Yoga has a ton of benefits. This ancient practice helps you build strength, flexibility and circulatory health; it can also relieve stress and anxiety. Best of all, to practice yoga, whether you’re at home or heading to a studio, all you really need is a yoga mat.
As the most important piece of your yoga kit, keeping your yoga mat clean and odor-free should be your top priority. If you regularly attend hot yoga class or high-energy vinyasa classes, you most likely sweat all over your mat throughout class. Unfortunately, sweat, dust and other germs can build up on the surface of your mat, causing bad smells and even spreading diseases if you’re not careful. To prevent this and to ensure your mat doesn’t wear out prematurely, you’ll need to follow a strict cleaning schedule. This may involve cleaning your mat after every use, spot cleaning it every few weeks, and giving it a deep clean if things begin to get smelly.
Keep reading to learn exactly how to clean your yoga mat using a combination of wipes, yoga mat cleaners and towels.
1. If You Sweat a Lot, Always Dry Your Mat With a Soft Towel
Nothing will make your yoga mat smell more quickly than rolling it up when it isn’t dry. This is especially true if the mat is wet with your sweat. So, the easiest thing you can do after every practice is to dry your sweat off the mat using a soft towel.
These Mr. Siga Microfiber Cleaning Cloths will do the trick and are easy to throw in your gym bag.
Mr. Siga Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
Gaiam Yoga Mat Towel
This yoga mat towel from Gaiam is another great option for wiping down your towel after class and soaking up sweat during class. Simply throw this towel in the washing machine between classes and you’ll be good to go. It measures 68″ x 24″ and is made of a super-absorbent polyester and nylon blend.
2. If You Don’t, It’s Still a Good Idea to Wipe Down Your Mat Every Week
So, you’ve decided to ignore step one. Even if you don’t sweat at every practice, your yoga mat still needs regular maintenance. The easiest way to extend its life is to wipe the mat down with a yoga mat cleaner about once a week. Please note that if you clean the average mat more often than once a week, you may cause it to wear out quite quickly. Here are a few great yoga mat wipe options.
Tidy Mat Cleaner Wipes
These Tidy Mat Cleaner Wipes from Giant Lion are a great way to give your yoga mat a rubdown. They’re safe for all types of yoga mats and can pick up dust, bacteria and sweat. Each container includes 30 wipes with a pleasant white lavender scent.
JasmineSeven Yoga Wipes for Body and Mat
These wipes are made with lavender and tea tree oil and are designed to clean yoga mats and be gentle on skin, no harsh chemicals or irritants! They come in a convenient canister that each carry 45 wipes, and the essential oils included are known for their calming, stress-reducing effects.
Wipex Natural Gym Equipment Wipes
These wipes are more all-purpose and designed for all gym equipment, making them safe to use on most yoga mats. They’re made with vinegar and lavender essential oil, and contain no toxic fumes so you won’t breathe in unpleasant smells during savasana. Each container comes with 75 wipes.
3. Every Couple of Weeks, Spot Clean Your Mat With a Made-for-Purpose Cleaner
In addition to wiping down your mat every week, you should spot clean it every two weeks or every month. That means spraying it down with a made-for-purpose cleaner that’s designed to be used on yoga mats. Here are a few great options for yoga mat sprays.
Asutra Mat Spray
Asutra’s yoga mat cleaners are made from all-natural ingredients yet are extremely effective at eliminating dust, germs, dirt and sweat from the surface of the workout aid. In addition to getting rid of everything that might cause bad odors, this spray will also leave your mat smelling delightful thanks to the included essential oils. The Astura cleaners are available in seven different scents as well as a multipack.
However, you should avoid using cleaners containing essential oils on yoga mats made of rubber.
TreeActiv Yoga Mat Spray
This yoga mat spray from TreeActiv is made with a cleansing, refreshing mix of essential oils including tea tree oil, witch hazel, eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil. This unique blend cleans, sanitizes and masks odor and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive ones, due to the all-natural ingredients. The spray also comes in a convenient, travel-sized bottle.
Muse Bath Apothecary Mat Cleaner
Muse Apothecary also makes a great yoga mat spray that comes in a convenient 8oz. 2-pack. Each spray contains natural essential oils including eucalyptus and mint, as well as proprietary enzymes that naturally break down dirt, stains, body oil, makeup and perspiration. This blend is free from harsh chemicals and plant-based, so it’s safe to use often.
4. Or Make Your Own Cleaner at Home
Even if you don’t want to buy a made-for-purpose yoga mat cleaner, you can still make your own at home. Simply mix a few drops of a mild dishwashing liquid, like this Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap, with two cups of warm water.
This liquid dish soap promises to remove dirt, grease and residue from the surface of your mat. Making your own cleaning solution means it will be free of chlorine, formaldehyde, artificial colors, parabens and phthalates.
5. Use a Spray Bottle
Whether you’ve decided to use a made-for-purpose yoga mat cleaner or a DIY mixture, you’ll need to somehow get it onto your mat. The best way to do that is to use a spray bottle, such as these Sally’s Organics Glass Spray Bottles. Simply spritz the cleaner over your mat and then wipe it off using a soft towel (like those mentioned above). After you’ve removed all the cleaning solution, wipe your mat down again with a damp towel to ensure all the cleaner has come off the surface.
6. Then Hang Your Mat Over a Drying Rack
Rolling your mat up or laying it on a flat surface while wet will only encourage the growth of mold and bacteria. This, in turn, will cause your yoga mat to really stink. So, the final step in this cleaning process should be to hang your mat over a drying rack. Both a shower curtain rod and clothes drying racks work well for this purpose. If you don’t have one, you can pick up this AmazonBasics Foldable Clothes Drying Rack to do the job.
7. If You Need a Deeper Clean, Throw it in the Washing Machine
Unfortunately, even with regular cleaning, yoga mats can get rather smelly. If this is the case for your mat, you might consider throwing it in the washing machine on a cold water gentle cycle with a very gentle detergent. Many yoga mats are now machine washable.
Before you do this, check with your mat’s manufacturer regarding their cleaning recommendations as some mats won’t survive the tumbling that comes with machine washing. It’s also important to note that you should never put a yoga mat in the dryer. Instead, let it air dry over a laundry rack.
8. Or Wipe it Down with a Vinegar Solution
Alternatively, if your yoga mat can’t be cleaned in the washing machine but still smells quite bad, try wiping it down with a vinegar solution to get rid of any bad odors. Mix one part distilled white vinegar with three parts water. Then, wipe the solution onto your mat before rinsing it off with a damp cloth. And, as always, allow the mat to air dry over a laundry rack. While your yoga mat will no longer have a bad odor, it may smell like vinegar for a few days following this type of cleaning.
9. If it Really Smells, Use Baking Soda
If you’ve tried all of the above and you still can’t get the stink out of your mat, it’s time to use baking soda. Simply sprinkle the baking soda powder over your mat, and gently rub it in. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, so the powder can work its magic absorbing any oils and nasty smells that may be lingering on your yoga mat. Finally, brush the powder off the mat, then use a vacuum to pick up any lingering dust.
Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda works well for this and several other household cleaning jobs.
If You Still Can’t Get The Smell Out, It’s Time to Buy a New One
Trust me, if your yoga mat is so smelly and worn down you can’t get it clean, it’s time to bit the bullet and get a new one. You can keep the old one if it has sentimental value, but trust me — a new one will reinvigorate your practice and give you a refreshing clean slate. Here are some of my favorite yoga mat options. You can also find more in-depth recommendations in our best yoga mats piece.
Manduka PRO Yoga Mat
Manduka makes excellent yoga mats, and this one creates a stable, grip-able, comfortable surface to practice on. It’s made with a closed-cell surface that prevents sweat from seeping into the mat and the mat is built thick for great joint protection. It’s got a fabric-finish side that’s designed comfortable for your body and a rubber-finish side that’s designed to grip the floor effectively. It also comes in seven different colors.
Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat
This yoga mat from Gaiam is built thick to protect knees, elbows and other joints, which makes it super comfortable to lie on. It’s 2/5-inch thick and comes with its own yoga strap that makes it easy to carry. It also comes in a variety of colors, pictured below.