Mat Magic – 10 simple cleaning tips
As yoga practitioners, we can all appreciate a serene yoga space and a clean yoga mat. After all, your yoga mat is like your bed. It might not be the end of the world if it’s not super sparkly for every class, but it does better serve its purpose if it’s clean and fresh.
If you have a good quality mat, you have probably spent some good bucks on it, so it’s extra important to treat it the right way. And, unfortunately, it’s not as easy to keep your mat clean as it is your bed linens! You might have tried a few things, but if you need some help in keeping your mat clean, here are 10 ways to maintain your mat.
(1) Let’s start with the most obvious (and hardest to follow) rule. Don’t keep your mat rolled up after class! As soon as you come home, unroll and hang it. Keeping it rolled up, maybe even with your yoga towel rolled with it, in the back of your trunk until your next class, is just not a good idea. Bacteria will develop and create all sorts of smells.
(2) Resist spraying your mat right before class. Have you ever discovered that what smelled pleasant outside the yoga room became overpowering once heat or sweat is added to it? For this reason (and for reason #1 above) it’s better to disinfect your mat as soon as you can after class. Also, it gives the scent of whatever you used to clean your mata chance to dissipate and not overpower you during your next class.
(3) Once in a while throw your mat in the washer (but not dryer as dryers usually get too hot and will potentially ruin your mat). Most mats can handle that. Wash on a delicate or gentle cycle. You can also just soak your mat if you are worried about wear and tear with the wash cycle.
(4) Hang the mat in the sun regularly. The sun is another natural disinfectant, believe it or not. Have you ever seen ultraviolet disinfecting devices? That’s the sun’s power at work! Lucky for us it’s outside our front (and back) doors most days!
(5) Cleanse your mat with essential oils. Essential oils are very strong, so diluting with water in a spray bottle works fine and is most cost-effective. About 10 drops of most essential oils will do the trick for a quart spray bottle (one drop of essential oil for every 4 ounces of water). More than that and you might find yourself overwhelming both your own and your fellow students’ noses with the smell of the oil.
(6) Sometimes blending a disinfectant kind of oil (lemon, tea tree etc) with a milder scent (lavender, rose) still does the cleaning trick, but makes the scent more fun.
(7) If a mat seems extra stinky, add a little baking soda to the water and essential oil solution. This will also absorb some of the essential oil’s intensity.
(8) After spraying, wipe your mat off with a damp towel to evenly spread the water solution and get rid of the last sweat drops.
(9) Alternatives to essential oil: 2 cups of warm water mixed with a few drops of mild soap — such as castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s), organic soap or detergent, witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. If you use soap, thoroughly rinse the mat with clean water afterward, as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use.
(10) Let your mat dry fully – and we mean FULLY – before you consider rolling it up.
Zefea had her first experience with yoga at the age of 4 when her parents practiced with renowned teacher Angela Farmer in the Iyengar tradition. She forgot about yoga during her teens and twenties and trained for boxing and the combat system Krav Maga. Zefea rediscovered the benefits of yoga when she started practicing Bikram Yoga in her home town Amsterdam. From 2006-2008 she represented the Netherlands as the Dutch gold medalist in the International Yoga Championships, finishing in the world's top 10. Zefea experienced new depths of yoga through practicing while pregnant (up till the day of giving birth).