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Yoga Mat Etiquette

I love doing yoga on a mat. It feels special to have my own private "island." I also love the sticky surface which allows my hands and feet to stay firm. The squishy texture offers my bones some cushion from the hard floor. A yoga mat is also a barrier from the dirty ground, so you want to do what you can to keep it as clean as possible.

When it comes to yoga mats, there are some unwritten rules and tips we need to lay out on the table. Or should I say floor? Knowing them can save you from any embarrassment, and will also keep you healthy. Want to know what they are? Then

  • Whether you borrow a studio mat or use your own, when you're done, hang it up on a hook or over a door to air dry. If it stays wet and rolled up, it's the perfect breeding ground for mold or bacteria. Not only is that disgusting, but it's also stinky, and nobody wants to smell that the next time you go to unroll it.
  • Speaking of borrowing yoga mats, there's nothing wrong with doing that for your first couple of classes, or if you accidentally forget your mat. Otherwise, bring your own yoga mat. You don't want to smell or be in contact with anyone else's sweat, since that's a great way to get yourself sick.
  • Your feet are not the cleanest part of your body. For most of us, they are shoved into shoes and socks all day long. They can end up getting sweaty and stinky, and when you get to your 5:30 yoga class, your tootsies are far from fresh. So remove your shoes before entering the studio, and take a minute to run to the bathroom and wash your feet. You'll feel better during your practice, and it'll help keep your mat cleaner. Plus you might get more adjustments from the teacher if you smell clean.
  • Don't step on anyone else's mat, unless you get permission from the person first (like if you were sharing a mat in a Partner Yoga class). This goes along with the stinky feet rule. Even if you washed your feet for 20 minutes straight, nobody knows that, and it grosses people out to have stranger's feet prancing on their clean mat.
  • If you use a rug, be sure to wash it once a week in the washing machine. Since it absorbs all your sweat, it gets as gross as your sweaty yoga clothes. You wouldn't wear the same clothes over and over again, right? Good, so be sure to wash that rug just as often.
  • Don't use yoga mat spray to make your mat smell pretty. It may cover up the smell of your stinky mat, but it doesn't cover up the fact that your mat isn't clean. Not only can those sprays make your mat dangerously slippery, but the scents can also be distracting or annoying to fellow yogis in the class who are trying to breathe fresh air. Some may even be allergic to the scent.


Ata1anta Ata1anta 6 years
I try to clean my mat every time, just a warm water wipe down. I took a non-yoga floor class and brought my own mat since I knew that people were very bad about wiping them down (they wipe down the equipment but not the mats? What?). I bought my BF a mat for his first class, didn't know if they had "share" mats and seeing nobody wipe them down there either, I was glad I did. I like the shower idea. I will start showering with my mat when I get home LOL
Vexedlovely Vexedlovely 10 years
I really needed this info! My mat is due for a cleaning.
andiself andiself 10 years
Thank you SO much. Someone stepped square on my mat the other day in his dirty sneakers TWICE!
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 10 years
I did Bikram Yoga...and it's HOT and SWEATY...I don't think they should have public mats at all.
starkiss23 starkiss23 10 years
University gyms are even worse.. I doubt they wash their mats more than once a month at best.. and people use the same mats class after class all day long. By the time you go to a 6:00 class, 5 other people have already used your mat and its been sitting in a pile in the corner with other used mats all day. Disgusting!
georgie2 georgie2 10 years
Thanks fit! I think I will be taking my mat with my next shower!
Fitness Fitness 10 years
redsugar - THANK YOU for that tip. It's so true. I actually don't use any soap at all - just hot water. I found that soap can leave a slippery residue on my mat. You can put thin yoga mats in the washing machine on the gentle cycle. If you use a thicker mat, just wash it in the shower with hot water and a new scrubby sponge. Then let your mat air dry over the shower door. I do use a little bit of soap on my rug though, since it's made of cotton. Rugs can go in the washing machine and the dryer.
redsugar redsugar 10 years
oop. Sorry I meant rug. I use a yoga rug for the sewatier yogasa. Sorry my bad.
veronicaraye veronicaraye 10 years
Yoga is so great & leaves you feeling limber & light.
georgie2 georgie2 10 years
Wait? it's ok to put the foam mat in the washing machine?
georgie2 georgie2 10 years
How do you wash a mat? Do you just spray and wipe down? I'm all grossed out by my mat now!!
redsugar redsugar 10 years
When yo wash your mat NEVER use fabric softener. It will make your mat slippery. I wash my mat once a week and it never smells funky.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 10 years
Geez! I didn't even thinking about this until now! Gross! I guess now I'll go buy one.
Fitness Fitness 10 years
Cubadog - The studio I teach at washes their mats too, but I seriously think it only gets done once a month (if that).
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 10 years
Very sound advice. I just took my first Yoga class two weeks ago and I was worried about how the mats are cleaned and handled between sessions. It's good to know that we as users can do our part to be hygenic with them.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
I know that the Yoga Studios that I have gone wash all of their mats in the washing machine so you don't get anyones nastiness on you.
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