How to Clean a Yoga Mat the Easy Way

Learn our quick and chemical-free way to sanitize your yoga mat, so it will look and smell fresh.

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Yes, you need to learn how to clean your yoga mat. There’s nothing worse than shifting into a downward dog and catching a whiff of your yoga mat. Or worse—not realizing it smells a little “off” until your face is pressed against it.

The fact is, your yoga mat can be a bacteria magnet, harboring germs even when there’s no odor or visible dirt at all. If you’re not wiping down your mat on the regular, you need to give it a quick scrub ASAP. But don’t sweat it—cleaning your yoga mat is easy. You likely have all the ingredients on hand already. Here's how to rid your yoga mat of nasty germs, so you can exercise safely.

How Often to Clean a Yoga Mat

For those regularly practicing yoga, experts recommend cleaning your yoga mat once a week. But you can do this chore safely and quickly using this homemade cleaning solution.

If you have a history of skin infections or fungus, clean your mat after each use. In that case, it might be easiest to buy a pre-mixed mat cleaner (which comes in a spray or wipes; see below).

Considerations Before You Get Started

You may be tempted to reach for a disinfectant spray with harsh chemicals or to grab some cleaning towelettes like Clorox wipes. But a natural method is best for cleaning a yoga mat. First of all, the chemicals can degrade the mat over time.

And remember that your face and skin will probably be right up against the mat. Yoga mats have different levels of absorbency, but if yours does absorb the chemicals, you'll be right up against the mat, breathing them in.

What You Need:

How to Clean a Yoga Mat With Vinegar and Water

Step 1: Make a Cleaning Solution

  • Lay out your mat on a flat surface indoors.
  • Combine equal parts water and vinegar (which has odor-fighting and anti-microbial properties) together in a clean spray bottle, and then add a few drops of tea tree oil (another natural anti-microbial than can also add a refreshing scent).
  • Give it a quick shake to combine.

Step 2: Spray Mat and Scrub

  • Spray the mat liberally, prioritizing the obviously dirty spots.
  • Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. The vinegar's disinfecting properties will be most effective if you give it time to work.
  • With a circular motion, scrub with a soft cloth from the top of the mat to the bottom. Flip it over and repeat on the other side.

Step 3: Hang to Dry

  • Hang the mat so that both sides can dry without trapping moisture underneath. (A smart spot? Over your shower rod or shower door.)
  • While it might seem like a great idea to hang the mat in the sun, it can dry out the foam, making it all weird and crumbly.
  • Make sure it's completely dry before rolling it up, as a damp mat can be a breeding ground for bacteria.


Can I wash my yoga mat in the washing machine?

Maybe! Check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions, and if it says "machine washable," go ahead and throw your mat in the machine. Use the gentle cycle and don't use bleach. Steer clear of the dryer, though. Remove it promptly when the cycle ends, and air dry it on a clothes line or drying rack.

If the instructions don't specify that your yoga mat can be machine washed, avoid this method. It's not worth damaging your mat when hand washing isn't that hard.

How do I deep clean a yoga mat?

For a particularly grimy mat that needs a deep clean, submerge the entire mat in warm water in the bathtub.

  • Add 1 tablespoon of mild dish soap or liquid laundry detergent.
  • While holding the mat under the water, scour the grimy spots with a sponge.
  • Place something heavy on it to keep it submerged, and soak the mat for 10-15 minutes.
  • Drain the soapy water from the tub and rinse the mat well.
  • Hang it over the side of the tub or the shower to air dry.

How long does bacteria live on a yoga mat?

Flu viruses can survive on a yoga mat for 24 hours. Cold viruses can survive for several days. Fungi that cause skin infections can grow on yoga mats and last for months. Microbes love warm, moist environments like yoga studios, which are intentionally heated at high levels (which leads to a lot of sweating!).

How can I keep my yoga mat cleaner for longer?

The best way to keep your yoga mat clean for longer is to lay a towel over it when practicing.

  • Lay the mat down on the same side each time you practice.
  • Cover the side facing up with a towel, which will absorb your sweat and body oil.
  • After every session, toss the towel in the washing machine with your workout clothes.
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