I've written about this topic before, but I thought it would be good to have a post specifically on how best to eco-clean your yoga mat, instead of looking all over different posts to piece it together.
After five years of trying different things and evaluating various options on mat cleansing, here are my favourites.
For those yogi-nis who are a little type A when it comes to 'germs', a regular spritz of vinegar+water+tea tree oil concoction after you practice is an easy way to keep bacteria levels down. The vinegar acts as an acidic substance that helps break down dirt and soil while the tea tree oil helps zap the bacteria. Just spray and give it a quick wipe with a face cloth or towel.
Vinegar water spray recipe:
In an old spray bottle (I just keep ones after they run out) combine
1 part vinegar, 3 parts water and 10 drops of tea tree essential oil. You could also add some lavender or other essential oil that makes you happy. Just make sure that you a) aren't allergic to tea tree oil and b) aren't pregnant... essential oils can be sketchy for those with child.
You can totally keep this recipe for cleaning mirrors, sinks and faucets. Nothing leaves a streak-free shine other than vinegar and water.
Despite regular sprays (or if you're like me and totally lazy), regular mat cleanings should be essential. (note the key word *should*. I clean my mat about every three weeks... and it's gross).
What has worked best for my mat:
1) Place your mat in the tub as best as it can fit and spray thoroughly with the vinegar and water mix. You could add lemon juice, but really the acidity is provided by the vinegar and it's SO much easier to have on hand than lemons.
2) Plug the drain and add water. Scrub with a wash cloth or rag. Move the mat around and over, spraying and scrubbing until you feel you've covered most of the mat or the water has turned pretty brown and gross. Feel free to drain some of the water, re-plugging and rinsing. *Note* you do not require a lot of water here, so please don't be wasteful :)
3) When you feel that you've scrubbed enough (or are grossed out by the smell-sight of brown sweaty water) drain and carefully twist and rinse the mat as much as you can into the tub. This might require some help from a handy assistant (for me this is Andrew).
4) *KEY*: hang your mat to dry on a clothes rack dealy for at least 24 hours if not 48 hours. I have found that my mat needs two days of air drying to be back to it's regular sticky self. Anything less and I risk seriously slippage. Even if the mat looks and feels dry overnight, while practicing I'll start slipping all over the place. So if you can, either use a different mat the following day, or go sans yoga for a few days (gasp!).
What is NOT eco-friendly or good for you mat:
Using the washer
Seriously, using the water and energy to run the washing machine JUST for your yoga mat is a huge waste of resources. It really only takes a an inch of water in your tub and human muscle energy. If you practice yoga than you can scrub your mat. Just sayin'.
Using Jo-sha Wipes
Ugh. These things are individually packaged in wasteful plastic-y material. Think about all the energy required to make and package those wipes... all to be thrown into the landfill adding to our planet's waste. Not only do they come in individually wrapped plastic wipes, but each bunch comes in a plastic bag. As plastic if forever, recycling isn't always an option (HRM only accepts #1, 2 plastics).
Also, their claim on biodegradability is sketchy. As we know, the term 'biodegradable' simply means 'to break down in smaller parts'. HRM does not accept soiled towelettes or face tissues that may contain bacteria in their compost system. I also wouldn't advise tossing the wipes in a regular compost bin- essential oils may be natural but aren't that great for your soil.
Finally, their ingredients consist of essential oils, a preservative and an emulsifier. Our vinegar+water spray contains... essential oils for scent and anti-bateria properties and vinegar to break down the dirt. So why would you pay money for a wasteful, individually packaged, not really biodegradable product?
Washing your mat with soap
I say this because I have tried it... and soap tends to soak into the mat. A friend of mine also recently tried this and the soap stayed there... for a few practices. She said not only was her mat slippery, but it seeped out making a white icky foam while she practiced! It has taken a few soaks in the tub to rinse it all out.
So there you have it! Instead of having icky, wasteful individual wipes in your studio, why not have a spray bottle filled with the same stuff and a few clean cloth rags for students to use to spray down the mats? That way you save money and the environment at the same time :)
article copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com