For the most part, I consider myself a clean person. I like a clean living space, clean desk and clean floors. I thought I was being “clean enough” with my yoga mat. But then I began to wonder: How clean is your yoga mat?
The back story: A few years ago I went to the dermatologist for what I thought was a rash or adult acne on my right cheek. Turns out it was a bacterial infection. Gross, but not uncommon, she said. I took an antibiotic and the rash went away. I wasn’t sure what caused it or where it came from – until I considered something I use frequently – my yoga mat.
How Clean is Your Yoga Mat?
Yoga Mat Cleaning or Lack Thereof
I would try to make a habit of trying to clean my yoga mat after each practice, but I have to be honest, it didn’t always happen. Prior to developing the face rash, I had even reviewed and used all-natural wipes for cleaning my yoga mat, but I just wasn’t consistent with using them.
One other notable change occurred when I switched to my thick Manduka Black Mat PRO yoga mat. I could no longer fold my mat in half, and then roll it up. I used to do that with my previous thin mat – in an effort to only ever put one side on the floor. Despite this challenge, I still really like the Manduka mat and highly recommend it to other yogis who are serious about their practice.
Related blog posts:
• Review: Manduka Black Mat PRO
• Price of Zen: How to Spend Less on Classes at the Yoga Studio
• 4 Essential Yoga Items That Will Improve Your Practice
• NamaSTAY Yoga Mat Towel Review
It could have been the change in rolling, it could have been my laziness with not cleaning my mat every time I practiced, or it could been my hypochondriac tendencies. But I had a rash again on my face: a face which I place on my mat during some poses, a face which touches a mat where my feet were, a face which touches a mat drenched with sweat and bacteria, a face which touches a mat on a floor at a yoga studio, of which I do not know the cleaning practices. See a pattern?
How Clean is Your Yoga Mat?
After developing the face rash I decided to be proactive and start cleaning my mat more regularly and rigorously. This news article, “What’s Living on Your Yoga Mat?,” from Philadelphia Magazine provides some great tips on the matter:
- It’s likely that bacteria from your skin could get on your mat, colonize and cause infection.
- Since bacteria thrive in warm, dark, moist environments, rolling up your yoga mat while it’s still wet – from sweat or cleaning – is the worst thing you can do.
- Hot yoga classes create a particularly enticing environment for bacteria on your mat.
Yoga Mat Cleaning Tips
Don’t share your yoga mat. Avoid using the “community mats” at your gym or studio. If you must use a community mat, use a cleaning solution on it first. Also, clean your mat after each practice, maybe even again when you roll it out before a practice. Some options for cleaning your mat include:
- Using all-natural wipes to clean your mat.
- Covering your mat with a yoga mat towel to keep it clean.
- Using yoga mat spray to clean your mat.
Also, let your yoga mat air dry before re-rolling it after cleaning. If your studio offers a cleaning solution on site – take advantage. And for studio owners and employees, they should disinfect mats and floors regularly to help keep the practice space clean and safe for all patrons.
*This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.