Unlike cardio, yoga isn’t designed to get our hearts racing, but it is designed to work and stretch our muscles beyond what they’re accustomed to. Think it’s easy? Think again. Even though you may not be running around, you’re still going to sweat, especially if you’re new to yoga, or if you’re trying out new positions that really push your limits. This means that it’s very important to keep your yoga mat clean.
If you have a habit (like most of us) of rolling your yoga mat up after use, popping it into your gym bag, and forgetting about it until your next session, then before long you’re going to notice something rather unpleasant – the smell. We tend to pack our yoga mat away without realising exactly how dirty it really is. It’s only once the bacteria have multiplied within the dark, damp conditions of the gym bag that we really discover just how bad it is. Here’s how to clean a yoga mat to keep it hygienic, and pleasant to use:
Clean Your Yoga Mat as You Go
One of the most important things you can learn to help enhance your yoga experience is how to clean yoga mats regularly. You can use a homemade solution or a commercial cleaning product – depending on the type of yoga mat you have, dishwashing liquid may be able to help clean stains and smells. Remember – always read the directions on the label of your yoga mat first, as some materials may have specific cleaning requirements. Also, make sure you read the directions on the label of your chosen cleaning product, and test any product on a small area first. If you clean your yoga mat after each use, this way it will stay fresher for longer. This way, you should be able to extend the length of time between each thorough, intense clean.
- You can use dishwashing soap to clean yoga mats – just mix a small amount of dishwashing liquid with warm water and apply to the yoga mat. You can use a sponge, or you can put the mixture into a clean spray bottle. Then, wipe the mat with clean water and let dry completely before storing. Remember not to use too much soap – you don’t want any residue left behind on the mat, causing it to become slippery when you’re trying to do Downward Facing Dog!
- You could also create a homemade solution using cold water and white vinegar – vinegar is known for its antibacterial properties. Aim to use around equal parts of each. Although the smell of the vinegar isn’t very pleasant, it will fade. However, if you’d like to create a more aromatic homemade cleaner, try adding a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender, which helps to mask the scent of the vinegar. Pop this solution into a clean spray bottle and keep it handy. Each time you arrive home from the yoga studio, pull your yoga mat out of your gym bag, lay it flat, and give it a good spray all over with the cleaning solution. Turn the mat over and repeat so that all areas have been sprayed with the water and vinegar. Allow drying naturally by hanging on the washing line. The smell will fade once the mat is completely dry.
Time for a Thorough Clean of Your Yoga Mat
While the above method is very beneficial, you can’t put off washing your yoga mat forever. Every so often, it’s a good idea to really give a thorough clean to remove any bacteria, oils, dirt, and germs that have built up over time. After all, it's not just sweating that’s the problem – your yoga mat spends most of its time on the floor, picking up all sorts of dirt that are hanging around. Fortunately, it’s very simple to wash your yoga mat.
- First, check the care label on the yoga mat, if there is one – it might be possible for it to be placed in the washing machine. If so, then pop your yoga mat into the washing machine with some of your favourite mild laundry detergents. Set the temperature to a cold setting (30 degrees or cooler) and was using a delicate cycle, ensuring both a rinse and spin cycle are programmed in. Remember, only use the washing machine if you’re sure that your yoga mat is machine-washable.
- Or, you can wash your yoga mat in a tub, using cool water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid or detergent. Let it soak for a few minutes, and then scrub any stains before rinsing thoroughly and then leaving it to dry completely.
- Always allow a yoga mat to dry naturally, either outside on the washing line, inside on a clotheshorse, or even hanging above the bathtub. Some people like to fold their yoga mats inside towels, which can help absorb any excess moisture, but be careful if doing this as it could encourage your yoga mat to dry in a curved manner. If possible, always dry flat.
Yoga sessions are a time of peaceful serenity, but how peaceful can you really be if you’ve got the smell of old sweat lingering in your nostrils? And don’t forget that it’s not just you who are affected by the smell of your yoga mat – it’s your yoga mats, too. To help enhance everyone’s yoga experience, take just a few minutes after each session to spray down your yoga mat and remove the dirt and oils while they’re still fresh, and don’t forget to give a thorough clean every once in a while too – it takes no time at all, but can make a huge difference.