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Fitness

How to clean your yoga mat the right way

Get the funky smells out of your yoga mat without damaging it in the process.

Josh Miller

Whether you practice hot yoga, or stream a vinyasa class at home, eventually your yoga mat is going to get dirty and start to smell. 

Yoga mats look pretty tough, but they are actually made out of materials that can deteriorate quickly when cleaned the wrong way or with the wrong products. To make your yoga mat last a long time, while still keeping it fresh and germ-free, follow these easy steps.

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But first! Because yoga mats are made from a lot of different materials, it's always best to look for cleaning directions from the company that made your mat. If those aren't available, proceed with the tips below.

How to know when to wash your yoga mat

Through many downward dogs and vinyasa flows, your yoga mat can accumulate sweat, lint, skin oil and other debris. They also get that funky smell thanks to bacteria from your skin and sweat.

Once your yoga mat accumulates dirt, grime or a bad smell, it's time to clean it. Depending on how often you practice, you'll reach that point every few weeks or monthly.

It's important to note that yoga mats are supposed to be tacky. That provides the grip you need to hold your position in slippery poses -- downward dog can be feel impossible to hold on a slick mat. While cleaning, be careful to not scrub so hard that you eliminate the sticky finish.

Hand-washing the right way

To hand-wash your mat, mix two cups of warm water with two drops of mild dish soap in a bucket. Dip a cleaning cloth into the mixture and wipe down both sides of the mat to get rid of any dirt or stains. Don't use scrub brushes, because they can wear down the material.

Then, rinse the mat with warm water and hang it up to dry. Be sure to hang it in an area that isn't in the sun. Sunlight can also damage the material.

When the yoga mat is dry, spray it with a sanitizing spray designed specifically for yoga mats. Some spray options include Luna Cleansing Spray and Aurorae Yoga Mat Wash Cleaner. Be sure to read the label carefully before applying the spray to your mat. 

You may need to let the spray air dry or soak into the mat for a few minutes to kill all of the bacteria.

Or give it a spin

If hand-washing sounds like a lot of trouble, you might be able to throw your yoga mat in the washer with a mild detergent like Woolite or Dreft. Make sure to put it on the gentle or hand wash cycle with warm water. 

When the washer is done, let the mat air dry, then spray it with the sanitizing spray. Again, consult any available cleaning advice from your yoga mat's manufacturer before you proceed, because the washer could damage it -- especially if you have a top-loading machine. The agitator can nick or tear the mat while washing. 

What to do when you're not deep cleaning 

Since you should only deep clean your mat a few times a month, you'll need to do a little in-between cleanup on other days. 

After every use, spray your mat with mat sanitizing spray after every workout. This will prevent the mat from smelling like sweat and will prevent spreading the germs it picked up from the yoga studio floor.