Cleaning your yoga mat is important to maintain its grip, appearance, and overall condition. Keep reading to find out the best way to keep your favorite yoga mat in tip top condition.
Why you need to clean your yoga mat?
Cleaning your yoga mat is important for multiple reasons:
Good hygiene - Yoga mats accumulate a lot more gunk than you think. Over time, sweat, dirt, and bacteria build up, especially with regular use. Cleaning your mat regularly can help prevent this buildup and ensure both you and your practice remain clean and hygienic.
Longevity - Regular cleanings can help prolong the life of your yoga mat by removing substances that can cause damage or discoloration over time. Keeping your mat clean will help maintain your mat's texture and overall condition for as long as possible.
Traction - The buildup that accumulates on a dirty mat can cause your feet and hands to slip and slide during your practice making it difficult to maintain balance, stay properly aligned, or hold longer poses. A good cleaning regimen can help prevent that buildup keep its grip like new longer.
Sound mind - A clean mat makes your yoga session more enjoyable. You'll feel more relaxed and less distracted when flowing through poses on a mat that's free of sweat, dirt, and germs.
How dirty is your yoga mat?
The short answer is -- dirtier than you think.
The long answer is more nuanced. It really depends on how often you practice, where you practice, how your mat is stored, and how often you clean your yoga mat.
As mentioned above, sweat, dirt, and bacteria gets transferred to your mat from your skin including your feet and hands. Any drops of sweat that result from your practice also leave a residue on your mat.
For any classes taken in yoga studios, you can add other people's sweat and bacteria to that. Bacteria can get transferred from the floor or your neighbors.
In one study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2019, samples were collected from 40 yoga mats used by participants in a yoga studio. The findings showed that the mats were contaminated with a plethora of bacteria including types of Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. They also found Enterococcus faecalis, a gram-positive bacteria that causes urinary tract infections, would infections, and even endocarditis.
Another study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2017 looked at the bacterial contamination of yoga mats before and after a single yoga class. They found that the mats became significantly more contaminated after the class, including multiple of the bacteria mentioned in the other study.
Overall, these studies suggest that your yoga mat can be contaminated and pose a risk for infection if not properly cleaned and disinfected.
Is your yoga mat the dirtiest thing you touch on a daily basis? Probably not. But, clean your yoga mat to be safe!
The best way to clean and disinfect your mats
After each use
The most important step in keeping your mat clean is to wipe it down after each use. Use a soft cloth and warm water to help remove any sweat or dirt on the surface of the mat.
For any noticeable stains or marks, use a cloth or a sponge and a mild detergent like dish soap to spot clean the mat. Avoid using anything harsh, like Clorox wipes or bleach, as they may damage the surface of the mat.
On a regular basis, give your mat a good scrub. Use warm water and mild soap and go over your entire mat. After you rinse it off, use a mat cleaner or freshening spray to finish it off.
After cleaning, hang your mat to air dry. It's important to let it dry completely before storing it, as residual moisture is a breeding ground more bacteria. Throwing it over a clothes line or a shower rod works well. Don't put your mat in the dryer or lay it in the sun to dry; both can damage the mat.
Store your mat in a cool, dry place when not in use. Avoid direct light, as this can cause your mat to fade or deteriorate.
For foam or PVC mats, store them flat if possible. Keeping them rolled up can cause them to lose their shape and elasticity.
For natural rubber mats, it's fine to store them either flat or rolled.
Can you put a yoga mat in the washing machine?
While some mats specifically state they are machine-washable, most are not. We generally advise against putting your mat in a washing machine, as the agitation from the machine, even on the gentle cycle, can cause the mat to break down faster than expected.
How often should I clean my yoga mat?
The basic wipe down should happen every time you use your mat. While that may sound tedious, it really will help maintain the overall integrity of your mat. Keep a bottle of mat cleaner in your yoga bag with your blocks, strap, and water bottle so you have it ready to go.
Spot cleaning can happen anytime you notice buildup on your mat.
We recommend a deep clean every 10 - 20 uses, with a minimum of 2 times per year. If you are a daily practitioner or do hot yoga on a regular basis, do a deep clean once a month.
Do the deep clean twice a year even if you don't use your mat. It will accumulate dust and bacteria even if it's just sitting in a closet.
Can using a yoga towel help you avoid cleaning your yoga mat?
Using a yoga towel can definitely help to absorb sweat and moisture during your practice, but it is not a substitute for cleaning your mat on a regular basis.
If you use yoga towels, you can probably stretch out the time between your cleanings a little bit, but not by much.
We still recommend wiping your mat down after each use, unless you really didn't sweat much and the towel is completely dry.
Deep cleaning your YM4U Standard mat (or any TPE mat)
TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) yoga mats are eco-friendly and durable, but they also require proper cleaning and care to maintain their quality and longevity.
Fill a bowl or bucket with warm water and add a few drops of mild soap or yoga mat cleaner.
Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the cleaning solution and wring out any excess water. You want the cloth or sponge to be damp, but not dripping.
Use the cloth or sponge to wipe down your mat, paying special attention to any areas that are particularly dirty or have a buildup of sweat or oils.
Once you've cleaned the entire mat, rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining soap or cleaner.
Lay the mat on a clean towel and gently press out any excess water. Do not twist or wring the mat, as this can damage it.
Hang the mat or lay it flat to air dry, out of direct light or heat.
Deep cleaning your YM4U Vegan Suede mat (or any microfiber mat)
Microfiber suede yoga mats require gentle care to maintain their soft and absorbent surface.
Start by removing any loose dirt or debris from the surface of your mat with a soft brush or damp cloth.
Mix a solution of dish soap (or any other mild cleaner) and warm water in a spray bottle.
Lightly spray the solution on the mat's surface, and use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub the mat in circular motions.
Rinse the mat with clean water until all soap residue is removed.
Squeeze out any excess water and lay the mat flat to air dry. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, as they can damage the material.
Once the mat is dry, gently brush the surface with a soft brush to restore the texture of the microfiber suede.
DIY yoga mat cleaner
Looking to make your own cleaner? Here's a quick and easy recipe for a cleaning spray to help clean your yoga mat.
1 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
10 drops tea tree oil (optional)
10 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
In a spray bottle, mix together the water, white vinegar, and essential oils (if using).
Shake the bottle well to combine the ingredients.
Use the cleaner anytime you want to freshen your mat.
This solution is free of harsh chemicals and is safe for most yoga mats. The antibacterial properties of vinegar help to kill germs and prevent sweat buildup.