PVC Yoga Mats – The Ultimate Guide

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PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride is one of the most common materials used in yoga mats. But how much do you know about PVC yoga mats? Soon, you’re going to know everything need to know about this yoga mat material. This article is the definitive guide to PVC yoga mats.

We did a bunch of research about PVC to make this the most complete and accurate article possible. In that process, we learned way more about PVC than you might wish to know if you’re just here to learn about PVC yoga mats.

To that end, we’re going to start this article by talking specifically about PVC yoga mats. However, if you want more of the science behind PVC and how it’s made, we’ll include that information at the end of the article.


PVC Yoga Mats Pros And Cons

Advantages And Disadvantages of PVC Yoga Mats

PVC yoga mats are one of the most common types of yoga mats on the market today. They are popular mainly because PVC is cheap and can easily be died to create colorful and beautiful yoga mats.

However, before you buy this type of yoga mat you should have a better understanding the pros and cons of PVC yoga mats.

Advantages of PVC Yoga Mats

  1. Inexpensive. One of the best features of Polyvinyl (PVC) yoga mats is that it is one of the cheapest material to make yoga mats from which usually makes PVC yoga mats affordable.
  2. Beauty. PVC yoga mats are also easily molded to incorporate 3d designs right on the surface of the mats to create visually stunning yoga mats. In addition, PVC can be easily dyed different colors, once again lending to them sometimes being striking works of art.
  3. Grip. In general, PVC yoga mats have a great grip because they have a slightly sticky surface that prevents you from slipping.
  4. Comfort. This material can be very rubber-like which cushions the joints and knees.
  5. Durability. PVC yoga mats are extremely durable lasting even the most active yogi for years if not decades.
  6. Hygiene. PVC yoga mats are very resistant to the growth of bacteria which means you won’t be washing your yoga mat as often. Besides, even in the moments that you would really need to wash your mat, you need not have to go through too much hassle. PVC yoga mats are very easy to wash. 

Disadvantages of PVC Yoga Mats 

  1. Not Environmentally Friendly. One of the major disadvantages of PVC yoga mats is that they are not renewable nor recyclable. It also takes a lot of electricity to manufacture PVC. In fact, the production of PVC materials takes up 1% of the global electricity consumption.
  2. Smell. PVC yoga mats are notorious for their plastic-like smell. Some people can get past this, but others are extremely bothered by it.
  3. Toxicity Concerns. While generally deemed safe by government regulatory agencies worldwide, many believe that PVC yoga mats are toxic for those who use them. This concern is born of the odor that PVC yoga mats have which certainly smells like highly processed materials.

PVC Yoga Mats vs TPE Yoga Mats vs Rubber Yoga Mats

The three most common types of yoga mats are PVC, TPE, and Rubber; but how do these different types of yoga mats compare?

PVC Yoga MatsTPE Yoga MatsRubber Yoga Mats
Material is low cost and easy to be molded into different products and is chemically resistant Material is environmentally friendly because it can be recycled. Rubber is a natural product.
Often a choice for yoga mats because of their sticky surface Fatigue and chemical resistantConsidered to be less harmful and less toxic than PVC 
PVC releases harmful chemicals to the environment when being incinerated and not disposed of properly Has properties of rubber at ambient temperaturesKnown for its good elasticity and durability 
PVC can release harmful chemicals (heavy metals) when subjected to even mild heat (washing machine dryers)Exhibits plasticity when subjected to very high temperatures Despite its elasticity, rubber is often hard to fit into molds and cannot always be used to make a variety of products. 
Because of its relatively low cost for production, PVC yoga mats are relatively less expensive than other kinds of yoga mats. Known for its malleability and flexibility to be molded into any product design. Rubber is an allergen for some people and can even trigger latex allergies.
Table Comparing PVC Yoga Mats To TPE Yoga Mats And Rubber Yoga Mats.
The Best PVC Yoga Mat Available

The Best PVC Yoga Mat

We’re not going to give you a list of good Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Yoga Mats. Instead, we’re just going to tell you about the best PVC yoga mat because it’s head-and-shoulders above the others we’ve tried.

Giam Yoga Premium PVC Yoga Mat 

Gaiam is one of the yoga mat companies that has really strived to create a better PVC yoga mat. Their Gaiam Yoga Premium PVC Yoga Mat is one #1 choice for the best PVC yoga mat.

When talking about this specific yoga mat, Gaiam says its a “Non toxic and 6p free PVC yoga mat is a healthier choice for you and the planet and free of DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DNOP (Note: For best results unroll and air out your mat for 2 3 days before use a harmless odor may be present when unwrapped)

Most of the yogis on the Charmed Yoga Team have either owned or practiced on a Gaiam PVC yoga mat and we have universally found that these are the least stinky of the affordable PVC yoga mats. While they will have an odor when you first unpackaged them, that odor fades within a week and becomes unnoticeable for most people.

This is a colorful yoga mat that is absolutely slip-free. It is thick and comfortable but still manages to be extremely lightweight. And on top of all that, it’s affordable.

Frequently Asked Questions About PVC Yoga Mats

Are PVC Yoga Mats Natural?

PVC yoga mats are not natural. PVC is not a natural material meaning that it is not sourced directly from the environment. Instead, it is a compound made up of a combination of different synthetic materials.

The flexible PVC used in Yoga mats often includes raw materials for its compounds based on salt and petroleum. In addition, there are additives included in the compound mix to give PVC yoga mats some of their popular properties such as color, flexibility, thickness, and durability.

Are PVC Yoga Mats Toxic?

While PVC yoga mats are recognized as generally safe by regulatory agencies worldwide, many believe that these yoga mats are at least mildly toxic because of the stabilizers that are used in their production.

Some of the most common stabilizers used for PVC yoga mats are cadmium, antimony, and lead (all heavy metals).

Not all PVC yoga mats are created equal. Some yoga mat companies, like Gaiam, have really worked hard to limit the potential toxicity of their yoga mats. And to be fair, we do believe that such mats present less toxicity concerns because their odor is substantially less than that of cheaper PVC yoga mats.

The Charmed Yoga Team

Whenever we use our yoga mat, our body heat and sweat cause our mat to ever so slightly break down. In fact, human sweat is important to the process of breaking in a new yoga mat.

Every time that we use our PVC mats and it breaks down, it will give off plastic smelling fumes which some believe contain remnants of these heavy metals. 

It should also be noted that heavy metals such as lead and cadmium are also known to be possibly carcinogenic according to the American Cancer Society.

While there have been no studies proving that PVC yoga mat fumes are toxic, if this is something that concerns you, you might want to look for another type of yoga mat.

Are PVC Yoga Mats Eco-Friendly?

PVC yoga mats are not eco-friendly. PVC is not easy to recycle as it is not created from recyclable compounds. In addition, the production of PVC and PVC yoga mats is very energy intensive when compared to most other types of yoga mats. 

Generally, TPE yoga mats or Cork yoga mats are more eco-friendly than PVC yoga mats. However, PVC yoga mats are very popular because they are affordable and durable. 

Are PVC Yoga Mats Sustainable?

PVC yoga mats are not sustainably resourced. According to Greenpeace, PVC is the most environmentally damaging plastic for the environment. The PVC life cycle involves the release of chlorine-based chemicals that are building up in our air, lands, and waters. 

Recycling PVC Yoga Mats

Are PVC Yoga Mats Recyclable?

PVC yoga mats are not easily recyclable, but it is not impossible to recycle them. However, it is practically impossible to recycle PVC yoga mats because it is nearly impossible to find recycling centers that deal with PVC products.

The British Plastics Federation identifies two ways to properly recycle PVC. First is mechanical recycling. This means stressing the PVC into thin or tiny pieces that can be processed into different PVC compounds. The second kind of recycling that can be done is feedstock recycling in which the PVC product is broken down into its basic compounds to be created into other materials. 

Flexible PVC is often recycled down and transformed into powder and used as filler for other products such as traffic cones, footwear, tubes, etc. Make sure to ask your yoga stores/manufacturers if they have any ways to safely dispose of your old PVC yoga mats. 

Caring For PVC Yoga Mats 

There are no special instructions when taking care of PVC Yoga mats. You might want to spray your mat with a yoga mat cleaner after each session. This keeps the mat fresh and cleaner for longer. { Click here to see our recommended yoga mat cleaner on Amazon. >>> }

You might also opt to use yoga towels to avoid getting your mat all sweaty. 

PVC yoga mats are also easy to wash, just put them into your washer and set the option to delicates. This is enough to wash your mats. Make sure to check if there are special instructions that come with the label just to be sure that you are washing your yoga mat properly 

Avoid drying your yoga mats in the dryer. Do not dry PVC mats in the sun, let them air dry in a shaded part of your porch or backyard. 

How To Break In PVC Yoga Mats

There are no special considerations to breaking in new PVC yoga mats. Just like all other yoga mats, human sweat and consistent use will be able to break in the mat eventually. You can also speed up the breaking-in process by sprinkling your mat with salt water.

You can learn more about quickly breaking in a PVC yoga mat by visiting our “How to break in yoga mats” article

Now, if you want to get into details about PVC, read on. If not, just signup for our Yoga Deals Email List so you won’t miss out the next time your favorite yoga gear or dream yoga retreat/class goes on sale.

The Science Of PVC And PVC Yoga Mats 

PVC (also known as Polyvinyl Chloride) is a polymer that is composed mainly of chlorine [1. Source]. It comes in two basic forms namely Rigid (RPVC) or Flexible. PVC is chemically nonreactive [2. Source] and is known for its low cost and myriad of use in different industries. 

While PVC is a very common material used in yoga mats, it has many other uses in the modern world.

PVC is so widely used that it is considered the world’s third most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, next only to PET and PP [3. Source]. There are almost 40 million tons of PVC produced annually.

Unprocessed and pure PVC is white and brittle. Rigid PVC is known for its easy processing. It can be machine processed, molded in high temperatures, solvent cemented, and even welded.

PVC is widely used in different industries not just in health and wellness because it is a low-cost material that is easy to process and can be molded into different designs.

You are probably most familiar with PVC pipes, which demonstrate how many different kinds of products can be made from PVC given that it is one of the most common materials for both pipes and yoga mats.

PVC Used For Yoga Mats and Pipes

Types Of PVC

PVC is not made up of just a single chemical. Instead, it is identified as a compound and is made up of a combination of different synthetic materials. Although PVC is majority made up of Chlorine, it can also contain other substances such as resin, stabilizers, and plasticizers.

There are two major categories of PVC materials: Rigid PVC and Flexible PVC.

As the name suggests, Rigid PVC is a stiff and durable plastic that can be obtained at a low cost and is easy to bond with other materials with the help of solvents or adhesive products. Rigid PVCs are often used as tubing or pipes in construction industries.

Flexible PVCs are characterized by having more plasticizers added to their compound than Rigid PVCs. Since flexible PVCs contain more plastic than Rigid PVCs they are used and molded in a variety of ways in different industries because they are more malleable to molding.

Flexible PVCs are often used to make medical-grade supplies such as blood bags. In the health and fitness industry, flexible PVCs are often used to make yoga mats.

How PVC Is Made

According to the British Plastics Federation, there are five steps in the production of PVC. This includes extraction of hydrocarbons, production of ethylene and chlorine, combining salt, chlorine and ethylene to produce VCM, polymerisation and finally, adding additives to make PVC compounds. 

The raw materials that come into making PVC are oil and salt. The part of the process in making PVC includes the extraction of hydrocarbons from salt. After this process, ethylene is further extracted from an oil (usually petroleum). Salt and hydrocarbons extracted from it are further processed through a process called electrolysis. 

Electrolysis is defined as the process of running a current through salt water. This would split saltwater into different chemicals. It is from this process that chlorine is obtained. At this point, chlorine and ethylene are already extracted from oil and salt. These bi-products of the extraction and electrolysis process are combined to produce vinyl chloride monomer (VCM).

VCM further undergoes the polymerization process. This process includes combining different molecules of monomers – such as VCM – to be able to create a chain of monomers which are then called polymers. When VCM is polymerized, it becomes PVC. 

PVC materials are then combined with additives to either make into rigid or flexible PVCS. Flexible PVC is often added with plasticizers that give it the flexibility to be molded and shaped into different products, including PVC yoga mats.


  1. Vesterberg, A., Hedenmark, M., & Vass, A.M. (2005). PVC In Medical Devices. Karolinska. Department of the Environment and Sustainability. SE171-76 
  2. Mckeen, L. (2014). Plastics Used in Medical Devices. In Kayvon, M & Sina, E (Eds), Handbook of Polymer Application in Medicine and Medical Devices. William Andrew Publishing. 
  3. Basmage, O. and Hashmi, M.S.J. (2020.)  Plastic Products In HealthCare Systems. In Saleem, H and Imtiaz Ahmend, C.(Eds). Encyclopedia of Renewal and Sustainable Materials. Elsevier. 

Charmed Yoga Team

The Charmed Yoga Team is made up of an eclectic group of yoga enthusiasts with a wide range of experience, age, sex, and even how seriously they take their yoga practice. For each article, one team member takes the lead then the team reworks the article to make sure that the information included is on point for all kinds of yogis. ~Namaste

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