It could be a nightmare of every Yoga practitioner, especially painful for those healthiest, who enjoy doing their routine in the fresh air, where a lot of dust, dirt or other substances easily transferable by the means of feet abound.
Yes, I am talking about cleaning our mats…
Just as keeping our bodies clean is very important for Yoga or meditation practices, so is our environment. Most of all, cleanliness of our mats since they have a frequent and close contact with all our bodily parts.
The bad news is – there is no magical solution. We will have to wash.
The good news is – it is not as dreadful as we often imagine (i.e. long hours of vigorous scrubbing on your knees, elbow deep in soapy foam…) and could actually be a bit of fun if you start choosing your favourite essential oil for the fragrance or make a little healthy ritual out of the whole procedure.
So here’s a short tutorial with some mat cleaning info and tips. Test them yourselves and enjoy the Child’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog again!
It depends of course on how often you practise Yoga. For those eager to keep a daily routine, practicing hot Yoga or living in a hot climate and sweating a lot, it will be neccesary to take more frequent care of their faithful companions, the mats, than for those who do it once a week or simply from time to time. Generally, it is enough to do it once a month, if you are a medium-to-keen practitioner.
Best rule is to apply your healthy judgment and clean your mat long before it starts getting sticky, stinky and black…
There are several natural methods for cleaning Yoga mats. I give you two of my favourites*.
* The third favourite is a simple garden hose, soft cloth and some dish soap, a perfect summer solution for all of you who have a garden. It can be such fun!
You will need:
– dish soap or mild laundry detergent (best organic)
– warm water
- Soak the mat for a few minutes in the bathtub with warm water, adding the soap/detergent.
Note: Don’t make a relaxing bubble bath for your mat! A moderate amount of the detergent will do (about 1 Tbsp/15 ml of dish soap or laundry dtergent per 3-4l lukewarm water).
- Wipe both sides of the mat with a soft cloth. Be sure not to rub too strong not to destroy the surface of the mat.
- Rinse the mat with clean water, until all soap residue is removed and the water runs clear.
- To dry the mat, you can use a towel. Put it on top of the mat and then roll the mat tight or even step on it to remove the excess water.
- Hang your mat up to dry on a cloth rack. Do not use it until it is completely dry (you can test it by squeezing a part between your fingers), as a damp Yoga mat creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Keep it in mind that it can take up to 24 hours before your mat dries (depending on the temperature and humidity).
You will need:
– spray bottle
– ½ cup water
– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
– 5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil (my favourite: tea tree for its desinfecting properties or lavender for the divine aroma…)
- Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray the surface of the mat. If the mat is very dirty, you can let it sit for a few minutes.
- Wipe with a soft cloth.
- Repeat on the other side
- Allow the mat to dry (shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes but if you want to speed the process up, you can wipe it thoroughly with a piece of dry cloth).
NOTE: Some people complain that apple cider vinegar leaves an unpleasant smell off on the surface of the mat or that it can even destroy the material. I personally haven’t experienced any of these troubles but if you have concerns, use less vinegar or try another method!
To keep the mat from getting lots of bacteria and dirt on it, try to be consequent about washing your hand and feet (or at least wiping the with wet wipes) before every practice. This will prevent the ugly dark marks being created and will make the cleaning routine more pleasant and effortless.
It is also important to air your mat out regularly. Don’t keep it rolled every time you are in between the yoga sessions, let it breathe in a dry space, preferably on a rack that will enable the air flow on both sides.
If none of these methods speaks to you or you are short on time, you can always get ready-made mat sprays or wipes, usually offered by the mat producers.
Enjoy your fresh and shiny mats!