Cleaning a Yoga Mat with Vinegar and Water

Vinegar is used in so many homemade cleaning recipes.

Yoga mats are not an exception to this rule.

Well, I should say, most yoga mats are not an exception to this rule.

There are certainly some yoga mats that are made of more sensitive materials that do not do well with vinegar.

If your yoga mat is known for its unique material, such as JadeYoga’s natural rubber mats or Lululemon, this may not be the article for you.

Check your yoga mat’s brand website in the FAQ section, and most likely, they will provide information on how to clean your specific yoga mat.

If vinegar is okay for your unique yoga mat, or you already know that you have a standard yoga mat, let’s discuss some of the most popular questions related to cleaning a yoga mat with vinegar and water.

How Often Should You Clean Your Yoga Mat?

First off, you may be wondering how often you need to clean your yoga mat.

Generally, those with a regular yoga practice should clean their mats at least once a week.

However, if you sweat a lot, practice outdoors on dirt or grass, or if you have pets or kids that play with your yoga mat, you may want to clean it more regularly for obvious reasons.

With that being said, if you are new to yoga and don’t practice often, or find yourself taking frequent breaks that last more than a week because you’re busy, I recommend, each time, cleaning it before you use it.

Even if you’re not using it often, dust and dirt can still collect on it when you have it rolled up and stored away, which is not healthy to inhale when you’re doing child’s pose. Don’t worry, though. You’ll learn soon that the cleaning process isn’t difficult.

Can You Clean a Yoga Mat with Vinegar?

Maybe you’re used to using commercial products, or you’ve been using vinegar to clean, but never stopped to wonder why it’s used. First of all, the types of vinegar that are used to clean (see next section for options) are very cheap compared to commercial cleaning products.

We’ll discuss the price further in the next section. Second, they’re also very acidic, which is effective for removing stains.

Reason being, stains from situations such as sweat and grass are slightly acidic, and therefore, will dissolve when in contact with another acid. That’s where vinegar comes into play.

Lastly, it’s a natural product of fermentation, which cannot be said for the cancer-inducing chemicals in many commercial cleaning brands.

Sodium lauryl sulfate, for example, is used a surfactant to deepen the cleaning and its presence also creates a byproduct of 1,4-dioxane which is also shown to cause organ issues, weaken the immune system, and disrupt hormones.

These are only two of many major carcinogenic chemicals found in famous household cleaning products.

Cleaning a Yoga Mat with Vinegar

Let’s now jump into the kinds of vinegar you can use for cleaning. I’m sorry to say this, but the options aren’t varied.

While there are many types of vinegar used for cooking from rice vinegar to balsamic vinegar and pomegranate vinegar, the two main kinds of vinegar you should use for cleaning are distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar.

If you have neither, witch hazel is a third option, but let’s stick to learning about the different kinds of vinegar right now.

You’re probably wondering, “which vinegar is better?” and “how do they differ?”.

It depends on your preference.

While distilled white vinegar consists of laboratory-produced acetic acid and water, making it more processed than the latter, it is a more potent cleaner due to its low ph of 2.4. That’s more acidic than coffee and orange juice, plus it’s much cheaper.

Whereas distilled white vinegar is priced at around $2/gallon, apple cider vinegar can range from $4/gallon or higher, depending on the quality and brand. Those couple of dollars in difference definitely add up!

However, if you prefer a less harsh cleaner and something purer, you may want to use apple cider vinegar instead.

This is also a smart option if you find yourself using apple cider vinegar for other reasons anyway, such as DIY beauty products and digestive cleanses.

Both types of vinegar are multi-purpose, so I recommend using the one you use more often, or whichever you have on hand.

DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner Vinegar

Can you make a do it yourself yoga mat cleaner?

Before you start pouring vinegar on your mat, let me add that it’s a good idea to mix it with some other ingredients to make an official yoga mat cleaner.

This won’t take long to make, and since vinegar is acidic, it has a long shelf life, so you don’t have to worry about wasting product, or having to make the mixture often.

Below are two recipes, with one starring white distilled vinegar, and the other starring apple cider vinegar.

Note: These recipes are useful for slightly soiled products. If your yoga mat is extremely dirty, scroll to the next section.

White Vinegar Yoga Cleaner Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup white vinegar
3 cups filtered water
1 tsp tea tree oil
Essential oil (about 10-30 drops) peppermint, lavender, or thyme combine well with tea tree oil.

Instructions

1. Place all ingredients into a large spray bottle and shake the bottle before each use. For environmental purposes, try to refrain from using plastic and aim for amber or cobalt blue glass.

2. Spray your mat with the mixture on one side, and then let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe it down with a damp cloth, and then with a dry towel.

3. Repeat on the other side.

Apple Cider Vinegar Yoga Cleaner Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup filtered water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
30 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
30 drops of melaleuca essential oil
Equipment

16-oz glass spray bottle
Instructions

1. Mix ingredients into your medium-sized, spray bottle. Be focused when releasing the drops of the essential oils, so that you can count the drops carefully. Next, shake the bottle well, and do so each time you use the spray.

2. Spray your yoga mat until covered. Wipe with a clean towel to dry off, and then flip the mat to do the other side.

Yoga Mat Drying Rack

After wiping off the yoga mat with a towel, it may still be a bit damp. You may be eager to dry your yoga mat outside on a warm day, so it can dry quickly, but I don’t recommend doing that.

For many yoga mats, it can ruin the color and material due to the sun’s strong rays. This is also why it’s important to not leave your yoga mat in the car after a class.

Instead, hang it up to dry inside, whether that’s over the shower door, a clothing rack, or whatever else you can find to hang it on. Then, store it in a nice cool, dry area.

You can also purchase a yoga mat storage hanger rack from Amazon, which is a great option for committed yogis.

Can You Clean a Yoga Mat in the Bathtub?

Yes, you can clean your yoga mat in the bathtub.

Although, we recommend a very specific process.

Maybe your pet thought the yoga mat was a toilet.

Maybe your toddler wanted to practice yoga and then got sick.

Or, maybe you haven’t gotten around to washing it for a while and the color is starting to look a bit gray.

Whatever the case, you see that it calls for a deeper clean, and a little spritz of DIY vinegar spray here and there isn’t going to cut it.

I totally understand that situation. Don’t worry, we have a solution for that.

With that being said, what will be explained should not be a regular cleaning routine for your mat. It should be once in a blue moon, for doing this technique too often can cause the yoga mat to warp, curl, or lose its color.

However, just like the enamel of your teeth can handle and benefit from intense whitening treatments from time to time, your yoga mat can handle and benefit from this type of treatment too.

First, you’re going to want to bring the yoga mat to the bathtub or shower, to prevent making a mess.

Mix equal parts vinegar to water, about 1 cup of each. Pour the mixture over the yoga mat, until it is soaked.

If you need more mixture to soak it, remember to do equal parts of vinegar and water. Use a small or medium, dry towel, and with soft, circular motions, wipe the yoga mat.

Next, use the water of the bath or shower to remove mixture.

How to Dry Your Mat Afterwards

Use the same small or medium towel and pat down the mat back and forth, squeezing out the excess water.

Next, lay the mat flat on a new, long, dry towel. Stepping on the mat will squeeze more moisture out of the mat and into the towel. Then, hang up the yoga mat somewhere inside your house away from sunlight.

It should take about a day to dry completely, so if you have a daily practice, clean your mat after you practice, and allow a day before your next practice.

But, Can Yoga Mats Go in the Dryer?

No. Don’t put your mat in the dryer! It will ruin any yoga mat terribly. The tumbling will bend, and warp the mat permanently so that it won’t be able to lie flat.

There will also be color fading. So if that was your favorite colored mat, you can say goodbye to that color.

Lastly, the mat with be torn in areas, overall making it look older and less attractive.

Can Yoga Mats Be Washed in the Washing Machine?

No, you shouldn’t put your yoga mat in the washing machine. There are some yoga mat brands that are washer-friendly, but unless the yoga mat specifically says it’s machine washer friendly, don’t risk it.

Also, the ones that go in the washer, still can’t go in the dryer for the reasons previously mentioned. Hanging the yoga mat to dry is the best method of drying.

Gross Results of Not Properly Cleaning Your Yoga Mat

Visible Grime: Stains and marks will add up on your mat over time, whether it’s food from your last meal, or spilled coffee, and it will not be an inspirational or calming sight. Clean these immediately to prevent smells from developing.

Nasty Stench: Yoga mat stains from food, sweat, and germs collect on your mat from touching public areas. Your mat will start to smell over time if you don’t clean your mat. This will be very unpleasant during cobra pose, and you will risk getting sick.

Ringworm: When you sweat during yoga, for example during hot yoga, and the sweat hits the mat, you can possibly attract dermatophytes, especially during the summer. Dermatophytes are fungi, and just like other fungi, they thrive in warm, moist environments.

Aside from being gross, this type of fungus can cause an itchy, skin disease called ringworm. While ringworm isn’t directly deadly, if you scratch it, the open wound can cause a bacterial infection. Be sure to clean your mat and store it in a cool area in your house.

Sickness: Colds can also spread. Imagine, you’re in a yoga class and someone sneezes. Germs get on your mat, and you don’t clean it. What’s going to happen? You’re possibly going to get sick. Having your spray nearby is helpful in this situation.

Dirty Hands and Feet: Since you practice barefoot or with socks on, it’s easy to track dirt on your mat. I know that if I do downward dog, come out of it, and my hands are covered with ashy looking dirt, it’s time to give the mat a thorough cleaning, and to get a wet wipe to clean off my hands and feet!

My Finals Words to You

Purchasing your favorite yoga mat is an investment, and you want to ensure that you clean it effectively without damaging the material.

Furthermore, you want to take care of your health, and just as it is important to clean furniture and dishes in your house to prevent sickness, it’s also important to clean your mat regularly to stay healthy.

You also want to think about the ingredients in yoga mat cleaners, which is why we gave you chemical-free recipes to clean your yoga mat.

Lastly, we discussed the effectiveness and natural chemistry of vinegar, which is why we focused on it when giving you ways to clean your yoga mat.

Enjoy your yoga practice, and don’t forget your DIY spray!

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