How To Clean A Yoga Mat – All Your Need to Know By Mat Type
There are lots of ways to clean your yoga mat, but the right way depends on what type of mat it is, and how dirty it is.
Let’s start with an overview of how to clean each type of yoga mat
How to clean cork yoga mats
The good news is that cork mats are naturally anti-microbial, which means that bacteria can’t live on them. But your mat will inevitably get marked from time to time. In which case, given that cork is an unvarnished wood, it’s best to keep things super simple.
Don’t use any soap or detergent, just lightly spray your mat with water and wipe it dry. Use a cloth with a soft surface – not a scouring pad – cork mats are more vulnerable than others to surface wear. And do not use any essential oil either directly on the mat or in your water spray – it will stain.
Because cork mats are porous, they are definitely not machine washable. Do not put our lovely Yatay mats in the machine!
How to clean rubber yoga mats
Rubber mats like our Phantai mats are quite porous and can get water-clogged so machine washing is not a good idea for them, especially as rubber mats tend to be heavy, which can damage your machine.
As with cork yoga mats, do not use any essential oil either directly on the mat or in a water spray – it will stain. I learnt this the hard way – indelibly marking my beautiful Phantai mat!
We recommend sticking with a hand spray – see below for details.
How to clean foam yoga mats
Foam mats are okay in the machine, but if they are 100% foam they can be flimsy (which is why we don’t sell them), and they won’t tolerate too much of a spin.
How to clean microfibre yoga mats
Microfibre mats, the ones that feel velvety to the touch, are wonderfully soft and great for restorative yoga practices but they collect hair and lint, and even cat fur - if your cat likes to use it (as mine does) for a restorative nap. Your weapon of choice here is your trusty old vacuum cleaner, followed by a sweep of a lint brush.
How to clean PVC yoga mats
The good news is that our YogaClicks own brand Made by Yogis mats are machine washable – as long as your machine can deal with a load of 850g (which is what our own label mats weigh).
We wouldn’t recommend machine washing them every day, or even every week. Not good for the mat or the machine, but every few months, for a thorough deep clean, should be fine.
How to deep clean a yoga mat
You could, in theory, give your mat a bath. Some websites recommend a good old-fashioned soak for your yoga mat. They suggest using cool water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid or detergent. But I think it’s a lot of water and a lot of hassle too – who wants to wrestle a sopping wet mat out of the bath, and how and where do you hang the damn thing?
How to wash a yoga mat in a washing machine
Put your yoga mat in the drum unfolded. Use a mild laundry detergent. Detergents made for baby clothing are a great way to go because they are designed to target human-made stains, if you get my drift! Wash at 30 or 40 degrees maximum on a Delicates cycle, making sure the cycle includes a rinse and spin (or it will come out soaking wet and take days to dry).
How to clean your yoga mat by hand
There are several options to cleaning your yoga mat by hand. Even if your mat is machine washable you may prefer to wipe it down by hand if your mat is only mildly dirty. Here’s how:
1. Squirt some mild non-oil based detergent onto a sponge or fabric cloth and dab down the trouble spots. Wipe away residue soap with a clean, damp cloth. Don’t use too much soap or you will end up with a frothy mess.
2. Use baby wipes for a quick and easy job – especially if the problem is more one of smell than of dirt.
3. Buy a dedicated yoga mat spray cleaner or yoga mat wipes. There are different types of mat wash for different types of mat and mat manufacturers like Manduka make washes that are tried and tested for their mat type. For example, Manduka’s Natural Rubber Mat Wash contains vinegar which, the company claims, restores the rubber, to add moisture and grip, and to prolong its lifespan.
4. Use a homemade yoga mat cleaner (see below for details).
How to make yoga mat cleaner
Old school natural solutions
If you don’t want to buy a mat spray, you can easily make your own homemade mat cleaner. Use a ratio of 50/50 antibacterial white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and water. You need to dilute it with water both to reduce its strength, so it doesn’t damage your mat, and to dilute the strong vinegar smell. Mix it up in a spray bottle and spray lightly over the surface of your yoga mat. Use a sponge scourer to spread the solution across the mat, and wipe away any residue with a clean, damp cloth.
If you don’t like the idea of white vinegar squeeze some lemon juice into your spray bottle and use that to wipe your mat down. The acid in lemons is antibacterial and antiseptic, and the citrus smell beats vinegar any day.
If you want to get really fancy, try adding a couple of drops of lavender essential oil and a drop of tea tree oil to the spray bottle. Don’t use oil on a rubber yoga mat or cork yoga though – it will stain. The lavender oil is anti-bacterial, and the tea tree oil is anti-fungal. If you don’t like the admittedly strong smell of tea tree oil try one of the other essential oils with anti-fungal properties – which include lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint and orange essential oils. Don’t be afraid to mix and match a variety of oils – use all your favourites together and your mat will smell great!
Don’t have a lemon or white vinegar to hand? Use a mild dishwashing liquid instead.
Mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid with a couple of cups of water in a spray bottle. Use a sponge scourer to spread the solution across the mat, and wipe away any residue with a clean, damp cloth.
How often should you clean your yoga mat
Any of these methods will help you keep your mat clean, free of sweat, dirt and oils, and smelling fresh. You could wipe your mat down after every practice using any of the above, which might be a good way to go especially if you are a Hot Yoga fan or sweat a lot.
How to dry a yoga mat
Whether you wash it by hand or put it in the machine, make sure you dry it thoroughly before rolling it up again. Roll your mat with a towel to absorb excess water and then dry it in the open air – on a washing line outdoors or on an indoors clothes rail, never in a tumble dryer or on a radiator. This can take a couple of days in English weather, or a few hours if you are lucky enough to be in some hot, dry sun. (Send us a postcard.)
Pro tip: If you’re using a clothes rail put a towel under it - you don’t want rail marks on your mat. Not a good look!
is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.
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