How To Clean Your Yoga Mat Thoroughly

Everything you use needs to be cleaned. Especially those that come into contact with your skin, like the mattress or your yoga mat. Using a yoga mat full of grime and spots of old sweat is so disgusting, and we bet you have probably noticed some people using a dirty one in the yoga classes.

A blond woman sitting on her pink yoga with a white towel drinks water after an outdoor yoga practice

Yoga mats absorb all the sweat and body oils from your body during yoga practice, plus dirt and dust. Meaning, it can become extremely smelly and dirty or even contaminated with bacteria, especially after a hot yoga or asana session. That’s the reason why you need to clean your yoga mat regularly. Therefore, if you don’t want to be the yogi with the dirty mat, here are ways to clean it thoroughly.

How to clean your yoga mat with soap and water

Your yoga teacher would probably suggest you purchase a commercial mat cleaning spray. Instead of buying cleaning products, you can clean and disinfect it yourself at home using just dish detergent. You can either light clean or deep clean your yoga mat.

Light cleaning

If your mat needs a light cleaning, especially right after use, you don’t need much to do. Thus every time you return home after the yoga studio, just:

A woman light clenaing her yoga mat after a practice

  1. Fill a spray bottle with water and add a tablespoon of dish soap.
  2. Spray the dirty parts and use a soft cloth to rub them.
  3. Finally, allow it to air-dry.

Deep cleaning

Unfortunately, light cleaning won’t be enough forever. You will need to clean your yoga mat deeper because of the body fluids that it is prone to absorb. That’s why you need to deep clean your mat, both front and back, at least once a month to get rid of all the grime that builds up on the surface. Or you should clean it every time you notice discolouration or any dirty spots.

You’re going to need:

  • Warm water
  • A mild detergent
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • A dry towel

Now, follow the below steps to a successful yoga mat cleaning:

  1. Fill a large sink or a bathtub with warm water and add a few drops of mild detergent. You can also add a few drops of your favourite oil. The most popular choices are eucalyptus and lavender.
  2. Put the mat into the water and start scrubbing it.
  3. Once you have washed it thoroughly, rinse it with clean water.
  4. Then, wring out very well to remove excess water.
  5. Lay a clean, dry towel on the floor and top of it lay the mat and roll them together.
  6. Step on the mat to drain the remaining water into the towel. Keep in mind that mats are very absorbent; thus, you need to remove all the excess water.
  7. Finally, unroll your mat and allow it to air dry. You can hang it or lay it outside if you live in sunny areas.

Can you clean your yoga mat in the washing machine?

Unfortunately, not all yoga mats are machine washable. You need to check the care label and the manufacturer’s instructions before washing it in the washer. Many mats can only be hand washed. If you toss them in the washing machine, you may ruin them.

However, if your yoga mat is machine washable, make sure you use a small amount of mild soap and run the gentle cycle with cool water. DON’T USE the spin cycle and, of course, wash it on its own, separately from the rest of your clothes.

How to sanitise it in 3 easy steps

In addition to cleaning your mat, you also need to schedule disinfecting it about once a week. You don’t only need to clean the mat’s surface but also kill all the bacteria, germs, and fungus that tend to build up in your mat and may cause infections like athlete’s foot and ringworm.

A young woman sinitises her yoga mat with the disinfectan vinegar solution

Almost all yoga studios have special yoga mat cleaners and disinfectants to clean and sanitise their mats. But at home, you don’t need to buy any of these as you have the best natural antibacterial and disinfectant: White vinegar.

Here’s what you need to make your sanitiser:

  • A spray bottle
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Tea tree oil
  • A damp cloth

Then:

  1. Mix in a bottle equal parts water and vinegar, plus a few drops of the tea tree oil. Both vinegar and oil are antibacterial and antifungal.
  2. As soon as you have cleaned your mat, spritz some of the solution over it until it is soaked.
  3. Then, wipe it with a clean damp cloth and let it dry outside.

Important: You can’t use vinegar on any type of mat. For example, if you have a PVC mat, you shouldn’t use vinegar on its surface as it can dull it. Vinegar will work well on your natural rubber mat.

The proper way to let it dry

You always need to allow your mat to dry after washing it fully. Don’t store it wet. A damp environment is a perfect place for bacteria to grow, and sooner or later, you’ll notice the first signs of mould and mildew. But is there a right way to dry a yoga mat?

A young woman practising yoga in nature using a pink yoga mat (1)

Of course, there is! The perfect way to allow it to air dry. It can take an hour to dry. Or you may also need to leave it overnight. Hang it on a drying rack, a shower curtain rod or even at the back of a chair. It doesn’t matter the place. What matters is the how.

The yoga mats need to be hung to drain the water completely. If you are lucky enough to live in a sunny area, though, you can just lay your mat in a spot with full sun. Either way, you shouldn’t leave yoga mats in the sun for too long, as the sun’s rays can damage them, especially those made from rubber.

Maintenance tips for a clean yoga mat

Mat wash isn’t enough. You need to do more to maintain it in pristine condition and enjoy your yoga sessions:

  • Whether you use a rubber yoga mat, a manduka mat, or any other type, keep it away from direct sunlight. Otherwise, its colour will fade away, and it will be prone to cracks.
  • Don’t use harsh cleaning solutions, as they can damage your mat. Plus, since there’s a more eco-friendly way to clean it, there’s no need to use such products.
  •  If you have a rubber mat, avoid products containing essential oils. These products will form stains which you won’t be able to clean.
  • Let your mat dry completely after washing it and before rolling it up.
  • Before practice, avoid using skin creams as they can stain your mat.
  • After the end of a yoga session, sprinkle some baking soda, rub the mat and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. It will absorb all oils and odours. Before rolling the mat up, vacuum the excess powder.
  • Always wash your hands, feet and the body areas that will touch it before using the mat. It’s important to touch it with clean skin to prevent bacteria from your body from spreading and building upon the surface.
  • You may need to consider laying a yoga towel on the surface during practice to absorb all the sweat.

A young woman doing yoga using a pink clean yoga mat

Cleaning and disinfecting your yoga mat is vital for both your health and your mat’s. After each session, always light clean it with dish soap. Once a week, mix vinegar and water to disinfect its surface and perform a deep cleaning once a month. Make sure you keep it away from sunlight and use it always with clean hands and feet if you want to maintain it in good condition. Things are very easy. Apply the above methods and keep enjoying your yoga practices on a clean mat!

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