Do all yoga mats smell? What’s the deal?

Why does my yoga mat smell

Whether you just bought yourself a new yoga mat or have an old favorite yoga mat, you might have noticed it seems to have a funny smell. Sometimes. And you might wonder if all yoga mats smell. What’s the deal?

All yoga mats do give off some smell if they are new. If your new yoga mat is made of natural products like rubber, it might smell a bit fishy. Air it out for a couple of days. If your old yoga mat is heavily used, it can develop a smell similar to stinky feet. It just needs a good cleaning.

If your old yoga mat gives off an odiferous funk and you aren’t sure why then all it needs is a good cleaning. There are some tips and tricks to help you properly clean your yoga mat in the guide below.

Why All Yoga Mats Smell

All yoga mats might have some smell to them. Whether they are brand new, out of the box, or your favorite old go-to that you spend hours doing hot yoga on, there are two reasons that yoga mats smell.

The first reason is that some brand new yoga mats will typically smell, depending on the material they’re made from.

The second reason is that old yoga mats get heavily used and not cleaned properly. Like any piece of workout equipment, yoga mats need to be taken care of and cleaned regularly. Otherwise, they can develop a funky smell akin to stinky feet.

Check to make sure your mat is really dirty before you wash it. Chances are, it might just need a good airing out for a couple of days to get rid of the smell.

Why New Yoga Mats Smell

New yoga mats might have a smell because of the materials they’re made from. Yoga mats produced out of artificial materials, like PVC, may have a plastic smell as it off-gasses. Kind of like gasoline or chemical smells. This can be toxic, so be mindful of where you open it and try not to inhale it.

Do all yoga mats smell?

Or they are made up of natural materials, such as:

  • Rubber
  • Jute
  • Cork
  • Bamboo

Yoga mats made from natural materials can have a distinct smell depending on the type of material used to construct them. In general, cork and bamboo don’t have a strong smell straight out of the package, although you may get a slight whiff that reminds you of the outdoors.

If your new yoga mat is made out of rubber, it will probably have a light fishy smell when you open the box. And for some people, this can be very off-putting. But nothing to be alarmed about. The smell will naturally fade away in no time.

If your yoga mat is made out of jute, it may have an earthy smell similar to burlap or grass. But after you air it out for a couple of days, it should die down.

Why Old Yoga Mats Smell

Whether you have a yoga mat made out of PVC or one made out of all-natural materials, old yoga mats can develop a smell. This is because they get heavily used and often aren’t cleaned properly. Like any workout equipment, your yoga mats should be sanitized between uses and given a good cleaning every so often. This is especially necessary if multiple people use your old yoga mats.

After a particularly active session of hot yoga, you’re sweating like crazy. And your mat is probably resting on a dirty surface. All that bacteria mixes together and is left to fester. The combination of sweat and germs makes for one great big germ fest.

And if you’re accustomed to rolling that mat up right after you’re finished, you’re rolling that stuff right up with the mat and keeping it there. That’s why your yoga mat starts to smell after a while.

The best thing to do is shake it off and let it breathe before rolling it back up.

If your old yoga mat is falling apart and doesn’t lose its funk, no matter how many times you’ve cleaned it, it might be time to get a new one. Consider picking up a non-toxic yoga mat that has antibacterial properties and will last you a long time.

Removing the Smell From Your Yoga Mat

Whether you have a new yoga mat or a used one, you definitely don’t want odors lingering while you are doing yoga. There are several ways you can get that unpleasant smell out of your yoga mat.

LUNA yoga mat spray

Here are some things you can do to get the smell out of your yoga mat.

  • Air it out
  • Spray it with scented antibacterial spray
  • Wipe it down with a cleaner
  • Deep clean it

How You Get the Smell Out of Your New Yoga Mat

When you get a new yoga mat, it might have some interesting smells right out of the package. Whether it’s made of manufactured materials, like PVC, or natural materials, like rubber and cork, it might still have an interesting smell.

But the mat material that may have the strongest odor might be rubber. The best thing you can do to get rid of the smell is to air yoga mat out. Because the tighter your yoga mat is rolled and stored away, the longer the smell will linger.

Regardless of what type of material your new mat is made from, you should air it out after opening it for the first time:

  • Unroll your new yoga mat and air it out in a well-ventilated space. Hang it outside over a laundry line.
  • Use a fan or open a window to help with the smell.
  • Depending on the material and your sensitivity, expect it to take a couple of weeks for the strongest smells to clear.
how to create home made spray for yoga mat

You can also wipe your mat down by

  • Creating a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water.
  • Put it in a glass spray bottle
  • Wipe your mat down on both sides and let it air dry.
  • Add your favorite essential oils to enhance the smell

If you have a rubber or jute mat, it’s important that you don’t expose it to sunlight because it can break down the material and degrade over time. They are sensitive to the UV rays that sunlight puts out, and it’s apt to shorten the life of your yoga mat.

However, if you have a yoga mat made out of other natural materials, like cork or bamboo, then feel free to use it outside. Yoga mats made out of a mix of materials or PVC are pretty sturdy and can also weather the sun.

Not only is using sunlight to air dry your mat an excellent idea, but it’s also a great antibacterial that helps remove bacteria and smells.

How You Get the Smell Out of Your Old Yoga Mat

You might unroll your favorite old yoga mat and get a whiff of its funky smell. There are ways to not only get the smell out of your yoga mat but keep it out.

The best thing you can do with your old yoga mats is to air them out frequently. Leave it out for a little while after your yoga session to breathe and release any accumulated smells. Hang it over a shower rod or the stair railing.

Consider spraying your mat down with an all-natural spray before airing it out. To create your spray, you’ll need to gather your supplies:

  • Nonalcoholic witch hazel
  • Distilled water
  • Glass spray bottles
  • Your favorite essential oils, like tea tree and lavender.

Then you’ll need to mix the ingredients in a 3 parts to 1 part ratio. To do this, you

  • Fill the glass bottle up with distilled water about three-quarters the way up.
  • Carefully pour your witch-hazel into the bottle until it fills up the other quarter.
  • Add about 5-6 drops each of your favorite essential oils
  • Put the lid on and gently swirl it to mix the ingredients.

You can make more than one of these mixes and tuck them away in convenient places, like your gym bag pocket or on a shelf in your yoga room.

Make sure that when you spray your mats down, you mist it lightly. Because mats are porous and soak up liquids, you’ll need to be careful, so it doesn’t get soggy.

You can also look at getting wipes made explicitly for wiping down yoga mats to help keep your yoga mat fresh.

How to Clean Your Yoga Mats the Right Way

Even though you’ve aired out your yoga mats and wipe them down regularly, your mat will need to be cleaned. Yoga mats need a good deep cleaning at least once a week.

Because yoga mats are not constructed the same, they’re not cleaned the same. It’s important to read the instructions that came with your yoga mat, so you can take care of it how the manufacturer recommends.

However, there are some general rules of thumb you can do to clean most yoga mats.

Yoga mats are meant to be tacky or sticky to give you traction during some of those more extreme poses. So, it’s important not to use abrasive rags and cleaners.

To deep clean your mat the right way, you can hand wash it in cool water with mild soap. To do this,

  • Fill your bathtub or sink with water until it reaches about a third full
  • Add about a tablespoon of mild detergent, such as a hypoallergenic laundry detergent or castile soap.
  • Once it’s nice and bubbly, put your dirty yoga mat in the tub and get it wet all over
  • Use your hands to make sure it gets nice and wet, plus break up any dirt and sweat.
  • Use a soft washcloth to wash down both sides of your yoga mat. You don’t want to scrub it with anything too hard.
  • Let it sit for about five minutes in soapy water.

Once you’ve washed your mat, then you’ll want to rinse it. Do this by

  • Draining the dirty water and refilling the tub with fresh, clean water.
  • Rinse your soapy mat out in the water as it’s filling the tub by gently squeezing it.
  • Press your yoga mat against the bottom of the tub to get out the soapy water, agitating it.
  • You might need to do this a couple of times to get the soap out completely.

Once you’re sure all the soap is out, then you’ll need to dry it. Keep in mind that some yoga mats have open cells that soak up liquid very easily, like a sponge.

  • Pat your yoga mat dry, on both sides, with a towel, to remove any excess water.
  • You can also lay out a dry towel on the ground. Then lay the wet yoga mat over the towel.
  • Lay a second towel over it, effectively sandwiching the yoga mat in between two towels.
  • Roll it up and let it sit for about ten minutes to soak up extra water.
  • Find a spot to hang it up and let it air dry. You can use your shower or towel rod. Or hang it up outside.
  • If needed, place a towel underneath to soak up any excess water that drips down.
  • Let it dry overnight until it’s completely dry.

Depending on the material and manufacturer of your yoga mat, you can consider using a front-load washer to clean your yoga mat. Use a mild detergent to wash it. Then let it air dry in the sun or a well-ventilated area until completely dry.

For a really good, deep cleaning on porous yoga mats, you can

  • Submerge it in cool water for about twenty minutes.
  • Use just enough water to cover it.
  • Add baking soda to get rid of any stains or dirty areas.

How You Can Take Care of Your Yoga Mat

There’s nothing like unrolling that brand-new yoga mat for the first time. It’s like meeting a new friend. But then you use it to go through your hot yoga paces, and it starts looking a little worse for wear.

how to store yoga mat

There are some good practices you can do to take care of your yoga mat and help it last for a long time.

  • When you first unwrap your new yoga mat, let it air out for a couple of days before using it. This helps any smells to dissipate and lay flat.
  • Spray it down with a spray and wipe it off.
  • After every use, spray your mat down and let it air out. This not only deodorizes your yoga mat and keeps it smelling fresh, but it also kills off bacteria that could cause it to smell.
  • Spot clean your mat if it gets dirty. You can use mat wipes or spray.
  • Deep clean it at least once a week by handwashing it with cool water and mild detergent.
  • Store your yoga mat in a bag when not in use, so it doesn’t get exposed to dust and dirt.

If your mat is made out of manmade materials like PVC, it will probably be closed-cell foam and can withstand a heavier scrubbing as it doesn’t soak up water as much. Definitely deep clean these types of mats once a week.

If you have a yoga mat with a Polyurethane surface over a rubber back, then that type of mat will be open-celled and prefers to be sprayed and wiped down.

You can deep clean most mats, except for yoga mats made out of cork. This material is naturally antibacterial and open-celled, so it doesn’t get dirty as often. Generally, you can wipe it down with a spray and air it out to keep it clean.

You can disinfect your yoga mat with a mixture of distilled vinegar and water. White vinegar is a natural disinfectant and can help keep your mat clean and sweet-smelling. To make this mix, you need to

  • Gather distilled vinegar and water, along with a spray bottle and your favorite essential oils
  • Combine a mix of half water and half vinegar in your spray bottle
  • Add your favorite essential oils to sweeten the smell. Lemongrass and tea tree oil are popular choices
  • Gently swirl the mix around.
  • Spray it lightly over your mat and wipe it down with a clean, dry towel.
  • Air-dry it before putting your yoga mat away.

Your Yoga Mat Smells and What to do About it

Your yoga mat might smell because it’s brand new, and the material it’s made from emits an odor. Or you have used it so much that it’s developed an odiferous tang and needs some TLC.

yoga mat wipes by Jasmine Seven

The best way to get rid of the smell is to air your mat out in an open area. Both after you unroll it for the first time and after every use.

  • Shake off any dirt and check it for stains
  • Use spray or mat wipes to lightly clean it on both sides after your sessions.
  • Store your mat in a bag or nicely rolled between uses.

By following these tips and practices, you’ll extend the life of your yoga mat and keep it smelling fresh and clean for years to come.

Gita Mike

Gita Mike is a long time meditator and yoga practitioner who believes there is a spiritual solution to any challenge that we are faced with. She wants to share her experience and knowledge to help others find their path towards mindfulness, peace, and fulfillment.

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