What’s That Oily Film on my New Tapas® Yoga Mat, and How Do I Get Rid of It?

This entry was posted on Aug 8, 2012 by .
Scorpion Pose on Tapas® Original 80 in. Yoga Mat - Emerald

Your New Yoga Mat

You unwrap your brand new yoga mat, and carry it to your favorite class, anticipating how solid your Down Dog will be today. But in your Down Dog, you find that your hands and feet are sliding even worse than they did on your old worn-out mat. Your new mat feels oily and slippery. What gives?

It may seem strange to say this, but the oily film on a new PVC-based is actually a good sign.

The oily film on the surface of a new mat indicates that the mat was cooked at a lower temperature. Cooking at a lower temperature actually makes the mat stickier in the long run because the mat never completely dries out. So, if a mat comes without that oily film it’s because the film was burned off in a quicker, hotter process. It seems counterintuitive, but cooking the mats less means that the process time is actually longer, making the process more expensive.

The mats move through an oven on a belt. When they are cooked at a higher temp, they can move through faster, resulting in more mats being processed in a shorter time—say 120 mats in an hour opposed to 100 in the lower temp process. So the mats without a thin layer of oil are cheaper to manufacture, resulting in a drier, slicker surface that’s not as functional or durable.

We recommend washing your mat before you use it to get rid of the oily film, but we consider the presence of the film to be a good sign—that the mat will be more useful in the long run.

Here’s how to get rid of the film on our Tapas® Original and Tapas® Ultra mats:

  1. Clean with our PureMat™ Mat and Gear Wash.
  2. We don’t recommend putting your mat in the washing machine to wash it, and definitely don’t put it in the dryer, unless you’ve been looking for a reason to replace the drum inside your dryer. The heat from your dryer could cause the mat to get stuck to the inside. Not good.
  3. If you want to deep clean your mat, put it in a bathtub with a 4-6 inches of water and a small amount of soap. Let it soak for 1/2 hour or so, wipe it down, then hang it to dry.

If you’ve come up with any care tips we haven’t shared in this post, please let us know. We love learning from our friends in the Yoga community. What’s the best way you’ve found to rid your yoga mat of the oily film?


24 responses to “What’s That Oily Film on my New Tapas® Yoga Mat, and How Do I Get Rid of It?”

  1. Avatar Ed Menard says:

    My Performance mat is not “oily” just slippery. Washing it off with the soap solution hasn’t improved it. Using it for the 5 times hasn’t helped either. Isn’t there a solution that one could use to get the mat sticky. Any little sweat and you start to slip. Like the mat but not the slippery.

    • Avatar Charlotte says:

      Hi, I will ask the folks in customer service if they have any ideas and get back to you. thanks!

    • Avatar Charlotte says:

      Hi Ed,

      Here’s the scoop: For most people our Performance Mat is really sticky, but body chemistry plays a big part in whether a mat will work for an individual. You may be one of those whose chemistry is not completely compatible with this mat. Since it sounds like your hands and feet might sweat, you might want to try one of our new bamboo towels. You can lay it over the mat and see if it absorbs moisture better for you.

      Let me know how it works out!


  2. Avatar Ruben Fayzakov says:

    I have the Tapas Performance max 84″ mat from huggermugger and I really like the durability of the mat, but once i get warmed up and start to sweat the mat becomes really slippery…..what should I do?

    • Avatar Charlotte Bell says:

      Hi, Yep, the Performance Mat will probably last a very long time. I’ve been using one since we first started making them and it’s still in perfect condition. The slippery hand issue is a conundrum we’ve been exploring for a while. We’ve recently developed a bamboo towel that’s made to absorb rather than deflect moisture. We’ve been getting good feedback on it so far. If you decide to try it out let us know how it works out.

  3. Avatar Holly says:

    I have a comparable professional-quality mat from a competitor company and found that scrubbing my mat down with a mixture of coarse sea salt and white vinegar worked wonders to get my mat ready to use, but without using chemicals or damaging the surface of the mat.

    I’ve found that sometimes using dish soap can actually make the slippery mat problem worse, as some users don’t always manage to get all of the soap out of the mat (since they’re a bit unwieldy to maneuver around in the tub/rinse), and this soap can actually add to the slipping problems.

    I can also add that using the wicking towels noted (again, mine isn’t a HuggerMugger towel, but it serves the same function) is a great help in breaking in a new mat, as the towel will absorb sweat and give you traction during your poses, but at the same time the friction of the underside of the towel (plus your sweat/work from poses) will help break in the new mat and wear away that slippery residue. So you get the best of both worlds — you’re able to use your mat and begin breaking it in, but you’re also able to safely and steadily maintain your poses while doing so.

    Good luck and namaste!

    • Avatar Charlotte Bell says:

      Thanks so much for your great suggestions! We do advise folks to use only a tiny amount of dish soap. The mats are so absorbent and dense that a little goes a very long way. As you said, if you don’t dilute the soap enough it will absorb into the mat and make matters worse. Thanks for the vinegar and salt suggestion. We will try that out.

  4. Avatar Michael Glenn says:

    I bought 22 high-performance Tapas mats about 18 months ago for my studio. Ten of the mats became sticky within the first month and our students love them. The rest of the mats have remained slippery to the point that many students prefer to have their hands on the wooden floor than on the mat. I’m really disappointed as I bought the higher-quality mats to provide our students with a better experience. I kept hoping that the condition of the mats would improve. But after a year and a half and many washings, the texture hasn’t changed much.

    • Avatar Charlotte Bell says:

      Hmmm … Are these all Tapas Original mats? If so, were the mats different colors? For some reason, some of the colors are stickier than others. For example, the lapis blue ones seem to be the stickiest. It probably has to do with the way the chemistry of particular colors reacts with the mat materials. Let me know about the colors. That will help me troubleshoot your issue.

  5. Avatar heather says:

    Love my new HuggerMugger mat.. but its so slippery, I tried the soap and water trick to no avail… but the MAGIC trick for getting that coating off and making it sticky is … SALT! Just put coarse sea salt on the mat and wipe it down with a hot washcloth then wipe it down to dry and let air dry. Now my mat is FANTASTIC! love it…

  6. Avatar Diego Rionda says:

    Dear Hugger muggers I just bought my first hugged mugger mat… But after a few minutes in, everything becomes extremely slippery, I’m becoming desperate because I washed it already and use salt on it… But still, just a little bit of sweat and it becomes an ice rink (the color is orange) since apparently colors affect stickiness
    Thank you for taking the time to read this

    • Avatar Charlotte Bell says:

      Hi Diego, I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your mat. Since all yoga mats–ours and everyone else’s–respond differently to different types of body chemistry, some mats will be slippery for some people and sticky for others. It might help us to determine what’s going on if you answer a couple questions: What type of mat did you buy? Do you practice in a heated room? Let us know. Thanks for your input!

  7. Avatar Diego Rionda says:

    Hi Charlotte, the matt type and style are as follows Nature collection, sunset color
    Hope that’s helpfull

    • Avatar Charlotte Bell says:

      Yes it does. For me, the Nature Collection mats have never felt as sticky as some of the others. I know that we are beginning to change the Nature Collection mats over to a PER-based material rather than PVC. It may be that the PER will work better for you. I’ll find out whether we have PER in the sunset color and get back to you.

  8. Avatar Diego Rionda says:

    Great, thank you so much Charlotte, really appreciate you helping me out

    • Avatar Charlotte Bell says:

      Here’s the scoop. One of our customer service associates says that the PER versions of this mat might work better for you because they have more of a “dry” sticky feel. As of next week, we will have the Ocean, Evergreen and Cherry Blossom colors. It may be a while before we get the Sunset color. We’re replacing the PVC ones as we start to get low on the older formula. Would one of the other colors work for you?

  9. Avatar Diego Rionda says:

    Hey Charlotte, thats great news, yeah any color will do just fine, it’s all about my practice
    Thank you so much

  10. Avatar Diego Rionda says:

    Hi Charlotte, I havent heard from you guys in a while I thought you would need my home address or maybe I misunderstood your last message? (i thought you guys were replacing my matt, and thats why you where asking about the colors and stuff)
    cheers and thank you so much for your time

    • Avatar Charlotte Bell says:

      Hi Diego, Let me ask about that. I won’t be in the office until Monday (and neither will anyone else). I’ll let you know.

  11. Avatar Janice Widran says:

    Hi Charlotte,
    I recently had a frustrating encounter with HuggerMugger’s customer service department re: the new Earth Elements (3mm-Ocean/Sunset) I just purchased. When I mentioned to the gentleman (Craig) how displeased I was because it was so slippery, he was very pleasant and helped me find another mat that might serve my needs better. He set up the process for Hillary to email me re: how to send my mat back and exchange it for the new one. He also confirmed that once they received my mat, I would be credited for the price difference. The next day I received the email from Hillary giving me the simple instructions to drop it off at FedEx with a specific code written on it. Neither Craig nor Hillary ever mentioned that I would be bearing the cost to return this mat that I was unsatisfied with, so you can imagine my surprise when the FedEx guy let me know that the package needed a proper label (not the HM code). When I called HM from the FedEx store just said, “all returns are paid by the customer.. just as it says on our website.” And when I spoke with Hillary that’s all she kept repeating…”our return policy is on our website.” She did check with her supervisor and said that they would pay for shipping the new mat back to me, but sending the mat to them was at my cost. My frustration is that BOTH of these customer SERVICE (?) representatives FAILED TO MENTION /REMIND ME THAT THIS IS HM’S POLICY. It would have saved me a lot of time and energy. AND it’s only after exploring your Blog, that I found a possible solution to my oily/slippery stick mat – Coarse Sea Salt. It makes me wonder why your “customer service” wouldn’t know about such solutions and feel that your “customer satisfaction” policy is pretty poor. I’m sorry to say that you’ve just lost a long-time customer.

    • Avatar Charlotte Bell says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that this happened. It sounds like communications were not up to snuff. I will inquire into what happened on Monday, as I’m not at work at the moment. Thank you for your feedback. I’ll see what I can find out.

      I’m not sure the sea salt solution will work for the Earth Elements mat, because the slipperiness that some people encounter with that mat is usually due to an incompatibility of one’s body chemistry with the TPE. There’s not actually an oily film on the TPE mats. Also, because TPE is designed to biodegrade, the surface of our Earth Elements mat is more delicate than that of our other mats. Sea salt might cause damage.

  12. Avatar Adriene says:

    Can I use Gaiam’s mat cleaner spray or wipes on the Tapas Ultra to wipe down after classes? And will that work as a first time wash to get rid of the slippery film?

    • Hi, I’m not familiar with Gaiam’s spray cleaner, but it should be fine. If I were you, I’d test it first on a small corner of the mat just to see what it does. Let me know what happens!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *