How Do I Clean My Yoga Mat?

Learn how in five easy steps.

How can the source of so much good be so utterly … disgusting? To answer that philosophical question, we turn to the yoga mat. While it may be the foundation of your strength and flexibility, it’s also a breeding ground for sweat, dirt, and germs.

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In fact, some research suggests that if you don’t clean your personal yoga mat on the reg, it can contain up to four times more bacteria than the mats in the studio. How enlightening!

Don’t lose your yoga high just yet. We’ve got some tips for cleaning and disinfecting your mat so you can focus on perfecting that Wounded Peacock Pose. (Do people really ever get that right?) In the meantime, remember to make cleaning and sanitation part of your regular routine, especially if you’re a heavier sweater. Did you realize cleaning is different than sanitizing? Cleaning gets rid of dirt, dust, and debris, but sanitizing destroys bacteria. They’re both super important, so let’s talk about how (and how often) to do each step. We recommend cleaning your mat at least once every other practice–but if you’re super diligent–have at it after every use.

Cleaning your yoga mat

Hey, we get it. The easier it is to clean and dry your mat, the more likely you’ll do it. While this approach does take a little intentionality (and a little muscle) we figure you’re already mastering those things in yoga anyway.

Step One:
Stretch. Just kidding, you don’t need to stretch.

Real Step One:
Fill your bathtub up with warm water and squirt in some dish soap. A good rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of dish soap for every gallon of water. Once the water is nice and bubbly, submerge your mat in there and let it soak for ten minutes. This will help dislodge any of those hard-to-scrub oils and germs.

Step Two:
Take a soft washcloth and scrub the mat thoroughly on both sides, removing any visible dirt.

Step Three:
Drain the tub and rinse the soap off the mat with a bucket. It may take several rounds of this to ensure all the soap is completely drained away. When the water is running clear, you know the job is done.

Step Four:
Dry the surface of the mat with a towel. Once most of the moisture is absorbed, lay your mat flat on the ground, place another towel over it, and roll them up together. Avoid wringing the mat out since that can easily tear or damage the mat.

Step Five:
To finish drying your mat, hang it up on clothes hangers or a towel rack. And voila! Your yoga mat is clean and ready for the next stage, should you choose to get even more serious about evicting those pesky germs.

Disinfecting your yoga mat

In addition to cleaning your mat, It’s a good idea to disinfect it about once a week. This process actually kills the bacteria, not just cleans it off the surface. It’s a nice habit to get into, especially if you practice in a public space, like a yoga studio.

To disinfect your mat, go with a high-quality product like Microban Sanitizing Spray. We particularly like this brand because it not only kills 99.9% of germs on initial contact, it continues to kill bacteria for up to 24 hours.*

To disinfect bacteria and viruses:

Step One:
If you haven’t already, pre-clean the surface.

Step Two:
Hold the container 6-8” from your yoga mat and spray it until it’s thoroughly wet. Don’t forget to do both sides.

Step Three:
Let stand for 60 seconds to fend off bacteria** and then wipe dry with a cloth. Let stand for five minutes to fend off bacteria, viruses, and fungi*** and then wipe dry.

If you simply want to deodorize your mat, a simple spray without letting it sit will do the trick.

And now, a final word about some good daily practices to get into:

  • Wash your hands and feet before every yoga mat use. You carry a lot of hidden germs on these parts of your body–and they’re exactly the areas that will be in most contact with your mat.
  • Wipe off your yoga mat with a towel after every use. Our go-to solution is a baby wipe but there are specially formulated yoga wipes that you can buy, too.
  • Consider putting a towel over the yoga mat if you’re a heavy sweater. There’s no shame in your game. There are even special yoga towels for this purpose that prevent the towel from slipping around as you work out.
  • Replace your yoga mat if it starts tearing. If you’re the victim of yoga mat tearing, it’s best to bite the bullet and buy a new one.

And that’s it, a primer on how to clean, disinfect and care for your yoga mat. Of course, doing all these things will extend the life of your mat, but more importantly, it’ll help you and all the yogis around you stay healthy. Which if we’re being honest, gives us a lot of zen.

*When used as directed, effective against Staphylococcus aureus & Enterobacter aerogenes bacteria for 24 hours.

**When used as directed, effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Enterobacter aerogenes, Listeria monocytogenes, Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MERSA), and streptococcus pyogenes.

***When used as directed, effective against bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Enterobacter aerogenes, Listeria monocytogenes, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes), viruses (Influenza A H1N1, Respiratory Syncytial Virus [RSV] and Human Coronavirus, Herpes Simplex virus type 1, Herpes Simplex virus type 2, Rhinovirus Type 39, and Norovirus & Rotavirus) and fungi (i Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Aspergillus niger).

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