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 now long 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.
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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.
This method worked well with an easy to clean yoga mat, such as one that is think and pliable. I used this bathtub for Gaiam yoga mat cleaning.
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.
While my situation was a bacterial infection, it’s also possible to be allergic to your yoga mat. When purchasing your mat be sure to look at the ingredients to make sure it is not made from an allergy inducing material so you can avoid a yoga mat allergy.
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
• Use yoga mat spray to clean your mat
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?
14 thoughts on “How Clean is Your Yoga Mat? Cleaning Tips”
Ugh, I think about this every time I go to yoga and forget to bring my own yoga mat. Sometimes I have to borrow the public mats, and I obviously wash them, but I still don’t feel it’s enough.
I have to fight the urge to roll up my mat right away after using it, and I try to air it out each time. We really need to avoid having bacteria from thriving in it. Thanks for the awesome tips!
Hi there, I have to say I’m also guilty of putting off yoga mat cleaning after each practice, although my intentions are good, I have two yoga mats I swap between, and if I don’t ‘have time’ to clean my mat after practice I usually just opt for the other. Thanks for the great tips and tricks, they make so much sense when you think about it! I’ll definitely be bookmarking this for the future. Ruby.
I’m glad you found this useful. Thanks for reading Ruby!
Hi, I’ve had a serious bacterial infection which was primarily on my right back and shoulder, but now it has spread to my face and neck! I’m fairly certain now that it’s related to my yoga practice and mat use. I’m wondering how you got rid of your infection? Antibiotics? I really don’t want to take them if I can avoid it, but it’s really starting to be a huge problem. Any suggestions on how to clear it up naturally? Thanks, Juli
I’m sorry to hear about that. I would encourage you to visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Oh wow. Always think about that but never really think it can happen! I used to use the community mat all the time. Now I have my own and have a pattern on one side to at least make sure that I put the same side up/down each time. But I am pretty lazy about cleaning it, I will admit! Thanks for the PSA!
This makes me want to go disinfect EVERYTHING I own ASAP. Great post with great tips.
And we didn’t even touch on community bolsters, straps or blocks!
I definitely need to clean my mat more…especially since I practice at the hot yoga studio. Whenever I accidentally leave my mat in the car overnight, it smells to high heaven the next day. Time to bump up my yogic hygiene!
One other thing you can do is to get a Yogitos Skidless towel to cover your mat when using. It’s the same size as a yoga mat and is a towel on one side and has a plastic-like tread on the other so it sticks to your mat. I put this on my yoga mat for each session, then when I’m done, I’ll take that off and wash that completely. It’s also a lot more comfy to lie on when you have to actually put your face to the mat. I initially bought it when I started taking Bikram Hot Yoga a few months ago so that I wasn’t sweating and slipping all over my mat, and now I use it for any time I practice yoga!
Great tips Natalie! Thanks for sharing.
I won the Jo-Sha wipes you gave away! I use them but they mostly seem to collect the ink from the mat. I too, was thinking about cleanliness in general with my mat since I had a wart earlier this year on my foot and a friend said “you got that from the gym.” Actually, this reminds me to get mine and hose it out in the shower. I need to buy a new mat!
Weird about the wipes removing color from the mat. My mats have been solid color, no pattern.