After a few hot yoga classes, or just a few poses a day, it's normal to start wondering how to clean your mat from all impurities. Mats collect dust and particles on both sides, not to mention sweat from all of those vinyasas. Of course, a good wipe down always works, but every now and then, you just want your mat to smell superclean again, like fresh linen, soothing lavender, or maybe lemon. Plus, yoga mats provided by studios get regularly cleaned, but if you're just practicing at home now, it can be a total mystery.
Contrary to popular belief, your personal yoga mat could contain up to four times more bacteria than studio loaner mats if you don't clean it often, according to ABC-13. They also found 12 million counts of bacteria on a local woman's personal mat who admitted she "doesn't clean her mat often." Since it's even more important to keep everything spotless right now, figuring out the best way to deeply clean our yoga mats is imperative. So what's the best way to do it, and can you put it in your washing machine?
Can You Put Your Yoga Mat in the Washing Machine?
In short, it depends on your mat, but chances are: you can. According to Good Housekeeping, you should only machine-wash your mat if it needs a deep clean. Consider handwashing it in cold water and mild soap, but if you really want to machine-wash it, do so on a cold, gentle cycle. Also, make sure you rinse it well (no one wants sticky, or worse, slippery, residue on their mat!) and most importantly, always air-dry: never put your mat in the dryer. Women's Health agrees, adding that you should turn off spin or tumble cycles, and avoid harsh detergents, although they warn to always read the instructions first and always follow the manufacturer's tips. If you really want to just toss your mat in with your yoga outfit, Yellow Willow is a great bet because they're meant to be machine-washed.
Scared to Machine-Wash? Here Are Your Other Options
If you're petrified to end up with a misshapen mat, or are just unclear about your manufacturer's instructions, it's probably a safer bet to just handwash it in cold water and gentle soap. Don't want to use any chemicals at all? You could also try the natural alternative of wiping it with a mild mix of one part white vinegar to three parts water, rinsing it with a damp cloth and letting it air-dry. Adding a splash of tea tree oil to your vinegar solution not just adds a fresh scent but further kills bacteria, too (be careful to just add very little, so your mat doesn't become slippery). If you prefer to not use your own solution, buying a yoga mat spray cleaner is a great alternative. Make sure to let whatever solution you choose sit for 5-7 minutes on each side, then wipe dry. How often? Craig Stiff, Head of Hardgoods for the yoga mat company Manduka, recommends disinfecting at least once a week if no one around you is sick.
Other tips? Remember to keep your mat out of direct sunlight, avoid using harsh solvents, allow your mat to dry fully before rolling it up, and even sprinkle on bicarbonate of soda to eliminate odours (and make it less slippery, too). Now just to master our Crow pose!