If you have a preference for ashtanga, vinyasa or hot yoga classes – dripping sweat onto your yoga mat (believe me, I’m crying AND sweating when I’m planking for 2 minutes)… And you roll up your mat straight after your blissed out savasana… you don’t want to think about what happens on the surface of your yoga mat. Oh. You just did.
Keep your yoga mat clean
Well, let’s get rid of that image and learn how to keep your yoga mat clean…
The cleaning product
I’ve been doing some reading and there are several options depending how dirty and smelly your mat is… Some of these mixtures may damage your mat (especially if your mat is the cheap kind), so make sure to dilute enough and try on a small corner first.
Water + essential oils
Mix a cup of water with 5-10 drops of tea tree essential oil. You can also mix 5 drops of tea tree and 5 drops of lavender essential oil for extra good smell. Tea tree has antibacterial properties and so does lavender (to a lesser degree).
Water + dishwashing liquid
Dishwashing liquid will take away the oils from your mat – just like it does with the oil on your skin when you do the dishes by hand. Don’t use too much soap or your mat will become slippery when it gets wet again…
Water + vinegar + essential oils
Vinegar will kill any germ that has taken residence on your mat but it can also shorten your mat’s life span, depending on the kind of material your mat is made from. (hint: if you have a 5 EUR mat, be sure to dilute it enough). I would say a teaspoon per cup of water is plenty. To disguise the smell you can add essential oils, just a couple of drops. Be warned – the smell of vinegar may stay on your mat, but you might prefer that to the smell of wet dog. (Avoid your mat getting to that stage by regularly using mixture one or two mentioned above).
The cleaning process
If you regularly practice outside, brush off excess sand with a hand brush first. Then use one of the following methods:
Take a sponge or cloth, spray any of the above products onto your mat and wipe your mat clean. You can do this after every practice. Rinse in the shower regularly so there’s no product build-up.
If you are lucky enough to have a bath in your home, fill it about half full with water and some essential oil/soap/vinegar as you wish and let it soak for a bit. You can throw in your shampoo bottles to keep the mat submerged. After the soak, sponge off and rinse.
Aaaah, lazydays. The quick but most brutal solution: put your mat in the washing mashine. Don’t add any detergent (there will already be some residue in your machine’s intestines) and don’t add any other laundry. Wash on a gentle and cold temperature program. You don’t want your mat melting in the machine, obviously. This method makes the colours of your mat fade faster too.
Drying your mat
After you washed your mat, hang your mat to dry. Make sure the mat doesn’t stick together when you let it dry. Also, this may be a nobrainer but if you use laundry clips you may leave marks on your mat. Don’t put your yoga mat in direct sunlight as the sun may damage your mat (again, very dependent on the quality and material of your mat).
It’s as easy as that. Keep a spray bottle and a sponge handy for after your practice and keep your yoga mat clean!
Just a last note: using products on your mat may damage the material. Read the instructions that came with your mat (if any) for best maintenance of your mat. Sometimes treating your mat with these products will help ‘breaking it in’ (it will become less slippery) which is an extra benefit (usually not for cheaper mats though).