We all know the unpleasant sensation of bowing down into downward dog and catching an unexpected whiff of our yoga mat. It’s essential to keep your yoga mat clean to ward off odor-causing bacteria, but how do you wash one properly? Is it okay to put a yoga mat in the washing machine?
Can you wash a yoga mat in the washing machine? Yes, you can wash a yoga mat in the washing machine, as long as you use cold water and the delicate cycle. Always air dry yoga mats; never put one in the dryer. If you want to be extra safe check the manufactures website.
Yoga mats need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of sweat, dirt, and bacteria and keep odors at bay. We’ll cover the best ways to clean a yoga mat below, including machine and hand washing options.
How to Wash a Yoga Mat in a Washing Machine
Before you wash your yoga mat (in the machine or by hand), make sure to check the manufacturer’s website first. Yoga mats can be made from a number of materials, including:
Each type of mat has different cleaning needs, so what might work for one won’t for another.
Once you’ve determined that it’s okay to wash your yoga mat in the washer, the process is simple:
- Put the yoga mat in the washing machine with a gentle detergent.
- Set the machine to the gentle cycle with cold water.
- When the cycle is complete, lay the mat flat or hang it over a shower rod to dry. Never put yoga mats in the dryer.
Keep in mind that even if you use the gentle cycle, frequent washing will shorten your yoga mat’s life. Machine washing should be reserved for occasional deep cleaning, not as a regular practice.
Gentler ways to clean your mat are detailed below.
Other Ways to Wash Your Yoga Mat
Even the gentlest machine cycle puts stress on your yoga mat, so it’s a good idea to use the machine sparingly or opt only to clean your mat by hand. Hand cleaning your mat will keep it germ and odor-free while prolonging the life of the mat.
Before we get into hand cleaning methods, there are a few things to note when cleaning your mat:
- Always use gentle products on your mat.
- Always make sure to rinse off all excess soap to prevent the mat from becoming slippery.
- Drying your mat in the sun is okay, but don’t leave it in the bright sun for long periods, or it will dry out and become brittle.
- Never put a yoga mat in the dryer.
As you’ll see below, washing a yoga mat by hand is every bit as easy as washing one in a machine.
Regular spot cleaning or a quick wipe down is ideal for keeping germs and dirt at bay. These methods are usually gentle enough to use weekly or even as often as every practice if needed.
All you’ll need is a clean, soft cloth (damp or dry) and a cleaning spray.
You can use a commercial yoga mat spray that’s made especially for this purpose if you want. They usually come in soothing scents and use natural ingredients. Alternatively, you can use a general sports equipment spray that does the same thing.
If you prefer the do-it-yourself method, it’s easy to make your own spray. These two are our favorite recipes, and you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen:
- Dish soap and water: a few drops of soap in a spray bottle full of water to gently clean
- One part vinegar to three parts water: to clean and deodorize
Whichever spray you decide to go with, the method will be the same:
- Spray the mat so it’s thoroughly damp but not soaking.
- Wipe it with a damp or dry cloth.
- Wait for it to dry before rolling it up.
While it might be tempting to go all in and use extra soap or spray, keep in mind that soapy residue is going to reduce the mat’s grip, allowing you to slip around the next time you’re practicing. For that reason, make sure to wipe the mat thoroughly after spraying.
No matter how religious you are about spot cleaning your mat and wiping it down regularly, there’s going to come a time when you need to give it a good deep clean. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a big deal, as it takes almost no effort at all.
Take a look at how easy it is to get your mat as clean as a whistle:
- Lay your mat flat in a bathtub (or kiddie pool, or another basin).
- Fill the container with enough water to cover the mat.
- Add a few drops of gentle dish soap or laundry detergent.
- Let it soak for a bit—usually between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on how dirty it is.
- Drain the water and rinse the yoga mat, taking care to remove all residue from the mat and tub to prevent future slips.
- Lay the may flat or drape it over the shower rod to dry.
It doesn’t get much easier than that! You can toss it in the tub while you’re doing other things, and it will basically take care of itself.
How Often Should You Wash Your Yoga Mat?
The frequency with which you wash your yoga mat depends on several factors:
- How often do you practice?
- How much do you sweat during practice?
- Is the surface you put your mat on pretty clean?
- What type of mat is it?
Your mat’s manufacturer usually provides care instructions on their website, but generally speaking, it’s a good idea to spot clean or wipe the mat about once a week and deep clean it every 4-6 weeks.
How to Keep Your Yoga Mat Clean
We’ve already covered how to clean your yoga mat when it gets dirty, but there are also several things you can do to minimize dirt and grime, to begin with.
Use a Towel
Yoga towels are explicitly made to stick to your mat, providing a non-slip barrier to keep dirt and sweat away. These are especially helpful if you sweat a lot while practicing, such as with Bikram yoga. The best thing about this yoga towel is it’s machine washable and dryer safe, so no need to worry about getting your mat dirty.
Go Easy on the Lotion
Some of the muck that ends up on our yoga mats is environmental, of course, but a surprising amount of it comes right from your own body. Body lotion or oil tends to get pretty grimy when mixed with sweat, so forgo the body treatments right before practicing.
If you’re practicing in the evening or after a strenuous day, it’s not a bad idea to take a quick shower before you step onto your mat.
Give It a Shake
One of the simplest things you can do to keep your yoga mat from accumulating dust and dirt is to give it a quick shake before you roll it up. This is an especially good idea if you’re practicing outdoors or in a public space where you’re not able to control the floor’s cleanliness.
Now that you know how to keep your yoga mat nice and clean, there’s no excuse not to clean it regularly. Make it a part of your regular cleaning routine, perhaps cleaning it every time you do laundry, for example. A clean yoga mat will ensure a pleasant and smell-free yoga practice, making it worth the effort.