A yoga mat is a worthwhile—vital, even—investment for any yogi. But because it’s an investment that you sweat on, anyone with a yoga mat needs to clean it to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria and extend the life of the material.
You can make your own cleaner at home. But store-bought is fine too! We tested five popular yoga mat cleaners on six different mats. By the end, we determined that the Saje Wellness Cleansing Yoga Mat Spray is the best spray for the job given its cleaning power and fragrance. We also think the Mind Over Lather 100% Natural Yoga Mat Cleaning Spray is a good value for the price.
The Best Yoga Mat Cleaners
Saje Natural Wellness Yoga Freshening Mat Spray
- Size: 6.8 fluid ounces
- Scent: Orange, niaouli, and patchouli
- Bottle: Aluminum with mist sprayer
- For use on: All mat types
- Robust ingredient list
- Unique scent profile
- Aluminum bottle is nice to hold and display
- The priciest pick on our list
When I first smelled the Saje Wellness mat spray, I had to restrain myself from spraying it on everything around my house—the fragrance is that good. The size and shape of the aluminum bottle feels nice to hold and also looks good displayed on a countertop. It sprays a wide, even mist without leaving large drops on the mat, spreads easily when wiped, and leaves the mat dirt-free.
The ingredient list of the Saje spray is the most robust of all the cleaners we tested. Rather than relying on one or two essential oil ingredients to do the cleaning, the Saje spray has a total of seven, containing orange peel, niaouli, lavender, spearmint, patchouli, pine needle, and bergamot oils. The scent is complex and it’s hard to decipher exactly what’s in it without looking at the ingredient list, but it smells like a balanced mix of calming and refreshing. The lavender and spearmint shine through the most, but there’s also a touch of citrus, floral, and earthy notes.
The nozzle on the Saje bottle sprays a wide and even mist that covers a large surface area—the most misty of any nozzles we tried, which turned out to be a good thing. It didn’t leave any big drops on the mat, and nothing stuck to my fingers either. When I sprayed it on the mats, it didn’t look like much product. But when I wiped with the cloth, I was able to see that it spread out well, with more than enough product for a thorough clean.
The spray didn’t leave residue or stains on the mats and easily removed hand prints and other sweat spots without having to scrub too hard. The white cloth we used revealed the Saje cleaner was able to remove just as much grime as any other cleaner we trIed. It also dried fast, which is what you want when you’re leaving a yoga class and want to roll up your mat quickly. The lid snaps on securely so it won’t accidentally spray or leak in your bag.
Everything about Saje Wellness is luxe, from the branding to its aluminum bottle (which, if you eventually DIY your own spray, would be a nice bottle to use and reuse again and again). It also says it’s plant-based, all-natural, free of synthetics, and does not use animal testing, but does not seek out third-party certifications to verify these claims.
Saje Wellness backs its products with a formulation guarantee. According to the brand, “Formulations that do not take care of your wellness needs can be refunded with the original receipt.” Any product can be exchanged for another one that better suits your needs, no receipt needed. We didn’t test this process, but it’s a nice offering.
Mind Over Lather 100% Natural Yoga Mat Cleaning Spray
- Size: 8 fluid ounces
- Scent: Lavender Mint
- Bottle: Plastic with mist sprayer
- For use on: All mat types
- Good value and cleaning power
- Smells refreshing and calming
- Pump sprays evenly with wide distribution
- Not pet friendly due to tea tree oil
The Mind Over Lather yoga mat cleaner contains a mixture of water, witch hazel, essential oils, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oil. The brand does not list what essential oils other than eucalyptus and tea tree are in the ingredients. We wish they were more transparent, but we have to assume it also contains lavender, given that it smells strongly of the stuff. This is the best budget option on our list given the product to price ratio, and the nozzle that distributes the formulation with a wide, even circular spray with no dripping. The cap also snaps on tightly.
The bottle is short and wide, so it isn’t as easy to grip as a thinner bottle like the Saje spray. But the sprayer works well and the product is easy to spread over the mat and picks up dirt. Once sprayed, it doesn’t soak in immediately, which makes moving it around easier, and it doesn’t leave too much product in one area. Next to the Saje cleaner, it was the fastest-drying spray. This is a bonus, as it lets you roll your mat up quicker after a yoga session.
The bottle needs to be given a good shake before spraying so the water and essential oils mix together before being applied to a yoga mat. That said, all the bottles need to be shaken before spraying, and the Mind Over Lather mixture cleans off handprints and worn-in grime. It also didn’t leave behind any spots or residue on any of the mats.
How We Got Here
Meet Your Guinea Pig
I’m Ebony Roberts, a product journalist covering fitness, health, and outdoor gear. I’m a former staff writer at Wirecutter, current gear columnist at Outside magazine, and have written in-depth reviews and buyers guides for REI, Treeline Review, and now The Nessie, where I’ve tested and written about yoga mats and yoga blocks. My writing has also appeared in Gear Patrol, Trail Runner, and a handful of other places. In the past decade, I’ve interviewed dozens of health and wellness experts conducting product research.
Our Testing Process
I started investigating yoga mat cleaners by spending 10 hours reading a handful of product reviews and digging into research on the effectiveness of essential oils in cleaning products and for everyday use. Then, I built out a list of 25 popular sprays and wipes and picked five sprays to test, which The Nessie purchased for testing. (We’ll consider yoga mat wipes another time.)
When the cleaners arrived, I spent another day cleaning yoga mats. I recently reviewed yoga mats for The Nessie, so I had a variety of mat surfaces to use for testing yoga mat cleaners, including: polyurethane mats from Lululemon, Liforme, and Alo (all three have a natural rubber base that I also cleaned); a PVC Manduka Pro mat; a foamy PVC Gaiam mat; and a TPE Heathyoga mat.
Using six different mats, I did both a regular wipe down and a deep clean, following the instructions on each bottle. I also taped off sections on two of the mats (one polyurethane, one foam) and sprayed each product the same number of times to compare the coverage, amount of product distributed, and dry time (for this I chose a dark mat making it easy to see the product). I also applied dirt evenly to one mat, sprayed the products in designated sections, and wiped using white cloths, so that I could see just how much dirt and grime was lifted. As I did this, I took notes of any staining, residue, or issues with the spray bottles themselves. Finally, I compared ingredient lists, fragrance, and nozzle function between all the products.
Feel free to check out my test notes for more insight on how we found the best yoga mat cleaners.
Is Yoga Mat Cleaner Worth It?
All yoga mats need cleaning. Our bodies are covered in Cleveland Clinic “Body Odor” View Source , and when we sweat, that bacteria starts to smell. When that sweat—plus any dirt and grime on your hands and feet—get on the mat, a funky odor can develop over time. Your mat may degrade faster, too.
That said, you don’t always need to buy a mat cleaner. You can make them at home, too. Pro-made cleaners just contain a combination of essential oils, water, and other fragrances in specific formulations to remove dirt and grime without causing damage to the mat. Some even come with the microfiber towel for drying.
All cleaners on our list claim to be safe for use on all mats, and we found this to be true on all the mats we tested them with. Still, check your mat’s care instructions to make sure. Some brands don’t recommend vinegar-based solutions and others warn of using cleaners with high essential oil concentrations.
Cleaning vs. Disinfecting Your Yoga Mat
It’s important to distinguish CDC “How To Clean and Disinfect Schools To Help Slow the Spread of Flu” View Source . Cleaning physically removes dirt and germs, but doesn’t kill them. Disinfecting, which is done with chemical products, kills the germs and should be done after cleaning to remove anything remaining on the surface. (Refer to this CDC “When and How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home” View Source on when and how to clean and disinfect). All the products on our list are yoga mat cleaners, but you may want to consider disinfecting your mat routinely, too.
Do Essential Oils Actually Work for Cleaning?
All of the yoga mat cleaners we tested contain a mix of essential oils. There’s a lot of debate about whether essential oil works… for anything, but also as a cleaning agent. Some essential oils, like tea tree oil, have some Hindawi “Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review” View Source . Lavender-based essential oil has also Evolutionary Bioinformatics “The Missing Piece: Recent Approaches Investigating the Antimicrobial Mode of Action of Essential Oils” View Source against a wide range of bacteria. This evidence supports the effectiveness of an essential oil spray as an everyday yoga mat cleaner—but if you want to disinfect, you should reach for something else.
Essential Oil Safety for Kids and Pets
Essential oils may be toxic when ingested, according to the Poison Control Center “Essential Oils” View Source . Because children have thinner skin and smaller organs, they may be more susceptible to its toxicity.
Less research is available to determine the safety and toxicity of essential oils around your pets, but it’s pretty widely known that Poison Control Center “Essential Oils” View Source . It can also be a skin irritant and cause allergic reactions in some cases. The ASPCA “Poisonous Household Products” View Source around dogs and cats. The Pet Poison Helpline lists even more essential oils that aren’t safe for use around Pet Poison Helpline “Essential Oils And Dogs” View Source and Pet Poison Helpline “Essential Oils And Cats” View Source .
None of the cleaners we tested state the percentages of each essential oil in the formulation, so we can’t say for sure what’s safe and what’s not. To be safe, store all essential oil-based products in a safe, secure place and always check with your healthcare provider or veterinarian for guidance on the use of essential oils in your home and around your kids and furry friends.
How To Clean Yoga Mats
How Often Should You Clean Your Yoga Mat?
Your yoga mat needs both routine and deep cleaning. Routine cleaning should be done once a week, or even more if you sweat a lot on the mat. The best practice is to wipe the mat down after each practice and roll it up when dry.
Every once in a while, your yoga mat needs a more thorough deep cleaning. About once a month is a good habit to get into. How you clean it depends on whether it’s a closed or open-cell mat. Closed-cell mats are less porous, so sweat and dirt can’t make their way inside as easily. Open-cell mats are more porous and will need deep cleaning more often.
How to Clean Your Yoga Mat
Routine cleaning is pretty easy. Spray the cleaner on a smooth cloth or microfiber towel and wipe in circular motions over the surface to remove dirt. Clean both sides, then wait until it dries to roll up. Some cleaners instruct you to spray directly on the mat itself. For a deeper routine clean, spray the solution directly on the mat, let it penetrate into the mat for a couple of minutes, use a clean cloth to gently scrub any stains, then wipe the mat dry and let it air dry before rolling up (always spot check first).
For deep cleaning, always follow the care instructions on your mat. Open-cell yoga mats (porous options that absorb sweat, such as the Jade Harmony mat) can usually be submerged in soapy water, lightly scrubbed with a soft cloth, then rinsed. Closed-cell yoga mats (smoother, less-porous options, such as Lululemon’s The Mat) usually need to be spot cleaned with soap and water and a bit of elbow grease. Scrub the dirty spots out using a circular motion. No matter how you clean your mat, make sure it’s dry before rolling it up and storing it.
How To Make DIY Mat Cleaner
For many yoga mats, you can DIY your own cleaner using a combo of water, vinegar, witch hazel, and essential oils. You’ll also need a spray bottle. Ratios vary depending on the instructions you follow, but using a 1 part vinegar/witch hazel to 4 parts water proportion—plus a few drops of your essential oil of choice—is a popular option.
How to Buy Yoga Mat Cleaner
Who should buy yoga mat cleaner?
Anyone who practices yoga will need to clean their yoga mat, whether that’s done with a home brew or a store-bought cleaner. While you can DIY your own cleaner, there are sprays and wipes formulated to clean yoga mats effectively and safely. Yoga mat cleaners typically cost between $10 and $20, which is a good investment if you’ve already shelled out for a mat. You can also use most cleaners to wipe down other props, like your blocks.
Which features matter most when buying yoga mat cleaners?
When buying a yoga mat spray, consider:
- Cleaning power: A good yoga mat spray will remove dirt, grime, pet hair, and sweat from your mat, prolonging the mat’s life and also keeping it fresh for you to practice on. The best cleaners can be used for both routine and deep cleaning and will be formulated for use on a variety of mat surface types.
- Nozzle function: The best yoga mat cleaners will either have a trigger nozzle or misting pump spray that disburses the product in a wide, even area. Nozzles that leave large drips on the mat or spray in too targeted an area are not ideal because they can leave behind spots, or worse, permanent damage when they oversaturate the material.
- Post-cleaning look: Once dry, you should not be able to see any product on your mat. Residue, streaks or discoloration are a big red flag.
- Scent: Good cleaners either smell great or they don’t smell at all. A hint of calming or refreshing fragrances are OK. Overpowering or chemical scents are not.
- Ingredients: Robust ingredient lists that don’t just refresh with scent, but are also able to remove dirt and grime are ideal. But be careful of harsh chemicals that can damage your yoga mat. Even better are ingredients that have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, like some essential oils and plant extracts. We also took note of brands that seek out specific certifications (USDA, Leaping Bunny, etc.) to help back up eco friendly claims.
Other Great Yoga Mat Cleaners
Lululemon Yoga Mat Spray Cleaner
- Size: 8 fluid ounces
- Scent: No scent listed, but contains sandalwood, rosemary, bergamot, and cedarwood essential oils
- Bottle: Aluminum with trigger nozzle
- For use on: All mat types
- Aluminum bottle is nice to hold and easily recyclable
- Generous amount of product for the price
- Soaks in so quickly it’s difficult to spread around
We decided to test the Lululemon Yoga Mat Spray Cleaner because we were so impressed with the brand’s Reversible 5mm Yoga Mat ($88) that we made it our top pick in our yoga mat review. We had to see if the cleaning spray showed similar results. The Lululemon spray comes in an aluminum bottle and it’s Leaping Bunny-certified, meaning it’s cruelty-free. It has solid cleaning power; however, it doesn’t spread over the mat as well as the Saje and Mind Over Lather cleaners, doesn’t smell as pleasant, and the nozzle has some issues.
Most of the yoga mat cleaners we tested are a combination of water and essential oils, but the Lululemon cleaner differs in that it also contains alcohol and plant-based surfactants derived from sugar. Surfactants (the name combines “surface,” “area,” and “agent”) are found in everything from detergent to skincare to food, and they work by enhancing a liquid’s spreading and wetting properties by reducing the surface tension of water. Surfactants also attach to dirt and oil, trapping it to be removed. (Learn more about biosurfactants in this video from the National Science Foundation.)
While this sounds science-y and effective, in practice, the Lululemon spray was the least easy to spread around over the mats. Once the solution hit the mat, it soaked right in. This was especially true on the polyurethane mats, where it absorbed immediately, making it difficult to move around the mat to clean it. But on the two foam mats we tested it on, it glided a little better and we were able to better distribute the product. The white cloth used to clean the mats appeared dirty post-wipe, but not any more than our top two mat cleaner picks. Additionally, while all essential oil fragrances are noticeable, the Lululemon spray had the most cleaner-type smell of any of the sprays we used, which isn’t as calming or naturally refreshing as the Saje and Mind Over Lather cleaners, but the fragrance was the quickest to dissipate.
Some negative reviews on the brand’s site say the nozzle doesn’t work well, so I kept a close eye on its spraying power. The trigger nozzle did a better job of distributing the product over a wider area than the spray pumps, so it takes less sprays to cover the mat. Most of the time, it sprays a nice mist that doesn’t leave big drops on the mat. However, the nozzle doesn’t have a lid but instead utilizes a little button locking mechanism to stop it from spraying.
Even when locked, the nozzle leaks a little of the formula when pressed, and if it’s not fully in the “on” position, it will leave big drops on the mat when sprayed (a few times, it left these blotches regardless of being fully “on”). Overall, the Lululemon yoga mat cleanser did a fine job at wiping away dirt and grime without staining any of the mats, but it didn’t wow.
Manduka Mat Wash and Refresh
- Size: 4 fluid ounces
- Scent: Lemongrass or lavender
- Bottle: Plastic with mist sprayer
- For use on: All mat types
- Multiple sizes available
- Refreshing scent
- Not a lot of product for the price
- Very simple ingredient list
The Manduka Mat Wash and Refresh spray smells fresh (we tried the lemongrass scent), spreads well over the mat, and the nozzle works well. It doesn’t have the coverage of the Saje or Mind Over Lather sprays, but it sprays evenly without leaving any splotches. The ingredients in the Manduka cleaner are purified water, lemongrass oil, and PEG-free bio-based fragrance solubilizer. We liked the more robust ingredient lists on our top two cleaners, but the Manduka’s simple formulation makes it safe for use around pets, which we appreciate. Most of all, it wiped away grime easily and didn’t leave residue behind. It was also among the quickest products to dry (on par with the Saje and Mind Over Lather sprays).
I tested the four-ounce bottle, which is easier to hold in your hand than some of the larger bottles, and has the advantage of taking up less space in your bag if you take your mat cleaner to class (the cap on the nozzle is secure so it won’t leak). But, the smaller bottle isn’t a lot of product for the price. The lemongrass cleaner is available in eight-ounce ($15) and 32-ounce ($39) sized bottles, which offer better value. It also comes in a lavender scent, however, we didn’t test that one.