The yoga mat is unquestionably the most intimate piece of workout equipment we use: during the course of a typical yoga practice we spend time with our hands, feet, backs and faces in contact with the mat.
Unfortunately, a bit of contact isn’t the only thing we leave behind on the mat, and peace of mind and body isn’t the only thing we take away. We also leave our sweat, dead skin cells, surface bacteria and respiratory droplets on our side of the mat, and when we roll it up those goodies are combined with whatever the other side picked up from the floor.
The cool, dark environment of a rolled-up mat is perfect for bacterial or fungal growth, and when we break it out for the next practice we come into contact with all that built-up grossness. A small study swabbed a communal studio mat, a gym mat, an instructor’s mat and an at-home yogi’s mat and sent the samples in for testing. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the studio mat was the cleanest, given the peer pressure to clean our mats after each class. The other mats, meanwhile, tested positive for staph, yeast or other disease-causing bacteria and fungi, including a fecal indicator. Yuck!
Bacterial growth can also cause yoga mat odors, which can seriously disrupt a yogic state of mind.
So how can we effectively clean our yoga mats? Because it is such an intimate piece of equipment, it’s important to use all-natural, non-toxic ingredients. Our organic yoga mat spray uses the antiseptic properties of witch hazel and vinegar, together with the aromatherapeutic properties of essential oils, to get the job done.
Make an activity out of finding your ideal essential oil or oil blend: taking the time to find a scent you love will make you more eager to use your DIY cleaner and result in a cleaner mat. Think hard about the qualities you want to cultivate in your practice and match your essential oils to those goals. Lavender, for instance, creates a peaceful environment, while citrus will invigorate your practice.
Remember that this recipe is a starting place, and keep tweaking it to find what’s right for you. Watch out for potential pitfalls by researching the effect of these ingredients on your specific yoga mat (some materials don’t blend well with vinegar, for example) and taking note of changes to your mat after using this spray. A clean mat should be more grippy than a dirty one, but if you find the opposite is true cut back on the amount of oil in your spray.
Have a good practice!
All-Natural Essential Oil Yoga Mat Spray
16 fl oz Spray Bottle
1/4 c Witch Hazel or White Vinegar
4-5 drops Essential Oil
Combine witch hazel or vinegar and water in the spray bottle, adding water until the bottle is 90% full.
Add 4-5 drops of the essential oil or blend of your choice.
Cap the bottle and shake lightly to mix.
After every practice, or once per week, spray one side of your mat until the mat is visibly wet. Wipe the mat with a clean cloth to work the spray into the material.
Leave the mat in a dark place to dry completely. If possible, hang it over a chair or railing.
Repeat on the other side.
Once the mat is completely dry, roll it tightly and store in a cool, dry place until your next practice.