An article cleverly titled How dirty is your yoga mat? tells us about research done on communal yoga mats in gyms and studios across New York. They found Micrococcus luteus and Empedobacter brevis on yoga mats, both of which are bacteria that are mostly harmless to those with a healthy immune system. The takeaway? It’s crucial to know how to clean yoga mats, how often to do so, and when it’s time to replace them.
We practice, sweat, and lie on our yoga mats every day, but we can’t always say the same thing about how frequently we’re cleaning our yoga mats. Giving them a thorough cleaning every month or so is not enough. Especially of we sweat a lot, or if we practice in a gym or yoga studio, we should be cleaning our yoga mats far more often in order to prevent bacteria buildup.
In an article in the New York Times, Greg E. Cohen, a podiatrist at Long Island College Hospital, mentioned that he has seen a 50% spike in patients with plantar warts and athlete’s foot as yoga has become more popular. And if you’re wondering what could be the cause of this spike? Unclean exercise mats, Dr. Cohen says.
If that doesn’t convince you to clean your yoga mat often, perhaps a step-by-step guide on how to clean a yoga mat will do the trick.
How Often Should You Clean Your Yoga Mat?
It is recommended to clean a yoga mat at least once per week, as it can be a breeding ground for bacteria. This is the case for anyone with a regular yoga practice, particularly if you sweat a lot or practice in a communal space, which means your mat is more likely to become contaminated.
If you don’t practice regularly or if you practice a grounding practice like Yin or Restorative yoga at home, then a slightly longer interval between cleaning is fine—but you should still wipe it down at least every other week.
To find out more and to see what yoga mat brands recommend, click here for: This Is Really How Often To Clean A Yoga Mat
When Should You Replace Your Yoga Mat?
How long your yoga mat will last all depends on how regularly (and intensely) you’re using it, as well as how you take care of it between uses. That being said, there are some clear-cut signs it’s time to replace your yoga mat.
A weird smell or a yoga mat going bald indicate that it’s time for a new yoga mat. Another sign is when your yoga mat becomes slippery.
To prolong the life of your mat, try cleaning it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and one top tip is to always let it air dry after cleaning and after a sweaty practice.
Click here to find out: Yoga Mat Life: How Long Do They Last & What Lasts Longest?
Can I Put My Yoga Mat In The Washing Machine?
As a general rule, avoid putting your yoga mat in the washing machine. According to most yoga mat manufacturers, you should avoid putting a mat in the washing machine as it may cause damage and aging.
There are some yoga mat manufacturers that say it’s ok to use a washing machine. I asked 6 yoga mat manufacturers about using a washing machine. Click here to find out what they recommend: Yoga Mat in the Washing Machine – Yes or No?
The Tools You’ll Need
There are lots of yoga mat cleaners on the market that come in a spray form. These are handy and convenient for quick and easy cleanings.
Option 1 – Brand Specific Spary
Best Overall: Manduka Yoga Mat Wash and Refresh
Best for Disinfecting: Manduka Botanical Disinfectant Cleaner
Best for Rubber Mats: Plant-Based Mat Wash
Best to Restore Rubber Mats: Natural Rubber Yoga Mat Restore
Option 2 – Homemade cleaner
Another popular option is preparing your very own DIY yoga mat cleaner—more on how to use one below. This is my preferred option for my yoga studio, where I prepare a solution every few weeks for my students to use if they want.
One added benefit of making your own yoga mat spray is that you can add essential oils that are able to disinfect your mat and leave a nice smell.
Best DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner: Cleaner with Vinegar
Best DIY Yoga Mat Spray for Smelly Yoga Mats: Cleaner with Baking Soda
Best Safe DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner: Cleaner with Witch Hazel
Many yoga mat brands, recommend using soap to deep clean their yoga mats. Why? Soap is gentle enough to use on yoga mats and contains the right ingredients to remove dirt and grime.
Some people like to use dish soap when they clean their mats. It’s a softer soap and they feel more comfortable using it. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Soap is a popular option, and it’s also plant-derived, biodegradable, and cruelty-free. However, there are many different types of soap you can use.
Other vegan cleaners include:
- Seventh Generation
- Love Home and Planet
How to Clean A Yoga Mat Using the Step-by-Step Method
Overall, the makeup artists we spoke to had very similar methods for cleaning makeup brushes with different types of products. We distilled all their methods below, with some additional tips from each expert. If you’re cleaning a makeup sponge, the same methodology applies, though you’re really going to want to stick to liquid cleaners or bar soaps.
Step 1 – Choose Your Yoga Mat Cleaner
You have two main options when it comes to a yoga mat cleaner:
- Use a brand specific cleaner – As much as I love making my homemade cleaners, I have found some cleaners I really like. These are all explained below in further detail to help you decide which one to use and how to use it.
- Make your own DIY spray – This is an easy and inexpensive way to lean your mat using ingredients you probanbly alreday have in your kitchen.
Overall, the best spray in my opinion is the Manduka Yoga Mat Wash and Refresh. Its effective, non-irritating, pet-friendly, and made with a plant-based formula. I have the Lavender version which smells amazing.
Regarding my favorite DIY yoga mat cleaner, I would say that my go-to recipe is the Vinegar cleaner where I add some drops of tea tree oil thanks to its antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic properties.
For more information on each of these sprays, check out my article: 7 BEST Yoga Mat Cleaner Sprays: I Tried Them All
Step 2 – Spray & Wipe
To use, spray a damp cloth and wipe your entire mat. Repeat on the other side.
A pro-tip is to first wet your cloth and then spray the cleaner of your choice on the damp cloth. This will help spread the cleaner more efficiently on the surface of your mat.
Step 3 – Allow Your Mat To Air Dry
Try not to use too much water or spray when cleaning your mat, and always give your mat enough time to dry thoroughly after cleaning it. If you don’t, the moisture that remains may create a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.
How To Deep Clean A Yoga Mat
There are two main options to deep clean a yoga mat. The first option is for the mats that have a corresponding yoga mat spray. Spray and leave the cleaner on the surafce for 5-10 minutes and then wipe dry. The second option is to clean using a DIY cleaner made up of baking soda or soap.
According to WebMD, cleaning with soap and water removes dirt and grime and gets rid of some germs.
Deep-cleaning with soap and water:
- Add a few drops of your soap of choice to some water.
- Dip your cloth in this mixure and make sure you wring it out to remove any excess water.
- Wipe your mat down with the cloth and remeber to clean both sides.
- Using a clean dry cloth to soak up any excess water.
- Hang your yoga may to air dry before rolling it up and storing it.
For more information and tips, check out my article: How to Deep Clean A Yoga Mat in Under 5 Minutes
Tips to Clean Your Yoga Mat Effectively
Here are a few tips that should help the process that much more effective.
- Wet the cloth you are going to use and then spray it with cleaner, rather than spraying the mat first with the cleaner and wiping with a dry cloth. This will help clean more effectively.
- If you have a PVC mat such as a Manudka Pro, you can clean it first with water and soap and then disinect using the Manduka plant based disinfectant.
- Try not to use too much water or spray when cleaning your mat, and always give it enough time to dry it thoroughly. If you don’t the moisture that remains may create a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.
- If you have a rubber yoga mat (e.g. Jade and BYoga) keep out of the sun when you’re practciicng and when you’re drying it, as the sun can damage your mat.
- Again, if you have a rubber yoga mat don’t use any essential oils, as these can damage your mat. Or if you sdo use them, dilute them a lot.
Instructions from Individual Brands
How to clean a Manduka yoga mat
You can clean your Manduka yoga mat bt preparing three mixtures. One is with water, vinegar, and tea tree oil. The second is with 1tsp baking soda in water. The third is with warm water and dish soap. ALternatively, use the Manduka spray cleaners. Spray your mat, wipe it down and let it air dry.
For more information: How To Clean Manduka Yoga Mat: Step-By-Step
How to clean a Jade yoga mat
There are three ways to clean your Jade yoga mat. One way is to wipe your mat after every sweaty practice with a damp cloth using just water. The second is with some water and soap. The third is with Jade’s plant-based mat cleaner. For a deeper clean you can wash your mat in the bath with some soap.
For more information: How To Clean Jade Yoga Mat: Step-By-Step
How to clean a Lululemon yoga mat
There are three DIY recipes you can prepare to clean your Lululemon yoga mat. One is with water, vinegar, and tea tree oil. The second is with a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice. The third is with warm water and dish soap. Spray your mat with the solution, wipe it down and let it air dry.
For more information: How to clean Lululemon Yoga Mat: Step-by-Step
How do you clean a yoga mat naturally?
To clean a yoga mat naturally, you can either use a brand specific plant-based spray, or you can prepare your own homemade solution. One method is to mix 1/2 part water and 1/2 part white vinegar. Spray a damp cloth with this solution and wipe down your mat before leaving to air dry.
For more information: 6 Ways To Clean Your Yoga Mat Naturally
There are three ways to clean a rubber yoga mat. One way is to wipe your mat after every sweaty practice with a damp cloth using just water. The second is with some water and soap. The third is with mat cleaner designed for rubber mats. For a deeper clean you can wash your mat in the bath with some soap.
If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can clean your mat with some soap and water. Add a few drops of mild soap to some water. Dip your cloth in this mixure and make sure you wring it out to remove any excess water. Wipe your mat down and hang your yoga mat to air dry before rolling it up.
As a general rule, try to avoid using all-purpose cleaners on your yoga mat. The reason is that some of these cleaners contain alcohol which can damage your yoga mat.
Try to avoid using Febreze on your yoga mat. The reason is that it contains alcohol which can damage your yoga mat.
Try not to use Clorox wipes on your yoga mat. The active ingredients can damage your yoga mat. Additionally, for these wipes to disinfect your mat, the surface has to be wet for 4-5 minutes, something that wipes can’t do. Finally, you will need to rinse it off to avoid potential allergic reactions.