Sunday, February 21, 2010

How To Clean a Yoga Studio while Helping the Planet

As the Sundays go by, my energy exchange becomes more a part of the norm. I have a certain 'flow' that seems to be progressing. I have realized that my goal in cleaning a ginormous studio, with two changing rooms, a bathroom, two massage therapy rooms, a reception area and a porch entry area plus three windows (inside and out) in one hour was.... crazy. On average it takes 2 to 2 and a half hours to clean.

I've been learning a lot about myself, how others view me and my practice during this time. There's nothing like being the 'cleaning lady' to humble the soul. Everyone at the studio is so lovely, but after spending five years of being informed how much my time is worth... I have to deconstruct my 'story' of what this work entails. It has been an interesting journey.

What I have learned is how to clean a yoga studio with environmentally friendly products.... economically! If you own a studio, or teach at one, this is an area where you can significantly impact the exposure of chemicals to your students and the environmental impact your studio is having on our planet. 

Each time traditional, toxic-filled chemicals are used to clean the studio floors, bathrooms, windows and surfaces, you are damaging an already fragile, CLOSED, water system. A water cycle that every single living thing, from plants to us humans, depend upon to survive. Each, pristine white, chemically bleached paper towel represents toxic sludge being dumped into rivers from the factories and thousands of precious virgin forest cut to clean your counter. We can all make some small changes that will have such significant impact- just a tiny voice, a small suggestion and we can make a difference, off the mat.

Floor Cleaning Alternatives:
Instead of using expensive cleaners (especially expensive 'eco' brands) why not use vinegar and water? Use one-part vinegar to four parts warm water with a bunch of tea tree oil and your essential oil of choice in a large pail. The tea tree oil will help kill bacteria and germs while the vinegar's acidity melts away dirt and grime WITHOUT leaving a sticky residue.
In the studio I clean, I need two buckets for the entire place. Simply buying a litre of no name vinegar results in huge monetary savings.

Instead of using a wasteful swiffer-duster, use a broom. Especially for those studios where the snow gracefully falls, brooms make way more sense for dirt, slush and salt bits that get tracked inside.

Surface Cleaning Alternatives:
Mirrors, faucets and windows:
Here's where vinegar and water beats brand-cleaners hands down. Forget the environmental and health impact of inhaling the chemical soup mist, I am constantly amazed at how well vinegar actually leaves a streak-less shine. Every single time.
Just get an old spray bottle, one part (or half if you like) vinegar, three parts water and add a few drops of essential oil and tea tree oil (for bacteria).

Instead of buying paper towel that's been bleached with harmful chemicals (that you're just going to dirty anyway!) and has resulted in countless cut trees...
buy paper towel made from post consumer recycled paper.

Sinks, toilets, counters etc:
Using vinegar and water will work here as well. However, if you're concerned about excessive amounts of bacteria, purchase reliable eco-brands such as Seventh Generation, BioVert (for those Canadians) or Ecover. As you'll be saving money from using vinegar for the floors and shiny surfaces, this spray bottle will LAST.

Instead of trying to scrub a sink with paper towel, use a cloth rag that will get clean the dirt much better, dust and is reusable. Of course a toilet bowl scrub is always necessary.


  • Instead of offering paper cups for students to fill up their water, encourage them to use their water bottles (via signage).
  • Have compost and recycling bins in the studio (especially in Halifax). It's possible to have them tastefully displayed, and trust me, proper small compost bins do not smell.
  • Instead of paper at sinks, offer a towel and wash in cold water. Or offer postconsumer recycled paper.
  • Use toilet paper made from post consumer recycled paper. You can buy some that isn't scratchy at all. The hospital in Lower Sackville has recycled tp...
  • Bring plants into the studio to help breathe in the toxins offgassing from furniture and laminate flooring.
  • Put up the awesome 'How to Recycle Your Mat' poster that EcoYogini has created... :) 
Hope this gave you some ideas, or motivated you to perhaps make a tiny suggestion at your studio. Yoga is about our connection with each other and our Earth. When we realize how simple and easy these changes can be, we will create a new culture. Of respect and connection.


article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Not sure if you were reading my blog last year when I was out of work, but for a couple of months there I too was cleaning my yoga studio. The principal of the school offered me the work to make sure I wasn't entirely broke.

    And there is nothing like cleaning and serving your fellow students in this way! I found it brought me a lot of joy to contribute to the place where I practiced yoga like that.

    I do use some natural products for cleaning but with your encouragement here, I might try using a few more. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. nice advice Eco Yogini! I like the idea of adding tea-tree oil to the vinegar and water...excellent for yoga studios and home studios alike!:)
    ~marcella - (how's the weather in Hali?)

  3. We are huge fans of cleaning with vinegar at my house! Red has color-coded spray bottles: plain water, water + soap (Dr. Bronner's) and water + vinegar. He also makes a scrub using salt, baking soda, and Bronner's that is incredible for cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. Glad to see your energy exchange is working out so well!

  4. Thanks for the smart suggestion to mix tea tree oil in with the vinegar...I've tried cleaning with vinegar before but couldn't stand the way the smell hung around especially in my bathroom! I'll definitely be trying this one...

  5. I love your energy exchange. It is such a beautiful idea. And, I really admire your dedication in keeping the energy exchange true to yourself. I hope this studio really appreciates all you are doing!

  6. Well done! Sounds like you've been able to implement some good changes. Has the staff or anyone said anything about it? Just wondered! But very impressive!

  7. I have met many young people at Moksha Yoga Halifax doing an energy exchange-they love getting $140 of unlimited monthly yoga for four hours work at studio per week.Yay for energy exchnaged i Halifax!

    Quick question-singe vinegar attracts fruit flies like mad,what do you recommend for that nasty season in the Maritimes when it comes?

    Also where in Halifax can i get recycled paper (rather than paper towel)?

    Thanks for being so helpful and kind to our planet!

  8. svasti: That's great! You're very right of course, that's so nice that they helped you during that time. :)

    Marcella: The weather was snowy, and now it's turned back to above zero melting stuff lol.

    Vegan Burnout: I keep hearing about Dr. Bronners but have never tried it- I'll have to try some out soon! :)

    babs: you can add other essential oils too- scents that you like, to cover up the vinegar smell (which I also do not like). I find lavender works pretty well.

    Simply Authentic: thank you! They do appreciate my work, they are so very lovely there :)

    Anonymous: yes I heard that Moksha has a crazy energy exchange going on at the studio. I imagine though that the work is nuts, trying to clean all that sweat.... :)
    To buy recycled paper- towel or tp, it depends on your budget and how much you'd like to be 'eco'.
    for a studio, I would look into where the Cobequid centre in lower sackville gets their tp from...
    for a home (or paper towel for the studio), the BEST is Seventh Generation... and it's pricey. (planet organic) The health store on young might have some too.
    There are some supposedly 'green' tp and paper towel options at Sobeys and Superstore, but realistically it's only marginally better. They are still bleached.
    If you'd like more info- please email me and I'll be glad to send you along a little guideline for buying recycled paper products. :)

  9. WOW i was just asking my friends the other day if they knew of any eco-friendly alternatives to harsh cleaning agents...and VOILA - here you have it all laid out for me! :) Thanks so much - I am so tired of spending money on products that are just bad for the environment. Time to make things simpler :)

  10. This is wonderful advice. As soon as summer rolls around and I start going to actual classes again, I'll be sure to investigate and share this information! Thank you!

  11. i love your crusade. get on it!

  12. Lovely post.
    When I offered massage (& Tai Chi classes) at Breitenbush Hot Springs, a worker owned co-op, we took turns cleaning our 'healing arts' building, & the community had Dr Bonners in all the soap despenders around camp! & lots of eco friendly products, fairly simple - good ol' vinegar & water! & yes, lavender oil is a good alternate. a friend who spent some time in the Findhorn comm. talked about their common practice of 'naming' tools - vacuums, etc, gives a whole different feel to clean with a *friend!*

    I have cinnamon e.oil in a spritz bottle that I use for 'freshening' rooms at home & in my car, & need to make a bottle for my office (has some flower essences as well, for an energetic boost)

  13. Great tips, Eco. I don't own a studio, but I work at a very small one twice a month. I'll look into how they are handling the cleaning a little more thoroughly. I am a huge fan of vinegar and water now! Have been using it on everything around my home, thanks to you and Greenspell ;-)

  14. Great tips! I have been making my own liquid soap that works AMAZINGLY for cleaning! It is also a great hand soap and cheap to make. I will have to compare it to vinegar though to see what the difference is.

  15. Thanks for the practical tips! I'm gonna put them into practice at home.

  16. Do you suggest using Soap Nuts for laundry? I use them for my family, but have always wondered if it is possible to add an extra cleaning booster, of some type, to the Soap Nuts without ruining them. Especially when washing non-family members laundry. Not sure if Soap Nuts clean well enough for washing strangers laundry in the same machine as family.

  17. I use soap nuts for my family. But are they enough, alone, to use for washing strangers' towels and miscellaneous yoga clothing?


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