Keeping Your Yoga Mat Clean and Pristine

Some Saucha for the Sticky Mat

My yoga mat is like my second home. I’ve slept on it, cried on it, learned and loved on it. It has been with me in parks, decks, on concrete, to studios and has even traveled cross-continent with me.

Just like our homes, keeping your yoga mat pristine for the long haul takes a bit of maintenance and effort. So here’s the big question: How do you clean your yoga mat and how often should you do it?

For hot yoga practitioners, it is a good idea to give your mat a misting with a tea tree oil solution or an organic mat spray after each use, especially if the mat itself doesn’t have built in anti-microbial properties.

If your mat has dirty spots on it or an odor, a more thorough cleaning is necessary. For pesky spots, you can use lemon juice and baking soda diluted in water with a terrycloth towel to rub out the stains. Most mats are machine washable, so you can throw it in a cycle by itself with a tad of mild detergent. When my yoga mat gets really dirty, I lay it on the floor of my bathtub, rub it down with a washcloth and some gentle soap. Then I turn on the shower-head and watch brown water wash down the drain. It always surprises me just how much sludge comes off!

Remember, your bare skin and face are touching your mat during your practice so it is best to use eco-friendly, skin-friendly and non-abrasive cleaners. Also of note, is that the soles of your feet and cheeks (both posterior and facial) touch your mat as well. Don’t just keep your mat clean; keep your body clean before stepping even into Tadasana. I always wash my hands and often my feet before practice. I keep baby wipes with me in my mat bag so that I can give my feet a good wipe down when I am on the go. The ritual of cleansing insures not only that my mat stays cleaner but also that I am not picking up any unwanted germs I’ve collected along the way to my yoga space.

Having a clean mat makes a yoga practice all the more inviting. Wipe down, wash up, spray on, scrub off and keep bending!

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kathygrace, posted on January 22, 2013

Thank you for writing this. While someone said below 'this is obvious', it is. But as a teacher I am always surprised at the lack of understanding around mats and hygiene. I often have to ask people to remove their shoes and to wipe down mats after class, or even to notice that they do have dirty hands, feet and sometimes clothes when they come to class straight from work.

laurenrudick1, posted on January 22, 2013

@montlake Thanks for the question. This really depends on the mat. Mats of a lesser quality won't last as long. I've seen the "small pieces falling off" wear and tear from many biodegradable mats. The natural oils and bacterias in the skin will aid in the decomposition process of the mat, especially if you use it often. Good mats can last years or even decades. Manduka mats are extremely durable, excellent quality, quite sticky and can last a lifetime. The downside is that they are expensive and quite heavy (with the exception of the Manduka light). However if you compare the cost of buying a mat every 10 years versus every 10 months, it might be worth it in the long run. Lately I have been using lululemon's "the mat" and I really like it. Again though, it is heavy, also I found that it stained very easily and even though I wash my mat regularly, it has permadirt. Yuck. Lulu does make a lighter version called the "unmat" but I find it WAY to thin. I don't feel it is comfortable to practice on for me, more of a cover to top on another mat. If you're looking for a less expensive option that is still of decent quality, I like the simple Gaiam mats. They do the trick and fall in the 18-30$ range. But if you are practicing on it every day, it might not last more than a year or few.

Cleaning your mat is completely a matter of personal preference. But remember, your face and bare skin are on it with regularity.

Thanks for the comment! In joy! Lauren

montlake, posted on January 22, 2013

Also, How long should a yoga mat last?

montlake, posted on January 22, 2013

My mats tend to start breaking up and small pieces start falling off. Is this just regular wear and tear or am I doing something wrong. I don't clean my mat.

cisono, posted on January 20, 2013

Doh, sorry but what you write is pretty obvious?
Shame that most baby wipes are hardly "natural" and
I would not use them on babies or myself (not even on my feet)...

justinehsu, posted on January 15, 2013

informative and helpful. thank you.

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