How often do you clean your mat? Do you wipe it down after every use? When was the last time you did a deep cleaning? All good questions under normal circumstances, but especially relevant in the current climate.
If you want to deep clean your mat but you’re not sure how, the first place you should check for instructions is the manufacturer. What I’m sharing is from personal experience. I have no medical training so, as always, please use your discretion in cleaning your yoga mat.
Closed Cell Mats
A closed cell mat is the type you are likely to see sold in most big box retailers and at your local studio (see the orchid mat above for visual reference). Closed cell mats can be washed on the gentle cycle in a washing machine, preferably one with no agitator. You don’t need to use much detergent and definitely skip the fabric softener unless you really enjoy sliding around during your yoga practice. Because of their construction, you may see a little damage to the mat but these types of mats tend to start to show wear over time anyway. DO NOT dry them in the dryer. I have several friends who swear by letting them dry outside but I usually just drape my over a clothes drying rack for a couple of days.
I own a Jade mat (the dark blue one above). According to their site, you should “NEVER use alcohol, petroleum based solvents or high concentration essential oils on your mat.” But I’ll be honest, I found that after nearly 10 years of use and wiping it down not quite once a week, it got pretty funky. Not in that new tire sort of funky smell when you leave it in a hot black car, but body funk funky. So I washed it. In the machine. With a tiny amount of regular laundry detergent (i.e. petroleum based). It didn’t fall apart. I haven’t noticed a problem with grip although it did turn a shocking light blue for until it dried. It took a long time to dry; over a week to dry on the clothes rack. I would avoid drying a rubber mat in the sun unless you want it to smell like a car tire. I wouldn’t machine wash it often, but it definitely lost its funk.
I’ve had my cork mat less than a year, so I haven’t had the chance to abuse it like my closed cell or rubber mat. I would not try to wash it in a machine. Most manufacturers’ sites suggest wiping the mat down with a damp cloth when it is soiled. Cork mats have supposed antimicrobial properties but I’m having a hard time finding the studies that back that up*. With what we know about the coronavirus so far, I’m planning to wipe down my mat thoroughly and lay it flat to dry for three or more days.
*Feel free to share any studies about cork mats in the comments below.
So there you have it. My experience with deep-cleaning my yoga mats for what it’s worth.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And happy yoga-ing,