Ew! Clean your Yoga Mat Already!

You’re on your mat, concentrating on your pose, getting right into that stretch. Now take a deep breath in through your nose and holy hell in a hand basket! What is that smell?! When you are working out, your yoga mat is soaking up your sweat and the detritus from the floor. I hate to tell you this, but that smell is most definitely you.

Yes, your sweaty, moist yoga mat is a brilliant breeding ground for all manner of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Not only can bacteria lead to bad smells that will zing your zen, it may even give you an infection. Just ask Dr. Robert Lahita, a professor at Rutgers School of Medicine who specializes in microbiology and has spent many years as a yoga practitioner: “Yoga mats are the worst. A yoga mat is a perfect incubator for many of our skin infections,” said Lahita. “The yoga mat is a very fertile source for infection, mainly because people sweat on them and they rarely are cleaned.” So clean your yoga mat already!

You need to give it a deep clean from time to time. Every two or three months, this means popping your yoga mat into your front loading washing machine for a normal wash cycle. You can also lay your mat in the bath and soap it down with castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s or something of that ilk.) Rinse thoroughly and hang to dry.

While a deep clean is only necessary from time to time, you should be wiping your your mat down after every use. If you don’t mind your mat smelling a little astringent, opt for a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. Fill a spray bottle half with water and half with distilled water. Spritz your mat after every use and wipe down with a dry cloth. Rinse the cloth and wipe it down again.

If you want something a little more fragrant that also brings with it the wonderful benefits of aromatherapy, then here’s a couple of recipes for you. The first one is for relaxation and balance while the second one is invigorating for those hot yoga days.

The vodka or witch hazel acts as an astringent that kills bacteria before it can move in and make itself comfortable.

Relaxing Zen Blend

  • 3 drops lavender essential oil (for relaxation)
  • 3 drops geranium essential oil (for balance)
  • 2 tbsp vodka or witch hazel
  • distilled water

Kick in the Yoga Pants Blend

  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil (energizing)
  • 3 drops geranium essential oil (invigorating)
  • 2 tbsp vodka or witch hazel
  • distilled water

Drip your essential oils into your spray bottle. Add the vodka or witch hazel and shake. You can get witch hazel at your pharmacy or health food store. Fill the bottle with distilled water (use this instead of tap water as the chlorine may break down your essential oils). Use after every workout. Simply spray the solution onto your yoga mat and then wipe it down with a soft, dry cloth.

Seriously… clean that yoga mat already!

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Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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