How to clean a yoga mat

Yoga & Pilates

Yoga is a practice that dates back millennia with a myriad of benefits. It can increase flexibility and coordination while improving heart health, anxiety and stress. It’s known to calm and restore the mind and spirit, as well.

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What’s the best way to keep your yoga mat clean?

A yoga mat is a relatively simple yet incredibly versatile platform for all kinds of physical, mental and spiritual exercises. As yoga comprises a range of activities and positions, a yoga mat can be used for both intense exertion or calming meditation.

Regardless of how and where you choose to use the yoga mat, it’s important to keep it clean. Not only does this prevent bacteria buildup that can threaten your health, it also maintains the structure and desirable traits of the mat. 

How important is a clean yoga mat?

Consider child’s pose, a posture that’s meant to be relaxing and therapeutic. If your yoga mat isn’t clean, you’re face to face with a variety of bacteria and germs that can cause problems for your health.

Manduka PRO Yoga & Pilates Mat

Whether you’re practicing at home, in a studio or outdoors, your yoga mat will slowly accumulate dirt, dust and other particles nearby. Your skin may flake as well, and any oils or lotions you had on your body may seep into the mat.

When you’re spending so much time on your yoga mat, and often close to it, it can aggravate allergies, lead to reactions on your skin or just generally cause discomfort. Bacteria and fungus can lead to warts, rashes or other skin issues.

What’s more, physically intense yoga means that you’re likely building up a sweat, which can cause your mat to smell or break down if it isn’t kept clean. Even without arduous exercises, placing your hands and feet on the yoga mat with regularity means that you should be washing it after every use.

How to clean your yoga mat

Disinfecting clean

The first step to cleaning your yoga mat is to target the surface right away. Upon completion of your session, spray the mat with a disinfectant and wipe gently across the entirety of the surface. Depending on where you were using the mat, you’re likely to want to wipe the bottom as well.

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The simplest disinfectant is one you make at home yourself. Combine equal parts water and vinegar into a spray bottle. Shake it up and use it as needed to sanitize the mat. Some users may want to incorporate a few drops of an essential oil like lavender or tea tree to add a pleasant aroma.

Gaiam Yoga Mat Cleaner Spray (4oz)

You can also opt to purchase a specific yoga mat disinfectant if you’d rather not make your own or feel your creation may not be as effective. Many yoga companies offer specialized disinfectants designed to sanitize and protect the mat. Avoid using harsh chemicals on your mat as this can break down the material.

Cleansing deep clean

Disinfecting your yoga mat helps keep the surface healthy and prevents odor and bacteria from building up, but a deeper clean is also required. To fully cleanse your yoga mat, you’ll want to use water and soap to thoroughly scrub the surface.

Once it’s scrubbed and rinsed, leave it to air dry in a cool, breezy place. Avoid hanging it in the bathroom where humidity may accumulate. Don’t roll it up until it’s fully dry to avoid bacteria forming anew.

Cork mat cleaning

Luxury Cork Yoga Mat

Yoga mats made from cork are gaining in popularity as a healthier and more sustainable alternative to traditional synthetic mats. Made from natural products, cork mats typically come at a higher cost but offer more longevity and support over time.

While cork generally better resists moisture, sweat and odor that may come from an intense practice, it’s still recommended to regularly disinfect and deep clean your mat in the same manner as a synthetic mat.

Storing your yoga mat

Once your yoga mat is cleaned and fully dry, roll it up and store it in a cool, dry place. Avoid direct sunlight and humidity as these can accelerate breakdown of the mat. Sunlight may also cause the color to fade over time.

You may want to store it in a yoga mat bag so it can avoid accumulating dust or moisture, depending on where you’re keeping it.

What you need to clean a yoga mat

Heathyoga Microfiber Yoga Towel

Heathyoga Microfiber Yoga Towel

A yoga towel is a terrific accessory to make certain workouts more comfortable while also protecting the mat from excessive sweat and odor. Heathyoga offers a highly absorbent option that also includes a case and a spray bottle.

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Gaiam Embroidered Cargo Yoga Mat Bag

Gaiam Embroidered Cargo Yoga Mat Bag

Investing in a quality yoga mat bag will better preserve your mat and keep it free from dirt and bacteria when in transit and stored. This is an inexpensive, artful choice from Gaiam, a trusted name in yoga mats and accessories.

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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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