How to Care for Your Yoga Mat and Props

Your yoga mat isn’t just another “prop.” It’s the base that keeps you grounded to your practice. Its sticky surface keeps you from slipping while you hold your poses and it’s a cushiony surface during savasana. Like a comfortable friend, you can get attached to your mat.

Maybe a little too attached. Sweat and grime can build up on your mat over the course of many yoga sessions. Not to mention a bad odor developing after being put away dirty too many times.

But with a little TLC, your mat and yoga props can last a long time.

Washing your yoga mat

If you didn’t save the cleaning instructions that came with your yoga mat, or you’re not sure what it’s made of, you can still take steps to keep your mat clean. 

At the very least, you should wipe down your mat after class with a damp sponge or cloth, then wipe it dry. But it should be given a more thorough cleaning at least once a week. Here are some ways to do it.

  • Use a hose. With the weather getting warmer, you could take your mat outside and use your garden hose. Make a mixture of two cups of water with four drops of a mild dishwashing soap. Scrub gently with a sponge or cloth. Rinse with the hose and let it air dry. Don’t leave it in the direct sun; the foam may break down over time.
  • Wash it in the tub. If the grime is a little deeper, put it in your tub to soak with a little bit of dishwashing liquid. Be careful not to use too much because it may be harder to rinse off. Any soap residue could make your mat slippery once you’re back on it for practice. If you aren’t sure it’s well rinsed, run it through a cold rinse cycle in your washer.
  • Use the washing machine. Follow the directions if you know for sure your mat can be machine-washed. Make sure it’s rinsed thoroughly, maybe even run it through the rinse cycle twice. For thoroughly soaked mats, put it through the spin cycle or roll it up in a towel to squeeze out the excess moisture. Be sure to unroll it to air dry so it doesn’t dry curled.
  • Use a spray. There are many commercial sprays you can use to clean your yoga mat. Or you can make your own. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar or water and a couple of drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Vinegar and tea tree oil contain antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Spray your mat after each use.
  • Clean but stinky? If your mat is clean but still has an odor to it, sprinkle it with baking soda and allow it to sit overnight, then brush dry.

Cleaning your other props

A clean mat won’t do us much good if we’re still using dirty and smelly props. Try these:

  • Straps. They’re easy to wash – just toss them into the washer on a cold water setting or let them soak in a bucket of soapy water. Like your mat, be sure to rinse thoroughly. Do not put them in the dryer. Straps are made of 100% cotton and will shrink. Hang them from a hook or a hanger to dry.
  • Foam blocks. If they’re foam blocks, wipe them down with a mixture of dishwashing soap and water. Let them air dry. If you have quite a few or if they’re pretty dirty, you can put them in the washer.
  • Cork blocks. Cork blocks are made of a natural, sustainable material. Gently scrub them with a wet cloth or use an organic cleaner.
  • Bolsters. Spot clean with a cleanser. If there’s too much grime on it, remove the outer covering. Bolster are 100% cotton so be sure to wash the bolster cover in cold water and let it line dry.

With a little bit of time and care, your yoga mat and props will give you many years.