Back to Blog

24+ New Uses for Old Yoga Mats at Home

Close up of a yoga mat with two white flowers on it. Title and logo overlayed

Finding different uses for old yoga mats is a great way to get around the problem that yoga mats are generally not accepted for recycling at most recycling facilities. Below you’ll find many ways to upcycle or reuse those old yoga mats instead of throwing them away. First, let’s find out why yoga mats cause such a problem in the waste and recycling stream.

Why Are Old Yoga Mats a Problem?

Equipment with conveyor for working with small plastic granules for the chemical industry

Yoga mats are made from a plastic called PVC. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastic is so versatile you can find it in flooring, shower curtains, pipes, some shampoo and cosmetic bottles, garden hoses, and it’s even in packaging.

This type of plastic is very commonly used, yet it is arguably the most dangerous plastic for the environment. The two main components used in making PVC are dioxins and chlorine.

Chlorine combined with other chemicals is one of the toxins that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer through Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). While dioxins are a toxic environmental pollutant that affects human health.

Since PVC production and products negatively impact the environment and overall health, it is safe to say that the disposal of this type of plastic also comes at a cost. PVC does not biodegrade; it will stay in landfills indefinitely.

As for recycling, there are currently two methods to recycle this type of plastic, neither of which are widely used due to the cost, the difficulty in separating chemicals within the plastics, and the low output of recoverable materials.

Recycling facilities do not accept PVC plastic like the kind found in old yoga mats. There is hope that with the many advancing technological developments in the field of plastic recycling, someday in the not-too-distant-future, PVC will gain mainstream recyclability.

Ways to Keep Old Yoga Mats Out of Landfills

Here are some helpful new uses for old yoga mats in your own home. Always make sure to wash, sanitize, then dry your yoga mat before repurposing it or donating it.

1. Make Use of the Cushion

Cheerful woman rolling camping mat , during the camping holidays. In the background tourist tent and equipment for outdoor activities.

The easiest upcycling is when you don’t have to do much of anything to reuse something. Because of their cushion, the uses for old yoga mats are nearly infinite.

  • Use it as a soft mat for your feet when in front of your laundry machines or kitchen sink.
  • Lay it down as a non-slip mat under your rug.
  • Place it in your car windshield as a sun visor to keep the heat out.
  • Keep it under a puzzle you’re working on to roll the puzzle up for storage.
  • Put it under your sleeping bag while camping for some extra cushion or at the beach under your towel to sunbathe.

2. Cut It Up

Old yoga mat cut into a floor puzzle

This yoga mat trick requires a low skill level. Just a few snips for size and shape and you can have a completely new use for that old yoga mat.

  • Carve it to fit as floor mats for your car.
  • Use a large rectangle and frame it (with no glass) to create a cork board.
  • Section it into puzzle pieces to create a giant floor puzzle for your toddler.
  • Slice out a crescent shape and add an elastic band to make a sun visor.
  • Cut a square to fit on top of your refrigerator so that items you store up there don’t slide off.

3. Decorate It

Step by step instructions how to make a  decorative wall cut out from an old yoga mat

Here’s where a bit of skill is needed—depending on what you’re going for. If you want to keep it simple you can, but you can also get very detailed with your decorations. Painting, embellishing, stenciling, glittering, you name it! You can really get creative with these uses for old yoga mats.

  • Spray-paint and stencil a new welcome mat from your old yoga mat.
  • Create kitchen art by cutting out shapes such as a rooster, a teapot, a coffee cup, a giant fork/knife/spoon set, etc. then paint them a solid color and stencil a pattern over part or all of the shape.
  • Carve, paint, and glitter an intricate mandala to hang on your front door.
  • Cut your used yoga mat long-ways into thin strips until you reach 2” before the end. String beads on the strips then hang it in a door frame for a funky room entry.
  • Cut out “Happy Birthday” letters, paint and decorate them, then string them together to create a birthday banner (add the person’s name too!).

4. Build Something New

three different view points of a upcycled old yoga mat turned into a reusable bag

Sometimes all you need is to cut a few shapes then use a bit of glue and you have a whole new item. Most of these ideas are about layering to get a bigger padded object. A hot glue gun will work for most yoga mats.

  • Add cushion to your kitchen chairs by cutting out 3-5 layers of the old yoga mat to the shape of the seat of the chair. Glue one layer at a time to your chair. Use a box cutter or blade to shave a bit of a rounded edge around the top of the stack. Cut fabric to wrap around the padding then use a staple gun to tightly attach the fabric to the underside of the seat of the chair.
  • Cut 5 or more rectangles about 18×8” then glue them together one layer at a time to create a kneepad for gardening.
  • Make a reusable grocery bag by cutting two 15×15” squares, three 15×6” rectangles, and two 26×2” strips. Glue rectangles to three sides of one of the squares as if you were constructing a box, then glue the other square to the corresponding sides of the rectangles making sure to glue all seams. Glue strip to the open side of the bag as straps, then repeat for the other strap. Secure all seams with yarn or string using a blanket stitch and a leather needle.
  • Cut out two rectangles that are about an ¾ inch wider than your laptop then glue three edges together to create a new laptop protective sleeve. While not necessary, a blanket stitch would look nice for this as well.
  • Make a picture frame by cutting out two rectangles larger than a photo, one for the backing and one for the frame. On the frame layer, cut out the dimensions to hold the picture, then glue three edges of the backing layer and adhere the frame layer so that you can slide a photo into the frame. You can cut out additional decorative shapes or letters and glue them on the outside of the frame.

5. Donate It

Instructor performing yoga with seniors during sports class

Someone else may have a great use for your old yoga mat in mind! There are so many wonderful places you can consider donating these mats to. Just call ahead to see if they are in need of old yoga mats first.

  • Give it to animal shelters for pet beds.
  • Donate yoga mats to homeless shelters as sleeping pads.
  • See if your local school will take it for their gym classes.
  • Check with nursing homes to see if the residents could use it for exercise.
  • Bring it wherever you normally donate your used home goods (Salvation Army, Goodwill, thrift stores)

Buy a Different Kind of Yoga Mat

Pyramid pile of old yoga mats with flowers in them

Now that we have shown you ways to keep that PVC plastic yoga mat out of the landfill, let us give you an idea of what to look for when you buy your new one. Some companies currently have yoga mats on the market made of more sustainable materials. Keep your eyes out for mats made from natural cork, natural rubber, or recycled materials.

What other uses for old yoga mats have you tried? Tell us in the comments below!