You don’t want to be that person, you know, the one who everyone stays as far away from at yoga class because their mat reeks so bad and has so much sweat and bacteria growing on it that it might very well be the next step in the evolution of yoga. The living, breathing, stinky mat.
But no, oh no, not your mat. You would never sweat all over your mat, roll it up sopping wet and then throw it in the sweltering trunk of your car. Trust me, it’s not going to be so hot in the trunk that it cooks the little suckers who are throwing a party on your yoga mat. The heat just gets them even more riled up and excited to plant a foot fungus on your forehead the next time you rest in child’s pose. Now that’s a lovely thought isn’t it?
Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written about how to clean a yoga mat, and since I initiated my freshly-delivered yoga mat last night with more than just a few drops of sweat, it’s about time for a re-attack. Feel free to chime in with any tips or advice (“yogahacks”) if you’re already one of those who knows how to baby your mat like it’s a Rolls Royce.
First off, the method you use for cleaning your mat depends on what type of mat you have and how dirty it is. For daily preemptive action, you should at least wipe your mat off with a towel after each use. Some like to spritz their mat with a little mat spray before toweling it off or they use a handy wipe or it’s costlier cousin, the yoga mat wipe, to scrub away the nasties. Beware, however, that you don’t use mat spray just to cover up a smelly mat problem. Some people are allergic to it as well.
Even if you take the time to regularly wipe down your mat, it could still use a more thorough cleansing every couple weeks if you use the mat a lot. Cleaning a lightly soiled mat is as simple as grabbing a sponge or rag and rubbing out the oily spots with a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. If you don’t want to use soap, you can also create a 50% water/50% organic cider vinegar solution, which is what Manduka recommends for the Black Mat Pro and eKO if you don’t want to fork over the dough for actual yoga mat wash. Once the mat is clean, rinse the solution off with fresh water, and then rub the mat down with a dry terry cloth towel and hang it out to air dry.
The true stinky mat. If you’ve neglected your mat for so long that it’s practically alive, then you may want to choose to fully submerse it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent or mat cleanser. Once the mat is scrubbed off and rinsed clean, squeeze out any excess water, roll the mat up with a dry towel, and then smoosh the moisture out by stepping on it. Finally, hang the mat up to air dry.
One final method for dealing with a dirty mat is to throw it into the washing machine on the gentle cycle with a little detergent and cold water. I’ve never personally used this method, so I can’t vouch for the effect the washing machine has on a yoga mat, or vice versa, but can confirm that some manufacturers like Manduka highly recommend against using the washing machine, both for the sake of the mat and the machine. If you do choose to go this route, at the very least, remove the mat before the washing machine hits the spin cycle.
Obviously these are only a few of the numerous methods for keeping a yoga mat healthy and clean. Just remember, don’t be “that guy.” If you have a proven method that works for you or your particular mat and would like to share, please leave a comment.