Best Way to Clean and Disinfect a Yoga Mat
Yoga has become popular over the last ten years, with enthusiastic and passionate yogis worldwide. Yoga is excellent for both your physical and mental health. The overall value of the yoga industry seems to be growing with no signs of slowing down. One of the essentials of practicing yoga is a yoga mat. Yoga mats come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and styles. However, it is essential to keep these mats clean and germ-free as there is nothing worse than rolling out a mat right before your yoga session to notice that it stinks of sweat and looks dirty. Below are listed some ways to keep your yoga mats spick and span.
Why Do You Need to Clean a Yoga Mat?
Yoga mats are the perfect place for germs to breed and grow. When you practice yoga, particularly a more active style, such as power yoga or Surya Namaskaras, you will most likely sweat quite a bit. When this sweat drips on your mat, it leads to foul-smell and bacterial growth. Thus, it is imperative to clean your yoga mat as frequently as possible to prevent germ build-up and unwanted odors. Cleaning eliminates the build-up of sweat and dirt on your mat, which in turn extends the overall life of your mat and keeps you safe from any bacteria-borne illnesses.
How Frequently Should You Clean Your Yoga Mat?
Your skin is a host to various microorganisms, fungi, viruses, bacteria, and microscopic mites. Though this may sound gross, it does not mean anything bad for your health. These microorganisms are generally harmless and occur on all bodies. You also shed skin cells (typically around 30,000 to 40,000 daily) throughout each day and secrete sweat and body oils, all of which can drip over your mat during your yoga sessions.
Thus, it is crucial to keep your yoga mat clean at all times. It is more important to clean the mat if you share it or borrow the one available in the gym since you are now exposed to germs from other users. The bacteria and fungi accountable for plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworms, staph infections, etc., are commonly found on yoga mats since they thrive in warm, dark, moist environments. Thus, if you are not in the habit of cleaning your yoga mat, you can only imagine how gross it is to keep on practicing yoga on an unclean mat.
It is essential to note that if you are cleaning your yoga mat but not disinfecting it properly, you may not be doing enough to remove all the germs altogether. While cleaning does remove germs, the act of disinfecting is what kills the germs. Both cleaning and disinfecting work, but you need to ensure both to rid your mat of unwanted germs entirely. The preferred way to sanitize a yoga mat is relatively easy.
How to Clean a Yoga Mat?
With so many yoga mats available globally, you need to understand what you need to do to clean your yoga mat so that it is germ-free and does not stink up your closet, trunk, and suitcase, in your typical day-to-day practice and when you are on the go. So, let us go through the steps to clean the yoga mat at home:
- Clean your mat at least weekly: You need to clean your mat weekly. This is really up to you, but if you do practice yoga daily, that too outside, or if you tend to sweat a lot, then don’t you think that a quick wipe down after every session would do you and your yoga mat some good? This is a good hygiene practice and also helps to extend your mat’s life. You may think of it like laundry if you please.
- Whip up a natural solution: It is usually recommended to use an organic, water-based, all-purpose cleanser. If you have a mat made from natural tree rubber, using a 50:50 mix of white vinegar and water is a great and natural way to clean, disinfect, and retain the mat’s texture and rubber. Essential oils and tea tree oils, such as thyme or lavender, can also make excellent substitutes and additions. However, be sure to check if these solutions are fine to use on your mat.
- Buy yoga mat wipes if you are lazy or busy: There are various essential oil wipes made specifically for yoga mats (they do not cause the mats to lose their sticky texture) and can be easily bought from the market.
- Do not use tons of soap: When cleaning your mat, it is recommended to spray both the sides of the mat with a vinegar-and-water solution and then take a damp, wrung-out sponge and wipe both the sides that have been sprayed with the solution. It is better to use minimal water and less soap, as immersing a yoga in soapy water can cause it to become waterlogged.
- Water and microfiber cloth: If you do not have a lot of time and just intend to give your mat a fast and quick refresh, all you need to do is grab a microfiber cloth and then slightly wet it with water. Now, rub down your mat with the damp microfiber cloth, and then let your mat air dry for a few minutes.
- Do not let your mat sunbathe: While hanging your mat in the sun may seem like an excellent idea, as you do for your sheets, doing so could dry out your mat – it will just crumble up and lose all its rubbery, sticky texture.
Deep Cleaning a Yoga Mat
You know it is time for you to give your mat a thorough or deep cleaning once you observe more grime and dirt on it. It will help if you look for dirty or discolored spots. Those who live in warmer areas or practice often in heated rooms may need to clean their mats more frequently.
If you own an open-cell mat, then you must consider cleaning it every month by immersing your mat in soapy water. Closed-cell, thinner mats will most likely break down when submerged in water, so you must not immerse such mats in soapy water.
To deep clean an open-cell yoga mat
- Place the mat in a bathtub or sink filled with lukewarm water and some dish soap. You do not need much soap—for every gallon of water, you need one teaspoon of dish soap. (Avoid hot water, as it could damage the mat.)
- Immerse the mat in the water and then let it soak for 5 minutes. Take it out and scrub it with a soft cloth lightly.
- Now, rinse the mat with clean water.
- Once you are done washing, shake the mat out. Then let it air dry for as long as it takes to be completely dry.
To deep clean a closed-cell yoga mat
- Lay your mat on a flat surface.
- Mix a few drops of dish soap with water in a bowl. (Be careful not to add too much soap.)
- Dip a cloth into the soapy water and then clean the mat – top to bottom, pay attention to dirty spots, using a circular motion.
- Wipe with a clean towel.
- Air dry for at least 30 minutes.
Can You Wash Your Yoga Mat in a Washing Machine?
It is a highly debated topic, but the answer depends on the kind of mat you own. Depending on the material (for example, for a clean rubber yoga mat), you can decide if you need to put the yoga mat into the machine. However, most experts do not recommend washing yoga mats in the washing machine. In most cases, what happens is that both the mat and the machine end up getting damaged. So, unless your mat has clear instructions that specify that you can put it in a washing machine, it is best to handwash your mat.
Do Yoga Towels Prevent Yoga Mats From Getting Dirty?
Yoga towels are placed directly on top of your mat, and they end up absorbing most of the dirt and sweat instead of falling on the mat. Plus, these towels are slide-resistant, that prevent slipping while you are practicing yoga. It is thus recommended to place a yoga towel on top of a yoga mat.
How to Dry Mat After Cleaning?
To dry your mat, all you need to do is roll it up and squeeze out excess water. You can then rub it with a dry cloth and let it air dry. If your mat is very spongy, you can lay it open on a dry towel. Let it dry completely by letting it be as long as it needs.
How Can You Disinfect Your Yoga Mat?
To disinfect your mat, all you need to do is wipe it down with a sanitizer after every use.
- Make a solution of half and half vinegar and water and put it in a spray bottle.
- Take a towel and start rubbing it down in tiny circular motions.
- Repeat on the other side of the mat.
- Make sure the mat is dry, and then roll it up.
You should ensure to deep clean your mat at least once a month to eliminate the ingrained dirt and grime on your mat. This pretty much comprises the same process as cleaning your mat after each practice session but putting in more time and effort. Cleaning yoga mats is a pretty simple process, and it only makes sense to do it in the right way to keep healthy.