How to clean a yoga mat and disinfect it

Someone rolling up a yoga mat
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Once you know how to clean a yoga mat, you can get rid of any stains and smells which may have formed on it over time. A yoga mat is admittedly not the first thing you'd think of on your list of everyday things to clean. After all, most of us will only use it once or twice a week, and yoga doesn’t tend to build up a sweat, even if you use one of the best yoga mats.

However, each time you use your yoga mat, your hands and feet will transfer oils and dirt to its surface. After prolonged use, you may notice dark stains forming on your mat, or perhaps it’s starting to smell. 

Either way, you don’t need to throw your yoga mat away — these are actually very easy and simple to clean. Plus you likely already have what you need at home. Here’s how to clean a yoga mat. 

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How to clean a yoga mat — Disinfecting 

What you’ll need to clean your yoga mat

• Water
• White distilled vinegar
• Tea tree oil
• Empty spray bottle
• Microfiber cloth
• Towel
• Dish soap

Disinfecting your yoga mat is just as important as cleaning it. Yoga mats can carry all sorts of germs, bacteria and fungus on the surface, including the ones which cause athlete’s foot and plantar warts, not to mention ringworms. So, you need to get in the habit of disinfecting it at least once a week or between each use if you take your mat to a studio. 

Make sure to check your yoga mat’s cleaning instructions before you start. Some don’t recommend vinegar-based cleaning solutions. Follow your manufacturer’s guidance for cleaning, and if no info is available, follow the below.

A yoga mat being sprayed with disinfectant

(Image credit: Future)

1. You can create your own disinfectant spray using water, white distilled vinegar and tea tree oil in an empty spray bottle. You need to mix equal amounts of water and vinegar, and then add a splash of tea tree oil to get the proportions right. Alternatively, you can buy a dedicated disinfectant such as Anti3 Protect Disinfectant Spray ($17.99, Amazon).

2. After mixing the spray, apply it liberally to the first side of your yoga mat. You want to leave the mat looking quite wet so don’t be shy — apply from about 8 inches away, top to bottom.

3. Leave it to stand for a couple of minutes, then use a microfiber cloth to wipe in the solution using circular motions. Or follow the spray’s directions for application if you’ve purchased one. 

A yoga mat being cleaned with a microfiber cloth

(Image credit: Future)

4. You can then leave the yoga mat to air dry if you intend to clean it straight after, or use a towel to dry it.

5. Repeat on the other side of the mat. This is important because even though it’s the side that you don’t use, bacteria can be transferred over when it’s rolled up.   

Your yoga mat will now be disinfected. However, while this will kill germs and bacteria, it won’t effectively clean your mat. To do this, follow the next steps.  

How to clean a yoga mat — washing away stains and smells 

You won’t need to clean your yoga mat as often as you disinfect it, but it’s still important. This method will get rid of sweat and dirt stains, as well as fend off any unwanted smells. As a rule of thumb, with regular use, we would recommend cleaning your yoga mat once every two weeks.   

1. Mix up a solution of warm, soapy water.

2. Apply directly to your yoga mat using the non-abrasive side of a sponge or a microfiber cloth. You might find it easier to lay out your yoga mat in the bath tub for this. 

3. You can scrub over areas of dirt and grime, but be careful not to damage the foam or the naturally sticky surface.

A yoga mat being cleaned in a bath tub with soapy water

(Image credit: Future)

4. Turn your mat over to wash the alternative side.

5. Once scrubbed, rinse the soap away and dry as best you can using a towel. Don’t wring out the mat, as this could tear it. 

6. Leave your mat out to air dry until it has thoroughly dried, then roll it back up again ready to use. 

Your yoga mat should now be looking like new again! Remember to routinely clean it to make it last longer.  

Tips to keep your yoga mat clean  

  • Use a yoga towel such as Youphoria Yoga Towel ($16.95, Amazon). These can protect the mat during a session.  
  • Wash your hands and feet before every yoga class.
  • Don’t walk over your mat while wearing shoes.  
  • Make sure it is stored in a clean and dry space. 
Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.