How to Clean a Yoga Mat


Child’s pose is one of those poses that every time it’s entered into acts as a reminder that it’s okay to rest and accept the peace that comes from resting. At the same time, there’s also a decent likelihood that the close proximty of nose to mat in child’s pose acts as a reminder that it’s NOT okay to have a stinky yoga mat. There’s a big difference between a “sticky” mat and a “stinky” mat. The former is to be sought after, the latter is to be shunned. So, the big question is when was the last time you gave your “stinky” mat a bath. If you’re like me, it should have been done a long time ago. Perhaps you have a preferred method for cleaning your mat. I don’t. In fact, in the six years I’ve practiced yoga, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never cleaned it once. That’s just gross!

Well, after a few times in child’s pose last night, I decided I’d better get serious about cleaning my mat; otherwise, I might end up with a nasty foot fungus on my forehead. With that thought in mind, I went searching for a cure. Here’s what a little research turned up on different ways to keep a mat in tip-top shape.

Yoga Journal had the following to say on the subject:

If your mat is lightly soiled, use a spray bottle, damp sponge, or terry cloth rag to apply a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. Rub the soiled areas. Wipe the mat with clean water; then rub with a dry terry cloth towel. Hang to air dry.

If your mat is heavily soiled, submerge it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent; use very little soap as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use. Thoroughly hand wash the mat and rinse in clean water. After squeezing out the excess water, lay the mat on a dry towel and roll the mat and towel together. Stepping on the rolled up mat will squeeze more moisture out of the mat and into the towel. Then unroll and hang to air dry.

A Bikram site recommended a different approach:

Just put it by itself into the washing machine, add a very small amount of a light detergent such as Woolite and run it through a gentle cycle. Then just hang it to dry it usually dries overnight but in the humid summer weather it might take a little longer. I recommend washing your mat once every couple of months, depending on how often you attend class. It’s also a good idea to hang your mat in between classes rather than leave it rolled up.

Here’s a few more words of wisdom from Yogamatters:

All of our sticky, standard, lightweight, travel and ecoYoga mats are machine washable: Use a little mild detergent and a cool wash cycle (no more than than 40 degrees). Don’t use the spin cycle. Allow lots of time to air dry (do not use a tumble drier or radiator) and avoid folding or using your mat until it is completely dry, as this may shorten its life. You can roll your mat up with a towel and squeeze excess water out to speed up the drying process. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe your mat clean. Do not wash your mat unnecessarily.

Cotton mats can also be machine washed – full details supplied with each mat.

Here’s one last link if you are still looking for ideas. I think I’m going to opt for the sponge-down solution rather than complete submersion. Hopefully my next child’s pose is a little less distracting than the last one.

Leave a comment if you have any other good ideas for mat cleanliness!

 

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Comments

  1. I have read a intresting topic related to yoga Mats and more information about Yoga

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  3. I read this article its very interesting look into the similar article click on this YogaMats

  4. Some Yoga sites have mat-sanitizing solution… Once in a while I just spray a very fine mist of cleaner with bleach over the mat and then wipe it off with a damp steaming hot terry cloth towel. Putting the mat in the washer works well… but it takes a very long time to dry.

  5. Mat cleaning solutions are a good way to go. There are bottles of solution, sprays, and mat wipes widely available.

  6. Excellent, thanks!

  7. kathy drescher says:

    Unfortunately, I have used too much detergent and now have a slippery mat. I guess I will just have to keep rinsing it but if you have other suggestions I could use them. Thanks

    • You might want to try to wash it in water, mixed with 1/2 cup of vinegar. Vinegar removes grease (excellent in the kitchen too) and is what I use for my sticky mat, if the stickiness has worn a bit off. Could be it could help on your “slippery” mat :)

  8. Jessica says:

    I got a pure earth yoga mat from zenza athletics and it totally cracked around the edges – I sent them an e-mail and will see if i get a response but i had no idea these mats could be totally defective.
    I hope they replace it. i didn’t think “eco” could mean it dicomposes in a short period of time.

  9. I bought a mat spray, which seems to work pretty well. I find having two mats to be of great help. When one is drying, I just use the other one.

  10. We use water and tea tree oil solution to wipe them down at the end of class in our bikram studio… works great!

  11. I’ve used the gentle cycle and a very mild detergent on all my mats and never had a problem. I hang them to dry for at least 24 hours and they have given me no problems.

    Now if my parrot would stop crawling down off my chest during savasana, to pull out pieces of my mat because its fun…….

  12. I recently got ringworm, which is a fungus that grows in sweaty places. namely yoga mats and gyms.
    The best thing to kill it is tea tree oil. That mixed with anything should do the trick.
    At the studio I volunteer at, I we use a mix of that, eucalyptus oil and water in a spray bottle after every use. Additionally once a week the mats get sprayed with a more industrial cleaner to make sure every germ is killed.

    On a plus, if you lightly spray your mat with the essential oils after every session, your mat always smells great!

  13. yoga jules says:

    After reading this post I put my manduka mat in my washing machine on the gentle cycle which shredded it.

    I will be using the bath tub and mat sprays from now on when my new mat needs cleaned!

    • That’s terrible! I’ll update the post to warn about washing machine recommendations. I’m pretty sure Manduka recommends spraying or cleaning in the tub. What kind of Manduka mat was it?

      • yoga jules says:

        It was the Black Pro. I ordered a new one in the limited edition color so I’m pretty excited about that!

        • Anonymous says:

          From the Manduka website: “To Clean: We recommend using Manduka Mat Renew or any non-solvent household cleaner and a damp cloth or sponge. Hang to dry in the sunshine. DO NOT put your mat in the washing machine- it may break the machine and ruin your mat!”

  14. If you mat gets too smelly there is another alternative…send it away to be recycled and buy a new one. Here are details on where you can send you mat for recycling:
    http://dailydownwarddog.com/good-karma-recycle-your-yoga-mat/

  15. On a daily basis, try giving your yoga mat a quick wipe down with a towel after each use. You can also spray a solution of water and tea tree oil on the yoga mat after use, but remember to wipe it down and hang it to dry. Tea tree oil is naturally antiseptic and antifungal, so it may help keep the yoga mat clean without the use of harsh detergents and chemicals.

  16. This is one of my favorite topics because I think everybody does it differently! I like to take my mat in the shower and wrestle/rub it down with lavender soap. I’m sure that is the most complicated way to do it… but its fun :)

  17. I’m a Bikram yogi and I can’t not wash my mat regularly. It may seem excessive compared to once every couple of months, but I wash mine once every week or two. Not because I’m a germpahobe of sorts I swear! I fill my tub to about 1/4 and let my mat soak in a combo of mild soap and a few drops of tea tree oil (natural deodorizer too!). Hang it overnight to dry. When you wake up the next morning, it’s ready!

    Everyone sweats in Bikram. The sweaty towels sits on top of the mat, their juices being soaked up. Plus, you lay your mat down on the sweaty floor, so at least one side of it has other people’s sweat. Then you roll it up, so both sides rub up against each other. Gahhhhh, that’s just way too much sweat/bodily toxins in one day, let alone one month or one year!

    sorry for the long comment and thx for the post :)

    • Lala,
      You are so observant! People think that because they have their own mat that they are only in contact with their own body detritus. They conveniently overlook the fact that they just rolled that mat out on a floor used by hundreds of others that have left all kinds of unmentionables behind. And then, as you have keenly observed, they roll it up ensuring that both sides are contaminated.

      It is exactly for these reasons that the Matsana yoga mat sanitizing machine was invented.
      Matsana is an industrial strength, studio level solution to mat cleanliness. Using concentrated germicidal UV-C light, Matsana destroys 99.9% of most bacteria and viruses on BOTH sides of a mat in 20 seconds, every time. The Matsana process is dry, hypo-allergenic, and leaves no chemical or oil residue on a mat. Matsana sanitizes mats 6-10 times faster than manual cleaning, saving time, hassle and money (no spray to buy), and its efficacy has been clinically verified by an independent laboratory. And no, it does not harm your mat. Most studios charge $1. We’ re at http://www.matsana.net
      John

  18. I take mine in the shower every so often after class and hang it to dry on the shower rack.

  19. “I decided I’d better get serious about cleaning my mat; otherwise, I might end up with a nasty foot fungus on my forehead.”

    That was too funny to me! :P

    My mat has been little used but now that the boyfriend and I have EA Sports II for the Wii, it gets used a lot more. That program makes you HURT and SWEAT. It’s definitely about time I cleaned the mat. Thanks for the tips (from the blogger and the folks who commented above)!

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  21. Here is my piece from the 24 Things Challenge.. tells how to clean and where to donate used mats

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/10/day-five-down-the-drain/

  22. My favorite mat is a light green color (my husband got it for me) but I have found its the worse color it shows all dirt and I cant get it off. I clean it weekly by spraying it down to kill anything I dont want living on it and then wipe it with a lightly soapy cloth then hang it to dry, but I cant get the stains off. Ive tried the bath tub trick, many different soaps, magic eraser, and wipes, it smells nice but looks dirty. I feel I have tried everything shot of putting it in the washer and using bleach (Im allergic.) Any suggestions? Dishwasher maybe?

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  24. I enjoy the efforts you have put in this, thank you for all the great articles.

  25. Great tips for Cleaning my Yoga Mat

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  27. Tindle Bay Yogini says:

    I mix up my own solution of water, vinegar and tea tree oil in a spray bottle, spray and wipe down regularly.

    • Tell your studio to move out of the Stone Age re mat cleaning and embrace the new Squeaky Clean Studio ethos with a http://www.Matsana.net mat sanitizing machine. Do you take your own towel to the gym and then proceed to wipe the gym floor with it before your shower? Because that’s what your doing when you roll out your mat on a studio floor and then roll it up thinking “Gee, I’m so clean and protected by having my own mat”. The next time you use it, guess what’s been growing in that dark, moist, rolled up fast-food joint for bacteria. If you want a clean space (your mat) to practice on, your mat needs to be sanitized on BOTH sides after it’s been in contact with the floor where 100’s of people before you have left their hair, dead skin, sweat and saliva for your mat to wallow in. Matsana takes just 20 seconds to sanitize both sides your mat to a lab proven standard of 99.9% microbe free.
      Get your studio hip to a time saving, reliable mat sanitizing method that benefits the studio and their clientele.

  28. Marty Cloran says:

    Thank you everyone for sharing. I had not thought of what might get on my mats from the studio floor. i will now clean accordingly because I believe it was lending a mat to a classmate that gave me a mild case of fungus on my right hand. I am glad that I did not get it on my forehead!

  29. We use a really nice all-natural lemongrass essential oil and water mix at our studio. It smells amaaaazing, but the downside is sometimes the sweat-stains remain… dunno if that’s a problem with the mat or the cleaning solution.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I have a orange and yellow mat from Hugger Mugger and I have used yoga spray and nothing. I have used mild cleanser and water with a towel and nothing. I am not putting it in the bathtub with a half teaspoon of Dr. Bronners Magic Soap. It is not clean. . . still. I can still see dirt spots that seem to have encased in the mat’s DNA or something. Help!

  31. shannon says:

    I have recently come across an interesting article that goes through various ways to clean a yoga mat. The most interesting I found was that a yoga mat could be put in the washing machine! Here is a link to the entire article http://findyoganow.com/index.php/Yoga-Articles/how-to-choose-your-yoga-mat.html

  32. This is perfect! My great Danes loves too run on my mat with their muddy feet.

  33. Thanks very much, I can’t wait to get started all three of my yoga mats need a good clean! Rachel :)

  34. And i tried diverse different ways :( Here we have some nice tips i should have known.

  35. I just brush it off after each use and dry clean it occasionally. This works well for me.

  36. just cleaned four mats in the tub with Simple green. One type of mat seems to absorb anything. I stomped the mats like grapes and will further rinse them on the grass tomorrow. Great suggestions by all. I love essential oils, but question if they will eventually create slippery mats. Ultimately,I think we all should embrace natural materials and get away from these recycled tires!!!

    • “Stomp the mats like grapes” is a great image! Thanks for the smile and a reminder of the power of the lower body in the quest for a clean mat!

  37. i saw this most valuable details. all are very well and good. I accept with your points. thanks for sharing this greatest and valuable article.

  38. Aw, this was a very good post. Takiung a few minutes and actual effort
    to create a top notch article… but what can I say… I
    put things off a whole lot and never seem to get anything done.

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] Daily Cup of Yoga talks about the stinky mat. And the introduction pretty much sounds like I experience with my mat at times. OK, after reading this: “In fact, in the six years I’ve practiced yoga, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never cleaned it once. That’s just gross!” I don’t feel so bad. Daily Cup of Yoga did their own research on mat cleaning, which you can read from the link above. [...]

  4. [...] tried a few different articles with suggestions { here } {here } ranging from throwing it in the washing machine to diluted dish soap and essential oils [...]

  5. [...] I discovered that my mat needs a bath. In the worst way. Here’s how! [...]

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