5 Gross Things You Might Experience If You Never Wash Your Yoga Mat

by Georgina Berbari

If you've ever used a rental mat at your local yoga studio, you may have noticed they require you to sanitize it and wipe it down post-practice. Yet, if you're using your own mat, you usually just peace the f*ck out immediately after savasana. So, if you're asking yourself "should I wash my yoga mat?" the answer is a hard yes.

Look, I get it. Even as a yoga instructor, I am aggressively guilty of neglecting the hygiene of my mat. It's honestly pretty nasty. TBH, cleaning your mat should definitely be an automatic part of your yoga ritual. But many people get stuck in the "flow, sweat, roll up, and repeat" cycle, which basically leaves your mat dirtier than the sexts you sent your high school boyfriend when you guys attempted that long-distance college relationship.

Seriously, just think about how many strains of bacteria, microbes, and viruses are lurking on any floor you practice yoga on. Those germs are immediately transported onto your mat the minute you step on it. #Gag.

And if you take your practice outside? Hello, fresh layer of dirt that's probably going to be chilling on your cheek the next time you roll that bad boy out.

Bottom line: If you experience some major #ButtSweat in your yoga pants, you wash them, right? So your mat should be getting the same royal treatment, don't you think?

But, if you're still going to try to be sneaky AF and slip out of the studio without wiping down the surface of your stretching sanctuary, here are five totally nasty things that are bound to happen.

1. Visible Grime

It's honestly repulsive, but if you go long enough without washing your yoga mat, it can actually accumulate a visible layer of grime that will not inspire you to be zen in any way.

Anything that you come in contact with throughout the day is transported to your mat when you climb into downward dog. Got some Sriracha on your hands from your sushi bowl? Forgot to wash your hands after taking a sh*t? Congratulations, your yoga mat now has a film of spicy smelliness.

2. A Nasty Stench

Speaking of smelliness, the stench gets real when you skip sanitation post-savasana.

Have you ever been chilling in child's pose when your instructor tells you to take a deep breath, and it suddenly smells like that time you forgot to wear deodorant to the gym? It's happened to me, and I've also been next to the dude who practices poor mat hygiene.

Please wipe down your mat, because if you don't, you might find your fellow yogis "accidentally" positioning themselves as far away from your practice area as possible.

3. Ringworm

If you're sweaty AF during an intense vinyasa class, it can feel amazing as hell in the moment. But your hard-earned sweat droplets are most likely rolling right onto your mat, making it the perfect space for germs, viruses, and bacteria to gather.

As disgusting as it is, some type of fungus is bound to form on your sweaty surface eventually, and ringworm is a fungal infection that typically grows on highly used surfaces, like yoga mats.

BRB, I think I'm literally going to stick my mat in the washing machine and just see what happens.

4. Colds Or Viruses

Catching a cold or virus is especially common when you're practicing on a dirty rental mat from a gym or studio.

This is why, even though it may seem annoying to you, your teacher's reminders to spray your mat down are legitimately to protect your health and keep the studio hygienic. No one wants to be the person coughing up a lung in savasana. Just clean the damn mat, people.

5. Dirty Hands

I'm not proud to admit this, but recently, after I practiced, I realized that my hands were actually a shade darker than usual.

If you're literally accumulating dirt on your palms after simply hopping on your mat, you know the time has come for a deep, quality cleaning.

Plus, think about how many poses actually require you to put your face in contact with your mat. I'm cringing just thinking about it.

Save the dirtiness for the bedroom -- if you're into that, I don't know your life -- and keep your yoga practice squeaky clean.