How to Clean Every Type of Yoga Mat
Cleanse your mat and your chakras
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I am not the cleanest yogi. I wash my bra and leggings once a week, and I can’t say I’ve ever showered after my lunchtime vinyasa class, even during high summer, when I’m pouring sweat. But there’s one thing I try to keep spotless: my mat. Yoga mats get touched all over by sweaty hands, feet, and bodies and are then rolled up for days at a time, which makes them a breeding ground for microbes. The best defense? Once or twice a month—or after a week of high-sweat practices—run your mat through the washing machine or suds it up with dish soap in the bathtub. (Check with your mat’s manufacturer for instructions and soap specifications before you do.)
But dirt, grime, and germs can build up fast. Quickly cleaning your mat after each practice helps kill microbes before they multiply, plus it removes the mealy floor dirt that inevitably tracks onto the surface and grinds into your hands and palms during salutations and warriors. Here are my cleaning strategies for three different types of mats.
The Fantastic Plastics
My all-time favorite mat is the Manduka Pro ($120) specifically because its classic closed-cell foam surface is so easy to wipe down. Grab a microfiber rag or towel (I love Yoga Rat’s ColorTrue Yoga Towel and Hand Towel Set, $20), spray it with an antimicrobial mat cleaner like Manduka’s Mat Wash Spray ($14) (or make your own with one part white vinegar, three parts water, and five drops essential oil), and give it a few passes. As easy as child’s pose.
The Sticky Rubbers
Here’s where it starts to get tricky. Sustainable, eco-friendly tree rubber is a great choice for the planet, but the same grip that makes for a stable practice also clings to dust and grit and doesn’t grant easy glide to a rag. So, to clean my Prana Indigena ($79), I first deploy a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment—gentle circular motions take care of particulates and a good amount of dust—and then give it a good all-over misting with one of the aforementioned mat cleaners. I let it air-dry before rolling it up.
The Sleek Microfibers
I love my glidey microfiber-topped Yellow Willow mat ($78) for flowy stretching sessions, but I don’t love the way it collects hair and lint. I have been known to (carefully) run the floor vacuum over it, but the more meditative—and portable—solution is a swipe it with a velvet lint brush, like the Evercare Magik brush ($10). Once that’s done, mist and air-dry.
One more tip I learned from a yoga teacher: when you’re ready to roll up your mat, first fold it in half like a taco so the top surface is facing itself. That way, you aren’t transferring floor nasties to the side you practice on. You won’t be able to roll your mat as sveltly, but the grime savings are worth it.