How to Clean a Yoga Mat with Dr. Bronner’s

It’s a moment every yogi can relate to…

There you are—45 minutes into your favorite class. Your teacher’s new sequence feels like it was designed specifically for you as the playlist moves you gracefully into deeper states of consciousness.

Breath by breath, you ride the waves of each inhale and exhale like some kind of mystical yoga dolphin. “I… am the dolphin,” you think to yourself, “yes, I am the dolphin.” This is that yoga bliss you’ve heard about. You feel so deeply connected to your body, breath, and therefore every being that you share Spaceship Earth with… and then it happens.

SPLAT.

As you transitioned your dolphin self into side angle pose, your neighbor’s arm extended over your mat and their sweat begins to plop right where your head was peacefully resting just moments before.

Your rhythmic ujjayi breath quickly becomes silent and choppy. Your dolphin mantra, is replaced by flashbacks from the dog beach where you took a barefoot stroll before class. The harsh reality of your filthy yoga mat is hitting you faster than a boozy kombucha.

———

The practice of Yoga is meant to extend beyond any physical posture. The 8 limbed path is a lifestyle to be forever practiced, never perfected. Within this path, yogis are encouraged to cultivate a habit of “saucha,” meaning cleanliness or purity.

Often saucha is practiced by incorporating various breathing techniques and postures to detox the physical body. Although these techniques are incredibly powerful, it is important to remember that our external environment is an extension and direct reflection of our internal environment. Just as we wouldn’t want any contaminants or stagnant energy within our body, the same goes for our external world.

Let’s start from the ground up, with cleaning your yoga mat…

The most important thing when it comes to washing your mat is to first identify what type of material your mat is made of. Ayurveda teaches that “everything is medicine, and everything is poison,” implying that what may work well for one could be detrimental for another. The same philosophy applies for washing your mat—different mat materials require different approaches.

Photo courtesy of Miranda Guzman Fernandez

The most common mat materials are PVC, TPE, natural rubber, and cotton (or hemp) Mysore rugs. If you are unsure what your mat is made of, visit your mat’s company website to check out the specs. If the company is unknown, here are some clues that may be helpful in identification.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) yoga mats are the most commonly used mat on the market, though their price can vary dramatically. PVC mats are known for being long-lasting. TPE (thermal plastic elastomer) yoga mats are made by mixing plastic and rubber, and these are best known for offering good traction and cushioning while also being light-weight.

Next, we have natural tree rubber mats. These mats are often made sustainably from a renewable resource—rubber trees! Natural rubber mats are as sticky as they come and their cushioning tends to be better than the synthetic rubber mats on the market. What’s the downside, you ask? Natural rubber mats must be kept out of the sun and heat, as these conditions can cause them to break down VERY quickly. Finally, for all you ashtangis out there, your Mysore rug is made from either hemp or cotton—these rugs are often used in combination with the other mat types.

Dr. Bronner’s exhortation to “DILUTE! DILUTE! DILUTE!” has never been more important than when washing your yoga mat. Using too much Pure-Castile Soap will create a slippery mess. To make things easy, we made a guide below that spells out how to wash each different mat type.

If you are in need of a quick solution to sanitize your mat, you can use our Organic Hand Sanitizer as a mat cleaner on your PVC or TPE mat. This is not an ideal cleaner for a natural tree rubber mat as any type of alcohol, including ethyl alcohol, will cause it to start to break down. To be mindful of your fellow yogis, please disinfect your mat with the Organic Hand Sanitizer at home, as most studios advise against scents in the asana room.

One more helpful hint: since Dr. Bronner’s is safe for kids, bring along a bubble-loving friend to help you get the job done 😊

Mat Material

Recipe

Steps

Natural Tree Rubber

  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup white vinegar

No essential oils

  • Add ingredients into a spray bottle and spray mat fully on both sides
  • Rub in circular motion with a rag
  • Dry indoors and avoid direct sunlight
  • The vinegar smell does go away!

PVC or TPE

  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
  • 4 tbs of sea salt
  • Mix water and soap into a spray bottle
  • Spray the used side of mat fully
  • Sprinkle the sea salt on the mat and rub in a circular motion with rag
  • Rinse with water
  • Repeat on other side if needed
  • Hang dry indoors or outdoors

Cotton/Hemp Mysore rug

  • ⅓ to ½ cup of Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ⅓ to ½ cup of Pure-Castile Liquid Soap in a normal washer
  • ½ cup vinegar in rinse cycle
  • Air dry indoor or outdoors

 

Author Profile
Bri Dwight

Bri Dwight began studying yoga in 2003 and has been teaching in Southern California for the past 9 years. When not practicing yoga, she can be found pretending to be a snail for her daughter's entertainment and working Canadian Sales for Dr. Bronner's.

See all stories by Bri Dwight
  • Laci

    Humor, yoga philosophy, and instructions for everyone on how best to clean their mat- LOVE IT! Thank you, Bri for this informative and fun to read post. I look forward to more.