Mats

Yoga is a great way to stay grounded (literally and figuratively) so make sure your mat is ready for practice. Find top tips on how to clean a yoga mat here.

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Unlike cardio, yoga isn’t designed to get our hearts racing, but rather to work and stretch our muscles beyond what they’re accustomed to. Think it’s easy? Think again. Even though you may not be running around, you’re still going to sweat, especially if you’re new to yoga, or if you’re trying out new positions that really push your limits. This means that it’s very important to keep your yoga mat clean.

If you have a habit (like most of us) of rolling your yoga mat up after use, storing it into your gym bag, and forgetting about it until your next session, then before long you’re going to notice something rather unpleasant – the smell. We tend to pack our yoga mat away without realising exactly how dirty it really is. It’s only once the bacteria has multiplied within the dark, damp conditions of the gym bag that we really discover just how bad it is.

Read on to find out how to clean yoga mats to keep them hygienic, and pleasant to use.

Yoga mats may develop an unpleasant sweaty odour in between cleans, particularly if this isn’t something you do regularly. The good news is you can use mild cleaners to get rid of germs and smells. You may want to try a dishwashing soap, like Vim Liquid and a little warm water as one cleaning method.

Clean Your Yoga Mat as You Go

One of the most important things you can learn to help enhance your yoga experience is how to clean yoga mats regularly.

Remember – always read the directions on the label of your yoga mat first, as some materials may have specific cleaning requirements. Also make sure you read the directions on the label of your chosen cleaning product, and test any product on a small area first. If you clean your yoga mat after each use, it should stay fresher for longer. This way, you should be able to extend the length of time between each thorough, intense clean.

  • You may be able to use dishwashing soap to clean some yoga mats – just mix a small amount of dishwashing liquid like Vim with warm water and apply to the yoga mat. You can use a sponge, or you can put the mixture into a clean spray bottle. Then, wipe the mat with clean water and let dry completely before storing. Remember not to use too much soap – you don’t want any residue left behind on the mat, causing it to become slippery when you’re trying to do downward facing dog!
  • You could also create a homemade solution using cold water and white vinegar – vinegar is known for its antibacterial properties. Aim to use around equal parts of each. Although the smell of the vinegar isn’t very pleasant, it will fade. However, if you’d like to create a more aromatic homemade cleaner, try adding a few drops of an essential oil, such as lavender, which helps to mask the scent of the vinegar. Pop this solution into a clean spray bottle and keep it handy. Each time you arrive home from the yoga studio, pull your yoga mat out of your gym bag, lay it flat, and give it a good spray all over with the cleaning solution. Turn the mat over and repeat so that all areas have been sprayed with the water and vinegar. Allow to dry naturally by hanging on the washing line. The smell will fade once the mat is completely dry.

How to Clean Your Yoga Mat Thoroughly

While the above method is very beneficial, you can’t put off washing your yoga mat forever. Every so often, it’s a good idea to really give a thorough clean to remove any bacteria, oils, dirt, and germs that have built up over time. After all, it’s not just sweat that’s the problem – your yoga mat spends most of its time on the floor, picking up all sorts of dirt that’s hanging around. Fortunately, it’s very simple to wash your yoga mat.

  • First, check the care label on the yoga mat, if there is one – it might be possible for it to be placed in the washing machine. If so, then pop your yoga mat into the washing machine with some Surf excel Easy Wash! Set the temperature to a cold setting (30 degrees or cooler) and wash using a delicate cycle, ensuring both a rinse and spin cycle are programmed in. Remember, only use the washing machine if you’re sure that your yoga mat is machine-washable.
  • Or, you can wash your yoga mat in a tub, using cool water and a small amount of Surf excel detergent. Let it soak for a few minutes, and then scrub any stains before rinsing thoroughly and then leaving it to dry completely.
  • Always allow a yoga mat to dry naturally. Some people like to fold their yoga mats inside towels, which can help absorb any excess moisture, but be careful if doing this as it could encourage your yoga mat to dry in a curved manner. If possible, always dry flat.

Yoga sessions are a time of peaceful serenity, but how peaceful can you really be if you’ve got the smell of old sweat lingering? And don’t forget that it’s not just you who’s affected by the smell of your yoga mat – other people in your practice can smell it, too. There’s no excuse now you know how to clean a yoga mat! To help enhance everyone’s experience, take just a few minutes after each session to spray down your yoga mat and remove the dirt and oils while they’re still fresh, and don’t forget to give it a thorough clean every once in a while too – it takes no time at all, but can make a huge difference.

Originally published