5 Most Effective Ways Yoga Studios Clean Their Mats


I have been a yoga studio owner for the past 6 years, and the question “how do you clean your mats” is one I have heard quite often and also wondered myself when I was still a student.

Most yoga studios have communal yoga mats for students to use. Some have them for free while others charge a small amount. Either way, these yoga mats generally get used A LOT and so need frequent cleaning.

There are several ways yoga studios clean their yoga mats. Others are less expensive than others and others are more labor-intensive than others.

Yoga studios clean their mats with natural sprays they made themselves our bought ready-made. These generally contain water, vinegar, and tea tree oil, the combination of which removes dirt and is antibacterial. Mats can be cleaned more thoroughly with soap and water and are then left to air dry.

As a side note, I wrote an article titled How To Clean a Yoga Mat The Right Way. Be sure to check it out!

Why Cleaning Your Yoga Mat Regularly Is Important

Our yoga mats tend to get a lot of love, sweat, and sometimes tears from us! And so given the fact that we come into close contact with our yoga mats on a regular basis, and especially given that yoga studio mats are communal, you can now probably see why it is important to regularly clean mats!

Below you will see the general cleaning guidelines from 4 well-known yoga mat brands as mentioned on their respective websites. Follow the links to read more.

Yoga matCleaning tips
Manduka“Mix approx 4 cups of WARM water (hot water may damage the mat) and a few drops of a mild detergent like Woolite (do not over soap!). Dip a rag into the soapy water, then thoroughly wash the mat from top to bottom.”
Liforme“Use a tiny drop of dish soap diluted very heavily with plenty of water. Wipe your mat gently with a non-abrasive sponge that is damp but not soaking wet.”
Gaiam“The tried-and-trusted method that I use is to wet a washcloth with soapy water (non-oil-based soap is best) and wipe down my yoga mat before using it for the first time, as well as once a week throughout its life.”
Lululemon“After every practice, wipe mat clean with a damp cloth and air dry before rolling and storing out of direct sunlight”
Yoga mat cleaning instructions

And so let us now discuss the ways yoga studios clean their yoga mats. I have tried them all (apart from the last one, which I am increasingly curious about!)

So if you are looking for ways to clean your yoga studio mats, look no further.

1. Make your own natural yoga mat cleaner

This is my go-to way of cleaning my yoga studio yoga mats. This is also how I clean my own mat after each practice. There are two different natural yoga mat cleaners you can use; the first is with the use of essential oils and the second uses baking powder.

Natural yoga mat cleaner with essential oils

What I have found is that this yoga cleaner is the cheapest and easiest way to clean yoga mats. All you need is a spray bottle, tea tree oil, white vinegar, and water.

  • Tea tree oil (20 drops)

The first ingredient is tea tree oil. It is the most commonly used essential oil for cleaning yoga mats. The reason it is used is this:

According to Healthline, “tea tree oil contains a number of compounds, including terpinen-4-ol, that have been shown to kill certain bacteria, viruses and fungi”.

  • White vinegar (1/2 cup)

Next, you will add the vinegar to the spray bottle. The reason we use white vinegar is this:

According to Healthline: “The acidic nature of vinegar is so powerful it can dissolve mineral deposit, dirt, grease, and grime. It’s also strong enough to kill bacteria.”

  • Water (3/4 cup)

Adding water is the final step. Mix it all up and you’re natural yoga mat cleaner is ready! After shaking, simply spray it onto your yoga mat and wipe clean with a dry cloth. Repeat this process on both sides of the mat.

And don’t forget to spread your yoga mat in a well ventilated space to dry.

So here’s the final recipe: 20 drops tea tree essential oil, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 2/3 cup water.

As a side note, I prepare this solution every week and now my students always use it to clean the studio mats (and their own) before and after every class.

Natural yoga mat cleaner with baking soda

The main reason for using baking soda is this:

According to Healthline, “It shines when it comes to neutralizing odors and cleaning. This household staple can help remove tough stains, eliminate foul odors”.

And so you can see that you would want to use baking soda especially when you are targeting smelly yoga mats.

There are two ways you can clean yoga mats with baking soda.

One involves sprinkling the yoga mat with baking soda and then rubbing in the solution with your hands. Leave it for up to an hour and then vacuum the powder.

What this does is it will help to absorb any nasty smells.

The other method involves making a solution with baking soda and lemon juice. The recipe mentioned below is enough for 1, maybe two yoga mats. And so scale up as needed.

  • Baking soda (one teaspoon)

Place your 1 teaspoon of baking soda into a bowl.

  • Lemon juice (up to 10 drops)

Add your lemon drops to the bowl and allow bubbles to appear.

  • Water (1 cup)

Then add the cup of water to the bowl and mix it well.

Take your cloth and dip it into this mixture and wipe your yoga mat liberally, on both sides.

Then rinse with warm water and allow to dry.

We use the lemon as it has antibacterial properties and so together with the odor removing abilities of baking soda, your yoga mats will be smelling cleaner and fresher!

Adding some lemon essential oil may improve the smell even more (if of course, you like the smell of lemon!)

2. Ready-made yoga mat spray

If you don’t have the time or motivation to make your own yoga mat cleaning solution, there are several ready-made yoga mat cleaners. One such cleaner is the Manduka cleaner.

This is considered an all-purpose yoga mat cleaner and contains essential oils, thus leaving your yoga mat smelling lovely.

According to the Manduka website, this cleaner can be used both for a post-practice clean and also for a deep clean.

  • Post-practice clean

“After your practice, spray Mat Wash onto the mat surface and wipe down mat with a damp cloth.”

  • Deep clean

Liberally spray Mat Wash directly onto the surface of the mat and soak for 5 minutes. Using a damp cloth, scrub the surface to remove dirt and stains. Wipe mat down with a clean cloth and air dry before rolling or using.”

3. Yoga mat cleaning wipes

The third option is yoga mat cleaning wipes. This is an easy but perhaps rather costly method of cleaning yoga mats.

It is more suited to cleaning your own yoga mat, however, again, if you are short of time and don’t want to make your own cleaner rand you are out of your Manduka cleaner, then this could be an option for you.

The yoga mat cleaning wipes contain no alcohol nor bleach and contain organic essential oils, thus leaving your yoga mat smelling lovely.

They refresh yoga mats and dry quickly so are perhaps a good option if you are running many back to back classes and need a quick solution to clean your mats and leave them smelling great for the next class.

4. Deep clean with soap and water

This is the most commonly used method to give yoga mats a good deep clean. It will require a lot of elbow grease as yoga mats can weigh a lot, especially when wet.

Then try cleaning 5 or even 20 mats all in one go. I try to clean mats like this once a month or every two months.

So here are my instructions:

  • Place the yoga mats in a bath, or the floor or a shower (if your yoga studio doesn’t have a bath).
  • Fill a bucket with warm water and a drop or two of mild detergent.
  • Dip a cloth into the bucket and then thoroughly wash and wipe the yoga mat. Repeat on both sides.
  • Use plenty of warm water to rinse the yoga mats and make sure to remove all soap.
  • Wipe or towel dry as much as possible and then air dry till it is completely dry.
  • Repeat with the next yoga mat.

5. UV mat cleaner

The UV mat cleaner is something I have looked into, though have yet to invest in. It seems ever so needed, especially given what is going on around the world.

If you have never heard of the UV mat cleaner, it is from a company called Matasana is here is what they have to say:

“Matasana is the first-ever yoga mat cleaning machine that works with UV technology to eradicate potentially harmful bacteria from your mat.”

In an interview for the Santa Barbara Independent with John Burnaby, the founder of Matasana mentioned that:

“A barrage of high-powered UV light strong enough to cause cancer washes over the mat, destroying 99.9 percent of microorganisms like E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus by dismantling their DNA. The Matsana was able to destroy the organisms with one pass-through”.

Final thoughts

There are many ways to clean your yoga studio mats. If you are looking for an effective way to clean your mats, you will find that it takes some trial and error.

It all does depend on your studio size, how many communal mats you offer, whether you encourage your students to keep the studio mats clean, whether you want to make your own solution, and whether you have the time to do deep cleans often.

If you still need some inspiration, here is what you could do.

Make a natural essential oil solution. Label the bottle and place it under a sign where you have your yoga mats. The sign can say (“Use this spray to clean the yoga mat before and after use”).

What you may notice is that it becomes a habit for students. And not only that, new students will notice the older students cleaning the yoga mats so this will become part of your yoga studio etiquette.

This is what happened in my studio at least!

And then if you find yourself not making enough solution and always running out then perhaps it is wise to invest in the Manduka cleaner, or even the yoga mat cleaning wipes.

And then once a few weeks try the soap and water deep clean.

Of course, if you the no-hassle approach and have a little extra money to invest, then try out the Matasana UV cleaner and definitely write to me and tell me what you thought!

Alexia Koletsou

Alexia Koletsou is a Level 1 Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher with a Ph.D. in Science Communication. She received her blessing to teach Ashtanga Yoga in 2019, from the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India, where she has had the honor of practicing with R. Sharath Jois multiple times over the years. She is the owner of her own Shala in Greece and now shares her knowledge on yogamyoldfriend.com and her YouTube channel Alexia K Yoga.

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