Many of us have discovered the amazing health benefits of yoga. Whether you practice a mindful approach that focuses more on breathing and relaxation, or you pursue a yoga that’s geared toward a challenging physical pursuit that builds muscle, yoga can be beneficial in a number of ways. However, there’s one thing that’s not beneficial, and that’s a yoga mat that isn’t regularly cleaned. Especially if you share a yoga mat at a studio, making sure that it’s clean is essential to your health. That’s because all of us carry around a lot of bacteria and fungus and transfer viruses to surfaces, too. That means you can pick up some really unpleasant, unwanted bugs if you’re not careful.
Why It’s Important to Clean Yoga Mats
It’s not pleasant to think about, but your skin swarms with all sorts of creepy crawlies in the form of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microscopic mites. These microorganisms move from your hands to your yoga mat during your practice. And the same thing goes for the oils, sweat, and tens of thousands of skin cells your body sheds every day.
That’s not all: If left unchecked, living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses multiply. And because these microorganisms thrive in humid environments, they’re likely to reproduce in a hot yoga studio or on a sweaty mat.
For the most part, even a large amount of bacteria, fungi, and viruses likely won’t cause harm. But for people with broken skin or compromised immune systems, exposure to microorganisms could result in a skin infection, athlete’s foot, plantar warts, or ringworm.
Now that you know how dirty human bodies can be, we probably don’t need to spell out why it’s important to clean a yoga mat. But here goes: Washing your mat on a regular basis helps limit the build-up of germs and other substances. And the same thing goes for cleaning a shared mat at a yoga studio or gym — only in this case, you’ll protect yourself from other people’s microorganisms and protect other people from yours.
How to Clean a Yoga Mat
Now that you know how dirty your yoga mat is, here’s how to clean it right.
- Check the mat’s website for instructions – Different mats are made up of different materials. Check the website for your brand of yoga mat to see if they have specific instructions regarding how to clean your mat. Follow the manufacturer’s tips if you find them.
- Wipe down your mat after every practice – After every class or practice session, wipe down your mat. An antibacterial hand wipe or antibacterial spray will work in a pinch. But in a recent study, researchers discovered that the widespread use of antibacterial sanitizers in gyms and yoga studios may be unintentionally contributing to an explosion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. To stay safer over the long-term, you may be better off using a 50-50 vinegar and water spray and a clean towel instead of antibacterial options. (If this option isn’t available at your gym or studio, consider requesting it.) Make sure any cleaner you use is safe for porous surfaces and human skin. Let the mat completely dry before you roll it up.
- Deep clean your mat regularly – If you own a mat, it’s best to deep clean it occasionally. If you practice nearly every day, plan to wash your mat thoroughly at least once a month using one of these strategies.
- Hose it down – If the weather allows, head outside with a mild detergent, a sponge, and a hose. Spray down your mat, scrub it with detergent, rinse it thoroughly, and let it air dry out of direct sunlight. (Direct sun exposure can cause foam to break down.) Dry the mat completely before you roll it back up for storage.
- Soak it – If your home has a bathtub, you can deep clean your mat indoors. Fill the tub with lukewarm water, get the mat wet, and scrub it. If it’s been a long time since your last cleaning, let it soak for a while. Finally, rinse the mat and hang it until it’s completely dry.
- Use a cleaning solution – You can purchase a cleaning product that’s designed for deep cleaning yoga mats or make your own with vinegar, water, and tea tree oil. No matter which solution you use, liberally spray down one side of the mat with it, let it sit for a while, rinse the solution off, and dry it with a clean, dry cloth. Repeat the process on the other side and hang the mat to dry.
To read the full article – and LEARN how to make a DIY Yoga mat disinfectant containing tea tree oil (which kills 25 strains of bacteria and inhibits 17 strains of fungi) and LEARN when it’s the right time to replace your old yoga mat – CLICK HERE
This month’s guest blog has been kindly submitted by Health Perch – A digital health magazine – and shared by Simply Soulful Yoga, with many thanks.