Yoga is not about the accessories, but when you finally invest in your first yoga mat, it's special. So much goes on between you and the mat, you take on a whole inner journey on your mat, and it's always there for you. So it's a given that you want to always be there for it, too.
So what's the best way of cleaning a yoga mat to keep it in mint condition?
Before and After Each Yoga Practice
Some things are easy to do, and they should be done after every practice if you want your mat to be as good as new for as long as possible (and stink-free).
- Keep yourself clean for yoga. Especially during summer months when we're roaming around with bare feet, your mat can absorb more dirt than usual. Washing your hands and feet before the practice will help keep the mat clean.
- After your yoga practice, you can run a damp cloth on your yoga mat and wipe it down. You can use ready-made yoga mat cleaners for this, and spray lightly onto the cloth before wiping the mat. Focus especially on the areas where the hands and the feet are most touching the mat. Make sure the mat is dry before you roll it up again.
Thorough Cleaning of the Yoga Mat
Every once and a while you'll need to wash the mat properly. If you practice regularly, you might want to do this once a month.
- You can do the thorough cleanse with a ready-made cleaner, and use the instructions provided there. Or you can make your own solution.
- To make your own cleaning solution, you can use lukewarm water and add a table spoon of dish soap, or other mild detergent, into 3.5 liters (1 gallon) of tap water. Adding a teaspoon of baking soda works if the mat is very dirty.
- Get a spray bottle for the solution, or you can keep the mix in the sink and use it from there. Spray, or use a soft sponge to apply the solution onto your mat, and scrub gently. Don't use anything that might scrape the surface of the mat.
- To rinse, you can soak the mat in the shower, or run it under enough water to get rid of all the solution residue. Any leftover soap on your mat and you'll be sliding in all directions during your next class.
- When the mat is wet, hang it to dry somewhere where it has enough space. Either in the shower or over a door. You can roll it together with a towel to get rid of some moisture, but for the rest the mat should hang loose until dry.
- Even when dry, don't always store the mat in a roll, but let it get some fresh air every now and then. Just don't leave it in direct sunlight for the whole day, this might dry the mat up too much.
It's usually NOT ok to put your mat into the washing machine, although some swear that cold water and no spin cycle will be ok. If you are tempted, double-check with your mat manufacturer, but when in doubt, don't.
Whether you and your yoga mat are inseparable, or just meeting each other casually every now and then, it's worth it to take good care of your mat. It's like any household cleaning, regular routine to maintain cleanliness goes a long way!