Keeping a clean yoga mat is essential for keeping you comfortable and healthy. If your yoga mat sees a lot of use, over time it can become dirty and filled with bacteria and germs. The grime that forms on your yoga mat may even prohibit you from practicing yoga efficiently.
What Items Should I Use To Clean My Yoga Mat?
What to clean a yoga mat with will depend on the type of mat you have. While grabbing the nearest antibacterial wipes to wipe down your mat in a hurry is okay in some instances, yoga mats typically do need a more thorough cleaning.
PVC-based yoga mats are easy to clean, especially since they aren’t prone to absorbing bodily oils and sweat. For these mats, you can use a mixture of water and soap. Once you’ve washed the mat, use a disinfectant spray to keep bacteria away.
Yoga mats made of natural materials such as rubber and cork require special consideration when it comes to cleaning. Rubber mats should be washed with a delicate detergent, and it’s best to avoid using too much water. Cork, on the other hand, requires less attention, as it's antibacterial by nature, so, for cork mats, simplicity is best. Wet a soft towel or sponge with water. Wring out the excess and then begin gently wiping down your mat on both sides.
Be thorough with your cleaning and make sure to clean the sides themselves, too. Once you've finished wiping down your mat, you can leave it somewhere to air dry.
What Items Should I Avoid Using to Clean My Yoga Mat?
Washing machines should be avoided unless your mat specifically says it’s machine washable. Even then, it’s probably a good idea to avoid using a washing machine. Dryers should be avoided at all costs, as mats are not able to withstand the heat from the machine.
It also might be a good idea to avoid disinfectant wipes. Even though they may offer you convenience and a quick way to clean your mat, these wipes often have harsh chemicals that can damage your mat and lead to skin irritation.
What Are the Steps to Cleaning a Yoga Mat?
First, check with your yoga mat’s manufacturer. Many manufacturers will offer advice and tips on cleaning their specific yoga mats. With that in mind, cleaning your mat has two basic steps.
Step 1: Soap & Water
This is the easiest and most efficient method to clean your dirty yoga mat. It’s also likely that you have these items on hand. To clean your mat with soap and water, just mix a few drops of dish soap into a spray bottle with warm water. Avoid using too much dish soap — one or two drops should do the trick. You can spray your mat with this soapy mixture and use a microfiber cloth to spread the mixture on the mat.
Repeat for both sides, then rinse the mat with warm water thoroughly. At this point, you should let it dry by either laying it flat or hanging it in the shower.
Step 2: Disinfectant Spray
Not only is it important to keep your yoga mat clean, it should be disinfected too. In general, it’s probably a good idea to disinfect your mat every time you practice.
You can use a premade, store-bought mat spray to disinfect your yoga mat. Alternatively, you can make disinfectant spray.
How Do I Make My Own Mat Spray?
When making a spray, there are three essential ingredients to consider:
- Cleaning agents
- Cleansing essential oils
- Aromatic essential oils
Cleaning agents will typically come in the form of lemon juice, vinegar, or witch hazel. Which one you choose depends on your personal preference.
Essential oils come in two forms: cleansing and aromatic. Cleansing essential oils will work along with the cleaning agent to help disinfect your mat. Two common choices are tea tree and eucalyptus oil. Aromatic essential oils, on the other hand, will keep your yoga mat smelling fresh — think lemongrass, mint, and lavender.
And, of course, your disinfecting spray recipe would not be complete without water.
How Often Should I Clean My Yoga Mat?
You should consider cleaning your yoga mat once a week at the very least. However, it depends on how often you’re practicing yoga at the gym, studio, or in another public place. If you’re practicing yoga several times a week in a public setting, it might be wise to clean your mat more frequently.
As mentioned before, it’s also important to disinfect your mat after every workout session, but this is especially important if you find yourself working out in public areas.
An unclean yoga mat can not only throw off your yoga session but lead to an outbreak of acne or an occurrence of a bacterial infection.
If you don’t feel like you have the time to commit to regularly cleaning your yoga mat, then there are a few steps you can take to keep it cleaner for longer.
First, you can place a thin, specially designed yoga towel on your yoga mat before your workout session. This towel will absorb your sweat and other oils, keeping them away from the surface of your mat.
Another consideration is to keep yourself as clean as possible before your yoga session. This is especially important for your feet, which come into contact with all sorts of surfaces. So, before practicing yoga, give your feet a good cleaning.
Lastly, it’s important to always make sure that your yoga mat dries completely. Storing your yoga mat while it’s still damp can lead to a microorganism breeding ground. Once you’ve cleaned your mat with whatever method you’ve chosen, just hang it up to let it dry. However, if you hang it outside to dry, make sure not to leave it out in the elements for too long. Too much sun can cause damage to your mat.