We hate to break it to you, but you're likely not cleaning your yoga mat nearly enough. The good news is that adding it to your routine can be as easy as 1-2-3. Giving your mat a quick spray with a natural cleaner with each use will keep grime and buildup in check so you aren't left with a mess when it's time for a deeper clean—a job you should schedule anywhere from monthly to every six months, depending on how often your mat is used and how much sweat it sees during practice.
To keep things straightforward, Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid, says a gentle scrub with a soap and water solution will get the job done. Just be sure you don't drench your yoga mat in the process. Vanesa Amaro, known on TikTok as the "Queen of Cleaning," advises to always let your mat dry completely before rolling it up and storing to prevent mildew. Here are the best methods for cleaning a yoga mat, according to cleaning experts and yoga pros.
jacoblund / Getty Images
How to Machine-Wash a Yoga Mat
"It's important to always check the label or packaging to see if your mat is machine washable, since sometimes that is the easiest way for a quick clean," says Peterson. If your mat specifically states that it is machine washable, it's likely best to wash it on a gentle cycle and without bleach. Once the wash cycle is done, remove your yoga mat from the washer promptly, and hang it up to dry. Always refer to the manufacturer's care instructions for best results. If your mat doesn't specify whether it's safe for the washing machine, opt for another cleaning option.
How to Clean Your Yoga Mat with a Natural Cleaner
Peterson recommends this method for cleaning a yoga mat using natural ingredients.
What You Need
1/2 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp. baking soda
Tea tree oil
Step 1: In a spray bottle, mix a solution of vinegar, baking soda, and a few drops of tea tree oil. Fill the bottle up the rest of the way with water.
Step 2: Spray the solution onto a microfiber towel or cloth—some mats should not be sprayed directly—and wipe down the mat.
Step 3: Allow the mat to dry completely before storing.
Frequency: You can use this cleaner as your post-practice wipe down with every use, or use it on your mat weekly to keep dirt and bacteria in check.
How to Steam-Clean a Yoga Mat
What You Need
Handheld steamer, garment steamer, or steam mop
Step 1: Place your mat on a clean, flat surface. Steam the mat in a linear fashion, using long strokes down the length of the mat. Ensure the entire surface has been steamed.
Step 2: Flip the mat and repeat step on the alternate side.
Step 3: Hang the mat to dry. Allow the mat to dry completely before storing.
Frequency: Kelly Turner, VP of training and experience for YogaSix, steam cleans her studio mats quarterly for a deeper clean, though you can increase or decrease the frequency (anywhere from monthly to every six months) based on when you start to spot discoloration, grime, or buildup of any kind. You might need to deep clean your mat more often if you wear lotions or sweat a lot during practice.
Editor's Tip: Some mats are not suited for steam cleaning as they're not heat-safe. Be sure to check the label and care instructions on your yoga mat prior to using the methods mentioned in this article.
How to Break In a Yoga Mat
If you notice your new mat is slick, Turner offers a little advice. "Mats often need to be broken in," she says. "They may start out a bit slippery due to an initial coating, which is why giving them a scrub down with coarse salt can be helpful." Turner also offers alternatives such as using a mat towel or flipping the mat upside down for a few weeks of practice until it is fully broken in.
How to Store a Yoga Mat
Whether you're cleaning your mat or just wrapped a hot yoga session, you'll need to pay particular attention to how you store your mat while it's still wet—as in, don't. Amaro suggests allowing the mat to dry fully, which could take up to 24 hours depending on how drenched it got in the process. Premature rolling could cause molding and mildew.