Unfortunately, scientists have done studies to confirm what we already strongly suspected, which is that our yoga mats are little better than petri dishes. And, thanks to science, now we know:
- Bacteria, viruses, and fungi really flourish on the porous rubber material of yoga mats. Here’s a sampling of what turned up in testing: regular old fungi, like ringworm and athlete’s foot, viruses including strep, flesh-eating strep, and a variety of staph, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Nice!
- Our all natural essential oil infused mat washes aren’t going to cut it when it comes to killing what lives on the petri dish we call our yoga mat. You will need Lysol or bleach for that. Boooooo!
I bring this up because I recently returned from a yoga retreat in Mexico to which I brought my own mat (because I know what lives on communal yoga mats and prefer to stick to my own brand of funk).
I clean my mat from time to time by wiping it down with a wet towel, but our yoga studio is incredibly clean and I’m the only one using the mat, so I try not to get to up tight about it. But when I unrolled my mat after it had been subjected to a week of humidity, sweat, trail dust, bug guts, and gecko poop, I had to admit that I might just need to recycle it and buy a new one.
I use Jade Harmony yoga mats. Their open cell rubber construction makes them extremely grippy and absorbent, and they are eco-friendly. Their one draw back is that cleaning them with anything but a warm water wipe down will dry them out very quickly.
“The really important thing is to NEVER use other [other than warm water] cleaning products or essential oils on your mat. Unfortunately most cleaning products adversely impact the natural rubber in our mats, causing it to break down and dry out. Essential oils pose an entirely different issue, causing your mat to lose its grip and break down over time, as its open cell rubber pores get clogged up and damaged.”–Jadeyoga
So with that said, I went ahead and ignored Jade’s advice and whipped up a homemade mat cleaner–recognizing that I was in no way actually sanitizing it. At least it would look and smell clean and if the cleaning ruined the mat, I would just consider it a cost of the yoga retreat and move on.
Make Your Own Mat “Cleaner”
What you’ll need:
Spray bottle (2-4 oz in size)
3/4 cup distilled or spring water
1/4 cup Witch hazel or white vinegar
1-2 drops Tea tree essential oil
1-2 drops Essential oil of your choice (sandalwood or eucalyptus is my choice)
Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup or bowl, mix well then put it into your spray bottle. To clean your mat, wipe it with a damp towel, spray, and wipe again. Allow it to hang dry before rolling it back up.
My advice, as someone who is completely unqualified to give advice is that a yogi:
- Use their own mat and never share
- Be sure to thank your immune system.
This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.