Now. I am a firm believer that we've been over sanitizing our lives and that a little germs are actually a good thing (there's actually some pretty legit science behind this belief). That said, I also recognize that perhaps I need to admit that my yoga mat, on my floor being run over by my cats and sweat on by my body, may collect some nasty stuff in it's spongy, read porous germ home, and maybe disinfecting is not such a bad idea.
The article suggests a few things that are a bit of an over-kill (and SUPER wasteful) in my opinion:
- Antibacterial washes/wipes: I don't think I need to even say why we're not going there. Right? You're reading this eco-blog because you already know that wipes are wasteful and antibacterial is filled with some sketchy chemicals.
- Throw out your mat every year.... OMG I can't even. I mean... they may as well have suggested you build a bonfire and burn the mother effer while screaming "BURN BABY!!!". If I could get beyond the fact that we would be throwing out millions of yoga mats filling the landfills, which I can't, just the cost would be astronomical. A good yoga mat, particularly an environmentally friendly one, isn't cheap. An absolutely ridiculous suggestion.
- Use some combo of essential oil combo to kill the bacteria.
Ok. So on that last one. Some essential oils have antibacterial properties, such as lavender, tea tree oil and thyme oil. But are they really enough to kill bacteria on a yoga mat? A quick google search (which isn't really enough, but ya know), shows that yes essential oils are showing some very real antibacterial properties... but a lot of the studies have them undiluted and sitting on the substance for long periods of time (like 60minutes).
Maybe essential oils are an ingredient to support the BIG GUN:
Yep. This stuff has been shown to be a killer of germs extraordinaire.
Recently I heard an interview on the CBC with "The Germ Guy": A microbiologist and specialist in microbes... aka germs. His reactions weren't 100% anti-green cleaning, which was refreshing. His perspective on vinegar and water was one I had heard before- good for light cleaning, lifting dirt but not so great for intense germ killing. He suggested hydrogen peroxide as THE natural heavy weight for germ killing.
Since my previous recipes have involved variations of vinegar and water, it was time I revisited my mat cleaner. That and the next time I practiced yoga I was completely grossed out with the reality that I hadn't cleaned my mat in MONTHS. (ick, I know, don't judge me).
Hydrogen Peroxide, although scary sounding in name, is actually very safe and easy on the planet. Woohoo!
Recipes that I could find generally suggested a 1 part HP (3% concentration) to 2 part water ratio. I decided to also add a few drops of tea tree oil (we will remember that last time I put too much and had an allergic reaction which resulted in swollen hands after my yoga practice.... Always know whether essential oils are for you!). Other EO options include lavender or thyme oil.
Natural AntiBacterial Yoga Mat Spray:
(In a spray bottle):
1 part hydrogen peroxide
2 parts water
10-15 drops of EO of choice
The key with hydrogen peroxide is to spray it on and leave it for a good 10 minutes to let the germ killing really take place. In my tub I sprayed the mat all over liberally and left the germs to die a horrible death while I did other house chore stuff (ie cleaning).
After about 45min (cuz I totally forgot about the mat), I took a cleaning rag (we use our old wash cloths as rags for cleaning the bathroom), ran some water and rinsed off the mat. Then I hung it up on the shower rod and let it dry for two whole days. Truly, the trick to cleaning a rubber mat is to allow enough time for all the water to dry from the porous, spongy holes. For my mats that has meant at least one, even better for two, days.
Three yoga practices later and no allergic reaction, my mat smells and feels great and we're good to go for another