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How to Give Your Yoga Mat the Scrub-Down It Desperately Needs

It's time to clean off the sweat, lint, skin oils, dirt and other grime that has accumulated on your yoga mat.

purple yoga mat being rolled up
Your yoga mat is a little too good at harboring germs and bacteria.
Sven Hansche/EyeEm/Getty Images

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

My yoga mat goes through a lot each week. Between taking it to boxing training sessions each day for core workouts to using it for morning yoga, my mat gets dragged around to some not-so-clean surfaces -- not to mention how it inevitably gets covered in my sweat, too.

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Because yoga mats are often used for intense, sweaty workouts, it's easy for them to harbor germs and bacteria. So whether you're sharing mats at a yoga class or using your own, it's worth taking the time to clean your mat often to banish bacteria and prevent it from falling apart.

Here are several tips and tricks on how to best clean your yoga mat. (For more cleaning tips, here's our guide on how to clean your mattress, how to kill mold in your washer and how to declutter your closet.)

How to clean your yoga mat

For everyday cleaning

For just the regular daily cleaning you'll want to do after a class or practice, I recommend using a homemade cleaning solution. You can simply mix white vinegar or witch hazel with water at a 1-to-4 ratio in a spray bottle and shake slightly to combine. (You can add a few drops of tea tree oil or another essential oil if you want a scent.) Then spray down your mat and gently wipe the solution all around the surface. Let your mat fully dry before rolling it up. 

For deep cleaning 

Believe it or not, one of the best methods to deep-clean your yoga mat is to give it a bath. Fill up a sink or bathtub with enough temperate water to fully submerge the mat. You can add a tablespoon of dish soap or detergent for each gallon of water. Allow it to soak for about 10 minutes, then gently wipe the front and back down with a cloth. Rinse your mat off with clean water before drying off the mat. I recommend wiping the mat off with a dry cloth before hanging the mat somewhere to hang-dry fully. 

I like to leave my mat to dry overnight to be completely moisture-free before I roll it back up. 

four yoga mats rolled up outside on a deck

Depending on how much you use it, you'll need to deep clean your yoga mat every few weeks or monthly.

Amanda Capritto/CNET

Can you wash a yoga mat in the washing machine? 

While I recommend the above cleaning methods, some yoga mats are machine washable. If you really want to machine-wash your mat, do so on a cold gentle cycle. Check the mat's care instructions before trying this method, though, because some yoga mats will fall apart in the wash. But never put your yoga mat in the dryer: Always leave it to air-dry. 

How often should you clean your yoga mat?

With frequent usage, your yoga mat can quickly accumulate sweat, lint, skin oils, dirt and other grime. And over time, they can begin to smell if you're not careful. Depending on how much you use it, you should deep clean it around once a month. It's also just good practice to give it a wipe down with disinfecting wipes or a gentle cleaning solution after every use. 

It's important to note that yoga mats are supposed to feel tacky, or slightly sticking. Mats are made that way intentionally to help you hold more difficult yoga poses. While cleaning, be careful to not use harsh chemicals or scrub so hard that you eliminate the sticky finish so you keep your mat grippy and extend its longevity. 

Looking to get into yoga? Try out these yoga poses for better sleep and read about the benefits associated with hot yoga

More cleaning recommendations 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.