How to Clean a Yoga Mat, According to Fitness Experts
Everything you need to know to keep your yoga mat primed and pristine.
By GEERT MEIJER | Reviewed by HANNAH SCHMIDT
Learn how to clean and refresh your yoga mats at home.
Ingredients Checklist and 4 types of yoga mat cleaning solutions.
Step-by-step instructions to deep clean a mat + an FAQ.
Also, check out how to clean yoga blocks (all types).
We like mats that don’t stink and yoga bolsters that don't sink. But even indoor practice in a clean room will eventually lead to a foul-smelling yoga mat with a layer of grime. The buildup is even quicker if you practice outdoors or on shared yoga studio or gym floors.
Most healthy people with a functioning immune system can handle environmental bacteria found on yoga mats. But fungi, particularly yeast, love moist and dingy environments. Yeast may cause potential allergies, skin infections, and gastrointestinal issues if ingested.
The need to clean your yoga mat, at least occasionally, is beyond debate. Luckily, DIY or store-bought yoga mat cleaners will get the job done. Although, a recent study indicates commercial cleaners are more effective than DIY cleaners.
Now, Yoga studios know how to do it, but individuals who practice at home may not have a clue. That's why we created this tell-all guide. Here we discuss the best practices to clean a yoga mat with commercial or DIY products according to studio owners and fitness experts.
How Often Should You Clean A Yoga Mat
How often you clean a yoga mat depends on three factors – a) the material it is made of, b) whether it's used indoors or outdoors, and c) how often it's used. As a general rule, you should wipe down a mat after every session, spot clean it once a week, and deep clean it once a month.
Clean more often if you practice yoga every day. Sanitize it once every couple of weeks if you practice hot yoga, sweat excessively, or practice in a heated room. Pooled sweat causes humidity, which promotes the growth of fungi and bacteria and potentially skin infections.
A dirty yoga mat is the difference between Savasana me-time and skin infections. Always wipe down a mat before use if it belongs to a gym or studio. Fitness or yoga equipment in shared environments is more likely to have pathogens, fungi, and bacteria.
What Can You Use to Clean It
You need a soft cloth, homemade cleaning solution, or commercial mat cleaner, and an appropriate location to clean a yoga mat. The process can take between 15 to 30 minutes depending on whether it is routine cleaning or a deep-cleanse.
“Yoga mats are generally made from cork, natural rubber, PVC, and TPE, or jute," says Geert Meijer, an Iyengar Yoga expert. "Cleaning guidelines are based on the level of absorbance of the material. Commercial cleaners work for all types, but DIY solutions may or may not.”
Here are five different solutions you can use to clean a yoga mat.
1. Commercial Mat Cleaning Sprays or Wipes
Many yoga equipment brands sell sprays to clean and disinfect yoga mats. They cost $7 to $15 for an 8 oz or 16 oz bottle. We recommend using a plant-based formula – scented or unscented – that is appropriate for your mat. Either way, pay attention to the ingredients, ensuring they are free of harmful chemicals, and buy products with reliable customer reviews.
Additionally, you can buy wipes designed to clean yoga mats online. These wipes are non-toxic and free of alcohol, bleach, and other harmful chemicals. Do not use all-purpose disinfectant wipes like Clorox. They contain ingredients that can degrade or damage a yoga mat’s surface.
2. Warm water and soap or mild detergent
You can clean a yoga mat with lukewarm water mixed with a few drops of mild detergent or dish soap. Just place it on a wall or in the bathtub so you can give it a nice scrub. Focus on the dirt spots and do not use an abrasive surface as it can damage the mat. Rinse with lukewarm water when done. We recommend using soaps without harsh solvents. You probably have something at home, if not, Seventh Generation Dish Liquid works great.
3. Distilled Water and White Vinegar or Witch Hazel
White vinegar is a popular ingredient for homemade cleaning solutions. Vinegar loosens dirt and mildly disinfects mats, but some people find the smell unpleasant. In that case, you can use Witch Hazel instead of vinegar. You can clean a yoga mat with a DIY cleaning solution using equal parts white vinegar and water (1:1). Fill an 8oz or 16oz spray bottle with this solution and spray both sides of your mat generously. Wipe it off with a clean cloth for a refreshed mat.
“I make a cleaning solution with 60% distilled water and 40% white vinegar,” says Geert. “You can use a 1:1 ratio, but vinegar is acidic and can degrade a mat over time. I also add 3 to 5 drops of essential oils for their antimicrobial properties and fragrances,” he adds.
RELATED: Four DIY Yoga Mat Cleaners Anyone Can Make at Home Easily
4. Water and Baking Soda
Consider baking soda if you want to clean smelly mats. It is very effective at removing stickiness and deodorizing a yoga mat. Stir one heaped spoonful of natural baking soda in a cup of water to create a DIY yoga mat cleaner. You can make more and store the solution in a spray bottle or make it fresh every time you need it.
Conversely, here are a few things you should never use to clean or sanitize a yoga mat –
Generic all-purpose cleaners
Alcohol-based cleaning wipes
Febreze or Clorox
How to Clean a Your Mat Before and After Practice
Here are two simple things you can do to keep your mat clean and fresh.
Routine maintenance equates to keeping your mat primed and pristine after practice. Always wipe both sides of your mat with a clean microfiber towel after each yoga session. Let it fully dry before rolling and storing it in a yoga mat strap carrier or sling.
Routine maintenance eliminates body oils, dirt, and sweat, thus not allowing bacteria to build up. You can mist a yoga mat before use with a scented mat cleaner. Although it's not mandatory, scents like lavender can lead to a more relaxing practice.
Weekly spot cleaning (between deep cleaning sessions) prevents a yoga mat from getting grubby. It should be a part of your routine maintenance to prevent the build up of foul smells or bacteria.
"I advise students to wipe down their mat and spot clean dirty areas after each use," says Hannah Schmidt, a Yin Yoga instructor. “The bottom touches the floor and passes on dirt to the top surface when you roll a mat. So, wipe down both sides thoroughly,” she adds.
How much time does it take to clean a yoga mat?
It takes 5 to 10 minutes to spot clean a yoga mat and 15 to 20 minutes to clean both sides thoroughly. The yoga mat can take 20 to 50 minutes to dry based on the weather conditions. A deep clean with soap and water needs 25 to 30 minutes and up to a day for the yoga mat to dry.
How to Deep Clean a Yoga Mat
You don't need to deep clean a yoga mat every week or spray it with commercial cleaners if you alone use it. There's nothing wrong in doing it often if you love hygiene, but a mat doesn't have to be sterile all the time unless it is shared or you are susceptible to skin infections.
It's advised that you deep clean a yoga mat at least once a month if you practice yoga 4 to 5 times a week. Twice a month is advisable if you practice outdoors or do sweaty workouts such as Hot Yoga flows. Deep clean a yoga mat once every two months if you don’t use it often.
"Open cell yoga mats are porous and may absorb cleaning solutions," Geert cautions. "If you disinfect a yoga mat, use a product that is skin-friendly and non-toxic. It comes into contact with the skin and can be inhaled while breathing deeply in face-down yoga poses."
That said, here's exactly how to deep clean a yoga mat, according to yoga instructors.
Step One - Choose a suitable location
A standard yoga mat is 24 inches wide and 68 inches or more in length; that’s fairly large. So, you need a spacious area to clean it. Ideally, you should wash or deep clean a yoga mat in the shower or bathtub if you are using soap and water. Outdoors in a backyard works, too.
Step Two - Prepare everything you need
Pick a cleaner that is appropriate for the yoga mat material. We discussed five different solutions to clean a yoga mat in the previous section. You also need a clean towel, water to rinse the mat, and a soft brush (optional) for scrubbing. Gather everything you need before you begin.
Step Three - Apply the cleaning solution
Place the yoga mat flat on the floor, in the bathtub, or hoisted on a wall. If you are using a yoga mat cleaner, spray the top surface evenly and let it sit for a minute. Be sure to use a generous amount and repeat the process on the other side of the mat.
If you are using water mixed with soap or detergent, scrub the cleaner starting from the top and moving down in a circular motion. Apply gentle pressure, prioritize the dirty spots, and be sure to scrub the entire surface of the mat. Again, repeat the process on the other side.
Step Four - Wipe the yoga mat
Wipe the cleaning solution with a clean, non-abrasive cloth. If you use soap or detergent, rinse the mat with clean water on both sides and wipe it with a clean towel to remove excess water. Use lukewarm water. Extremely hot or cold water can damage certain types of yoga mats.
Step Five: Dry the mat thoroughly
Your yoga mat may look pristine at this point, but it will be slightly damp. Residual moisture is a hotbed for yeast. So, let the mat dry before rolling, using, or storing your mat away. You can line dry or air dry it on a wall or fence if the sunlight isn't too harsh.
Step Six: Roll and store the mat
Roll up your mat only after it is clean and dry. Pack it in a yoga mat sling to commute or store it in a cool, dry place if you practice at home.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to clean a yoga mat?
The best way to clean a yoga mat is to use a store-bought yoga mat cleaner or spray. Commercial solutions contain vinegar, Witch Hazel, distilled water, and/or antimicrobial essential oils like Tea Tree oil. They clean and deodorize a mat without discoloring or damaging the surface. Commercial cleaners are generally safe for all types of mats.
Can I machine wash a yoga mat?
You can machine wash some types of yoga mats on a cold, gentle cycle to deep clean them. The answer depends on the material and type of yoga mat. But don't throw a yoga mat in the wash unless the packaging or care instructions mention it is machine washable.
Can clean a yoga mat with an all-purpose spray?
As a thumb rule, avoid using all-purpose cleaners on your yoga mat. The reason is that some of these cleaners contain alcohol or chemicals that can damage or discolor the surface of your mat.
Can you use Febreze on a yoga mat?
Most yoga mat manufacturers warn against using chemical cleansers like Febreze. Firstly, they are not skin-friendly and alcohol is one of the ingredients of Febreze, which can potentially damage your mat. Second, it has a chemical smell that overwhelm you in face-down poses during practice.
Can I use Clorox wipes to clean a yoga mat?
You should not use Clorox wipes to disinfect a yoga mat. Their ingredients can potentially damage your mat by corroding the surface. If you want to use wipes, buy alcohol-free yoga mat cleaning wipes designed specifically for this task.
We hope this guide covers everything you need to know about how to clean a yoga mat. Still, always check the manufacturer’s guidelines to understand what is safe for your product. Follow us on Instagram and join our mailing list for updates.