• 07/14/2023

How to Clean a Yoga Mat at Home

Learning how to clean a yoga mat ensures it stays useful and doesn't irritate your skin.

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Have you noticed any itching and redness on your skin? Perhaps the last time you cleaned your yoga mat was a few weeks ago. These mats are a hotbed for bacteria and germs from sweat, which can transfer to your skin and may cause infections. Learn how to clean a yoga mat at home to avoid these irritating side effects.

What Are the Types of Yoga Mats?

Mats are made with either open-cell or closed-cell construction, and vary in the quantity of air in the material. Depending on the type, the cleaning instructions are also different.

Open-Cell Mats

Open-cell mats are porous and thicker. The large amount of air in the material allows it to absorb sweat and provide a cushion. Since they take in moisture, you can grip onto them even with sweaty palms. Examples of these are mats made of cork and polyurethane.

The absorbent quality of the open-cell mats provides anti-slip protection — especially when doing challenging poses. However, as they absorb more sweat and bacteria, it takes effort to clean them.

Closed-Cell Mats

Closed-cell yoga mats are the complete opposite of open-cell mats. They’re made of denser and less airy material, so they’re durable and thin. The mats are firmer but less cushiony and absorbent — ideal if you do balance poses since you can feel the floor’s surface on your hands and feet. But it’s better to switch to a cushioned mat if you have sore knees.

A closed-cell mat is generally more durable, as the material is denser. Examples include PVC, natural rubber and thermoplastic rubber mats. Since the mat’s surface is almost water resistant, it’s easy to clean. However, it becomes slippery if you have sweaty hands.

How Often Do You Clean a Yoga Mat?

Microbes can survive on yoga mats for days to months. Fungi, staph bacteria and wart-causing viruses can transfer from one person to another. That’s why you should wipe your yoga mat after using it.

You can spray a mat cleaner or concoct your own natural cleaning solution, and wipe the surface off with a soft towel. Depending on the material and how frequently you use it, deep clean your mat every few weeks or monthly to wash away the built-up sweat, and stop bacteria from spreading.

What Are Things to Consider Before Cleaning a Yoga Mat?

One crucial thing to consider is the cleaning instructions from the manufacturer. Each mat comes with a care manual that explains how to clean your yoga mat best so it lasts long.

You may want to disinfect and spray alcohol on it to kill the bacteria, but experts recommend against using alcohol-based cleaners since they degrade the quality of the mat. Read the cleaning manual before you use any chemicals.

What Are Safe Cleaning Products to Use for Yoga Mats?

Many yoga mat brands sell cleaning spray mix you can buy separately or with the mat. If this isn’t available, you can create a homemade solution by mixing vinegar, water and two to four drops of your favorite essential oil.

Other things you need for cleaning are:

  • Microfiber towel or any soft cloth
  • Yoga mat wipes
  • Dish soap 
  • Water 
  • Spray bottle

How Do You Routinely Clean a Yoga Mat?

It’s best to wipe clean your yoga mat after each practice — especially if you do vigorous forms of yoga such as hot, vinyasa or ashtanga. You can use a store-bought cleaner or one you made at home, but check the care instructions to see if it’s safe to use vinegar as a base for cleaner. If not, you can swap it for witch hazel. Follow these steps to clean your mat regularly.

  1. Lay the top side of the mat flat on the floor.
  2. Spray the cleaner on a soft cloth.
  3. Use circular motions to wipe down the mat’s surface.
  4. Reverse the mat and repeat the steps to wipe the other side.

How to Clean a Yoga Mat: 3 Methods

Check your mat for discolored and dirty spots. If you see those, it’s time to clean it thoroughly. See if your mat has an open-cell or closed-cell material, and follow the appropriate cleaning procedures.

Cleaning an Open-Cell Mat

  1. Fill the bathtub or large sink with warm water, and drop in some dish soap.
  2. Put the mat in and let it soak for five minutes.
  3. Gently scrub using a microfiber cloth.
  4. Rinse and make sure to remove any soap scum.
  5. Shake it out to remove excess water and hang it to air dry.

Cleaning a Closed-Cell Mat

  1. Lay your mat flat on a surface.
  2. Fill a bowl with warm water and mix in a few drops of dish soap.
  3. Dip a soft cloth in the soapy solution, then wipe the mat in a circular motion.
  4. Wipe with a clean towel or wipes.
  5. Let it air dry.

Steam Clean Your Yoga Mat

You can also steam-clean your yoga mat if the care instructions don’t exclude using heat for cleaning. If you’re cleaning a PVC- or rubber-made yoga mat, move the handheld steamer frequently to avoid overheating one area. Follow these cleaning instructions:

  1. Lay your mat on a flat surface with the logo side facing up.
  2. Steam it from top to bottom in vertical strokes.
  3. Move the steamer from one point to another to prevent overheating one area.
  4. Flip the mat and repeat the same cleaning steps on the opposite side.

Can You Put a Yoga Mat in the Wash?

Check the care label to see if the manufacturer explicitly mentions it’s machine washable. If it is, use a gentle-spin, low-heat cycle setting and a mild detergent. Throw your mat in the wash only when necessary, as the constant spinning in the tub may degrade it. It’s still better to hand wash your mat to control cleaning pressure.

How to Clean a Yoga Mat Without Damaging It

Clean your yoga mat with mild solutions to avoid ruining it. Common mat disinfectants are vinegar, dish soap, witch hazel, baking soda and essential oils. Check the care card if you should avoid any of these home ingredients when cleaning. In general, yoga mats last about one year with proper care.

How Do You Naturally Clean Your Yoga Mat?

Many home staples can work as disinfectants. You can dilute either hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar or lemon juice with water to make a homemade cleaning solution. You can also add a few drops of essential oils — like tea tree, peppermint, rosemary and orange — to enhance the disinfecting effects of the base cleaners.

Make Your Yoga Mat Last by Cleaning It Properly

A yoga mat is an investment in your health. You want to extend its life span for as long as possible by following the instructions for proper yoga mat care. Manufacturers include a care label on every mat, so always check it before spraying solutions that could deteriorate your mat.

Make it a habit to wipe down your mat after each use. Additionally, deep clean it or toss it in the wash — if it’s safe — every few weeks to a month. Say yes to healthy skin by observing good hygiene with your yoga mats.

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