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We’ve tested several methods to wash a yoga mat and found the best ways to keep it squeaky clean without damaging it.

how to wash your yoga matWhether you practice yoga daily or take a class once in a while, your yoga mat will inevitably pick up some dirt and sweat along the way, and will need a good cleaning periodically.

Creams and oils from your skin can also build up and make the mat slippery, which could make you slide during your practice. Those downward dogs can easily turn into planks without a proper grip!

Washing your mat regularly and wiping it down after every yoga class will not only extend the life of your mat, but it and will also help you enjoy a smell-free slide-free practice. There are some quick things you can do to keep it clean every time you use it, and things you can do to ensure a deeper clean on a weekly basis.

What to do for easy regular maintenance:

Before we get into deep cleaning regimes, there are some quick and simple things you can do on a regular basis to keep you yoga mat in tip top shape. Here are some easy tips:

  • Wash your hands and feet before you practice, especially when you walk around barefoot.
  • Wear shoes or socks until you get to your yoga mat if you’re at a yoga studio or on a yoga retreat.
  • Right after your yoga practice, use yoga mat wipes, or a yoga mat spray cleaner and cloth. You can buy these online or at a sports store. You can also use baby wipes that don’t have too much soap in them.
  • Place a towel on your mat during your practice, especially if you go to hot yoga classes. Thin yoga towels absorb moisture and are easy to wash regularly.

And now for the deep cleaning methods:

If you practice yoga frequently at a studio, you should wash your yoga mat thoroughly once a week in addition to regular maintenance. Dirt and sweat build up more easily in studios where others are practicing often (and you don’t want their germs!). If you practice at home and you keep your floors quite clean, then a deep clean of your yoga mat every two or three weeks will be enough.

There are several deep cleaning methods to wash your yoga mat. We’ve tried and tested these and have our favorites recommended below, although several come with some side effects, which we’ve also noted below. The methods that are less harsh and less intrusive will keep you yoga mat in better shape and will prevent it from shredding.

Pop it into the washing machine

You can wash your mat in a washing machine with a very mild laundry detergent (or some recommend no detergent at all). But be careful when doing this often, as the rough tumble and spinning could damage your yoga mat, causing it to possibly tear and shred. If you choose this method, be sure to use cold water and set the washing machine on a delicate cycle. Also, too much soap can make it slippery – so just a drop will do the trick. Never put a yoga mat in the dryer as this will ruin your yoga mat in the long run – best to hang it up and let it dry naturally.

Water and vinegar

Another deep-cleaning method is to use an equal part mix of water and vinegar to scrub down your mat. This can be an effective natural method, however it can also leave a strong unpleasant smell from the vinegar. Try adding a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil to the mix. But make sure your yoga mat can endure these oils as well as the vinegar without ruining the texture and material of the mat. Try this on a small corner of the mat and test the result before using it on the entire mat.

Baking soda and lemon juice

Another natural method for a deep clean is mixing a small amount of baking soda and lemon juice in a large amount of water, and using this mixture to clean your yoga mat. The baking soda works as a deep cleanser and mild exfoliator, removing any excess dirt. And the lemon juice is also a natural cleanser and adds a nice fresh scent. Take a cloth and dip it into the liquid mixture and wipe the mat down thoroughly, then rinse off the mixture by using another clean cloth soaked in water.

And our recommended deep cleaning method for your yoga mat – soap and water!

detergent for yoga matsThe simplest solution and the one we’ve found to be the most effective without damaging your yoga mat is hand washing it by simply using soap and water, with a good strong scrub.

The trick here is not to use a large amount of soap. And to pick a very mild detergent that won’t bubble up and get trapped inside the yoga mat – since this will cause you to slip during practice.

Mix a small amount of detergent into a large amount of water so it’s quite diluted. Then use a cloth or small towel to wipe down the mat with the mixture, scrubbing quite deeply on the areas where the hands and feet meet the mat. Then wipe your mat a couple of more times with a cloth soaked well in water to remove the soap. And hang out to dry naturally in a warm place, just be sure it’s completely dry before rolling it back up again.

The bathtub method

Some people submerge their yoga mat in a bathtub filled with soap and water, and let it sit for a while before rinsing it out. Since this means the mat is immersed in a large amount of water, we’ve found that the water gets easily trapped inside the yoga mat – especially in the winter months when it may not be warm enough to dry completely. If you use the bathtub method, be sure to allow enough time for it to dry in a warm place for at least one or two days. Rolling it into a large thick towel for a few minutes before hanging it up to dry also helps remove some of the excess water.

So that’s it – simple and easy – just soap and water!

And you can then practice knowing that your mat is dirt free and smelling fresh and clean. Happy yoga!

Yoga Escapes organizes luxury yoga retreats in beautiful places around the world, offering a mix of Vinyasa yoga and restorative Yin yoga classes. Visit the Yoga Escapes website for info on upcoming yoga holidays.

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