Our trusty mats follow us to yoga, pilates, or any form of exercise really, but what if we told you that those foam roll-outs could be doing you more harm than good? According to Dr. Robert Lahita, a professor of medicine at Rutgers University, yoga mats are havens for bacteria and infection. “A yoga mat is a perfect incubator for many of our skin infections,” Lahita said., “The yoga mat is a very fertile source for infection, mainly because people sweat on them and they rarely are cleaned.”
This is particularly true for mats that are used in gyms or yoga studios. You know the kind, used, rolled up and stored in hot, stuffy environments. Whilst studios and gyms make it mandatory to disinfect and wipe down mats after use, even rigorous cleaning procedures can leave space for germs to grow.
How to keep your yoga mat fresh
Here are our favourite tips and tricks for keeping your mat fresh, clean and free of nasties.
Clean your mat weekly
To ensure your mat stays free of nasties all year long, it is important to regularly clean and care for your mat.
Apple cider vinegar makes for an excellent natural disinfectant. Make up a batch of 50/50 vinegar to water and spray onto a cloth before applying to your mat. It’s best to avoid using a lot of water or soap as the mats can become waterlogged and with continued use – become even worse.
According to some manufacturers, putting your mat through a washing machine round once a month can prevent nasties from making an appearance. Check with your own brand, but most are strong enough to be put through a cycle and then hung out to dry.
Don’t dry it in the sun
The sun can be harsh on the material of yoga mats, so make sure you dry it in an area away from direct sunlight.