Has your yoga mat lost its stickiness? It might be time for a cleaning.
Using your yoga mat regularly is good for you. But practising leaves body oils and lotions behind, which makes the mat slippery. New mats can also be slippery due to the chemicals in the product or the packaging. In either case, a good cleaning can usually return your yoga mat to be your safe haven for downward-facing dog, warrior, and lunge poses.
To clean your mat, wash it in your washing machine on the gentle cycle. Yup, that’s right: the washing machine! I’ve been using and cleaning one of my yoga mats for 15 years, so I know this method works well. If the mat doesn’t survive the washing machine, it may be due to the quality of the mat. Good quality mats may cost a bit more, but if you’re going to buy a mat, you might as well buy one that has good traction and durability. I’ve seen students with low quality mats that had no traction at all—and no amount of cleaning can fix that problem.
Wash only one mat at a time and use a small amount (~1-2 teaspoons) of natural liquid laundry detergent. I use Seventh Generation or Nature Clean. Be mindful to use detergents that do not contain harmful, toxic chemicals. I don’t want chemicals on my clothes or my yoga mat at any time, but those chemicals can leave a film on your mat which defeats the purpose of cleaning it.
Hang your mat to dry. I find in my dry Alberta climate, it can take 3 to 4 days to dry fully. (This is a great reason to buy a second mat if you have only one!) Fold the mat in half length-wise and hang on a steady hanger. After a day or two, fold the inside out so that it dries faster. To test whether it has dried completely, squeeze the mat between your fingers. If it’s dry, you won’t feel moisture on your fingers.
That’s it! Your clean mat is ready for your next practice. Symbolically, it’s also refreshing to clean away all that you’ve shed in your practice (physically, emotionally, and mentally).
If you give this a try, please let me know how it goes by posting a comment on my blog or on Facebook. Happy practising!