The Proper Care and Feeding of a Yoga Mat


As I settled into child’s pose at the start of my practice today, I took a nice, long, deep inhale. And then gagged. My yoga mat smelled like the armpit of an ancient centurion. Then I remembered that I rode it hard in hot yoga yesterday and must have put it away wet. Yuck.

I recently upgraded my yoga mat to the Manduka Black Mat Pro. (I ‘ve had my old mat longer than I’ve had my husband. But, unlike Isaac, it lost it’s charm years ago.) And with most “new” things, I’m pretty excited to keep it clean for as long as I can. The other day my girls had some buddies over for a playdate and I found one of the pals running through the house using my new mat as a cape. Hilarious. And absolutely not okay. Luckily I had my old mat close by to swap it out. I mean, he didn’t care if his cape was Manduka or not. Anyways, my goal is to keep this new girl around for a while and I plan on taking great care of her.

So let’s talk about this – what is the proper care and feeding of a yoga mat? Because if we’re doing things right, our mat is regularly exposed to dirt, oil and plenty of sweat. And it deserves a good scrubbing! But, the washing machine is not a safe place for a mat. Neither is the bathtub. In fact, most manufacturers advise against submerging a yoga mat.

Here are a few tips to keeping your mat nice and clean, so you can enjoy those nice, deep, cleansing breaths without triggering the gag reflex.

  1. Wipe the sweat off after each use.
  2. Don’t roll a mat up if it’s wet, but instead wait for it to dry.
  3. Clean it with a gentle cleanser weekly, or as needed. I spray the mat down and let the cleanser sit for about 5 minutes, then wipe it off with a wet cloth.

You can buy cleansers that are formulated specifically for rubber mats. Or you can whip up your own. I followed this recipe from The Chopra Center and made a homemade solution, that I admit smells more like vinegar than I’d like it to. Anyhow, here’s the mix:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3 drops of essential oil (I use eucalyptus oil because I’m obsessed.)

Now, has anyone ever salt treated their mat? (Like this.) If so, does it really help with the break in process? And, do you have any tips for keeping a 3 year old away from a yoga mat covered in sea salt for 24 hours?

Cheers to deep breaths and clean mats! Namaste.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Katie @ adultingdaily
    03/10/2016 at 7:19 am

    So helpful! I typically do a hot yoga class where I put a towel on top of my mat, but I know it’s definitely dirty since the top/bottom of my mat always switches and I have no idea what’s on the floor of a yoga studio. Thanks for the tips on how to clean it!

    • Reply
      hellodaynatalie
      03/10/2016 at 7:33 am

      I use a yoga towel too and wash it after every use, of course. Love me some hot yoga!

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