How to Clean a Yoga Mat


Child’s pose is one of those poses that every time it’s entered into acts as a reminder that it’s okay to rest and accept the peace that comes from resting. At the same time, there’s also a decent likelihood that the close proximty of nose to mat in child’s pose acts as a reminder that it’s NOT okay to have a stinky yoga mat. There’s a big difference between a “sticky” mat and a “stinky” mat. The former is to be sought after, the latter is to be shunned. So, the big question is when was the last time you gave your “stinky” mat a bath. If you’re like me, it should have been done a long time ago. Perhaps you have a preferred method for cleaning your mat. I don’t. In fact, in the six years I’ve practiced yoga, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never cleaned it once. That’s just gross!

Well, after a few times in child’s pose last night, I decided I’d better get serious about cleaning my mat; otherwise, I might end up with a nasty foot fungus on my forehead. With that thought in mind, I went searching for a cure. Here’s what a little research turned up on different ways to keep a mat in tip-top shape.

Yoga Journal had the following to say on the subject:

If your mat is lightly soiled, use a spray bottle, damp sponge, or terry cloth rag to apply a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. Rub the soiled areas. Wipe the mat with clean water; then rub with a dry terry cloth towel. Hang to air dry.

If your mat is heavily soiled, submerge it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent; use very little soap as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use. Thoroughly hand wash the mat and rinse in clean water. After squeezing out the excess water, lay the mat on a dry towel and roll the mat and towel together. Stepping on the rolled up mat will squeeze more moisture out of the mat and into the towel. Then unroll and hang to air dry.

A Bikram site recommended a different approach:

Just put it by itself into the washing machine, add a very small amount of a light detergent such as Woolite and run it through a gentle cycle. Then just hang it to dry it usually dries overnight but in the humid summer weather it might take a little longer. I recommend washing your mat once every couple of months, depending on how often you attend class. It’s also a good idea to hang your mat in between classes rather than leave it rolled up.

Here’s a few more words of wisdom from Yogamatters:

All of our sticky, standard, lightweight, travel and ecoYoga mats are machine washable: Use a little mild detergent and a cool wash cycle (no more than than 40 degrees). Don’t use the spin cycle. Allow lots of time to air dry (do not use a tumble drier or radiator) and avoid folding or using your mat until it is completely dry, as this may shorten its life. You can roll your mat up with a towel and squeeze excess water out to speed up the drying process. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe your mat clean. Do not wash your mat unnecessarily.

Cotton mats can also be machine washed – full details supplied with each mat.

Here’s one last link if you are still looking for ideas. I think I’m going to opt for the sponge-down solution rather than complete submersion. Hopefully my next child’s pose is a little less distracting than the last one.

Leave a comment if you have any other good ideas for mat cleanliness!

Manduka Yoga Gear