Your yoga mat is there for you when you balance, bend and sweat. You stand on it with bare feet as sweat drips off your brow. As you lie down in Savasana, the oils from your body and any lotion penetrate. It also accumulates dust and dirt during storage in your trunk, closet or shelves. You need a good shower after practice — your mat deserves one once in a while, too.
Spritz it down with a mixture of essential oils and water post class to help keep it fresh. Sometimes, a yoga mat acquires that tell-tale smell letting you know it mat needs a most thorough cleaning.
Cleaning a yoga mat is pretty easy, but think twice before throwing it in the washer, as the churning and spinning can tear the delicate material. You don't have to invest a lot of time, but you do need some space in your tub or shower to do the best job possible.
Avoid harsh cleaners when treating your yoga mat. Commercial kitchen and bathroom solutions may be corrosive to the mat's material and irritating to your skin when you go back to practice. Plus, their chemical smells are a turn-off when you're curled up in child's pose.
Stick to natural cleaners such as essential oils, citrus juice and white vinegar. For a natural spritzer, the Chopra Center suggests you shake together in a spray bottle:
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 to 5 drops of essential oil
Spray your mat liberally and rub dry with a soft cloth. Optimal essential oils to use include tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, mint or grapefruit. If vinegar is too pungent a smell for you, opt for a few tablespoons of lemon juice instead.
Sometimes a mat benefits from a deeper cleaning treatment. For such cases, fill up your tub with an inch or two of water and add several drops of essential oil and a splash of white vinegar. Immerse your mat for just minute or so — don't let it get too water-logged.
Remove your mat and drain the tub. Hang it out to dry; the shower stall is convenient as the mat will drip. Avoid laying the mat out in the sun because you could dry it out too much and cause it to crumble and crack. It will take several hours for a fully soaked mat to dry, depending on its thickness.
If you're not into the DIY approach, don't skip the cleaning. Simply invest in one of the many different types of mat cleaners available commercially. These are usually sold in the form of singularly packaged wipes that you open and use to brush down your mat; some sprays are available, too.
It'll take just a minute or two to dry before you roll it up and go on your way. Wipes made to cleanse your body or a baby's bottom might seem like a simple solution, but they may contain chemicals and soap that are too harsh for the mat. It's best to stick to solutions made specifically for the job at hand.