My yoga mat has gone from sitting in the back of my closet collecting dust, to being my quarantine MVP. As someone who’s more a group fitness gal and less solitary yogi, when studios suddenly closed in mid-March, I grew slightly anxious. Knowing that exercise was inextricably linked to my mental health, I decided to pull out my yoga mat from its dusty home and explore remote ways to sweat it out. (Luckily, I quickly found a slew of talented instructors hosting Instagram Live workouts.) Today, I still don’t do much yoga, but I do use the mat for everything from high-intensity interval training to pilates. My mat has turned into my happy place and I’m thankful for that fleeting moment when I was convinced I was zen enough to purchase one.
Of course, now that my yoga mat is my best friend, it gets sweaty on the regular. As a pre-pandemic germaphobe, my instinct was to give it the occasional once-over with a sanitizing wipe. Now that I’m hyper-aware of all the germs, bacteria, and viruses that threaten our well-being, I know it needs more. I decided to dig deeper to find the right way to clean a yoga mat; here’s what I learned.
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Your Yoga Mat Is Dirtier Than You Think
Honestly, the truth is worse than what I had feared. Germs, bacteria, and fungi congregate in sweaty places and the yoga mat is a more-than-suitable home for them all. Even though your personal yoga mat isn’t being shared with others at a studio, it could still harbor things like ringworm, athlete’s foot, plantar warts, and staph infections if not properly maintained.
You Should Disinfect Your Mat Daily
Any time you use your mat, you should disinfect it to immediately eliminate germs, dirt, and oil. While you might be inclined to reach for your go-to cleaning products like I used to, it’s wise to avoid sanitizers and all-purpose cleaners that contain bleach, alcohol, and other ingredients that could irritate the skin.
In fact, the disinfectant that’s provided in spray bottles in most yoga studios truly works wonders. Luckily, this solution is easy to conjure up at home. All you have to do is combine equal parts water and white vinegar, then add a splash of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, so it’ll work to kill any unwanted microbes on your mat. Essential oils like lavender and lemon also have similar properties and work well in a homemade solution. Just make sure to spray and wipe down both sides of your mat!
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