I’m almost embarrassed to say that I don’t go crazy cleaning my sweaty mat all too often. When I first started the practice, I read all about how you have to use soap and water on the whole thing and then hang it to dry.
You know what happened when I did that on my first squishy mat? Since we don’t have a clothes hanging line anywhere, I thought I’d do the whole throw-it-over-the-shower-rod trick. Well, the weight of the saturated mat (and really, how do you properly wring out a yoga mat without damaging it?) hung on a rickety shower rod led to the whole thing crashing down into the tub.
Since then, I used a Yogitoes towel as my clean surface and just tossed that in the wash after each practice. I never got around to washing that original mat again. Gross, I know.
Once I upgraded my mat to something more serious, I knew I needed to take better care of it. And that’s where tea tree oil comes in.
I ordered some 100% pure Australian tea tree oil online and mixed about 10 drops with water into a $1 spray bottle. And voila! The super easy way to clean my mat.
When I come home from class or after a sweaty practice at home, I simply spray a light coating on my whole mat from top to bottom and then wipe it off. I just leave it alone to air dry right on the floor. The natural antiseptic and antifungal properties of tea tree oil ensure you don’t get any nasty bacterial growth happening for the next time you find yourself facedown on your mat. It also leaves a pleasant herbal kind of scent.
Since you’ll only need a few drops at a time to make the solution, there are plenty of other ways you can use tea tree oil, like treating acne or cleaning around the house. It’s powerful stuff, so read the labels before you start flinging it around all willy-nilly.
While this is my preferred method, I’ve also heard of these disposable wipes you can use to do a quick cleaning after practice. You can also do a spray bottle with a vinegar/water mix (although, I don’t know if I’d want the scent of vinegar on my mat) or lemon juice (just make sure you don’t accidentally discolor your mat).
I figure by doing the quick clean-up right after I practice, I don’t ever get it gunked up enough to need to fully submerge it in the bath and give it a good scrub down. However, if you do get to that point, use a little baking soda and a soft sponge, and then find a safe place to hang it dry.
Regular care of your mat can keep it in great condition for many years to come.