Taking care of your yoga mat isn’t just vital in ensuring harmful germs and odor-causing bacteria are kept in check, it will also ensure your equipment lasts for as long as possible. However, many of us overlook the importance of yoga mat maintenance and only reach for the antibacterial wipes once unsightly stains and unwelcome odors start making themselves known. You only need to look over the range of offerings from retailers like Yoga Studio Store to see the variety of materials that yoga mats are from. Different yoga mat materials require a different approach to cleaning for best results.
1. Commit to a Regular Cleaning Schedule
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to clean your mat at least once a week. However, if you’re hitting yoga classes several times a week, you may want to increase this cleaning schedule. Likewise, if your workouts are particularly intense, you’ll want to increase the frequency of cleaning to prevent bacteria and odors from gaining a foothold. You should at least aim to wipe down your yoga mat with an antibacterial cleaner after every session. If your bare skin makes contact with a grimy yoga mat, you run the risk of triggering an acne outbreak or picking up a bacterial infection.
2. Cleaning PVC Yoga Mats
Although PVC yoga mats are often seen as a second-rate alternative to bamboo and cork ones, they’re far easier to clean and maintain. Because of their closed-cell construction, PVC mats won’t absorb much in the way of sweat and other bodily oils. This alone will limit the amount of time you’ll need to commit to cleaning, but also means you can be far more generous when it comes to applying water and cleaning agents to the surface of your mat. A simple cocktail of warm water and soap is all you need for an initial clean of a PVC yoga mat. Once you’ve done that, you can think about using a disinfecting spray to eliminate any residual bacteria.
3. Cleaning Natural Material Yoga Mats
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly choice of yoga mat, natural materials are the way to go. However, when it comes to natural rubber and cork yoga mats, special care needs to be taken when cleaning your equipment. If you’re dealing with a natural rubber yoga mat, make sure you’re using a delicate detergent that won’t damage the integrity of the material. You should also avoid using too much water, so ensure any cloths or towels you’re using have been thoroughly wrung out beforehand. Cork yoga mats also require a less heavy-handed approach when it comes to cleaning. Bear in mind that cork is antibacterial by nature, so it won’t require the same level of cleaning as other materials.
4. Keep Your Mat Covered When Practising
If you’re someone who enjoys particularly rigorous workouts, consider covering your yoga mat with a thin towel before your session. This will prevent excess sweat and other bodily oils from penetrating the surface material of your yoga mat. If your yoga mat is made from a particularly porous material, this is even more important. If you’re only undertaking some light exercise, an everyday towel should be more than sufficient. However, it’s best to invest in some specialist yoga towels if you’re looking to keep your mat covered.
5. Personal Hygiene Makes a Big Difference
This might seem obvious, but it’s important that you’re as clean as possible before commencing a yoga workout. The main thing you should be focusing on is the condition of your feet. A typical yoga classroom may look pristine, but dust and other particles invisible to the naked eye can quickly build upon the soles of your feet. Once your feet make contact with the surface of your, that hard-to-see debris will suddenly become a lot more visible.
6. Never Use a Washing Machine
If you’ve neglected your yoga mat for a considerable time, it’s tempting to throw caution to the wind and load it into the washing machine. While a quick spin on a low-temperature setting may get rid of surface stains and odors, it can also cause considerable damage to your yoga mat. Yoga mats from PVC are usually robust enough that they can be submerged in water, but natural rubber and cork alternatives should never see the inside of a washing machine drum. If you are tempted to machine-wash a PVC mat, ensure you leave plenty of time for it to dry out.
The Bottom Line
Keeping your yoga mat in pristine condition isn’t that difficult, provided you commit to regular cleaning. Ideally, you should be carrying out a quick wipe-down of your mat after every session. A damp towel is usually more than enough to get rid of surface grime, although a non-aggressive anti-bacterial cleaner can also be used if you’re dealing with persistent stains and odors.