If you’ve ever gone into Child’s pose and noticed that your yoga mat smells … interesting, it’s no wonder: Yoga mats absorb sweat, as well as oils and dirt from our hands, feet and face, and can pick up whatever is on the yoga studio floor. In a word: Yuck.
“Yoga mats are a hotbed of contamination, literally and figuratively,” Robert Lahita, MD, chairman of medicine and vice president of the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, told Fox News. “Skin is loaded with organisms. A lot of the organisms come off when you sweat, [and they’re] very comfortable living in sweat, especially the fungi.”
Rather than risking picking up a skin infection, including athlete’s foot, the smart move is to disinfect your mat after every yoga session. Here are three easy ways to get your mat squeaky clean:
- Wipe it down. There are several yoga mat cleansing wipes on the market, such as Gaiam’s Yoga Mat Wipes ($10), which use essential oils such as peppermint oil that are safe for mats.
- Use a spray-on cleanser. Spritz a cleanser, such as Manduka Mat Restore spray ($10), which is a vinegar-based cleaner for natural rubber mats, onto a damp cloth and lightly scrub your mat with it. Then wipe the mat with a clean cloth and let your mat air dry before rolling it up.
- Make your own DIY cleaner. Combine one part vinegar and three parts warm water in a spray bottle and wipe down your mat with it. You can also add in some drops of tea tree oil, which has natural antimicrobial properties. Let the mat air dry.
If you’re lazy about cleaning your yoga mat after every sweaty session — and really, who isn’t? — consider investing in an antimicrobial mat, such as AgSilver CleanMat Yoga Mat ($15), which has ionic silver encapsulated into the mat’s fibers to naturally fend off bacteria, fungus, and odors. Take care of cleaning your yoga mat now so you don’t worry about it while your doing your asanas.