How to Care for Your Yoga Mat

How to Care for Your Yoga Mat
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Dont know How to Care for Your Yoga Mat? Let us help out!

No one teaches you how to care for your yoga mat. And it sucks to ruin your favorite one. But it gives you a good lesson in how NOT to care for it. I know. I’ve ruined my fair share of yoga mats.

Here are the best tips that I can give you from my school of hard knocks:

Prepping your brand new yoga BFF

News flash! Brand new yoga mats aren’t very sticky. In fact, they usually feel a little slimy due to the residue remaining after manufacturing process. I cover how to remove this film in How To Make Your New Mat Stickier. You’ll need to complete this prep or you’ll have a miserable first, second and third practice, at the very least.

Storing it (daily and long term, like for a travel mat)

It’s important to care for your yoga mat if you want to extend the lifespan. Think of sun and heat being yoga-mat enemies. If you live in Arizona and it’s 100+ in the shade in the summer and your mat is living in your trunk…guess what. Your mat is going to melt. Take it in the house with you.

Leaving most mats in the direct sun is also a no-no.

Some of the PER and other non-natural mats do fine in the sun, so those would be a good choice for outdoor yoga. But rubber mats are sensitive creatures. They like shade and they like to be rolled up for storage (especially the thin travel mats).

Cleaning after each practice

Kind of a no-brainer. Leaving your mat sweaty and damp is inviting tiny critters to grow. Who wants to share their mat with opportunistic bacteria? Not me! See How to Make Your Own Mat Cleaner for great simple recipes and links to popular ready-made mat cleaners.

Deep cleaning

It’s a great idea to do a deep cleaning on your mat at least once a month, or once a week if doing a sweaty practice. Spend a little extra time giving it a good soaking, like in the bathtub or (like I do) scrubbing and hosing it down in the driveway. Then hang it in the sun (as long as it’s not a rubber mat) to dry.

Unless the manufacturer says it’s ok to machine wash your yoga mat, don’t do it! Most yoga mats don’t get along with washing machines.

Which direction to roll it up

I’ll warn you right now that this is one of the weird hyper-vigilant “care for your yoga mat” tricks. Usually, it’s best to roll a mat up so the top is outside, but if it feels like you need to balance out the curl, roll it with the top inside occasionally. Some mats will behave better if you roll it differently EVERY time. But if you pay attention to how your mat is laying on the floor when you go to practice on it, you’ll get a better feeling for how often you need to switch it up.

DO NOT care for your yoga mat THIS WAY

  • Use lotion or oils on hands or body when using it.
  • Put it in the dryer.
  • Leave it in your hot car or in the sun (see exceptions above).
  • Use soap on it.
  • Use it for anything other than your practice.
  • Lean it up against anything that might melt it, like a furnace outlet (it happens).
  • Loan your mat: your mat stores energy from your practice. It becomes a very personal part of your spiritual life so keep it special. (BTW, don’t loan your mala beads either.)

DO care for your yoga mat

  • Practice on it regularly! Consistency is much more important that quantity. Even a couple of sun salutations daily is better than a long practice once a week.
  • Love your mat and it will give back by supporting your practice.
  • Got any tips on how to care for your yoga mat? Add them below…we appreciate it!

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