When you're regularly gettin' bendy on the mat, a lot of sweat goes into that rubber (especially when you're in a heated room). And with sweat comes germs. It's a good idea to give your mat a quick spritz of disinfectant after every practice, but Becca Napelbaum, cleaning expert at Handy, says you should follow these tricks at least once a month (ideally once a week) to really refresh that rubber.
How to Clean Your Yoga Mat
1. Give it a big whiff.
Your first rule of thumb: If you can't remember the last time you cleaned it, it's probably time for a scrub. Regardless, after every few practices—especially in the warmer months—take a quick sniff. Napelbaum says the mat definitely needs cleaning if it starts to smell, or if you notice it feeling particularly oily or, um, "moisturized" from sweat (your mat tends to collect both).
2. Go natural.
If you're a fan of DIY, this cleaning solution is clutch. Napelbaum suggests mixing water and vinegar to wipe the mat down with, as that will disinfect it and restore some of the rubber's texture. Borrowing a mat from your studio? Tuck a small spray bottle of the solution in your gym bag so you can give it a quick spritz before and after class.
3. Stay indoors.
Drying your mat outdoors sounds like a smart idea, especially when the weather is warm, but Napelbaum says you shouldn't dry your mat in the sun as it'll damage the rubber. Same goes for using soap, so stick to that water-and-vinegar solution for your cleaning.
4. Check the label.
Some specifically say you shouldn't toss it in the washing machine, but many will hold up if you're not doing it frequently. If you don't want to take the risk though, be sure to use that disinfectant spray and let the mat hang-dry indoors (try draping it over a stair railing or shower curtain rod).