The last few years have made us all more aware of the importance of good hygiene routines. And this is just as true for a clean yoga mat.
As we’ll discuss, keeping a clean yoga mat is paramount to protecting your health, your yoga performance and the lifespan of your mat.
This is because our yoga mats come into contact with so many substances not just during our practice, but also when we transport and store them, so it’s important to get into the routine of cleaning them regularly.
Substances such as sweat, dust, germs and even air pollution all attack our yoga mats. Over time, these not only damage the mat itself but also become a potential source of illness and infection if germs are left to breed.
We’re here to help. In this article, we’ll cover:
- The importance of a clean yoga mat
- How often you should clean your yoga mat
- 5 ways to clean your yoga mat
- 5 care tips to keep your yoga mat clean
The Importance of a clean yoga mat
Keeping a clean yoga mat is paramount to protecting your health, performance and the lifespan of your mat.
Whether practising at home or in a studio, it is inevitable that your yoga mat will become dirty. Our mats come into contact with so many substances – from oils on our skin and hair, sweat, oils from products, dirt and dust, germs and even air pollution.
These substances can sit on the surface of our mat and can penetrate deeper into the materials.
Not only can this accelerate the deterioration of your mat and shorten its lifespan – but it can also cause breakouts, sickness and even make your mat slippery and unsafe.
How often you should clean your yoga mat?
The answer to how often you should clean your yoga mat varies depending on a few things, such as how often you use your mat, whether you use it indoors or outdoors, the type of yoga you do and so on.
To keep a clean yoga mat, a good rule of thumb is to always give your yoga mat a quick spritz with disinfectant spray and wipe it down before and after every yoga session.
Then, after ten or so hour-long yoga sessions it’s time for a deep clean.
5 ways to clean Your yoga mat
Now that we know the importance of a clean yoga mat and how often to do so – time to look at the methods you can use to clean your yoga mat.
Note: It’s always important to check the material of your yoga mat and the cleaning tips supplied with it at purchase – it could be the case that your yoga mat isn’t compatible with the cleaning products below!
#1: Use Soap and Sponge
First up on the list of clean yoga mat tips is the trusty old soap and sponge. This tried and tested method is great for a mid-intensity clean, that will disinfect, remove dirt, oils, stains and odours from your mat.
For this method, find a clean, non-absorbant surface such as tiles or a wooden floor to roll out your mat. Next, fill a bowl with warm water and antibacterial washing up liquid, grab a sponge and get to it!
Once you feel you’ve got out all the dirt, rinse the sponge in plain water and go over the mat once more to remove any suds or soap residue.
#2: Use Disinfectant Spray
This simple trick is great for a quick clean and should be used before and after every yoga session, on both sides of your mat. This might sound a lot, but it only takes a few seconds and is well worth it to protect your health.
We recommend getting your hands on some gentle disinfectant spray, small enough that you can take it to your yoga classes. Have some tissue ready, then spritz all over your mat.
Most disinfectants need a few seconds of contact time before being wiped off to work – so wait for 20 seconds, wipe down then repeat on the other side.
#3: Use Yoga Mat-Specific Cleaning Products
Keeping a clean yoga mat is so important that it’s actually birthed a whole industry of yoga mat specific cleaning products.
These are great because the manufacturers have done all the research for what cleaning products are effective for each yoga mat material – achieveing the clean without the worry that the products might be too harsh or damage your mat.
These products are often targetted to solve specific yoga mat issues, too, such as odour, stains, grease and more.
Each product is different, so we can’t give you any specific instructions – but definitely check them out!
#4: Bathe It
This method is for those of you who are looking for a way to give your yoga mat a super deep clean.
For this method, fill a tub or container large enough to fit your mat in with warm water (no more than 50-degrees). Add some gentle detergent (too much soap will leave residue and could harm the integrity of the mat).
Submerge your yoga mat in the water and gently scrub it clean with a soft sponge. Next, rinse your mat in clean water until it runs clear. Wring it out and hang it up to dry – and you’re done!
#5: Pop it in the Washing Machine
This method is the ultimate way to deep clean your yoga mat – however use it sparingly, as like your clothing, overwashing can damage your mat.
For this method, first check that your yoga mat can go in a washing machine, as many can’t.
If all is well, pop the mat into the drum of your washing machine, select a low spin, low heat cycle (unless you know that your mat can handle higher temperatures). Put in some gentle detergent and you’re on your way to a super clean yoga mat.
#6: Try Baking Soda
This one might sound a little wierd – but it works wonders.
While baking soda won’t disinifect or remove germs from your mat, it is perfect for removing oils that collect on our mats from our skin, hair and skin products such as moisturiser.
For this method, simply sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda over the oily areas, wait for 15-30 minutes, then brush or vacuum away the excess.
5 care tips to keep a clean Yoga Mat
Maintaining a clean yoga mat isn’t just about the cleaning methods. Here are our top care tips to keep a clean yoga mat:
#1: Avoid Creams and Oils
Most yoga mats are spongey and porous – and while this is great for giving us comfortable cushioning while we carry out our various poses, it also means that they absorb oils and other fluids easily.
For this reason, avoid applying skin creams, oils, hair products and so on before using your mat for a yogi session, as they will likely transfer to and leave stains.
#2: Use Towels
Placing a towel on top of your yoga mat during your practice is a quick and simple way to protect it from the various substances that make it dirty.
However, keep in mind that this will only protect the upside of the mat, so it’s still advisable to give the bottom a quick wipe with disinfectant after your session.
#3: Dry Properly
Now this one is absolutely key. There’s almost no point in cleaning your yoga mat if you don’t let it dry properly.
Leaving it in a damp condition will provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, mould and lots of other nasties.
To avoid this, after cleaning your mat, hang it up in a warm, dry environment. Then, only when it is completely dry should you roll it up and store it.
#4: Store Properly
It might not seem important to the cleanliness of your yoga mat – but correct storage is key.
Store your clean yoga mat in a dry, cool environment and out of direct sunlight – as heat, UV and humidity can all damage your mat leaving it brittle and more vulnerable to bacteria and dirt.
#5: Avoid Harsh Cleaning Products
As has been mentioned throughout this article, you must check the materials your yoga mat is made from and whether the cleaning products you use won’t cause damage.
Harsh cleaners such as bleach (even diluted!) can damage the appearance of your mat, leaving bubbles, discoloration and textural irregulaties.
Even worse, they can seep into the mats materials and destroy the integrity and functionality of the mat too.
Hey Fellow yogi! Did you know….
Keeping a clean yoga mat is especially important when practising with furry friends. Yep – we’re talking puppy yoga.
Never heard of it? Check it out here: Puppy Yoga: Controversial or The Best Kind Of Yoga?