smelly yoga mat

Battling the Rubber Yoga Mat Smell: A Personal Journey

It happened during my very first session of morning yoga. Unrolling my brand new rubber yoga mat, eager to embark on this new journey towards mindfulness and physical wellness, I was immediately taken aback. The overpowering smell emanating from the mat was hard to ignore. 

Rubber Yoga Mat Smell

If you’ve ever purchased a rubber yoga mat, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a struggle many of us have faced. But fear not, because what started as a distraction became an educational journey for me. And today, I’ll share my success in addressing the odor of rubber yoga mats based on methods I’ve tried and tested.

Rubber – The Primary Material in Your Yoga Mat

Natural rubber is a popular choice for exercise equipment, particularly yoga mats. Why? Mainly because of its durability and grip. But what many don’t realize is that this strength comes with a peculiar odor.

Natural Rubber vs. Synthetic Rubber

Both natural rubber and synthetic rubber are commonly used in the production of yoga mats. Natural rubber is derived from rubber trees, giving it an organic and slightly musky scent. Synthetic rubber, on the other hand, is made from petroleum-based compounds. It may have a different, often more chemically-induced odor. Knowing the difference is crucial in understanding and addressing the smell of your mat.

Why Does My Yoga Mat Smell?

While yoga in itself is a calming and refreshing activity, it’s not always pleasant when your mat starts to distract you. The smell from the mat, especially when it’s new, comes from the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are a natural part of the production process.

Eco-friendly Mats and Their Unique Scent

For those who opt for eco-friendly rubber yoga mats, the scent may be a little different. Made from sustainable sources and free from harmful chemicals, these mats often have a more organic odor. But while they’re better for the environment, the smell can still be a bit strong for some.

What causes the rubber smell in yoga mats

The rubber smell in yoga mats can be attributed to various factors, including:


Rubber yoga mats, especially those made of synthetic materials like PVC, may release an odor known as off-gassing. This occurs when the mat emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as it breaks down over time. The smell can be reminiscent of chemicals or plastic

Natural rubber mats: 

Natural rubber yoga mats, which are free of harmful materials and toxic dyes, can also have a strong smell initially. This is because natural rubber has its own distinct odor. While it may not be harmful, it can be quite noticeable

Additives and chemical processes: 

The reason for the odor comes from the additives in the mat and combined with the chemical reactions and processes necessary to make synthetic mats

To eliminate the rubber smell, some tips include:

Air it out: 

Unroll your rubber yoga mat and let it air out in a well-ventilated area. This can help dissipate the smell over time

Wash the mat: 

Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you may be able to wash your rubber yoga mat to help reduce the smell. Use a mild soap or a mixture of water and vinegar to clean the mat, then rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry completely

Use essential oils: 

Some practitioners find that using essential oils can help mask or reduce the rubber smell. Add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water, then lightly mist the mat and allow it to dry

Baking soda: 

Sprinkling baking soda on your rubber yoga mat and letting it sit for a few hours can help absorb odors. Afterward, brush off the baking soda and wipe the mat clean

It’s important to note that the rubber yoga mat smell should dissipate over time with regular use and proper care. If the smell persists or is particularly strong, it’s advisable to contact the manufacturer for further guidance.

Tackling the Rubber Yoga Mat Odor

Over time, I experimented with multiple methods to reduce or eliminate the smell from my yoga mat. Here are some effective strategies:

Air it out: 

This is the simplest method. Leave your mat unrolled in a well-ventilated area for a few days.

Clean with a mild detergent: 

Sometimes, a gentle cleanse can do wonders. Use a soft cloth and ensure you rinse thoroughly.

Natural sprays: 

Mix water with a few drops of your favorite essential oil and lightly spritz on your mat. Let it dry naturally.

Baking soda sprinkle: 

Dust a light layer of baking soda over your mat, leave it overnight, and then vacuum or shake off the residue.

Making Your Yoga Practice More Pleasurable

Incorporating yoga accessories, like a mat towel, can also enhance your experience. Not only do they add an extra layer between you and your rubber yoga mat, reducing direct contact with the smell, but they also provide additional grip and comfort.

What cleaning solutions are safe to use on yoga mats

When it comes to cleaning yoga mats, there are several safe and effective solutions you can use. Here are some options:

Water and vinegar solution: 

Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. This solution is safe for most yoga mats and helps remove dirt and odors. Spray it onto the mat, wipe it down with a clean cloth or sponge, and allow it to air dry

Water and mild soap: 

Create a solution of water and a few drops of mild soap, such as dish soap or gentle hand soap. Wet a cloth or sponge with the solution and gently clean the mat. Rinse thoroughly with water and let it air dry

DIY essential oil cleaner: 

For a pleasant scent, you can add a few drops of essential oils, such as lavender or tea tree oil, to your water and vinegar or water and soap solution. Essential oils not only provide a fresh aroma but also have antibacterial properties. Be mindful of the concentration of essential oils used, as some mat manufacturers may advise against high concentrations

Commercial yoga mat cleaners: 

There are various commercial yoga mat cleaners available on the market. These cleaners are specifically formulated to clean and refresh yoga mats. Look for cleaners that are labeled as safe for all mats and do not leave a slippery residue. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best results

It’s important to note that different mat materials may have specific cleaning requirements. Open-cell mats, which are more porous, may benefit from being submerged in soapy water and lightly scrubbed, while closed-cell mats may require spot cleaning with soap and water

Always check the care instructions provided by the mat manufacturer to ensure that the cleaning solution you choose is suitable for your specific mat. Additionally, allow your mat to dry completely before rolling it up and storing it to prevent the growth of mold or mildew.

How often should I clean my yoga mat?

To keep your yoga mat fresh and clean, it’s recommended to clean it regularly. Here are some general guidelines on how often to clean your yoga mat, based on the search results:

After Each Practice: 

Wipe down your yoga mat after each practice to remove sweat, dirt, and bacteria. This helps prevent the buildup of odor-causing substances. You can use a yoga mat cleaner or a solution of mild soap and water. Spray the cleaner onto the mat and wipe it down with a clean cloth or sponge

Once A Week Or Every Two Weeks: 

Give your yoga mat a deeper clean once a week or every two weeks, depending on the frequency of your practice. This helps remove any deeper dirt or residue that may have accumulated. You can use a yoga mat cleaner or a solution of water and vinegar. Spray the cleaner onto the mat, scrub it gently with a soft brush or cloth, and rinse it thoroughly with water. Allow the mat to air dry completely before rolling it up

Spot Cleaning: 

If you notice any specific stains or areas that need extra attention, spot clean those areas as needed. Use a gentle cleaner or a mixture of water and vinegar, and gently scrub the stained area with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse and dry the area thoroughly

Deep Cleaning: 

Depending on how much you use your yoga mat, it’s recommended to deep clean it around once a month. You can do this by giving it a bath in a sink or bathtub filled with enough temperate water to fully submerge the mat. You can add a tablespoon of dish soap or detergent for each gallon of water. Allow it to soak for about 10 minutes, then gently wipe the front and back down with a cloth. Rinse your mat off with clean water before drying it off completely

It’s important to note that the cleaning frequency may vary depending on the type of mat, the intensity of your practice, and personal preference. Some mats may require more frequent cleaning, while others may be more resistant to odor and require less frequent cleaning. Pay attention to any specific cleaning instructions provided by the mat manufacturer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my new rubber yoga mat have a strong smell?

New rubber yoga mats often emit a strong odor due to volatile organic compounds from the production process. With time and some care, this smell usually fades.

How long does it take for the rubber yoga mat smell to go away?

Depending on the mat and the methods you use, it can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks for the smell to diminish significantly.

Are eco-friendly rubber yoga mats free from the strong rubber smell?

While eco-friendly mats might have fewer chemicals, they can still emit a natural rubber odor. The smell might be different but can be just as strong initially.

Do synthetic rubber yoga mats smell the same as natural rubber mats?

No, synthetic rubber yoga mats may have a different, often more chemically-induced odor compared to natural rubber mats.

Is the smell from rubber yoga mats harmful?

Typically, the smell isn’t harmful, especially if it’s from a high-quality, eco-friendly mat. However, if you’re sensitive or allergic, it’s advisable to air the mat out before use or opt for a different material.


My journey with the rubber yoga mat smell started as a tiny hiccup in my yoga practice. But with time, patience, and a few tricks up my sleeve, I found ways to tackle it head-on. If you’re grappling with the scent of your yoga mat, remember, that you’re not alone, and there are solutions. Happy practicing!

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