My yoga mat is hands down the most used athletic gear I own, especially now that I’m working out at home. It’s not just yoga days anymore; push-ups, crunches, donkey kicks, and more require a soft padded mat on my hardwood floors, and my faded pink yoga mat does the trick. But recently, I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’ve literally shed blood, sweat, and tears on that mat through the years. So, I spoke to a doctor and personal trainer to find out just how often I should be replacing it. The answer surprised me, and it may surprise you, too.
How Often Should You Replace Your Yoga Mat?
The answer depends on the person – and the yoga mat. Be honest with yourself: Are you pulling it out once a month for some light stretching? If so, it will likely last longer than a mat that’s used daily.
Depending on the type and frequency of your workouts, your yoga mat should last about six to 12 months before needing to be replaced. “A good yoga mat should last a full year after its purchase and not wear down,” John Fawkes, an NSCA-certified personal trainer, Precision Nutrition-certified nutritional counselor, and managing editor of The Unwinder, told POPSUGAR. “Past that, you’ll probably notice changes to its surface, firmness, or other conditions that are a pretty good indication it’s reached the end of its usage.” If you’re using your mat as a surface for higher-intensity workouts, “[it will] wear down sooner, lasting around six to eight months,” Fawkes said.
Minh Nghi, DO, an internist at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth and with the Texas Health Physicians Group, explained that you should watch for signs that your mat is past its prime. “If the mat is worn, doesn’t cushion anymore, is too slippery, or is torn, then it should be replaced,” Dr. Nghi said.
What Happens If You Don’t Replace Your Yoga Mat?
Simply put, things can get gross – and even dangerous – if you use a yoga mat longer than you should. “It won’t cushion as well, and you could develop aches that weren’t present before. You could slip,” Dr. Nghi told POPSUGAR. “It can also cause infection from the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that the mat harbors.”
The germs may be the worst part of all, because they’re not as obvious as signs of wear and tear. “What you won’t be able to see quite so easily are germs, dirt, and debris buildup accumulating as a yoga mat ages,” Fawkes explained. “Yoga mats are basically the perfect breeding ground for bacteria contained in our sweat. That’s especially true if you rarely clean your yoga mat and roll it up immediately after each use, trapping the bacteria and leaving it to party.” Um, ew.
How Often Should You Clean Your Yoga Mat?
Even if you’re replacing your yoga mat consistently, you should still clean it frequently….