Before I started teaching my own yoga classes, I used to teach yoga in yoga studios and fitness centers. Students would come in and lease or borrow yoga mats and leave them rolled up on the shelf or in a corner after the class. I wasn’t really concerned with yoga mat hygiene. Sure, I did advise my students to buy their own yoga mats in stead of using the communal, cheap ones. Mostly for them to be able to experience and enjoy a safe yoga practice where they would not slide around on a cheap yoga mat that would glide and stretch during their practice and, now that I think of it, those yoga mats also smelled like sour socks.
However, since I have started teaching my own classes and my students borrow yoga mats from me, I have become increasingly aware of yoga mat hygiene. Also, I’m often dragging my own yoga mats around for workshops, outdoor yoga teaching and yoga festivals. Needless to say, my own yoga mat could benefit from a little extra TLC every now and then.
So, I’ve done some research to find out how to give my yoga mats the special care that they need. Eventually I found out that I wanted to make my own easy and effective yoga mat cleaner without it costing me a fortune – using only products I’ve already got in my kitchen.
Why you should clean your yoga mat
According to this article from BeWellPhilly bacteria from your skin get on your yoga mat through your hands, feet and face and colonize on the mat. Eew! Yoga mats are especially good places for skin bacteria and fungus because the mats are often rolled up while still being moist and warm from our bodies and yoga practice. Viruses, like the cold or the flu, are also left on the mat from previous users. That’s why, ideally, you should never share your yoga mat with anyone and use your own yoga mat in stead of the yoga mat provided by the gym or yoga studio .
(If you are looking to buy your own yoga mat take a look at my webshop where I sell Jade Yoga mats.)
Another good reason for cleaning your yoga mat is that it prolongs the life of your mat. Win!
Open-cell technology vs closed-cell technology
During my research I found out that it makes a huge difference how you treat and clean your yoga mat depending on what type of yoga mat you’ve got.
Open-cell technology (for example Jade Yoga mats)
According to Jade Yoga you should not use essential oils in your yoga mat cleaner if you’ve got an open-cell, non slip yoga mat. I know they smell sooo nice, but just don’t! This will clog the cells. Open-cell yoga mats act like sponges and they absorb liquid or fluid they come into contact with: water, sweat, essential oils etc.
Closed-cell technology (for example Manduka Yoga mats)
If you on the other hand have got a closed-cell yoga mat feel free to use any antibacterial oils like tea tre oil, peppermint or lavender oil. These are all good suggestions for oils that are both antibacterial and have a calming effect.
However, I wanted to make an easy and effective yoga mat cleaner that works with any yoga mat. But if you feel compelled to add an essential oil to the mixture promise me to find out first if your yoga mat is closed-cell or open-cell. You can often find that information on the brands website – otherwise ask your retailer.
Before you get started with your own yoga mat cleaner
I’ve searched the web for advice on how to make the easiest and most effective yoga mat cleaner which you can use on any yoga mat, and I found a lot of complicated recipes with long ingredient lists. And most of them would never go with an open-cell mat because of the use of essential oils.
Eventually I came up with this recipe – consisting of only two ingredients: water (yup!) and organic vinegar.
If you can find distilled water then by all means you should definitely use it. This will make for at super clean cleanse. Distilled water doesn’t leave any of the residue (chalk in the water, flouride etc.) that normal tap water can leave. But tap water is fine too.
The acidity of the vinegar breaks down the dirt and soil on the mat and also has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities. Sure, you could use just any plain old vinegar, but I encourage you to go for the good organic stuff even if it is just a yoga mat cleaner.
I know what you are thinking now. Won’t the mat stink of vinegar in stead of sweat? I assure you that the smell of vinegar will be gone by the time the mat has dried. Leaving nothing but a clean, non bacterial and fresh yoga mat for you to take with you to your next yoga class.
(If you’re in Aarhus or about you should definitely check out my calender – I have some amazing classes and events going on!)
I use a spraybottle that I once bought in a gardening center used for misting orchids and other plants, but I’m sure you can find teeny tiny cute spray bottles that might also fit into your yoga or gym bag – ready for a quick clean or freshening up of your yoga mat on the go.
How to Make The Easiest + Most Effective Yoga Mat Cleaner
(Which You Can Use on Any Yoga Mat!)
1 spray bottle
3 parts (distilled) water
1 parts organic white vinegar
Mix, shake, spray, wipe down and leave to dry out of direct sunlight before rolling it up. Do this after every class or maybe once a week.
If you make a bigger batch than you can use straight away, don’t worry. Just leave the bottle in your cupboard or on a shelf and give it a good shake before using it again. It will keep for at least a couple of months. You might want to use distilled water if you keep the mixture for a longer period of time.
You can also use this water-vinegar mix for cleaning around the house. It works especially well for cleaning mirrors.
Put your yoga mat in the washing machine, soak it, dry it in the sun or rub it with salt. Just don’t!
I can’t wait to find out if this works for you or if any of you have experience with other DIY yoga mat cleaners? Please share in the comments below.
Peace out, Tine