How to clean your yoga mat without ruining it

The easy way to clean a yoga mat – and what not to do.

Yoga is a great way of connecting mind and body, but it’s hard to feel Zen-like if you’re doing your downward facing dog posture on a dirty or smelly mat – which makes knowing how to clean a yoga mat essential.

A mat is the most important piece of equipment you can buy when practicing yoga. Given that you’ll likely have spent time and money choosing the best yoga mat for you, it’s important to look after it.

Keeping it clean is actually easier than you think. Read our top tips below, including the best ways to clean your yoga mat, how to make your own yoga mat cleaner, and also what not to do.

Rolled up yoga matsCredit: Shutterstock / Kyrylo Vasyliev
Yoga mats come in all colours, sizes and materials so always check the manufacturer’s guidelines before cleaning.

How to clean a yoga mat

James Armitage, owner of yoga mat company Liforme, explains that to clean your yoga mat, all you’ll need is a cleaner and a cloth (see our recommendations below).

“Pump the cleaner onto your cloth and rub it evenly across the mat. Leave it for 30 seconds or so, and then dampen the whole mat down with a clean wet cloth, before leaving it out to dry.

“It shouldn’t take much more than that. Yoga mats are designed to wick away moisture in a hygienic way, so while it’s definitely good practice to clean your mat regularly, it shouldn’t need to take hours each time.”

A woman cleaning a yoga mat with a clothCredit: Exceptional.com
Cleaning your mat is quick and easy – provided you know how

There is a choice of specialist products available to help you clean your yoga mat.

We like the Liforme Ultimate Everyday Yoga Mat Cleaner (£20, Amazon), which is suitable for virtually all mats. Another good choice is the Revive Yoga Mat Cleaner Spray (£15, Yogamatters), which has a fresh scent.

Featured product

Liforme Ultimate Everyday Yoga Mat Cleaner

RRP: £20

Liforme Ultimate Everyday Yoga Mat Cleaner

You can also make your own cleaning spray (see our recipe below).

Then you’ll need a soft cloth. Microfibre cloths are ideal and we like the E-Cloth General Purpose Cloth (£9.36 for four, Amazon), or for a more eco alternative try the Sorbo Recycled Microfibre Cleaning Cloths (£5.34 for 4, Amazon).

Always check the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines first

Most mats are generally made from a combination of materials, including rubber, PVC or polyurethane (PU). Some are more absorbent than others and common ingredients in DIY cleaners may be great for some mats, but they may not be suitable for all.

Why do I need to clean a yoga mat?

Like any other workout equipment, yoga mats collect germs and bacteria from our sweat and natural body oils. If you apply creams, perfumes or anything else to your skin, these will transfer to your mat too. They can coat the surface and cause the mat to lose its grippy texture.

Armitage says: “We advise that you steer clear of essential oils, body lotions or moisturiser when you’re using a mat. That will help keep it in great condition and need cleaning less regularly.”

How often should I clean a yoga mat?

It all depends upon how often you use your mat and the intensity of your sessions.

Instructor Nicky Webb, from Flexi Soul Yoga, recommends wiping down your mat after every couple of uses – or more frequently if you notice marks, stains or a smell.

Webb adds: “It also depends upon what type of yoga you are practising. If you are doing hot yoga you’ll want to clean it each time but for more gentle forms, such as restorative or yin yoga, every couple of sessions is fine.”

Make your own yoga mat cleaning spray

Yoga instructor Karen Maidment makes up her own natural cleaner. This is her recipe:

  • Mix one-part white wine vinegar with three parts water.
  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil, plus your favourite complementary aroma such as lavender or lemongrass essential oil.
  • Add to a spray bottle.

Shake well before spritzing your mat, leave for a few minutes then wipe down with a damp cloth.

What not to use to clean a yoga mat

Don’t use chemical disinfectant wipes or sprays, bleach and alcohol-based cleaners. These can damage the structure of the mat and the chemicals can also be absorbed into the mat causing skin irritations.

Webb also has another warning: “Remember not to use too much soap when you clean your mat, as it can leave it slippery when it’s dry.”

How to deep clean a yoga mat

If your mat is very dirty or smelly, consider soaking it – after you’ve checked the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines.

Fill a bath with enough warm water to cover your mat and add a teaspoon of gentle soap. Submerge it in the water and leave it for five minutes and then give it a good clean with a cloth, paying attention to any marks or dirt. Then rinse until the water runs clear – which takes time and effort.

It can take up to 24 hours to dry, so hang it up, but avoid leaving it in direct sunlight as it can cause it to fade.

A big group of people in a park practising yogaCredit: Shutterstock / David Tadevosian
Practising yoga outdoors is great, but it can leave your mat grubby and needing a clean.

Can you clean a yoga mat in a washing machine?

It is possible to clean some mats on a gentle cycle with a small amount of detergent, but only if the manufacturer explicitly states you can do this.

Putting a yoga mat in a washing machine can cause rips, stretching or other damage.

Definitely do not spin, tumble dry or add harsh detergents. If you do, you’ll be buying a new one.

Knowing when it’s time for a new yoga mat

Caring for your mat prolongs its life, but a yoga mat isn’t made to last forever. You’ll know when to replace your yoga mat if it loses some of its grip and cushioning or it fades and starts to flake around the edges.

It’s important to choose the right yoga mat for you. Having tested several, our top recommendation is the Yogi Bare Paws Natural Rubber Extreme Grip Mat (£74.95, Amazon) – but take a look at our guide to the best yoga mats for more recommendations.

Featured product

Yogi Bare Paws Natural Rubber Extreme Grip Yoga Mat

RRP: £74.95

Yogi Bare Paws Natural Rubber Extreme Grip Yoga Mat
Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Published:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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