Whether you’re practicing yoga in a public studio or sweating it out in your own living room, it should come as no surprise that your yoga mat is prime real estate for bacteria to thrive.
Just like you wash your sweaty workout clothes in between yoga sessions, your yoga mat should be treated with the same (if not more) care and hygienic awareness.
According to University of Pennsylvania dermatology professor Elizabeth Grice, our yoga mats are the ideal environment for everything from athlete’s foot to staph infections, plantar warts, yeast build-up, allergens, ringworm, and even fecal matter to hang out. Even worse? Depending on the type, these unwanted pathogens can double in numbers between the 30 and 60-minute mark of your yoga class. Good luck settling into a relaxing savasana now that you know what you could be sharing your sacred space with.
The good news is that it’s actually really easy to make your own non-toxic DIY yoga mat cleaner using a simple concoction of natural ingredients and essential oils. Not only will you be able to rest easy knowing that your space is fresh and clean, but you’ll also get the added benefit of breathing in all the goodness of therapeutic oils during your yoga practice.
Here’s how to get your DIY project started:
How to Make DIY Yoga Mat Spray
Without further ado, let’s get into how to make your own skin-safe yoga mat cleaner. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A 16 oz. spray bottle – Since many essential oils tend to degrade over time when stored in plastic, opt for a glass bottle with a simple spray nozzle.
- At least ¼ cup witch hazel – A natural astringent derived from the Hamamelis Virginiana plant, witch hazel helps neutralize odors trapped in your mat. Often used for its antiviral properties, it’s gentler on your skin than an alternative cleaning agent such as white vinegar or a harsh chemical like bleach.
- Water – The amount of water you use will depend on how strong you want your cleaning solution to be. The higher the witch hazel to water ratio, the more potent your yoga mat cleaner. Feel free to experiment to find the right balance for you.
- 15 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil – Coveted for centuries in many parts of the world for its natural medicinal, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil has only recently gained popularity as a chemical-free cleaning agent in the United States. Coming from the leaves of Melaleuca Alternifolia, a small tree native to Queensland and South Wales Australia that is also known as the Miracle Tree, tea tree oil is known to kill several common bacteria and viruses responsible for causing illness. Recent studies have also shown that it can be an effective combatant to a wide range of yeasts and fungi.
- 10 drops of one (or a combination of) the following essential oils: lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus oil – All of these options have antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, making them ideal complements to tea tree oil and witch hazel. Peppermint and eucalyptus are known for their energizing properties, while lemongrass and lavender offer a calm focus. Get familiar with each scent or combination of scents to find a blend you like. Whether you’re going for an uplifting, soothing, or just plain pleasant aromatic experience, there’s an option out there to suit every preference.
How to Make Your DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner:
Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together. Here’s how:
- Start by adding the witch hazel to your spray bottle. ¼ cup is the recommended amount, but keep in mind that you can experiment with using a higher witch hazel-to-water ratio for a more powerful clean.
- Fill the remainder of the spray bottle with water, leaving a tiny bit of room at the top for your essential oils.
- Add about 15 drops of tea tree essential oil.
- Top it off with roughly 10 drops of your choice of therapeutic-grade essential oils, depending on your preferred scent.
- Cap your bottle, give the mixture a good shake, and spray and wipe with a cloth to clean your yoga mat.
How to Clean Your Yoga Mat: 5 Tips and Tricks
To thoroughly clean anything, you’ve got to be prepared. Use these tips and tricks to ensure a clean practice day in and day out.
1. Have a dry and a wet cloth handy
For the most thorough clean, spray your all-natural yoga mat cleaner onto your yoga mat and wipe it down with a dry cloth. Follow with a rinse using a damp cloth that’s been dipped in clean water and wrung out thoroughly.
2. Wash your yoga mat regularly
To really take care of sweat and dirt buildup, plan to wash your mat regularly. A good rule of thumb is to wash your mat after every other practice, or even every practice if you tend to take hot yoga classes or sweat a lot.
3. Dry your yoga mat properly
For maximum airflow, drying your mat outdoors is ideal. If the weather or your space doesn’t allow for an outdoor dry, hanging your mat over a chair or bar indoors also works—you’ll just want to focus on creating a maximum surface area for optimal drying. Avoid hanging your mat in the shower or over the tub, since the humidity will hinder the drying process.
4. Keep your mat out of direct sunlight
Opt for a drying area that’s either shaded or offers indirect sunlight. Placing your mat in direct sunlight can cause your mat to fade and become brittle.
5. Use baking soda
For the occasional deep clean, consider adding baking soda to your process. After you clean your mat with your homemade yoga mat cleaner and its been dried, sprinkle and rub on a small amount of baking soda to eliminate odors and absorb oils. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes, then brush or vacuum off the excess. Think of it as the equivalent of adding a hair mask to your shampooing and conditioning routine every couple of weeks.
Don’t Feel Like DIY? Look for Plant-Based Surface Cleaners
Fortunately, there are more and more companies appearing that value the environment and the safety of your personal hygiene as much as you do. For example, Public Goods offers a plant-based surface cleaner with a fresh scent and a refill pouch to limit packaging waste. Simply spray and go!
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