Stephen Steinberg | Updated April 7, 2022
Average yoga mats usually smell bad. Yoga mats used for bikram yoga or hot yoga? Forget about it.
You usually can’t toss yoga mats in the wash, and you can’t use typical chemical-based cleaners to get the job done. So how are you supposed to clean your yoga mat so you can actually enjoy your classes?
By following these tips on cleaning and deodorizing your yoga mat, and also following our guidelines on how to properly wash your activewear and yoga pants, you will never have to worry about being the smelly person at yoga.
Here are some tips to keep your yoga mat fresh, clean and ready to go:
Use Plant Based Cleaning Products
Your bare skin will be coming in contact with whatever you use to clean your yoga mat with, so you'll want to use something safe, non-irritating and non-toxic. It's always best to choose a plant based cleaning product over one filled with harmful chemicals.
The choice between a spray or a wipe is personal preference. Both are effective.
If you prefer using a spray, we recommend our Vapor Fresh® Sports Cleaning Spray as the best yoga mat cleaning spray because it has everything you need in a yoga mat cleaning spray. It's made from all-natural active ingredients, is free of harsh chemicals and will not leave a dangerous residue on your mat.
If you prefer using a wipe, our Vapor Fresh® Disinfecting Gym Wipes are the best yoga mat wipes because they use plant based citric acid to clean surfaces and kill germs without leaving a harsh residue behind.
Use A Spray Or Wipe Made For Yoga Mats
When cleaning something covered in sweat and body oils like a yoga mat, you're going to need something strong. Even though Vapor Fresh products are plant based, we've designed them specifically for the demanding needs of sports and fitness equipment. They are strong enough to get the job done, which is why you can find them in some of the most premier gyms, sports facilities and recreation centers nationwide.
Hang Your Yoga Mat To Air Dry
The key with keeping your yoga mat fresh and clean -- similar to how you keep all sports equipment clean -- is to do your best to prevent the problem from getting out of hand in the first place. The best way to do this is to air out your yoga mat immediately after spraying it down. Many people simply roll up their yoga mat and tossing it somewhere dark and unventilated where it will harbor bacteria until it's used again, and this is how odors form.
Instead, try hanging your yoga mat over something that will maximize its air exposure as soon as possible after each use. Some of our favorite spots are over a shower curtain rod or shower door, on a staircase banister or railing, on a fence outside or over the back of a chair.
Hand Wash Your Yoga Mat If It Smells Particularly Bad
If your yoga mat is already smelly and nasty, there’s still hope. Although most yoga mats can’t handle the agitation from a washing machine, washing them by hand with a sponge and letting them soak in a bathtub or other large container can clean and deodorize them pretty well as long as you take some basic precautions.
First, rinse it down with luke-warm water. This alone may do the trick, but if it's still smelly, you might need to use a tiny amount of mild soap to really clean it. Make sure you rinse all the soap off and let it dry completely before use or you might be stuck with a slippery mat, which can be dangerous.
Second, you’re going to want to dry it as quickly as possible. What we like doing is laying down one large towel on the floor, then placing the yoga mat on top of the towel and placing a second towel on top of the yoga mat, and then roll all three up as you would normally roll the mat up. Let it sit like this for about 10 minutes, then unroll it and allow the yoga mat to hang somewhere until completely dry.
Play Hard. Finish Fresh.