How Often Should You Replace Your Yoga Mat?

yoga mat

Yoga might be a gentle form of movement, but that doesn’t mean the mat you flow on can last a lifetime. Whether you’re new to yoga or several years into your practice, you may not know when it’s time to replace your yoga mat. The good news? Your mat will tell you. 

Here, we share the tell-tale signs that you need a new yoga mat, how to care for your mat and make it last longer, and what you should look for when buying a new one.

When Should You Replace Your Yoga Mat?

The lifespan of a yoga mat is highly dependent on the quality of the mat and how often you use it. In general, you can expect a mat to last about one year.

Of course, this depends on the mat type, practice cadence, and style of the individual using it, says CorePower Yoga’s Pacific Northwest senior area leader, Molly Dilg.

Signs You Need a New Yoga Mat

Since a yoga mat’s shelf-life can vary, it’s better to pay attention to the warning signs that your mat is ready to retire. Here are four tell-tale signs that it's time to replace your mat.

Your Mat Is Getting Thin

When your mat starts to wear thin, typically around your hands and feet in down dog/planks, Dilg says it’s a good time to get a new one.

“This will bolster your balance and set you up to celebrate another mat well-loved and the practices it supports,” she says. 

You Begin to Notice Wear and Tear

If you notice that the top layer is starting to come off, Marije Paternotte, a yoga and mindfulness meditation facilitator with studio BE mindfulness, says it’s time to splurge on a new mat. The same goes for holes in the mat or “bald spots,” which are common in the areas you put your hands and feet. 

You’re Slipping All Over the Place

A good quality mat will prevent slipping (even when sweaty!) and keep you from moving all over the place. If you notice your feet shifting or your hands sliding, it might be time to replace your mat. 

Your Mat Stinks

If you’ve scrubbed and cared for your mat regularly and it still has a funky odor, it’s time to find a replacement. All that contact time with sweaty feet can cause even the most durable mats to lose their appeal. 

How Clean Is Your Yoga Mat, Really? 

If you’re the only one flowing through poses, it’s safe to say your yoga mat is just about as clean as the body that practices on it, according to Dilg. But, if the mat has multiple users, the cleanliness factor gets a little dicey. Where you practice also determines the germ-factor of your mat.

“If you only use your yoga mat at home, it is probably a lot cleaner than when you take it to a yoga studio, walk around there on your bare feet, and then get on your mat,” says Paternotte. 

Regardless, whether you’re a solo yogi or share a mat, exercises surfaces such as a yoga mat are home to dirt, germs, viruses, bacteria, fungus, and more.  That’s why you need to be diligent about cleaning it after each use. And, if you use a shared mat at a studio, it’s a good idea to disinfect it before and after each class. 

How to Make Your Yoga Mat Last Longer

When it comes to the longevity of a yoga mat, giving it a little extra TLC can make all the difference. All mats come with care and cleaning instructions, so make sure to read those before using any products on the mat.

A good rule of thumb is to clean or wipe down your mat after each use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you’re using a shared mat at a studio or gym, cleaning after each use is critical. 

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, you can also use disinfectant wipes or sprays made specifically for exercise surfaces.

Ideally, Dilg says these tips will help support a longer lifespan of your mat:

  • Practice with clean hands and feet.
  • Spray and wipe it down between practices with some essential oil diluted in water or a mat wash product.
  • Keep your mat out of direct sunlight and let it hang-dry after a deep sweat.
  • Pair your mat with a mat-towel to protect the surface of the mat.

Towels can also boost thickness and grip as needed and are easy to clean after an especially sweaty practice.

A lot of studios clean mats with a mixture of distilled water, white vinegar, and an essential oil like tea tree oil.

DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner

For at-home cleaning, Paternotte uses a mixture of essential oils with antibacterial properties and witch hazel (or alcohol) to clean yoga mats. 

You can try it at home by mixing the following ingredients in a 16-ounce spray bottle:

  • 3/4 cup distilled or spring water
  • 1/4 cup witch hazel
  • 15 drops tea tree oil
  • 10 drops of essential oil of your choice

Note that natural rubber mats should only be cleaned with water.

What to Look for in a New Yoga Mat

If your current mat has seen better days and you’re in the market for a new yoga mat, there are some features to keep in mind.

Support and Thickness

The thickness makes a big difference in the lifespan of a yoga mat. In general, Paternotte says the heavier or thicker the mat, the sturdier and more durable it will be. Y

ou may also want to consider a thicker mat if you have tender joints or sensitive knees, ankles, wrists, or elbows. Thickness can range from 1/16 inches thick for a travel-friendly mat to 1/2 inches thick for a premium mat. 

Slip-Resistance

When doing a Half Moon Pose or Eagle Pose in a hot studio, the last thing you want is for your feet to slip out from underneath you. That’s why a mat that is sticky and has great traction to prevent slipping is ideal, especially if you practice hot yoga. 

Portability

If you travel a lot with your mat, Paternotte suggests buying a lightweight mat (less than 5 mm thick) that is easy to carry and fits in most bags.

Eco-Friendly

Since the practice of yoga goes beyond the mat, Paternotte urges yogis to buy an eco-friendly mat. Most yoga mats are made from PVC or vinyl, but it’s not the most eco-friendly material. When shopping for a mat constructed from sustainable materials, consider buying one made from all-natural rubber or jute.  

Open-Cell vs. Closed-Cell

For hot yoga lovers, opt for an open-celled mat paired with a mat towel for sweat absorption and easier cleaning. Open-celled mats tend to absorb sweat better and provide better traction. For gentle yoga practices, consider a closed-cell mat, which is slicker, longer-lasting, and water-resistant.

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