After you use your yoga mat enough, it can start producing some pretty funky smells. You just know that if it's making those kinds of odors, it must be packed with tons of different kinds of bacteria. At the same time, while you may be keen to get it clean, the last thing you want to do is destroy it in the process.
While it may take longer for your mat to get smelly if you're doing hatha yoga as opposed to hot yoga, it's still going to get dirty over time, and yes, it will smell. While these mats may look like they're sturdy enough, they're made out of types of materials that will break down pretty quickly if you use the wrong kind of cleaning products on them or if you use the right products in the wrong ways.
If you want your yoga mat to last a long time but still be clean and free of bacteria that could make you sick – or that is, at the very least, unpleasant to smell when your nose is right next to it – use the following simple steps.
- Find out if your mat came with its own cleaning directions. Mats are made from many different kinds of materials. The odds are that yours came with packaging that identified the material and may even have suggested certain ways to clean them. If you threw out your mat's packaging or it wasn't very helpful in the first place, use the following tips instead.
- Wash your mat when it needs it. This depends on how frequently you use it. If you're doing daily yoga or if you practice hot yoga, you may want to wash it every one or two weeks. If you don't practice as much and really don't get very sweaty, once per month may be better.
- Don't try to remove the stickiness. Yoga mats are meant to be a little bit sticky. This touch of tackiness gives you added grip so that when you're doing tough poses, you won't slide around. Therefore, don't scrub your mat. Gently hand wash it so that you'll leave that sticky finish intact.
- Use a very gentle cleanser. You can quickly and affordably make a mat cleaner with two cups of warm water and two drops of gentle dish soap. Mix them in a large bowl or a clean bucket and use a gentle cleaning cloth to dip into the solution and wipe down both sides of your mat. Avoid using scrub brushes which will break down your mat's material and cause it to deteriorate. Use warm water to rinse your mat and hang it to dry out of direct sunlight.