Most people don’t think twice about cleaning certain items or areas in the home. They launder clothing weekly. Washing dishes is a daily practice. However, the items often requiring cleaning the most are right in front of us, but are easily overlooked. This includes yoga mats. Today I’m sharing how to clean yoga mat.
I hate to admit I practiced yoga regularly for several years before I realized I should probably clean my mat! I’ve since adopted regular yoga mat cleaning practices. Some people know they should clean their yoga mat but aren’t sure how. I’ll share step by step what to do, along with various yoga mat cleaning methods.
How Clean Yoga Mat
What Prompted My Yoga Mat Cleaning
When I first began cleaning my yoga mat I was using a purple Gaiam Yoga Mat. These mats are very popular especially among fair weather yogis. They are affordable, durable, easy to transport and easy to clean. I used this mat in college and right after college until I upgraded to a Manduka Black Mat PRO.
Prior to cleaning my mat, I had been to the dermatologist dermatologist for what I thought was a rash or adult acne on my right cheek. As it turned out, it was a bacterial infection. It was likely a yoga mat rash.
I wasn’t happy to hear the news but the dermatologist reassured me that they are not uncommon. I took an antibiotic and the rash went away. I wasn’t sure what caused it or where it came from, until I considered something I use frequently, my yoga mat. Could it be a rash from yoga mat?
Many yoga poses have you rest a cheek on the mat. It wasn’t out of the question. While I have not been able to confirm my rash came from the yoga mat, I’m not taking any chances. I now clean my yoga mat regularly.
Rash from Yoga Mat
Yoga Mat Cleaning Methods
The photo above might look a little silly but one common method for cleaning your yoga mat is to submerge it in water in your bathtub and clean the mat there. This can be done for the Gaiam Yoga Mats I described or really any single-layer low cost yoga mat. (This method is NOT ok for a dual layer mat such as Manduka Black Mat PRO.)
These mats typically do not have any emblems or layers. I had another one that was teal in color I purchased from a discount store. I would use it as my outdoor yoga mat when I took baby boot camp classes with my daughter. I would also wash that mat in the bathtub.
Usually the mat will be too long for the bathtub. You can easily fold up one end while washing. For this method I use warm water and dish soap. If the mat is especially dirty you can scrub it with a gentle brush. The mat should be rinsed with clean water and hung dry.
How Clean is Your Yoga Mat?
Why You Should Clean Yoga Mat
After developing the face rash I decided to be proactive and start cleaning my mat more regularly and rigorously. According to the news article, “What’s Living on Your Yoga Mat?” from Philadelphia Magazine, cleaning a yoga mat is important. Here are some takeaways from the article:
- It’s likely that bacteria from your skin could get on your mat, colonize and cause infection.
- Since bacteria thrive in warm, dark, moist environments, rolling up your yoga mat while it’s still wet – from sweat or cleaning – is the worst thing you can do.
- Hot yoga classes create a particularly enticing environment for bacteria on your mat.
How Often Should You Clean a Yoga Mat?
Ideally you should clean your yoga mat after every yoga practice. This isn’t always feasible or practical with a busy lifestyle. Today I practice at a studio about once a week. I try to clean my yoga mat at least once a month.
If you practice yoga more or practice hot yoga or Bikram yoga (where a lot of sweat is more common), you might consider cleaning your yoga mat more frequently. Some studios offer cleaning wipes and you can also take advantage of this.
At the time that I developed what I now think was a yoga mat rash, I was using all-natural wipes for cleaning my yoga mat. These wipes are effective, but only if you use them regularly. I was very sporadic about my use.
More Yoga Mat Cleaning Tips
Here are a few more suggestions to stay clean and healthy with your yoga practice. Don’t share your yoga mat. Avoid using the “community mats” at your gym or studio. If you must use a community mat, use a cleaning solution on it first.
Also, clean your mat after each practice, maybe even again when you roll it out before a practice. If your mat is thin, consider folding and rolling it so you always use the same side. Also, consider using your yoga mat in the same direction every time so that your head is always at one end, and feet at another.
Some additional options for cleaning your mat besides the bathtub method include:
- Use all-natural wipes to clean your mat (full review of wipes)
- Cover your mat with a yoga mat towel to keep it clean (full review of towel)
- Use yoga mat spray to clean your mat (full review of spray)
Additional Yoga Mat Suggestions
Here are a few more ideas regarding the topic of yoga mat cleaning. Let your yoga mat air dry before re-rolling it after cleaning. If your studio offers a cleaning solution on site – take advantage.
And for studio owners and employees, they should disinfect yoga mats and floors regularly to help keep the practice space clean and safe for all patrons. If your studio does this, commend them. If they do not, make a request that they do.
Yoga Mat Cleaning
Cleaning your yoga mat should be part of your regular cleaning routine. Yoga mats can easily gather and harbor not only dirt and debris, but also bacterial. This is particularly common following sweaty yoga classes and if the yoga mat is stored improperly.
Yoga mat cleaning methods include full submersion in a bathtub, wiping or spraying the mat and best practices such as using a yoga mat towel to keep the mat clean on a daily basis. Reduce your risk of developing a yoga mat rash by keeping a clean yoga mat.
How often do you clean your yoga mat?
*This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.