The Proper Way to Care for Your Yoga Mat
Keep your mat and accessories free of sweat and grime.
You spend hours on it, be it moving through a vigorous Vinyasa class, kicking up into a forearm stand, or lying down in savasana. For a piece of equipment that quite literally, has got our backs, we should certainly ensure that we give our yoga mats a proper wipe down before rolling it out for our next session. Below, some tips on how to keep your mat clean and funk-free.
Make it a consistent affair
Ideally, you should clean your mat after each use, regardless of the intensity of your practice, to prevent any build-up of sweat, dirt, dust, or grime. If you had used it for gentle stretching or a Hatha class, you can give your mat a quick clean by wiping it down with a soft cloth and cleaning solution.
DIY vs. store-bought cleaning solutions
You don’t necessarily have to purchase commercial mat sprays. Between washings, wiping down your mat with water diluted in a mild detergent usually does the trick. A gentle all-purpose cleaner that you probably already have at home will also suffice.
Making your own DIY cleaning solution is also a great way to scent your mat with your favourite essential oils. Simply fill a spray bottle with three parts witch hazel and one part distilled water. To finish, add drops of your preferred essential oils and shake well to mix the solution. Grapefruit, lavender, and tea tree are all essential oils that possess antibacterial properties. However, if you have a rubber mat, you might want to avoid adding essential oils as these potent oils might break down the material.
Embrace deep cleaning
If your mat sees a fair share of sweat on a consistent basis, it is good practice to deep-clean it weekly. If you have a bathtub at home, you can fill it with enough cold or lukewarm water to submerge the mat. Dilute the water with a mild detergent. Let the mat soak for 15 minutes before giving it a good scrub with a sponge. After draining the dirty water away, fill the mat with clean water and move it up and down through the water to eliminate any soapy residue. Be sure to hang your mat up and let it dry fully (depending on the thickness of your mat, this may take anywhere from half a day to two days).
Quick odour control
To eliminate stubborn odours (this is probably a sign that you should be cleaning your mat more often), try sprinkling baking soda over the mat, letting it sit for 30 minutes, before brushing off the excess.
Let it air
Remember to let your mat dry completely before rolling it up. Leave it out in a part of the house that receives good airflow. Moist surfaces, especially in our hot and humid climate, make for the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Skin contact with a dirty mat coated with germs can lead to skin infections, acne, or even toenail fungus.
Avoid the sun
Rubber mats in particular can decay, fade, or become brittle when exposed to the sun. To prolong the life of your rubber mat, don’t leave it outdoors to dry for an extended period. Let it dry and store it in a shaded spot.
Don’t forget your props!
Cotton yoga straps can be soaked for a day in a bucket of soapy water and given a good rinse after. Cork yoga blocks can be given a wipe-down with a wet cloth and left to dry completely. As for foam yoga blocks, you can wipe them down with some soap and water, or your DIY mat spray.