Have you ever noticed when you’re on your Yoga mat during an intense practice and sweat drips from your chin, your nose, your elbows – everywhere! – onto your mat? If you’re like me you try to make a mental note to remember to clean the mat when you get home. Of course, then I push the thought from my mind and often end up forgetting to clean it.
Recently I wrote about Yoga Stank – in other words, the funk that surrounds, inhabits, and overpowers your athletic gear. Yoga Stank in athletic clothes can be easily defeated.
Fortunately, the mat doesn’t react the same way to the presence of sweat. That’s because our sweat itself doesn’t stink; the odor is caused by the bacteria that live on our bodies reacting to our sweat. Clothes get the funky smell because they come into contact with the bacteria from our bodies, which then live off the sweat in the clothes. The mat just gets sweat, with no real bacteria.
Regardless of whether or not our mats stink, we still want to perform routine cleaning to keep it clean and sanitary. After all, cleanliness is one of the essential Niyamas (self-disciplines) described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. I’ve tried a few different yoga mat cleaning methods and I’ll share what works best for me.
First of all, don’t put your yoga mat into the washing machine. It won’t fit without folding and cramming it in, and it really won’t agitate well the way a load of many individual articles of clothing does. And just imagine the beating the yoga mat takes in the washer!
What works best for me is a cleaning solution based on Vinegar, that household wonder cleaner. Here’s the recipe:
- 1-1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 10 drops tea tree oil
Add the ingredients in order in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Lay the yoga mat out in your bathtub and liberally spray the solution on both sides of the mat. Let it sit in the tub for about 20 mins, then rinse the mat off with water. Hang your yoga mat to dry out of direct sunlight. Sunlight will break down the mat and shorten its lifespan. I usually hang my yoga mat over the shower rod and put a towel underneath because it will drip for hours.
Depending on the composition of your yoga mat it may dry overnight, or it may take a few days to really thoroughly dry. I’ve also seen a certain brand of yoga mat that tends to get white water marks after cleaning. This is nothing to be alarmed about; they’ll wear off after a few practices.
Do you have any great tips for cleaning your yoga mat? Share them in the comments below!