How to Clean Martial Arts Mats

cleaning martial arts mats

Martial arts are awesome for many different reasons. They are a way to teach people how to fight, how to defend themselves, and they also inspire confidence. There is also the fact that engaging in martial arts will help make you faster, stronger, and smarter too. There is really no good reason to not practice some kind of martial art, and there are certain items of equipment that every good fighter, martial artist, and dojo needs to have.

One of those things is the martial arts mat. These mats are invaluable to any martial arts gym because they help provide you with a good grip under your feet; they provide your feet with a soft surface; they prevent injuries when someone hits the ground; and they help protect the floor underneath. Of course, when there are a bunch of people training on a mat, it is going to get sweaty, dirty, and smelly too.

The trick is to maintain your martial arts mats so they don’t get damaged and nasty in record time. These mats can actually be very expensive, so you don’t want to be buying new ones all of the time. There are certain things you can do and ways you can clean your martial arts mats so that they remain in prime condition for as long as humanly possible. Let’s talk about why you need to clean your martial arts mats on a regular basis how exactly you can go about it to get them as clean as can be.

Why do I need to clean my martial arts mat?

There are various different reasons why you need to clean your martial arts mats on a regular basis. First off, there are always lots of people using these things, and lots of people means a lot of foot dirt, sweat, and bacteria. Sweat, moisture, and dirt will end up making the martial arts mats very sticky in a short period of time. Nobody likes to stand on a martial arts mat and have their feet stick to it, especially when it makes that nasty sticking noise.

Second, all of that sweat and dirt can end up becoming very smelly. Have you ever gone into a gym or dojo only to realize that it smells like sweaty feet? Well, that is probably more due to the stinky and unclean mats on the ground than anything else. Finally, these mats can end up being a haven for microbes and bacteria, some of which can cause sickness and illness, so cleaning them is definitely essential.

If you want a gym or dojo with a non-sticky ground, without tons of illness-causing bacteria, and without a ton of stink, cleaning your martial arts mat is absolutely vital. All of this nasty stuff can also make your mats become dirty looking and discolored, both things which are not attractive in the least. Nobody is going to go train at your gym and pay you money if it has nasty, sweaty, discolored, and stinky mats on the ground. Even if you are only using the mats at home for personal use, you probably don’t want any of that sweaty smell.

How to clean martial arts mats: Prevention and treatment

There are a number of different things that you can do to prevent your martial arts mats from getting too dirty, plus a number of good solutions once they do finally get to that smelly point. One of the good parts about these mats is that they are usually made of some kind of waterproof foam, or at least have a waterproof coating, making them fairly easy to clean.

Never let people walk on the martial arts mats with their outdoor shoes. Dirt, pebbles, moisture, and whatever else people might step in on their way to your gym can damage the mats and make them stinky.

Many martial arts studios practice with bare feet, which is OK, but it does make your mats get dirtier quicker. If you truly want to keep your mats in prime condition for as long as possible, you should have people wear their special martial arts shoes which they only wear when on the mats.

If people are going to be on the mats in bare feet, you can always request that they wash off their feet before stepping on the mats, thus preventing excess dirt from accumulating on them.

If you see any sand, rocks, dirt, or other debris on the martial arts mats, use a soft broom to sweep it off. All of these things can cause scratches and tears, plus they can get imbedded in the mats.

You should use some warm water and a light soap to wipe down the mats after every use, or at least after every day of use. This will get rid of sweat and dirt, both things that will discolor the mats, wear them down, and make them smell horrible.

If you are worried about bacteria, you can always use a special sanitizer to wipe the mats down with.  Or you can do like this guy (you can get a great sprayer like he’s using here):

You need to beware that if you have the interlocking grid mats which are meant to stay on the floor all of the time, don’t use much water and try to keep them fairly dry, even when using water to clean them. If water gets under them it may cause mold to grow, and mold is stinky and dangerous to the health of everyone near it.

You can use a small mop or a Swiffer to wipe down the mats, but only move in one direction in order to push the dirt and sweat to one area. Using an old mop is definitely not ideal here.


Don’t get us wrong, because it’s not like cleaning your martial arts mats takes a lot of effort, time or money. However, some simple and regular maintenance will help keep the mats clean and free of bacteria, will help them retain their color, and will prevent foul odors too. Remember, these mats are pretty expensive. Engaging in some simple and quick cleaning on a regular basis will end up saving you lots of time and money in the long run.


I'm Steve D'Agostino, founder of Martial Arts Weapons and Training. Thanks for visiting and reading my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Samy K

    Hi Steve,

    Great comment with regards to cleaning martial arts mats. I own martial arts mats which I store at a community centre and use when it comes to doing sparring sessions. I teach Taekwondo and the mats are very handy with regards to safety. The only thing is that I would have to put down and then disassemble the interlocking mats as there are other programs being held. I do agree with you that the mats should be cleaned at every opportunity for sanity reasons and watching the video provided great tips on how to clean the mats. When storing the mats, should I cover it with some plastic from dust or just leave it stacked in an area?


    • kungfuninja

      Samy, for storage, I would just stack them. I’m sure you pull them out often enough that dust probably isn’t a worry. Yes, in our ninjutsu class, we have to pick up the mats every time because we share the rec center. I think we generally clean our mats once a month or so. We only have a limited number of classes per week, so it’s not quite so imperative to do it much more often than that for us.

  • Bob H

    I liked your site immediately. It was nice to see a picture of someone actually working, since it seems that I spend so much time at the keyboard (and being a workaholic, the picture of someone with their shoes off doing a job was something I could relate to). I liked the sidebar options, and I especially liked the conclusion. While I don’t have these mats to be concerned about, I do need to remind myself that what I DO have required an investment on my part…and I need to take care of it. The site lined up well, and even though the page was about maintenance, I had the feeling that I was in a martial arts environment.

    • kungfuninja

      Thanks, Bob! You’re so right. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about mats or your car or home or anything else you own that should be cared for. Take pride in your investments and take care of them so you can enjoy them for a long time to come!

  • John

    Just like anything else out there, maintenance is key. Without cleaning something that is obviously going to get sweat on every single day you are only asking to purchase new mats in a short amount of time. Clean your mats people!

    • kungfuninja

      No doubt! Besides, who wants to roll around on mats that are stinky and nasty from other people’s sweat? Eww! 🙂

  • Rakesh

    I really like martial art from childhood. and I used to learn kick boxing at the age of 17 from my friend who was a trained kick boxer. I really like this type of post and I appreciate you for the same and expecting more .

    • kungfuninja

      Well, thank you, Rakesh! I’m really glad you like the site, and I hope to see you back here again!

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