If you want to make a profit teaching yoga, you need to know the back-end details of running a yoga business – and one of these details is how to clean your yoga mats. Alternately you might be an avid yoga practitioner and wondering if it is safe to use yoga studio mats and how do yoga studios clean their mats?
So, how do yoga studios clean their mats? Yoga studios clean their mats by hand or with a multi-purpose sprayer. They use soap-water and tea tree oil to remove sweat and dirt. After this, they wipe the mats clean and air them out. Yoga mats are also compatible with washing machines, but regular washing can cause them to wear out.
In this article, I will explore how, as a yoga studio teacher, you can clean your yoga mats efficiently and the precautions you must take.
How Do Yoga Studios Clean Their Mats?
A good yoga studio has to invoke the right feelings in students: peace, serenity, healing, and change. And you will have a hard time invoking any of those feelings if your yoga mats are dirty.
On that note, here’s a simple guide to cleaning yoga mats for studios:
Step 1: Choose the Right Cleaning Supplies To Clean Your Yoga Mats
The cleaning supplies you use will depend on the material forming your mats.
The most common cleaning detergent is a mixture of dish soap and warm water, as this will remove dirt and sweat from almost every mat. Most yoga studios also tend to use tea tree oil to clean yoga mats.
Start by submerging the mat in water by filling up your tub with lukewarm water and letting it sit there for a couple of minutes. The dirt will naturally start rising to the surface, and the only thing you’ll have to clean by hand will be the deep-set dirt.
Note: Don’t use too much detergent because the mat can get slippery.
There are separate mat cleaning extracts that you can look up on Amazon. The yoga mat manufacturers make some, while third-party companies make others. I have used them, and they make the yoga mats smell blissful.
Consider mixing the soap/detergent with vinegar or tea tree oil extract. Be careful about adding the vinegar, because using too much can change the smell of the mat. If you apply too much soap or too much detergent, it can also affect the quality of the mat.
Step 2: Wash the Mat by Hand
Yoga studios prefer hand-washing mats over the washing machine. They prefer hand-washing because it allows them to focus on the dirtiest spots, which lets them cleanse the dirt and grime thoroughly.
Don’t scratch the dirt with your fingernails. Instead, take a soft cloth and soak it in the detergent.
Pro Tip: Make sure you thoroughly wash both sides of the mat with extra pressure on the dirtiest spots. The most affected areas will be the ones where you sat on the most, as the excessive sweat pouring on them during practice can discolor them.
Be gentle, as heavy washing can degrade the quality. You’ll only need a few hours to wash dozens of mats, and most studio owners take their time to preserve mat quality.
Washing by hand is the safest way to do it, and it’s the only maintenance method that doesn’t significantly decrease the quality of the yoga mat over time.
However, if you have to wash many yoga mats, it is advisable to invest in a multi-purpose sprayer. The multi-purpose sprayer allows you to wash down the mats in a standing position and you will avoid hand cramps which you might get if you wash by hand.
Step 3: Rinse the Mat
Once the mat is clean, you can remove it from the water. You’ll need clean lukewarm water to remove the detergent or soap and complete the cleaning.
Start by draining the tub and then re-filling it with clean water. This draining will help you rinse the mat and remove residue and dirt. Rinse until it’s spotless and grime-free. The water should clean off quicker now that it’s rinsed, compared to when the detergent was on the mat.
Step 4: Hang the Mats Out to Dry
The mat will be filled with water after you remove it from the tub, so start draining the water over the container before you hang it out to dry. You can either squeeze or shake the mat to remove the water, though I find squeezing is more effective. If you remove the mat from the tub without getting rid of the soaked-up water, it will start dripping and soak your bathroom floor.
If you don’t have the strength to squeeze the water out with your hands, step on the mat and squeeze the water out with your feet. Once the water is gone, you can hang the mat and let it dry for 12-24 hours.
Note: It’s better to hang mats over a laundry drying rack instead of using clothes hangers, as the hooks might leave marks.
After this drying period, the clean mat will be ready for use in the yoga studio.
Note: You should never use a dryer for yoga mats. It’s best to be cautious about using washing machines and dryers when handling mats. The materials are too sensitive, and the dryer might catch fire if the mats get hot enough. Your best bet is to let them dry naturally, as it only takes one day.
Precautions to Take Before Washing Yoga Mats
Precaution #1: Wash Your Hands Before Cleaning Yoga Mats
Before touching the mats, thoroughly wash your hands to ensure none of the bacteria from your hands comes into contact with the detergent. You should also instruct students to wash their hands and feet before using the mats, as clean skin can add to the mats’ lifespans by reducing bacterial contamination.
It’s also essential to remove any lotions and creams from the hands before cleaning, as these can contaminate the mat during cleaning. You should also hand out baby wipes to students before practice and tell them to wipe off their hands and feet.
Precaution #2: Wipe Down Yoga Mats After Practice
Wipe the mats after finishing with a class. Proactive yoga studios immediately carry out maintenance work after they finish with a class, as this helps them go months without hand-washing the mats.
There are many kinds of mat-cleaning wipes that yoga studios purchase for maintenance purposes. The manufacturer of the mat also often provides cleaning wipes for a quick cleansing after exercise.
If you notice any visible dirt or sweat on the mats, make a special effort to clean out those areas. Once you’ve carried out the necessary maintenance, you can roll up the mats and store them for the next day.
Daily maintenance can keep the mats free of sweat, dirt, and oils. Care also extends their lifespan and allows you to periodically wash them after a few months instead of having to do this every few weeks.
Studio Maintenance Tasks To keep Yoga Mats Clean
Use Towels During Sessions
During the summer months, consider placing towels on top of the mats during practice. Yoga exercises can get sweaty, and this can make the yoga mats drenched after classes. The towels will soak up all that sweat and absorb the moisture, which makes them unusable for further sessions.
Pro Tip: Purchase specialized yoga towels for the mats. Yoga towels have absorbent properties, and they can keep practitioners from slipping while absorbing all the sweat. You can find yoga towels on Amazon or in yoga equipment stores.
Use Proper Ventilation
Yoga studios should air out the mats weekly, even when they’re not washing them.
Instead of rolling up the mats after regular maintenance, hang them on the balcony and air them out for a couple of hours. This airing allows all the accumulated sweat to evaporate and the moisture to get carried into the wind. It also keeps the mats from catching odors, and the mats remain fresh. If you don’t have a balcony, you can purchase hangers or hang them over the laundry rack.
It would be best if you kept the mats in a dry and cool location without direct sunlight. If you have large windows, the sun can penetrate and heat the mats, causing bacteria to spread. Roll them up and keep them in a dark and cool location, such as the studio warehouse.
To conclude, yoga studios typically hand-wash their mats with a mixture of dish soap and water. Once the yoga mats look fresh and clean again, they hang the mats out to dry for up to 24 hours before using them again.
Note: I have written an in-depth article on yoga studio decor, which you might find helpful. In the article, I explore the choices of color, accessories, and lighting for your yoga studio. Give it a read and write to me and let me know if you found it helpful!
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About the author
Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the fitness and wellness industry.
Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set-up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently resides in London, U.K.