What’s living on your yoga mat? + DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner

by | Feb 19, 2015 | Yoga | 0 comments

We believe in transparency, so we want to let you know up front that we may have affiliate links in this post. Affiliate links allow us to support the site and create great content at no cost to you.

3 min read

How often do you clean your mat?

My Manduka yoga mat is arguably my best friend. It’s there for me on the good days; it’s there for me on the bad. It doesn’t care if I’m wearing makeup, or if I’m in a bad mood. My yoga mat supports me no matter what. But, have to admit, I’m not always very nice to it, esepecially when it comes to cleanliness.

I used to be much better about keeping my yoga mat clean, but something changed, and I just kinda stopped. Today I made a commitment to keep my yoga mat clean, and that’s because it was recently discovered just exactly how disgusting yoga mats can be.

News station ABC-13 in Houston decided to swab yoga mats all throughout the city of Houston. The news crew swabbed community mats at a yoga studio, and at a gym, in addition to swabbing the mat of an instructor and a student. The swabs were then taken to EMSL Analytical, a nationwide environmental lab.

The results are disgusting.

Laboratory Director Melanie Rech at EMSL Analytical in Houston tested the samples for bacteria that would grow at 35 degrees Fahrenheit, in addition to fungus that are incubated at room temperature.

The community mats at the yoga studio came back the cleanest with 3 million counts of normal environmental bacteria.

This is bacteria that, “In normal healthy, ambulatory, non-hospitalized-type people, they generally don’t cause infections,” Melanie Rech told ABC news.

The community mats at the gym tested positive for staph. While not the most dangerous strain of staph, it is the strain that can cause UTIs.

The yoga instructor’s mat tested high for yeast.

“You could get wound infections from this,” Rech said.

It is uncommon to see so much yeast on a mat, but Rech said it’s most likely because of his job as an instructor. He lives on his mat, but said he cleans it every other week.

The mat that was most shocking was the mat of the yoga student. The student’s mat tested positive for 12 million counts of bacteria including pantoea agglomerans, which can give you gastroenteritis. (Flu like symptoms including cramps, vomitting, fever, and diarrhea. I had it once as a child. Trust me when I tell you it’s really unpleasant.)

In addition, the student’s mat also had a high count of Aspergillus, a family of mold that can give people asthma. The student, Taserra Tucker, works out regularly but admits she doesn’t clean her mat often.

“I’ve had allergies my whole life, but they’ve been pretty horrific the past couple months, and it’s been the past couple months that I’ve been on the yoga mat all the time,” Tucker said. “I guess I need to really clean my yoga mat really bad.”

I am going to be much more diligent about cleaning my mat. If you want to join me, don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be an expensive or annoying process. There are a number of yoga mat cleaners on the market, but I make my own. It’s incredibly cheap. Here’s what you need:

  • A spray bottle
  • Witch Hazel, Vinegar, or Rubbing Alcohol
  • Water
  • Essential oils

Witch hazel, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol will be the main cleaning agent. I use a mix of the three. We have hard water where I live, and the vinegar prevents calcium build up on my mat, but I don’t use purely a vinegar-based spray anymore as it took too long to dry. Witch hazel and rubbing alcohol are quick-drying disinfectants.

What essential oils you use are largely up to you, but you should include those with naturally occurring antibacterial properties. I use tea tree and lavender. Other antibacterial oils include: peppermint, patchouli, orange, lemongrass, geranium, citronella, and eucalyptus.

Fill your spray bottle about 2/3 full of water. Add your main cleaning agent (or a mix of them) until the bottle is almost full. Then add your essential oils. For my bottle I use about 6 drops of each per cup of liquid. Have fun. Experiment. Find a scent that you love.

Then spray your mat completely, and let air dry. No need to rub it.

How often do you clean your yoga mat? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by Manduka.

Yoga Mats: What are they, and do you need one?

Yoga Mats: What are they, and do you need one?

There are literally thousands of yoga mats on the market, and all of these choices can be difficult for a beginner yogi to wrap their head around. You may see all these dozens of yoga mats and feel paralysed by all the choices, and then you find yourself wondering,...

How to do Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

How to do Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Triangle is a core standing pose that you will encounter in many styles of yoga, including Sūvata. There are a few key benefits to triangle pose, that make it this worth incorporating in your practice. Increases balanceElongates & opens the spine and side...


Get 3 Months on Kindle for just $1



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


↞ Get On Your Mat  

Revolved Side Angle Pose – 20 Minute Practice

Revolved Side Angle Pose – 20 Minute Practice

The Foundations Of Yoga Series continues! Adriene leads a 20 min Yoga Practice to prep and practice Revolved Side Angle Pose (Parivrtta Parsvakonasana). Go deeper and learn the foundations of this fierce and powerful posture that offer’s loads of benefits for the mind and body. This sequence is great for those wanting to open and…