Your yoga mat is likely one of the greatest investments you can make in your practice. It’s essential to support, alignment, and stability during class. But not properly caring for your yoga mat could lead to illness or infection.
Elle Magazine writes, “’A yoga mat is a perfect incubator for many of our skin infections,’ said [Doctor] Lahita. ‘The yoga mat is a very fertile source for infection, mainly because people sweat on them and they rarely are cleaned.’”
Before you decide to give up yoga for fear of a skin infection, there are very easy steps you can take to properly care for your mat.
- Use Mat-Cleaning Spray After Each Use
Many studios will carry antibacterial spray that is safe to use on most yoga mats. After class, spray liberally with the cleaning solution, allow it to set for just a moment, and then wipe with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Don’t have access to mat spray? You can make your own. Simply apply a few drops of essential oil to a spray bottle filled with fresh water. Tea tree oil works great. You can also add a teaspoon of baking soda if you tend to sweat a lot during class. Baking soda naturally removes odor. Shake your mixture well before use.
- Deep Clean your Mat Once Every 25-or-So Uses
Cleaning your mat after each use may not be enough to properly maintain. Gaia.com recommends an outdoor deep cleaning every so often. Mix mild dish detergent with warm water in a small container. With a clean sponge, wipe down your entire mat with your cleaning solution. Then hose it down with water. Allow it to dry fully in the shade for several hours on a nice day.
You may also consider washing your mat in your bathtub. Add some mild detergent to warm water, and allow your mat to soak fully in the water for five minutes. Then use the shower to rinse it off. Be sure to hang your mat to dry for at least 24 hours before using.
- Never Put Your Mat in the Washing Machine
Some sites recommend throwing your mat in the washing machine. We don’t need to stress what a disaster this could be for your mat, and your washing machine. Cheap materials may disintegrate in the wash, and the rinse cycle could tear or damage your mat. Save yourself the hassle, and clean your mat by hand.
- Consider Investing in a Mat Towel
If you frequent hot yoga class, or tend to be a bit more sweaty than most, consider investing in a mat towel. The towel is specially designed to rest over your mat during your practice. These are a good option if your hands tend to slip on the mat. But it also makes mat cleaning a bit easier. Simply throw the towel in the wash, and you’re good to go. (We still recommend wiping your mat down with solution after each class.)
- Know When It’s Time to Retire Your Mat
Your yoga mat is a huge part of your practice, so it’s normal to feel attached to a mat you’ve used for a long time. However, over time, your mat will begin to disintegrate. If it begins to lose its support, if it develops a persistent odor, or if pieces of your mat are beginning to shed away, it’s time to replace it.
Interested in taking your practice to the next level? Work with a personal trainer to develop the strength, flexibility, and stamina you need to become a yogi master.