I’ve used over a dozen yoga mats, and yoga enthusiasts have asked me, how long do yoga mats last?
That’s a great question. There are two main answers. It depends on how often you use your mat and what mat brand you use.
In this article, I will focus on the first question for those who use your mat daily or multiple times weekly.
How Long Do Yoga Mats Last?
The lifespan of a yoga mat depends on several factors, including the material it’s made from and how often you use it.
For example, if you practice yoga every day and regularly sweat on your mat, it will wear out more quickly than if you only practice once a week.
Yoga mats can last about five years if you care for them. Rubber yoga mats are more expensive than PVC mats but last longer. Rubber mats can last up to eight years with proper care.
Cotton yoga mats are also costly but last a maximum of about one year because they get dirty quickly and cannot be washed in a washing machine.
Most yoga mats are made from either PVC or polyester. Polyester tends to be more durable than PVC, but both have pros and cons.
Yoga mats made from PVC tend to be cheaper than polyester ones, but they also have a shorter lifespan and are known for tearing when used frequently.
On the other hand, polyester mats tend to be sturdier and last longer than PVC ones.
However, they’re also more expensive than PVC yoga mats and can be slippery when used on hardwood floors or carpeting.
Signs of Poor Quality in a Yoga Mat
Following are some common signs of poor quality in a yoga mat:
The smell of a yoga mat is the first thing you notice when you open it. The scent comes from rubber and plastic chemicals that are released during manufacturing.
The smell comes from sweat and bacteria on your hands and feet during practice. An unpleasant scent or texture is a sign of a poor-quality yoga mat.
Yoga mats come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but they all share one thing. They are slippery when wet. If you practice outdoors or in a humid room, your yoga mat may become slippery during your session.
If this happens, it is essential to find out how to clean your yoga mat so it does not slip during future practices.
A yoga mat with no traction will be a slippery surface to practice on. It’s crucial to have traction so your hands and feet don’t slip off the mat during practice.
If your mat has no traction, it’s probably time to replace it. It might be hard to determine whether or not your mat has lost its grip.
You could try poses on the floor with no shoes on and see how much traction it provides.
Yoga mats made from non-eco-friendly materials such as PVC have shorter lifespans than ones made from more sustainable materials such as rubber or jute.
While these non-eco-friendly mats may be cheaper, they come with a higher cost in the long run because they will wear out faster and need replacing sooner than eco-friendly ones.
Yoga mats vary in thickness from about 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch. The thicker the mat, the more cushioning it provides when you practice on hard floors.
A thin, cheap mat will wear out sooner than a thick, expensive one. If your yoga mat is too thin, it will lose its grip and slide around during practice.
Non-Uniform Colors that Fade
One of the most common signs of poor-quality yoga mats is when the color fades after only a few uses. It usually happens because the manufacturer uses cheap dyes or too much paint to cover up imperfections in their product.
If you notice this problem with your new mat, returning it before it worsens and causes an injury is best.
The Mat Doesn’t Unroll Easily
If your mat doesn’t unroll easily, it is probably a sign of bad quality. Over time, the friction rolling up and down can cause the rubber to separate from the fabric backing.
It makes it harder to roll up and down; eventually, it won’t budge.
Signs You Need to Replace Your Yoga Mat
Here are some signs that your yoga mat is getting old, and it is time for a replacement.
1. The Surface Gets Slippery
If your mat is getting slippery, it’s probably time to replace it. There are two main reasons for this:
- You’re not cleaning your mat regularly. If you don’t clean your mat, it will smell like mildew and sweat. It may be a sign that you’re not cleaning it often enough, if at all.
- The material has become brittle or worn out. As with anything made of rubber, the surface of your mat will wear out over time, mainly if you use it often and put pressure on it during practice. As the material becomes thinner, it will become more susceptible to tearing and ripping when under stress.
2. It Smells Terrible
Yoga mats tend to get stinky after extended use, especially if you sweat heavily during practice. The material feels slippery and hard to grip when you’re sweating.
The smell will worsen if you don’t clean your mat regularly or replace it often enough.
You can try washing your mat in the washing machine once every month or so with mild detergent and warm water, but this probably won’t eliminate odors from the rubber, so it’s best to replace it with a new one.
3. You Notice Staining on the Surface of a Mat
You may notice staining on the mat, but this usually does not cause concern. It’s usually just sweat that has accumulated over time.
If you’re worried about germs, wash your mat with water and soap after every use. If you’re worried about sweat stains, try washing them at least once every few months with a mild detergent or soap.
4. It Makes Your Hand and Feet Numb
Many people have noticed that yoga mats have led to numbness in their hands and feet after some time.
It is because yoga mats contain rubber, which is used to make them flexible and durable.
In addition, various chemicals are added to this rubber to make it more effective in absorbing sweat from the body during yoga practice.
However, these chemicals can cause side effects such as numbness in your hands and feet after prolonged use of these mats.
5. The Surface Sticks to Your Skin and Clothes
If the surface is too sticky or slippery, it can cause problems for certain poses. For example, if you have sweaty palms, a sticky mat may cause you to slip during Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). A slippery mat can make balancing poses difficult.
6. You are Beginning to Experience More Joint Pain
If you are in your 30s or 40s and have been doing yoga regularly, you may notice more joint pain.
It is because yoga can be challenging on your joints, especially if you are new to it or have not yet found a balance between pushing your body and taking care of yourself.
If you are beginning to experience more joint pain or have back problems, it may be time to replace your yoga mat before those issues worsen.
7. Your Mat is Cracked
The most obvious sign that your yoga mat needs replacing is if it has cracks or tears.
It can happen if you’ve been practicing on a dirty mat (which can make them more susceptible to bacteria growth) or if you’ve been practicing on a mat that’s too small for your body type or height.
If you see any cracks or tears, you should replace your mat immediately because these will only worsen over time and lead to injury.
8. Your Mat is Fading
If you’re looking for something other than an aesthetic reason for replacing your mat, then faded colors might be enough for you.
A fading or sun-damaged mat may not be as effective at providing comfort during your practice because its surface will no longer have traction.
9. It Takes Forever to Dry Out
This is not good news if your yoga mat takes forever to dry out after use. It means that moisture is trapped inside, and it is not appropriately expelled by the material used in making the mat itself.
If left unchecked, it can lead to mold growth, harm your health, and damage your equipment.
Hence if you leave your mat out overnight and it still feels damp in the morning, it’s probably the best time for a replacement.
A Few Ways to Extend the Life of Your Yoga Mat
The right yoga mat can make all the difference in your home yoga practice. Taking care of your mat is also essential because you will often use it.
The problem with mats is that they start to smell and get stains. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a mat with a pungent smell and unsightly stains after only a few months of regular practice.
To prolong the life of your yoga mat, here are a few simple ways you can care for your mat to last for many years to come.
1. Wash Your Mat Periodically
Yoga mats can get sweaty and dirty over time. It is also true if you practice at home and don’t clean off your mat after every session, especially if it’s stored in a moist environment like a basement.
If you notice any odor or discoloration, wash them with mild soap and warm water every few months. To keep them clean and fresh, use a spray-on disinfectant to sanitize your mat after each use. Be sure to rinse off any residue before storing it away.
Soak your yoga mat in warm water for at least 10-15 minutes, then use a scrub brush to scrub it down and remove any dirt or debris that may be lodged inside.
Then rinse it under cool water until all soap residue is removed from the mat’s surface.
Hang dry or use a drying rack, as long as there is enough airflow around the entire mat so that no moisture remains trapped inside folds or creases (which would cause mold growth).
2. Wipe it Down After Each Use
Yoga mats are made from many different materials. Some of them can get dirty over time, and wiping them down after each use is the best way to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Use a damp cloth or towel to wipe down the surface of your yoga mat after each class if it’s made from cotton or synthetic material.
If it’s made from rubber or PVC, rinse it with cool water instead (but make sure not to leave it in standing water).
3. Store Your Mat in a Clean and Dry Place
The best way to extend the life of your mat is to keep it clean and dry. If your mat gets wet from sweat or is being washed, dry it completely before storing it.
Otherwise, mold can grow on it, making it smell bad and causing bacterial infections if anyone uses it after that happens. Store your mat dry so that nothing gets on it when it’s unused.
4. Roll Up Your Mat in the Correct Direction
The top side of your mat should always face inward. When you roll up your mat, ensure the side with the logo or name faces inwards instead of outwards.
If you don’t do this, you’ll likely have an unsightly crease mark in the middle of your mat that will never come out.
Yoga mats have an arrow printed on them that indicates which direction to roll up your mat for storage.
The arrows usually point toward the mat’s top, indicating that the top layer should face out when rolled up. It helps prevent wear on the bottom layers, making them less sticky.
5. Don’t Leave Your Mat in Direct Sunlight
Yoga mats are made of natural rubber, which is highly flammable, so the sunlight can damage your mat and cause it to break down faster.
Store your yoga mat in a cool, dry place and keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
6. Hang it to Dry Whenever Possible
Hanging your mat after each use will help keep it from getting smelly or sticky. It also helps prevent bacterial growth on the outer surface of the mat.
You can hang it by its top handle or loop it over a hook in your closet. You can also hang it outside or somewhere with plenty of air circulation.
Avoid storing your mat in a pile or an area with little airflow because this will encourage mold growth over time.
As a consumer, you choose to purchase new or used mats. Yoga mat producers will likely argue that their mats must be replaced at least every couple of years, but they also make money from your need to buy a new mat.
Plus, depending on how well you care for your yoga mat, you can extend its lifespan before purchasing a new one. Wash with water and mild soap (no detergents), rinse thoroughly with water, then air dry.