Your yoga mat can become a cesspool of germs and bacteria if not regularly and properly cleaned. Yoga mats are usually porous and soft and can harbor a lot of yucky bad stuff that can be transferred through your pores and potentially make you sick. Yoga is an awesome way to detox the body (especially hot yoga) and strengthen your immune system which is exactly what we want, so keeping a clean mat is essential to that goal.
When I do my Ashtanga practice, boy, do I sweat! And, after my practice what would I do? I’d roll my mat up and put it in the trunk of my car so it festers in the heat until my next class. I’ll admit, the main reason I became so serious about cleaning my mat was the smell. When my nose got close to the mat during Sun Salutations or other poses, it was truly nauseating. Pretty gross! But secondly, I also realized that along with a nasty stench, my dirty yoga mat was the perfect hiding place for germs and bacteria.
With that said, here are 5 great ways to clean your yoga mat and keep it clean between classes and full-on washes. You can avoid a dirty, germ filled mat and enjoy the benefits of your health filled yoga practice.
Spray Your Mat and Wipe It
It’s important to spray and wipe your mat before and after each use. Tihis is especially important if you use one of the gym’s mats which may have been loaded with sweat five or six times before you grabbed it! Be sure to check out the video for some eye-opening ways your mat gets dirtier than you think! What should you spray it with? Here are two examples:
A popular homemade version is a simple mix of Tea Tree essential oil & water. You’ll only need four or five drops of oil per 16 oz of water which is good as essential oils can be a little pricey. If you have problems with a smelly mat as I did, add a teaspoon of baking soda.
Buy a professionally made disinfectant. Check out the product I developed with a PhD in chemistry at Nice Dog Yoga. It’s an all-natural, aroma-therapy disinfectant and people love it!
Bonus: These two products are also perfect for cleaning and preserving your Total Gym!
Fully Wash Your Mat
After about 20 washes, you should fully wash your mat. Simply use the bathtub and then rinse it with the shower. Shampoo is a good soap to use as it tends to be mild and easy on your mat. Alternatively, you can take it to the local laundromat’s industrial washer (used for comforters and such). Ensure you check the manufacturer’s instructions as for some mats it is not recommended to use a machine.
Fold It Up Instead of Rolling
Fold it up instead of rolling it up after every class. Check out the video to learn how to do this and the reasons why.
Wash Your Hands and Feet Before Class
Remember, several times during a yoga class your hands will be right where your feet were a few seconds prior.
Buy a Yoga Towel
I now do hot yoga, so I sweat more than ever. The yoga towel absorbs the majority of my stinky sweat and also keeps me from slipping. I still spray and wipe my mat after class, and I take my yoga towel into the shower with me, wash it and ring it out so it’s ready for my next class without having to machine wash it every time.
In addition to the health and smell benefits, a bonus of regularly cleaning your yoga mat is that it will extend its life (or the glide board on your Total Gym) and help retain your mat’s stickiness. For instance, the main ingredient in my product, after water, is aloe vera which is perfect for getting the most miles out of your mat and keeping it soft and supple.
Yoga is such a wonderful discipline for your body, mind and spirit. Imagine how much more peaceful the world would be if everyone had a clean yoga mat to practice on!