How To Clean Your Yoga Mat:
Having the right mat can make a big difference in your practice. Once you find the perfect mat, you’ll want to take care of it so that it lasts you a long time. A big part of that is cleaning it after each practice. Because, let’s face it, over the course of its life your mat will see a lot of wear and tear. Plus, nobody likes to do Child’s Pose on a smelly mat!
Open vs. Closed Cell Mats
Before we get into how to clean your mat(s), let’s start with identifying what kind of mat you have. Most mats can be categorized into two groups: open cell or closed cell. Basically, this refers to how the mat is made.
Open cell mats are porous, allowing moisture to be absorbed into the mat itself. These mats are often grippy to the touch and the material is dense.
In comparison, closed cell mats are water resistant and won’t soak in liquids. Also, closed cell mats are typically lighter weight than open cell and can get slippery when wet.
Both types are wonderful, but it’s good to know what kind of mat you have because each needs to be cleaned differently. Here at the studio, we practice on and sell the Manduka PRO Series– PRO and PROlite – These mats are made using a closed cell material, meaning nothing can be absorbed into the mat, and the mat can be cleaned thoroughly on the surface every time.
How to Clean an Open Cell Mat
The quick clean:
Thoroughly wipe down your open cell mat with a dry towel after class.
If you want to use some type of cleaner on the mat, put the cleaner on a towel first and then apply it to your mat. This will prevent cleaning products from seeping into the mat and becoming trapped. Try making your own cleaner: 3 parts water, 1 part white vinegar.
Let your mat dry out before rolling it up.
The deep clean:
Submerge mat in bathtub filled with a shallow layer of warm water (NOT HOT!) Add approximately 1 TBSP of Woolite or other gentle detergent (again, do not over soap!)
Allow the mat to soak for 5 minutes, then lightly scrub with a soft cloth.
Repeat on bottom side.
Make sure to thoroughly rinse the mat with clean warm water to remove all soap residue. This is very important as these mats are super absorbent and may hold onto the soap.
Wipe the mat clean on both sides with a dry towel.
Allow to air dry 24-48 hours (or until completely dry) before re-rolling mat. Do not roll or store mat away while still wet.
Put any kind of cleaner directly on the mat (use a towel like explained above).
Use essential oils to clean open cell mats. The oils can break down the integrity of the mat after continual use.
Dry your open cell mat in direct sunlight as the sun can damage the rubber.
How to Clean a Closed Cell Mat
The quick clean:
Use cleaning products directly on the mat itself:
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Spray
Lysol Spray Cleaner
Clorox Spray Cleaner
The cleaner must remain on the mat for approximately 5 minutes to do its job.
Wet your mat and then use a soft sponge, brush or cloth to scrub off anything funky. Thoroughly rinse afterwards to remove as much of the product as possible, since skin irritation and/or respiratory difficulties may occur. Please be sure to carefully follow all directions listed on the cleaner’s packaging.
The deep clean:
Lay your mat out on a flat surface.
Mix approx 4 cups of WARM water (hot water may damage the mat) and a few drops of a mild detergent like Woolite (do not over soap!)
Dip a rag into the soapy water, then thoroughly wash the mat from top to bottom.
Make sure to wipe the mat down with plenty of clean warm water to remove any soap residue.
Wipe the mat with a clean, dry towel.
Repeat on bottom side.
Allow to air dry until the mat is entirely dry. Do not roll or store mat away while still wet.
Submerge your mat in water. Submerging a closed cell mat in water will cause the material to break down. This includes placing your Yoga mat in the washing machine, which will significantly reduce your mat's lifespan.
What about Props? How to Clean Yoga Accessories
While pillow and bolster covers - as well as straps- may be washed in a washing machine, the easiest way to disinfect your other props (especially blocks) is to use the process listed above in the “quick clean" section for closed-cell mats.
Can you clean a yoga mat with Lysol/Clorox wipes?
In order for a disinfectant to be effective, the entire surface needs to be visibly wet for a certain period of time (in the case of Lysol or Clorox, it’s 4 to 5 minutes). This may be difficult to achieve with a small wipe on a large surface like your yoga mat as the chemicals on the wipe evaporate very quickly. Also, you absolutely must rinse your mat off and wipe it clean to remove as much of the product as possible. Many people experience mild to severe allergic reactions after prolonged skin contact with these chemical disinfectants.
How often should you disinfect your mat? (Not just clean it)
This is a great question. Generally speaking, you only want to disinfect your yoga mat when you feel it has been exposed to germs. If you are practicing at home and no one in your home is sick, you really don’t need to disinfect your mat very often. Having said that, given the current asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, disinfecting once a week is probably a good idea. If you are venturing back out into studios, you should disinfect your mat (both front and back) after every class.
Can I use bleach on my mat?
We do NOT recommend bleach. That is one of the harshest cleaners both for the mat and for the user. We would recommend using one of the EPA approved disinfectants listed above, following all the directions for use, and making sure to thoroughly rinse the mat afterwards. Steer clear of solvent based products or harsh chemicals as these will degrade the mat.
Can I wash my mat in the washing machine?
No. The most effective clean you can give your mat is by hand with a soft cloth with the appropriate cleaning solution. A washing machine will damage your mat and cause rapid aging.
Of course, each mat is unique so make sure you also check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions, which are often listed on the packaging or their website.
Now that you know how to keep your mat fresh and clean, give it some love and get to practicing! We hope to see you in the studio soon.