Learning how to clean a yoga mat is an essential skill for anyone who plans on practicing yoga. You don’t want unpleasant odors lingering when you’re at the yoga studio or practicing in your living room! The tricky part is that yoga mats are all so different that they may require different cleaning techniques.
Some yogis clean their mats by hand using natural household items. Others use products specially designed for cleaning mats. Still others use a plain old washing machine along with deodorizing substances such as essential oils.
Read on to discover some of the best ways to keep your yoga mat so fresh and so clean. And feel free to leave a comment at the end with your own tips!
How to Clean a Yoga Mat Naturally With Household Items
Perhaps the most basic and simple method of cleaning a yoga mat involves spraying down the mat with a homemade, water-based cleaning solution. Take lukewarm water and mix in a bit of lemon juice, vinegar, or tea tree oil, then drop it into a spray bottle and give the mat a nice spray down.
After spraying, gently wipe down the mat with a regular towel or soft (not abrasive) sponge. Be sure to take into account the composition of your mat – PVC (synthetic rubber) mats are less likely to be damaged by scrubbing than more fragile mats made from other substances, for instance.
Laundry or dish detergent are also acceptable (though less natural) substances to mix in with your water to create a nice cleaning solution, but be very careful. Don’t overdo the amount of detergent, as it can leave a film on the mat and make it less grippy. Just a few drops of detergent will be plenty to mix in with a couple of cups of water.
I have not personally used this spray cleaning method, as I prefer using a machine (see section three below.) But one of my friends swears by the water & lemon juice method. She says it keeps the mat smelling fresh and clean without damaging the material.
Clean Your Mat By Using Store Products
As noted, creating your own cleaning solution isn’t especially difficult, but if you find the process too tine-consuming or just don’t trust your ability to create an effective cleaner, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing a good cleaning product.
For most products that you’ll buy, the process is essentially the same – put the solution into a cleaning bottle (if it doesn’t come in one), and gently spray and wipe down the mat. Again, be careful not to overwhelm the mat with too much solution, as the chemicals can eventually take their toll on the health of the yoga mat.
These products are specially designed to disinfect and destroy bacteria and other nasty substances that can build up over time on a heavily-used yoga mat, so you can trust that they will keep your mat clean.
Some companies manufacture cloth wipes that can be used in place of sprays. The wipes don’t seem to be quite as popular as the sprays, but a few types of wipes do earn very high reviews on Amazon.
Scroll down to see some products that we recommend for cleaning yoga mats.
Washing Your Yoga Mat in a Machine
Pay close attention to the cleaning instructions that come with your mat, of course, but assuming that your mat is machine-washable, it’s perfectly fine to pop it in and let it clean on its own.
The question of how to clean a yoga mat in a machine brings up a number of questions. What temperature should the water be? What type of cleaning solution should you use? How should you go about drying the mat?
I use the Aurorae Synergy, a towel-mat combo, and typically clean it by putting it in the machine on cold, along with a little bit of baking soda (for deodorizing purposes), a small amount of light (not too fragrant) laundry detergent, and a slight amount of essential oils (lavender, sandalwood, eucalyptus) for fragrance.
As for drying, very few yoga mats can handle being tossed in a machine. (Confession: I’ve actually done this a couple times with my Synergy, but only when I was in a rush. The Synergy is sturdy enough to handle it, but machine-drying is strongly discouraged with the majority of mats.)
You’ll most likely need to let your mat air dry, and that can take several hours. I usually hang my mat and let it dry overnight. You can dry it outside if you like, but be careful not to place it in direct sunlight, as that can damage many mats.
I initially learned how to clean a yoga mat from a few friends and have found that this method works for me. As always, your mileage may vary.
Recommended Products for Cleaning Yoga Mats
Cleaning products can range in price from under $10 to almost $50. Here’s a quick overview of cleaning products that we personally recommend.
Manduka’s Renew and Restore mat spray is a popular and reliable spray. The organic, chemical-free sprays come in a variety of scents, such as gingergrass, lavender, and citrus. Manduka offers smaller travel-size bottles for those on the go, as well as larger refill-size containers for those who already have a bottle.
Another excellent mat spray is Aurorae’s organic, biodegradable yoga mat wash. The cleaning solution is made with essential oils, which add a nice scent after every cleaning. Aurorae suggests using the spray after each yoga practice, then wiping the mat or allowing it to air dry. This product is not expensive, so consider giving it a shot if you’re on the fence.
If scented wipes are more your thing, Jo-Sha’s 50-pack is a good option. The alcohol- and bleach-free wipes come in lavender and tea tree varieties. The wipes are gentle and can clean a mat easily without causing any damage or leaving any sticky residue on the mat surface.
Doing yoga can be an important part of a fitness plan, and knowing how to clean a yoga mat is essential. You can find dozens of additional cleaning products in Amazon’s yoga mat cleaners section.