If the last time you cleaned your yoga mat was, well, never, you're doing yourself a disservice. Yoga mats can be a major hub for odor-causing bacteria (thanks to the excess moisture left behind) if you don't regularly give it a generous wipe down after your at-home or studio class. They absorb sweat, dirt and other particles from your body as you work out. However, the process of cleaning your yoga mat isn't always as simple as throwing it in the washer or spritzing it with your go-to disinfectant.
For starters, not all yoga mats can be cleaned in the same way. Open-cell mats, like polyurethane foam mats, have a porous construction that allows them to better absorb sweat and moisture. While this design is great for hot yoga, it makes it easier for bacteria to remain inside and produce odors that are hard to remove with wipes or other cleaners. On the flip side, closed-cell mats are not porous and absorbent, so their surfaces are easier to clean.
However, no matter what mat you use for warrior pose and downward dog, cleaning your mat at least once a week is the golden rule, says yoga instructor and CEO and founder of The Zen Mommy, Jessica Gershman. But if your yoga practice is more intense, once a week may not be enough. "...If you practice every day or in a hot yoga style, I recommend cleaning your yoga mat more frequently using an all-natural water-based cleaner." Gershman added, "I always try to use cleaners with non-toxic organic chemicals—especially if my face and body are going to be in close contact with the surface like a yoga mat."
For some of the best cleaners to get your mat looking new and smelling fresh again, check out some of these expert picks below.
Best yoga mat cleaners
As far as beloved yoga mat cleaners go, this one is a yogi favorite — mainly because it won’t ruin your mat’s material. Its effectiveness comes from its use of tea tree (a strong essential oil that has antibacterial properties) and castile soap (a multi-purpose cleaner that’s gentle on the skin). This, combined with its calming lavender scent creates an effective but gentle recipe for removing sweat from your mat.
“I like the mat cleaner because it’s non-toxic and safe to use on my mat,” yoga instructor of four years Farah Jaffrey said. “It has natural ingredients so it’s not harsh and won’t ruin my mat’s texture. It’s well-balanced so it won’t leave your mat oily.”
While Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate may be known for removing grime from your kitchen counters, it also can do the same for your yoga mat. It’s specifically designed to wipe down non-porous surfaces, and is chock-full of essential oils that help create a “calming and soothing” aroma, according to yoga instructor and Vice President of Pilates Anytime, Gia Calhoun.
In the world of high quality yoga mats, Manduka rarely disappoints. And the brand’s Botanical Cleaner is Gershman’s top pick for disinfecting her mat after every yoga sesh. The plant-based solution helps to disinfect your mat’s surface and eliminates 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses. It works on nearly any mat except for polyurethane mats. To use, just spray a few spritz directly onto your mat, leave for 10 minutes, and wipe clean. As a bonus, “you don’t have to rinse or wipe this off, so it is easy to disinfect your mat right after a yoga class,” Gershman said.
If you’re worried about irritating your skin with harsh chemicals, the Lululemon Yoga Mat Spray Cleanser is a safe bet for keeping your mat fresh. It actually contains probiotics that help to break down dirt and other particles that may be stuck on your mat after your latest HIIT workout. The plant-based formula also contains a notes of bergamot and juniper to help relax your mind.
“The Lululemon Yoga Mat Spray Cleanser is my personal favorite as it is gentle on the skin, kind to the planet and includes essentials oils that smells incredible, such as bergamot, juniper, and sandalwood,” yoga teacher and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Yohanna Mannelqvist said. “It naturally breaks down dirt while keeping the mat’s grip which for me is really important!”
If you want to help keep your mat smelling fresh 24/7, this Bondi Wash cleaner is here to help. It’s gentle in removing dirt and unwanted odors, thanks to ingredients like plant-derived alcohol, Australian bush oils, and essential oils. “It’s a natural, anti-bacterial formula that will freshen and sanitize your mat without damaging it,” Mannelqvist said. “It doesn’t leave any sticky residue and smells wonderful!”
While some yoga cleansers may leave your mat slippery and covered in an oily residue, this Mind Over Lather yoga cleaning spray does the exact opposite. It has a robust formula that contains mint, tea tree and eucalyptus (a type of oil that is a natural disinfectant) that provides a rich and relaxing aroma. The spray can also be used to wipe down other types of workout equipment.
If you are a fan of using natural rubber yoga mats, which are often sturdy and absorbent, this spray was made specifically made for you. The cleanser contains white thyme, oregano, and eucalyptus essential oils to clean and help prolong the life of your mat for future workouts.
Calling all heavy sweat-ers. This Gaiam Yoga Mat Wash may just be what you need to keep germs at bay and your mat good as new. This gentle cleaner has become a fan-favorite for its use of natural and organic oils such as lavender, lemongrass, and coconut that remove excess sweat and dirt on your mat. Together, these ingredients help to disinfect your mat without damaging it for later use. Additionally, this spray can be used to clean polyvinyl chloride, NBR, vinyl yoga mats and yogi gear.
For quick and daily maintenance, this Cuccio Somatology cleaner has got you covered. It helps to quickly disinfect your mat right after your yoga session, and the scent is fresh and light. The formula is a powerful blend of aloe vera leaf juice, eucalyptus, and water. Just spray some directly onto your mat and wipe down with a cloth. If you opt for a 32oz jug, you’ll have supply for a long time—and you can save on plastic by using smaller, refillable spray bottles.
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