These days, we do yoga in all sorts of places: parks, airports, restaurants, beaches, concert venues, and even breweries. Name a spot and a yoga mat has probably been there, picking up dirt and bacteria in the process. But even if you keep your practice in your home or the studio, sweat, dust, and oils soak into your mat. That’s why it’s important to clean it regularly to ensure you stay healthy and your mat lasts a long time—not to mention, no one wants to smell dried sweat or stinky feet when relaxing in child’s pose.
Before you clean your mat, there are a few things you should keep in mind. You’ll be exposing your skin to the mat and breathing deeply on its surface. While you don’t want to be on a dirty mat, you also don’t want to be on a bed of chemicals. So when you’re choosing materials to clean your yoga mat, avoid toxic chemicals and harsh detergents. They’re not good for your mat and, more importantly, they’re not good for you.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some easy ways to take care of your yoga mat:
Create your own spray.
Making your own spray is easy and inexpensive, and the most natural way to go. First, get yourself a spray bottle. Then, gather your ingredients. There are lots of different combinations you can use, but it almost always consists of four parts water, one part witch hazel or vinegar (natural cleaning agents), and a combination of essential oils. Use essential oils with antibacterial properties, such as lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, tea tree, thyme, cassia, or peppermint. Choose your favorites (lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus are common ones) and add 6–10 drops to your mixture. Next, spritz away! Wipe down your mat with a cloth or sponge.
Hose it down.
Set a garden hose on your mat, and use a little bit of mild detergent and a sponge to wash it off. This cleaning method is probably the most fun, especially on a beautiful day. If you don’t want to head outdoors to clean off your mat, no problem. Soak your mat in a bathtub for 30 minutes with the same detergent and then hang it up to dry.
Throw it in the washing machine.
If you want to go the easy route, toss your yoga mat in the washing machine. Use a small amount of mild detergent, and place your yoga mat in the machine as evenly as possible. This method is the hardest on your mat, but as long as you remove it before the spin cycle, it will hold up just fine.
Feeling lazy? No problem. If you don’t want to go through the effort of making your own spray or solution, you can always buy yoga mat cleaner. Lots of companies make it, as a spray or handy wipes.
A Note on Drying:
Don’t throw your mat in the dryer. Air dry your yoga mat, preferably somewhere with good circulation, and avoid direct sunlight. Mats can take 24–48 hours to dry completely, so make sure to leave enough time before your favorite yoga class.
Whether you’re getting your mat dirty in a tree grove or sweating through an intense vinyasa flow, yoga helps you maintain balance and a healthy mind and body. Return the favor and follow these steps to take care of your yoga mat too.