Introduction: Clean Your Yoga Mat

Three cleaning techniques to keep your yoga mat odorless and bacteria free. 

Yoga is a wonderful way to remove stress through encouraging meditation and relaxation. It can be hard to relax however, when your mat is emanating odors with every move you make and every pose you take. Luckily, there is an easy cleaning fix. Yoga mats can be made of a variety of materials, from hemp and cotton to the more standard PVC or rubber. Each material can be cleaned and it's odor eliminated in several easy steps. 

NOTE: This Instructable is merely a guide, filled with general cleaning tips that have helped me with my yoga mat. If your yoga mat has come with cleaning instructions, please follow those first since they are designed specifically for your yoga mat. 

Step 1: Cleaning Supplies

To clean your yoga mat thoroughly and properly you'll need the following:
  • Yoga Mat
  • Spray Bottle
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Terry Cloth or Wash Cloth
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Mild Dish Soap
  • TeaTree Oil (optional)

Step 2: Cleaning Solution

There are several Yoga Mat cleaners on the market and can be found for sale in most yoga studios or online. You can also make your own at home with just a few ingredients. 

Add 1-2 Tablespoons of white vinegar to your spray bottle. Fill to the top with cold water. I like to add a couple drops of tea tree oil (4-5) as well, but it is optional. Replace the top to your spray bottle and shake to mix. 

In your solution, the white vinegar acts as an antibacterial with the water diluting it's strength to avoid harming your yoga mat as well as reduce the strong vinegar odor. As mentioned above, I also prefer to add some tea tree oil which is thought to have anti-fungal properties as well as add a fresh scent to your spray. Lavender essential oil could be substituted for the tea tree oil--it has a wonderful scent and is an antibacterial but not an anti-fungal. 

According to research done by the NIH, other essential oils that have antibacterial properties include: lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint and orange oils. Essential oils that contain anti-fungal properties include: geranium, lemongrass, citronella, orange, palmarosa, eucalyptus and peppermint. 

Step 3: Simple Spray Down

This cleaning technique is best when used immediately after your yoga practice since it is portable and quick. It'll help your yoga mat stay disinfected by removing sweat and germs after use.  

Taking your cleaning solution that you've just created, spray your solution liberally over your yoga mat. With a terry cloth towel or wash cloth, wipe down your mat. Spray and wipe again if necessary. Let your mat air dry completely before rolling it back up. 

Step 4: Soap

Sometimes, your mat is in need of a deeper clean than a simple vinegar mist. Add a drop of mild dish soap to a sponge and wet with warm water. Scrub your mat with the softer side of your sponge so as not to damage your mats surface. Once throughly soaped and washed, wipe your mat down with a wet paper towel or wash cloth. Allow to air dry. 

This technique works best on PVC and rubber yoga mats. It doesn't work as well with cotton or hemp mats. You can try it, but it may be easier to skip to the next step to wash cotton/hemp mats.

Step 5: Full Submersion

This technique works best to clean hemp or cotton yoga mats, but can be used to clean PVC or rubber mats as well. Place your yoga mat in your front loading washing machine. Set your machine to soak and add a mild laundry detergent like woolite.  Wash on your delicate or gentle cycle. You can also just soak your mat if you are worried about wear and tear with the wash cycle. 

You'll want to air dry and hang your yoga mat since dryers usually get too hot and will potentially ruin your yoga mat. 

Step 6: Breathe Deep

Your yoga mat is cleaned and ready for action! Take it to your next yoga practice and breathe deep, even in child's pose!