How to make a yoga mat more sticky

What to do when your box fresh yoga mat is not as sticky as you would like it to be?

PVC yoga mats, like ours and Manduka’s Pro, are coated in a thin surface film to prevent them from sticking to the machine in production, and to keep them from sticking to themselves when they’re rolled up, or to each other when transported.

Unfortunately, this film is a bit greasy and can make the mat slippery initially – frustrating when all you want to do is get on it and practice.

I am tempted to say that all it needs is a bit of yoga-level acceptance and patience, and the recognition that like everything in life, a yoga mat with good grip is a journey not a destination. But if, like me, your patience only goes so far and you want your mat sticky NOW so you can get calm NOW, I have your back. Here’s what you need to do to make your yoga mat stickier.

How to stop slipping on a yoga mat

The key thing is to get rid of the greasy layer of film. It’s just like cleaning a dish – you need something to melt away the grease. 

There are a couple of ways to do this. By hand, or in the machine. A machine wash is obviously much easier but you need to check whether your mat can go in a machine. Our guidance is that the Affordable Recycled Yoga Mat, our Classic Eco Yoga Mat and our Universal Yoga Mat can be washed at up to 40 degrees, but please check your washing machine handbook for any weight restrictions. Our mats are all relatively lightweight, at 850g each, but the Manduka Pro mats (which are also made of PVC) are heavier mats, weighing in at somewhere between 1.1kg and at 3.4kg (depending on which mat you choose), so Manduka does not recommend machine washing them.

To make your yoga mat more sticky by hand

You can either use a few drops of dishwasher detergent in a couple of cups of water or a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water. The acidity of the vinegar will help to melt away the greasy surface film but will be gentle enough not to penetrate the mat and do any damage.

Put your chosen mixture in a spray bottle and squirt it over your yoga mat.

Use a sponge to spread it evenly across the surface. Don’t use paper or paper towels as they will disintegrate into the mat and make a terrible mess – a bit like when you left a tissue in your trouser pocket and put it in the machine. Not a good look. 

Leave for a couple of hours to let the detergent or vinegar dissolve the greasy layer.

Rinse your yoga mat with a shower head using lukewarm water, making sure there is no soap left behind.

Roll your mat in a large towel and pat down to remove as much water as you can.

Unroll it and wipe it down with a clean, damp fabric cloth.

Hang it out to dry in the fresh air or put it on a clothes rail. If you use a rail you should put a towel under your mat so it doesn't get rail marks. Never use a tumble drier or put it on a direct heat source like a radiator.

To let your washing machine take the load

If you don’t fancy getting down on your hands and knees (me neither), check your washing machine instructions and if the weight guidelines work for your mat, pop your yoga mat in the washing machine with a mild laundry detergent. Wash at 30 or 40 degrees 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). 

Whether you wash it by hand or put it in the machine, make sure you dry it thoroughly before rolling it up again. 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.)

Still got a problem? No problem… take your mat to the spa

Your face isn’t the only thing that can benefit from exfoliation. Just as scrubbing your face with coarse granules sloughs away dead skin and oily particles, so too coarse sea salt can slough away the surface film on your yoga mat.

Sprinkle the salt lightly over the mat and rub it in with a sponge or fabric cloth. Don’t be shy – get in there and give it a good going over! Then leave it 24 hours – ideally in the sun to dry. The next day, shake the mat down (you will definitely want to be outside for that!) and wipe it off with a damp cloth. Eh voila, an exfoliated yoga mat.

Manduka produced this cool video which shows you exactly how it's done.

Still slipping on your yoga mat? Maybe it’s you, not your mat

Oily hands can make a mat feel more slippery. Channel your favourite snooker player and get busy with the chalk powder, or crack open the baby powder, or baking soda. Sprinkle your white powder of choice lightly over your mat and then wipe it down with a clean, dry cloth.

If the powder gets stuck in the grooves of the yoga mat, you can either leave it there and allow the delicate aroma of baby powder to infuse your yoga practice with its magic powers or go outside and shake it out (there’s a song in there somewhere).

Let time work its magic

“Practice and all stickiness is coming” as Pattabhi Jois might once have said! The more you use it, the stickier it will become. And the more it will feel like YOUR yoga mat. I still have the mat I travelled around India with for 6 months – I know every mark and indentation of that mat, and there are plenty! Turns out a good yoga mat is just like a fine wine – the older it gets, the better it gets.

News just in! Our Recycled Yoga Mat has just been recommended as a Best Buy by OriGym - one of the UK’s most trusted education providers in health and fitness. Check out their article here.

Lucy Edge 

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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