Wondering how often to clean your yoga mat?
There’s nothing worse than rolling out your yoga mat at the beginning of a relaxing yoga practice only to discover a layer of grime from previous practices or settling down into a restorative child’s pose and being hit with the smell of your old sweat. Never fear, it happens to the best of us. Often, cleaning your yoga mat falls to the bottom of a never ending to-do list. Once we finish class, we simply roll up our yoga mats and hurry off back to reality without giving it another thought. I know I’m guilty of this! However, the cleanliness of your yoga mat should be much further up your priority list than it is now.
Importance of keeping your yoga mat clean
Every drop of sweat, particle of skin and piece of bacteria that comes off your body is being absorbed into your yoga mat while you use it. This means that no matter how it may look, it is most likely very dirty. A swab was taken by the laboratory director at EMSL analytical of a woman’s personal yoga mat who admitted to not cleaning it as often as she probably should. The results showed 12 million counts of bacteria. The bacteria found on yoga mats are the perfect breeding ground for athlete’s foot, plantar warts, staph infections and ringworm, to name a few. This is because they thrive in warm, dark environments. Now I don’t know about you but since learning this I have made wiping down my yoga mat an essential part of my practice. Almost as crucial as my beloved savasana!
So how do I clean my yoga mat?
With there being so many different kinds of yoga mats, made from all sorts of fabrics and materials, the cleaning process may seem overwhelming. Often, we invest a significant amount in our yoga mats and the thought of using a product that could damage the mat is really not ideal. Let’s look at some of the safest and most effective cleaning methods for each of the common yoga mat materials so you can begin your new mat cleaning routine with confidence.
Cleaning a cork yoga mat
Cork yoga mats are unique in that they naturally have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. This makes them the easiest kind of mat to take care of. They require the least cleaning as they essentially do most of the work themselves.
To clean your cork yoga mat simply give it a wipe over with a damp cloth, avoid using anything abrasive or containing harsh chemicals. These can damage the mat if used too frequently. Avoid products containing too many essential oils as these can leave a residue on the cork and make it a bit slippery. Leave the mat to air dry before rolling it up.
Cleaning a rubber or polyurethane-rubber yoga mat
Rubber yoga mats are slightly more complicated as they can either be made from an open [polyurethane] or closed cell material. A closed cell material means that nothing can be absorbed into the mat. Whereas an open cell or polyurethane material allows products to be absorbed into the mat more easily meaning slightly more care needs to be taken when deciding which products to use for cleaning. Natural rubber mats are more commonly made from polyurethane and are known for retaining more smells and sweat than closed cell rubber mats.
To clean your rubber yoga mat, begin by wiping in one direction with a damp cloth or general spray, bearing in mind an open cell/polyurethane mat may require a special kind of spray. If in doubt, skip the harsh chemicals or oils as these could damage certain mats.
Cleaning a PVC or vinyl yoga mat
PVC mats are the most robust and can withstand the most rigorous cleaning of all the common materials. A spray and wipe down is enough for an everyday clean. For a deeper clean, you can wash the mat with soapy water in the bath or shower, just make sure you allow it to fully dry before rolling it back up. Avoid using an abrasive brush as this may scrape bits of the yoga mat off.
Cleaning a cotton yoga mat
Most cotton yoga mats can be put in the washing machine in addition to being handwashed, making them very easy to take care of. Any spills can be spot clean and it is advised to avoid harsh chemicals, so the yoga mat lasts longer.
Cleaning a PU Sticky yoga mat:
Wiping down with a damp cloth or very mild soap added to water is suitable for an everyday clean of this type of mat. Over cleaning may wear out the yoga mat. Chemicals, along with essential oils, are not recommended as they could potentially damage the mat.
Deep cleaning your yoga mat
It’s recommended to give your mat a deep clean once a month but this can vary depending on how often you use it or how much you sweat. There are a few options on how to go about this. One being to wash it with dish soap and a cloth, rinsing thoroughly and leaving out to fully dry. Another option is substituting the dish soap and taking the more natural route by making your own mat cleaner with natural ingredients such as essential oils and witch hazel. Please note that essential oils might leave a residue on many yoga mats. If in doubt, test the cleaner by spraying on a small portion of the yoga mat.
What are the best products to use?
You have three basic options when it comes to any kind of mat cleaning - using a homemade cleaner, a commercial cleaner or mat wipes.
There are endless recipes and combinations for creating a homemade mat cleaner, with different ingredients working better for different mats. Some common ingredients are witch hazel, white wine vinegar and antibacterial essential oils. The beauty in making your own cleaner is you know exactly what is in it and can choose the scents you like.
A commercial cleaner is convenient because it’s all there ready to go. Always look for products containing gentle non-toxic ingredients as these will be better for you and your yoga mat.
Mat wipes are no doubt one of the most convenient methods to clean a yoga mat, but they also create the most waste. We personally don’t like using mat wipes because of this but it’s definitely convenient.