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Yoga Mat Cleaning Guide

woman wearing active wear sanitising a black yoga mat

If you have only recently kickstarted your yoga journey, we must applaud you for finding your way to this article because that means you are fully aware of the dirt and germs that yoga mats harbour. Like all home gym equipment, the combination of sweat, body oils, and dirt leave yoga mats feeling grimy (sometimes even slimy when your skin is sweaty and pressed against the mat) while also encouraging the growth of bacteria. Needless to say, this eventually leads to a less than pleasant-smelling yoga mat which is quite a turnoff to use!

It should be noted, however, that merely cleaning your yoga mat is not enough to proclaim it ‘safe’ to use again; this is because cleaning removes dirt, buildup and, to some extent, will get rid of germs, but it will not kill bacteria. This means a ‘clean’ yoga mat may look appealing to use and smell nice again, however, the germs present on it can still lead to infections. Therefore, cleaning yoga mats must always be followed by sanitising them. 

So, now that we have established a few reasons as to why it is important to clean and disinfect your yoga mat, let’s talk about when these measures should be taken.

How Often Should You Clean Your Yoga Mat?

woman wearing pink active wear sanitising a black yoga mat

The frequency of cleaning and sanitising your yoga mat will depend on how often you are using it, as well as what type of yoga and exercises you are performing on it. Another factor to keep in mind is sharing of the mat and/or props that are used in a yoga studio as this increases the risk of cross-contamination. 

If you are using your yoga mat daily or multiple times in a week, consider cleaning it at the end of every week. A deep clean, on the other hand, is advised once in 2-3 weeks unless you are performing intense workouts or full body power yoga that leaves your body dripping in sweat; under such circumstances, cleaning and disinfecting is advised more frequently.

To minimise buildup on your yoga mat, wipe it down with a cleaning solution and a clean towel after every use. If feasible, it is a good idea to follow this up with a second wipe down using a disinfectant wipe. Keep in mind that you should never roll up your yoga mat when it is damp (whether with sweat, a cleaning solution, or disinfectant) as this promotes the growth of mould and fungus. 

How to Clean Different Types of Yoga Mats

woman sanitising a blue yoga roller

There are two primary types of yoga mats as far as construction is concerned – open-cell and closed-cell mats. The former features a thicker and porous material that keeps the mat relatively dry when in use while the latter is water-resistant and typically thinner. Some closed-cell yoga mats, however, do absorb some amount of moisture.

Since these two types of yoga mats are constructed differently, they require different deep cleaning methods as well. For a regular, basic clean, however, the cleaning process remains the same. 

Routine Cleaning for All Types of Yoga Mats

As we mentioned earlier, cleaning or wiping down your yoga mat after every use is the best practice for keeping dirt, grime, and bacteria buildup to a minimum. To do this with an appropriate cleaning solution and disinfectant, follow the steps below:

  • In a spray bottle (with a mist setting), mix 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water. For a pleasant scent, add in 2-4 drops of essential oil (one of your choosing); close the bottle and shake it vigorously to mix the ingredients.
  • Dampen a clean small towel with your homemade cleaning solution (avoid saturating the towel). 
  • While the mat is rolled out flat on the floor, wipe it thoroughly from top to bottom. Be sure to clean both sides of the mat. 
  • To abolish germs from your yoga mat, wipe over the material with disinfectant wipes or simply dampen a clean, microfibre cloth with a disinfectant, and then wipe the mat from top to bottom (on both sides). 
  • When the yoga mat is dry, roll it up, and store it away. To speed up the drying process, dab the mat with a clean, dry towel to soak up excess moisture before leaving it to air-dry. 

Deep Cleaning Closed-Cell Yoga Mats

When it comes to deep cleaning a closed-cell yoga mat to remove stubborn dirt and kill bacteria trapped in the construction of the material, the steps to follow differ slightly from a regular method, however, they are fairly simple to follow and very helpful in effectively cleaning and sanitising the material. 

Here’s how to deep clean your closed-cell yoga mat:

  • On a clean, flat surface, roll out your yoga mat.
  • Dampen a microfibre cloth in the solution, and scrub the mat thoroughly, paying more attention to stubborn grime and visible dirt. For best results, wipe the yoga mat in circular motions. 
  • After deep cleaning, both sides of the mat, wipe it with a dry towel before draping it over a clothes rack to air-dry completely.

Deep Cleaning Open-Cell Yoga Mats

Due to the fact that open-cell yoga mats absorb moisture, they are harder to clean because much of the dirt and bacteria sinks into the material. Nevertheless, with the right approach, you can disinfect and deep clean your open-cell yoga mat efficiently.

To do that, follow the steps below:

  • In a large enough tub such as a bathtub or one that will not crush the mat, make a cleaning solution consisting of dishwashing liquid and warm water (just warm, not hot). Avoid making a strong DIY cleaner as it will be difficult to remove all traces of soap residue from the material which, in turn, will interfere with the mat’s grip. A good rule of thumb is to measure and add 1 tablespoon of dish soap per 4 litres of water. 
  • Place the yoga mat in the tub (make sure that it is fully submerged); leave it to soak for 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Take the mat out of the cleaning solution, lay it down on a clean, flat surface, and use a soft-bristled cleaning brush to scrub the material from top to bottom (on both sides).
  • When you are satisfied with the removal of dirt and grime from the material, dip the mat in a tub of freshwater or hold it under running water to rinse off the cleaning solution; they both work the same so you can choose whichever is more convenient for you.
  • Before you leave your open-cell yoga mat to air-dry, shake off excess water, and then wipe it with a dry towel.

With that, we come to the end of our comprehensive cleaning instructions for both open-cell and closed-cell yoga mats! Be sure to pay close attention to the dos and don’ts as per the type of yoga mat you have in order to complete the cleaning method safely and effectively. Lastly, don’t forget to sanitise your yoga mat regularly to keep it free of illness-causing bacteria.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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