Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Yoga: How to Green Clean your Yoga Mat

EcoYogini is starting to get the itch to practice Yoga outside- so is sharing her how-to eco-clean your yoga mat tips...

How many Yogis here? Everyone and their cat has a yoga mat these days, and depending on where you live you may be seeing temptations of summer and outdoor yoga (trust me, if you haven't practiced yoga outside you are MISSING OUT. It's the best way to feel an environmental connection in your practice).

All this outdoor yoga (and just renewed energy for more asana practice in general) means a sweaty, dirty mat. 

Strangely, cleaning your yoga mat is a bit more complicated than you may think. There are a few things to keep in mind to keep your mat in pristine condition and lasting as long as possible.

1. Mat usage
Practicing yoga outside means placing your mat on dirt, wet grass, sand and bugs. It means you'll have to clean your mat after each practice, which can wear at your mat. It also means that your mat will be exposed to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight will significantly increase the breakdown of TPE and rubber yoga mats.  

Recommendation: If possible have a cloth or separate old yoga mat specifically for outdoor practice only. I don't recommend buying a new mat just for this purpose, however if you were thinking of replacing your PVC mat with a more environmentally friendly mat, consider reusing your old mat as your Yoga in the Park mat. (check out Jade Yoga's 25 uses for your old yoga mat or Recycle Your Mat for alternatives). 

2. Type of yoga mat
Some mats are more porous and absorbant than others. As a result, any soap will just be soaked right up and may squish out for days or even weeks to come (my friend JenP had this problem with a second hand yoga mat that must have been previously washed with soap). Rubber and TPE mats are more porous, so will retain any water or soap-y type substance that you put on them.

Recommendation:  Avoid soap in general and soaking mats for long periods of time either in a washing machine or a bathtub. It will either get squishy and soapy, or will stay slippery for quite some time.

General Yoga Mat Cleaning Tips
Some companies recommend washing your mat in the washing machine. Honestly, there is no real reason why you need to use all the energy and water required to run a load in the washer for your yoga mat. It's wasteful and unnecessarily energy intensive.

Other studios recommend special 'yoga mat cleaner' sprays or liquid soaps. Also completely ridiculous and a sad ploy to get you to buy an extra yoga accessory. Take a quick look and you'll see on the ingredient list some preservatives and chemicals all wrapped in a pretty plastic packaging.

How often should you clean your mat? It depends on how often you practice. If it's 3-4 times a week, then a 'Lazy Clean' at least weekly and a 'Complete Clean' at least monthly. Or, you can 'Lazy Clean' after every 4th practice and 'Complete Clean' when you think your mat is really gross... lol.

There are two basic ways to clean your yoga mat: 
1. The Lazy Yogi's Clean:
In an old spray bottle fill it 40% white vinegar and 60% water. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil (lavender works well). If you're not sensitive to Tea Tree oil, it wouldn't be a bad idea to add some pure essential Tea Tree Oil. Sadly, I am allergic to Tea Tree Oil and that yoga experience wasn't pleasant. 
After your practice, spray liberally all over your mat. With an old cloth or rag, white down your mat. **Important**: allow your mat to dry draped over a chair or clothes dry rack for at least 24 hours, 48hrs is best. 

2. The Complete Clean:
Place your mat in the bath tub with the plug in. Using your vinegar+water, spray liberally all over the mat. Add about three cups of water from the tap. With a cloth or rag scrub vigorously. Flip over your mat, spray and repeat. Drain the water and with a dry towel pat your mat dry. You can either hang it on your shower to dry, or over a chair. 
**Important**: allow to dry at least 24-48hrs. Expect your first practice afterwards to be a bit slippery (especially if you have a rubber mat). 

That's it! Simple, easy, cheap and effective!


Laura said...

Yay! My mat is getting a lot of use since I take it to my fitness classes and then I use it on my basement floor and last night, it smelled a little funky. :) I'll put it on the weekend to-do list!

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Wow my former yoga teacher could learn from this post. She supplied her own mats for us to use and the smell of them was HORRIBLE...especially when in child pose! ;)

Eco Yogini said...

@Laura: yay! hopefully it will all go smoothly :)

@Tanya: lol, that is terrible!!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Hmmm, maybe I should try yoga in my backyard with my kids. I would also suggest just putting a towel underneath the mat. That's probably what I'll do if I go outside. These cleaning tips are great. If I ever get around to writing about my new rubber yoga mat on my blog, I'll definitely be linking to this post (and your eco-friendly yoga mat post on your personal blog). Thanks, Eco Yogini!


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