“We don’t sweat, we glisten.” As much as we love to glorify blood, sweat, and tears we shed on those dear mats of ours, the truth is that your yoga mat is a magnet for germs and bacteria.
The physical practice of yoga focuses on purifying your body by activating the muscles by folding, twisting, stretching, and balancing. As the body flows, the organs and muscles respond by releasing toxins in the form of sweat.
Usually, your bare hands and feet have the maximum contact with the mat, and they are the main escape route for these toxins. Any guesses on where all that sweat ends up? In your beloved yoga mat! It’s not just sweat, either: Yoga mats are also known as incubators for skin infections. They are a fertile source for collecting germs and forming bacteria. Gross, right? Exactly why you should keep them clean to maintain your hygiene, which leads us to the gist of this article—so how do you ensure the cleanliness of your yoga mat? Well, if you’re up for a quick solution, let’s look at how to wash a yoga mat in the washing machine.
Cleaning Your Yoga Mat
Let’s just settle one thing first—because bacteria are invisible, many people delay the process of cleaning regularly. The pile-up of dirt on the surface of your mat leads to bad odors, too, which can ruin your yoga experience. Hence, it is essential to regularly wash your mat so that you can relax, breathe, and stretch your nose to the floor during your practice.
Having said that, there’s no assurance that you’ll steer clear from all sources of contamination, but it always helps to take precautions by cleaning it frequently. This truly depends on how often and where you practice.
How Often Should You Clean Your Mat?
The general baseline is that you clean it after each use, by wiping it with a clean cloth or wipes to disinfect it. This depends on a few factors like the brand, material, frequency of practice, and the surface you are laying your mat on during your practice.
For example, if you are using it for gentle breathing exercises in the convenience of your home, it probably doesn’t collect too much dirt and sweat. If you are practicing hot yoga at a studio, it obviously needs intensive cleaning along with a yoga towel. But wherever you go, you need to determine whether your yoga mat is machine washable.
If you know the brand, you can check the company’s website and look for washing instructions provided by them. On the contrary, if you are not sure about the manufacturer and material details, then it’s ideal to do a little bit of research regarding the material of your mat. Warning: All materials are not machine friendly.
To Clean or Not to Clean
We are looking at two kinds of yoga mats in terms of materials: PVC or tightly woven fabrics. The good news is that they are both washable, so the concerns of damaging them can be put aside for now. You just need to make sure you are taking the right steps to cleanse them.
Keep in mind that cleaning yoga mats doesn’t mean aggressively scrubbing the surface or using active detergents. A light wash does the job perfectly! Here are a few tactics to ensure you wash your mat in the washing machine without damaging it.
The cleaning steps discussed in this article will guide everyone wondering about how to wash a yoga mat at home or how to deep clean yoga mats effectively. Just remember to read thoroughly before starting your procedure.
The Right on how to Wash a Yoga Mat in the Washing Machine
There are only four simple steps to follow to wash your mat in a washing machine. Front-load machines are usually used as a rule of thumb for cleaning mats, as top loads can be too harsh on the material of yoga mats.
- Fold your mat to flatten it out before putting it in the machine.
- Use a mild detergent on a gentle wash.
- Press on the spin cycle of your machine to rinse out the water.
- Refrain from using a dryer with high heat as it can damage the mat. It’s best to hang it out or use the dry cycle on a very low heat in the machine if you must.
You’ll need to soak your mat, towels, and belts in warm water in the machine for about 10-15 minutes. Switch off your machine and leave the mat soaking for a couple of hours. Precaution: the drainage plug needs to be removed from the machine. The portion of water to detergent should be 1 tablespoon (15ml) of washing liquid (mild detergent or dish soap) for a gallon (3.7L) of lukewarm water. This will help to remove all the skin oils, germs and bacteria from your mat – provided you are submerging the mat in the solution for the given time.
After soaking your yoga mat in bubbly water for a good fifteen minutes, now it’s time to scrub off any visible dirt. You can use a clean soft washcloth and gently rub the mat on both sides. Be careful not to be too hard on the mat or you may damage the material.
You can also try adding a little bit of vinegar to the water to remove any odors. Always avoid using biodegradable detergents as they can ruin the mat and make it fall apart. Once you have hand scrubbed the mat, turn on the washing machine and choose the delicate cold-water cycle.
Once the mat has been cleaned in the washing machine properly, select cold water to rinse the mat. If the water is not cold in the washer for rinsing, you might end up damaging the material. After taking it out of the washer, hang it or spread it out in the sun for a little while. The moisture on the surface of your mat will be dried up too.
The UV rays are great for killing germs and bacteria too. So if there’s any concern about your mat having some leftover germs, leaving it out in the sun will kill the remaining bacteria for sure. If it’s too hot or cold outside, it’s best to dry it indoors.
Once your mat has been rinsed properly, you can dry it by using a clean cloth to wipe off the excess moisture or just leave it hanging indoors. Leave it overnight around adequate ventilation, otherwise, your mat will feel slippery when you use it next, which can cause injuries during balancing and stretching poses. You can also gently dab the moisture off the surface of the mat before laying it for practice.
Many people own mats that are made of PVC and rubber. They often worry about how to clean these materials, wondering if they will break down in the washing machine. The same goes for mats made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Both of these materials are extremely common and tend to break down over time.
Yes, deep cleaning your yoga mat is great, but you cannot do it every day. You have to take care of your mat regularly by simply maintaining its cleanliness. Here are some regular care and precautionary tips for you to increase the lifespan of your mat.
Precaution and Care Tips
- Fold it in half carefully to make it flat. This stops the mat from getting tangled up in the machine.
- Refrain from using harsh detergents, particularly Woolite. Try to find sports detergents like Javex, which are usually more effective and machine friendly.
- Select the gentle, cold cycle on your machine.
- Air drying your mat is the best way to go. Roll it up and store it in a dry place when it is completely dry. Be mindful to always roll the mat, keeping the tongue inside. It stops the mat from getting creased.
Use a damp cloth or antibacterial wipes to clean the surface of your mat after every use. Keep it stored in a proper rack or a bag after your practice. You can also opt for handwashing techniques to clean your mat once every week if you have sensitive skin.
You can use homemade DIY cleaning solutions and a damp cloth to wipe it off. There are some great cleaning solutions with antibacterial properties available that are effective and safe for yoga mats. We also highly recommend using antibacterial wipes on it before your practice. No harm in taking some extra precautions.
Hand Wash Vs Machine Wash
We completely understand your concerns if you are scared to throw your yoga mat in your washing machine. We have got you covered if you are looking for alternate options to deep clean your yoga mat.
It’s okay to be nervous about the process of cleaning it in the washing machine. You can turn to hand washing options too, especially if you are a PVC mat owner. You can prepare your own yoga mat cleaners by filling a spray bottle with the following ingredients.
- A few drops of dishwashing liquid
- One part vinegar, remaining part water. Give it a nice shake
- Add your favorite essential oil (optional), as it works as an anti-odor property.
- Apply the solution after every use.
- Spray it evenly and wipe it with a clean towel.
- Lastly, air dry it.
Trust us, it doesn’t get easier than this.
If you have a Lululemon Yoga mat, click here to read more about on how to clean it.
As you have already been well informed about the ins and outs of washing your yoga mat in the washer, we just want to remind you to check the material to be sure. Check the instructions for your mat particularly before machine-washing it. If you are not still on board with the idea of machine-washing it, you can use your bathtub and follow the same procedures. Now let’s address your concerns regarding the effectiveness. Though machine washing is the best way to clean your yoga mat, a tub wash will suffice. Results are similar, except for the rinsing part. You’ll need to do some extra work to ensure it’s dried properly.
Did You Know?
Your yoga mat is likely to attract upto four times more bacteria than a regular studio owned mat. This indicates that your personal yoga mat must be cleaned often to get rid of all unseen germs. According to ABC-13, the count of bacteria on a personal yoga mat that isn’t regularly cleaned was at 12 million. This should well-establish the cleaning requirements if you are still wondering how often you should clean your yoga mat. Not just clean, you also want your mat to smell nice and fresh. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your vinegar mix is a 2 in 1 solution. It kills bacteria and leaves a fresh scent.
Additional Cleaning Tips
- Remember to keep them away from direct sunlight as it can fade and become brittle from the UV rays.
- Don’t use abrasive or harsh cleaners or solvents to clean your yoga mat. If you own a rubber yoga mat, don’t use essential oil based solutions.
- Make sure your yoga mat is completely dry before you roll it back up.
- If you want to get rid of odors and absorb oils, then you have the option to sprinkle and rub on baking soda. Leave it on for 15 to 30 minutes, then brush or wipe off the leftover soda.
- If the smell of vinegar bothers you, you can create a more subtle and nice smelling solution by adding essential oils like lavender. It can eliminate that unpleasant vinegary smell. You can spray as many times as you use your mat. Use on both sides. Remember to allow drying time. The smell will eventually fade.
- Try not to hand your mat in the shower or over the bathtub for rinsing. The humidity will slow down the drying time. Let it air dry in an open space where there is ample ventilation.
If you love doing yoga, you must love your mat too. You’ll feel the desire to maintain it in the best possible way by following the right practices to clean and care for it. Putting your yoga mat in the washing machine is probably the best, safest, and easiest way to clean it, but once again, make sure you are aware of the material of the mat.
Some materials are not at all machine friendly, so you want to stay away from immersing them in water. For example, any type of synthetic mats can be washed in the washer, but sticky mats can be ruined in the process if you don’t follow proper instructions. Some materials start to break down when they come in contact with water, so do your research before you make your choice. One last tip: avoid using bleach as it can damage the surface of your mat, completely dissolving the foam inside it.