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How to Clean Your Yoga Mat

Clean Yoga MatAs we enter the summer season, it is important to wash your mat more regularly. I do have wipes available at our classes – and certainly if you are borrowing one of our mats then definitely wipe it down. However if you are looking for more creative and thorough ways to wash your mat, the following has been adapted from the Wai Lana website – along with some of my own additions as well as excerpts from the Manduka website.

Fitting yoga into your busy schedule is a challenge without having to worry about spending time cleaning your mat!  However, regularly washing your yoga mat will:

* Keep it soft and sticky.
* Prevent bacterial growth.
* Maximize the life of your mat.
* Keep you healthy & well.

The only way to keep most yoga mats clean is to wash them by hand, so here are some tips to show you how to wash a yoga mat easily. (Note: There are some youtube videos out there that say it is OK to put certain yoga mats in the washing machine, but I would not take a chance on ruining your machine. Manduka says to NEVER put their mats in a washing machine)

Wash your yoga mat before first use

You will probably want to wash your yoga mat before its first use to remove any “rubbery” odor and slickness. It will help remove the oils. This can be done with warm salt water as well as with the ways recommended below.

Deep Clean

For its first wash, or whenever your yoga mat seems particularly dirty, you will probably want to give it a really thorough cleaning. (Note: I have never done this with my Manduka mat, I always do a topical scrubbing as opposed to the deep plunge. But I can certainly understand how the ol’ plunge would be effective. That is what I do when I wash the knee pads, which you might also want to wipe down when in class.)

1. Run a few inches of cool or slightly warm water into a bathtub or large laundry sink and add a few drops of mild, non-oily detergent like Simple Green. Make sure you don’t add too much soap or it will be difficult to rinse away completely, leaving your yoga mat unnecessarily slippery.
2. Submerge the yoga mat in the water, one part at a time unless you have a big enough basin to wash it all at once. Let it soak for a few minutes (the longer you let it soak, the more thoroughly it will be cleaned).
3. Gently rub down both sides of the mat, top to bottom, using the soft side of a sponge, a piece of terrycloth, or even just your hands. This will help the mat to develop that soft, grippable surface for which sticky yoga mats are so prized.
4. Rinse the yoga mat out very thoroughly in clean water, making sure you get rid of any soap residue.
5. To dry your yoga mat, lay it on top of a dry towel and tightly roll mat and towel together like a cinnamon roll. Squeeze out excess water by pressing with your hands or feet. Unroll and hang to air dry. Make sure you let it dry out completely before storing to prevent mold.

Manduka’s Guideline for Manduka Mats

Lightly scrub the mat with a soft brush, cloth or sponge using a gentle household cleaner or specially formulated mat wash, like Manduka’s Mat Renew.

Wipe clean with clean water and air dry in sunshine. Do not put your mat in a washing machine or dryer!

Quick Clean

For lighter, more frequent maintenance cleaning and a quicker drying time, you can just clean your mat with a spray bottle and soft cloth.

Homemade Yoga Mat Cleaner

It is very easy to make a spray-on mat cleaner that will break up sweat and dirt and kill odor-causing molds and bacteria while at the same time extending the lifespan of your mat. Try either of these recipes.

Water/Vinegar Spray

For a very simple, natural antibacterial/antifungal mat spray, simply mix 1 part warm water with 3 parts white vinegar. You can also try adding a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, mint, or tea tree oil to add a nice aroma and increase the germ- and odor-killing potential.

Soap/Water Spray

Another easy cleanser is a simple soap solution of 2 or 3 cups of water and a few drops of mild detergent.

Spray Cleaning Instructions

1. Spray your yoga mat cleaner over the surface of your mat. If you are using a soapy cleanser, spray very lightly or your mat may become slippery. If you are using a vinegar cleanser, you can spray liberally. If your yoga mat seems especially dirty, let the cleanser sit and soak in a bit before cleaning it off.
2. Wipe the yoga mat with a wet cloth or sponge. When the cleanser has been thoroughly removed, rub the mat down with a soft dry cloth, like a small towel or washcloth. Now repeat on the other side.
3. Allow your mat to air dry, which should take only about 5 to 10 minutes. If it takes longer than this, then try rubbing your mat down some more with a towel to remove the excess water and accelerate drying time.

Mat Cleaners For Purchase

I have mat cleaners made by Manduka and I know some members of our Renaissance Yoga community have begun making their own herbal mat cleaners as well.

The above has been adapted from the following website:

http://www.wailana.com/yoga/newsletter/wash-yoga-mat.php

6 Comments
  1. I have been into essential oils for 20 years– as had an experience that drew me to them– and I have never turned back and never would. J Lavender has been in every bath that Skylar has ever had, each day. hehe Anyway, I would suggest a few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle for quick wipe-downs on the mat, or in the tub for cleaning. You can add a few drops of ESSENTIAL OILS. Not perfume oils– as some may get confused.

    I regularly use– and would suggest: Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Frankincense, Myrrh. They all have great properties for antiseptic and antifungal, etc.

    Karen

  2. great stuff, clear instructions and such simple effective cleaning tips, all three of my yoga mats need a good clean and I simply cannot wait to try out these methods, I’m so glad I have more than one, this way I can make my own little science experiment to see which method works the best. Huge thanks :) Ruby

  3. I am struggling with my Manduka mat! As my hands and feet get sweaty during my practice I slip and slide on my mat. I have tried washing it with the diluted cleanser and a sponge, I even tried the salt scrub and always left it outside in the sun to dry. Nothing changes the slipperiness of it. I have only had it 5 months and I am very frustrated. Any other suggestions?

    • Hi Allyson,

      Very sorry to hear of your struggles with your mat – that has not at all been my experience but understand that some have had this type of result. It seems to happen to those who perspire (more) through their feet and hands. One option then is to use a mat towel. If really perspiration is the issue, then a mat towel may be the way to go…Check back again as I will think more…

      Satyam

  4. hi! Thanks for the advices. Currently I am struggling the problem with my manduka mat. I think that I overexposed it to the sun and now half of the mat it’s extremely sticky like some glue came out and my feet and body glue to the mat. I really don’t know how to deal with it. I clean with water and it’s still the same. I also try to clean with sunflower oil but nothing works. Please advice if anybody has any solution.

    • Oh my Nina – it sounds like intense sunlight and heat actually changed the consistency & affected the integrity of your Manduka mat. If so, one thing is to contact Manduka and see if they will be generous enough to exchange it – it is always worth a shot. While there is no err on their side, I have found them to be one of the most accommodating companies out there. Beyond that I am not sure what to suggest. While the Manduka mat serves most well, some do find it slippery if they perspire from their hands / feet, but your problem is the opposite(!) you are getting stuck to your mat. If oil does not alleviate the problem (and that probably is not an ideal solution), I am not sure what to suggest – do contact Manduka – they are nice folks and might do something for you…

      Satyam

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