Inner Reflections
September 28, 2021

How To Clean a Yoga Mat (the Right way)

Next year will mark the point at which I have been practicing yoga for exactly half of my life. And, in almost 2 decades of practice, I have never learned how to properly clean my yoga mat.

I’ve dragged my mat into the shower with me, hosed it down in the backyard or tried hanging it outside.

I’ve attempted to use wet wipes, a cloth or paper towels which only seem to crumple and feel impossible use effectively.

I’m not a prolific sweater–I come to my mat with clean feet and I’m not a germaphobe, so I let cleaning my mat on a regular basis fall to the wayside.

However, in this era of increased germ awareness, I thought it might be time to figure it out especially since research shows your personal yoga mat can be up to four times dirtier than a regularly cleaned rental mat from a yoga studio! So here’s what I learned.

Disinfecting Your Yoga Mat

I’m eager to keep my yoga mat, and therefore my face, hands and feet, free from toxic chemicals, harsh scents or anything that could be absorbed by my skin (which is your biggest organ) or my nose and lungs.

The simplest solution to disinfecting your yoga mat to avoid the types of fungus that can cause athlete’s foot, ringworm or other skin-related issues is to fill an empty spray bottle with equal parts water and white wine vinegar to create a healthy, chemical-free antibacterial solution.

I personally like to add tea tree oil which also has antibacterial properties and helps to cut the strong scent of the vinegar. Spray both sides of your mat with the solution and hang it to air dry.

Then, I personally opt out of products like Clorox wipes since they have harsh chemicals and the surface needs to be visibly wet for a period of time in order for the germ-fighting properties to be effective. Plus, if you use harsh chemical wipes you’ll need to undertake the extra step of washing your mat afterwards whereas if you use more natural disinfectant strategy you can wait longer between washings.

Washing Your Yoga Mat

I was excited to discover that my shower strategy is actually the top suggestion for deep cleaning your yoga mat!

What I didn’t realize is that we need a combination of disinfecting and washing the mat to ensure the healthiest practice surface possible. Since dirt, sweat and dead skin cells can build up over time leading to unwanted odors and bacterial growth, it’s best to hop into the shower with your mat and wash it down with gentle soap and water.

If showering with your mat isn’t appealing, you can fill a bathtub with warm, soapy water and submerge the mat for 5 minutes being sure to rinse off the soap when you’re done. After, hang it out to dry, preferably outdoors, before rolling it up again.

Depending on the brand of yoga mat you use, be sure to checkout their specific recommendations since some brands clearly say that washing a yoga mat in this manner can damage their stickiness or non-slip surface while other brands are actually machine washable! Just be cautious because although you might prefer a super clean mat, over-washing can wear them down faster and replacing yoga mats regularly can be both expensive and taxing on the environment.

How Often to Wash and Disinfect Your Yoga Mat

So how often should you wash or disinfect your mat?

Well, if you’re practicing at home, you’re probably ok disinfecting once a week. If someone in your home is sick, consider a more regular cleaning during that time. And, if you’re practicing in a studio, disinfect your mat after each class.

It’s best to think about washing your yoga mat the same way you think about washing your bath towels or sheets. This differs for everyone but considering a similar schedule that feels best to you is a great approach whether that’s once a week, every other week or even once a month.

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By Lauren