Can You Really Clean Your Yoga Mat In The Washing Machine? Here's What To Know

A yoga mat isn't necessary in building your own fitness space at home but it's a popular accessory for home workouts, especially if your routine involves yoga, stretching, ab work, or floor-based exercises. It's a useful tool as it sets you up for a cleaner and more comfortable workout.

It's important to know that yoga mats require proper cleaning. While they may have revolutionized workout routines, yoga mats can cause harm to one's body. If you do not regularly clean your mat, you might be setting yourself up to develop skin problems. Rutgers School of Medicine professor Dr. Robert Lahita told Elle, "A yoga mat is a perfect incubator for many of our skin infections. The yoga mat is a very fertile source for infection, mainly because people sweat on them and they rarely are cleaned."

Although infections that come via dirty yoga mats typically don't pose life-threatening health concerns, it's not hygienic to use a mat that has accumulated dirt over time. It's better to protect yourself from infections by cleaning your mat and removing germs.

If you follow these steps, your yoga mat can survive the washing machine

We get it. You're swamped with a lot of work, you've got a few errands to run, and you're trying to squeeze a workout into your busy schedule. The last thing you want to do is take the time to clean a dirty yoga mat. For that reason, while it's highly advised to clean your yoga mat in a gentler way (for example, a good old-fashioned hand scrubbing), there are a lot of yoga mats that can be washed through the washing machine. That being said, it's always best to check the manufacturer of your mat before putting it in the wash, since it could cause the mat to rip and even fall apart.

Good Housekeeping suggests washing the mat through a gentle cycle and putting a little mild detergent in cold water. Never add bleach to the mix, as it might ruin the mat. After the wash, be reminded that you shouldn't put your mat into the dryer, just hang it up to dry instead. 

If your mat isn't suitable for machine wash, don't fret. There's a simple cleaning technique to sanitize it. You can use a mixture of white vinegar or witch hazel with water in a ratio of 1-to-4. Simply put the mixture into a spray bottle for convenience. To clean your mat, just spray the solution and wipe the surface. Then, let it dry before you roll it up. There are also ready made solutions you can easily buy online.

How often should you clean your yoga mat?

The frequency of cleaning your yoga mat depends on how often you workout and how intense each session is. The general guideline is to wipe down your mat every after session, especially after an intense workout. 

While it's great to clean your mat regularly, know that some manufacturers warn their users of over-cleaning mats since it can wear out the material quickly.  You should always check the manufacturer of your mat before you start cleaning. Brands like Manduka recommend cleaning every after use, while Liforme mats can be cleaned a bit more sparingly after about five to ten uses.

In the event that the manufacturer doesn't provide detailed instruction, or perhaps you're not sure what brand your mat is, you can never go wrong cleaning it with a gentle antibacterial hand wipe after each class or workout session. After all, a clean mat makes for a happy — and healthy — yogi.