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Practicing yoga is an excellent way to keep your body flexible and your mind clear. But it's hard to relax, breathe properly and stretch your nose to the floor when you're dealing with a stinky yoga mat. Many yoga mats are machine washable, but some are not, so check the label on the mat or contact the manufacturer before putting your mat in the washing machine.
No matter how diligent you are about personal hygiene, it's impossible to keep your yoga mat spotless. Simply standing barefoot on the floor of your yoga studio or health club as you unroll your mat ensures that you'll pick up dirt, dust and possibly bacteria. Sweat and skin oils can carry or foster the growth of bacteria as well. Washing your yoga mat in the machine will help keep bacteria from growing and spreading. This will make your yoga mat not only healthier to use, but also more pleasant to be close to.
Types of Yoga Mats
Yoga mats are made of many different materials. Traditional yoga mats are made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, though concerns about the toxicity of the chemicals used to make the mats has rendered them somewhat less popular than they were. Yoga mats are also available made of recycled plastic or rubber as well as all-natural materials such as cotton, jute, hemp and wool. The main feature of yoga mats is their slightly sticky surface, which is meant to help keep you from slipping as you move through and hold different yoga poses.
Unroll your yoga mat and place it in the washing machine. Arrange it in the machine as evenly as possible. Add a little bit of mild detergent. Baby detergent works especially well because it is formulated to deal with body-related residues. Run the machine on the gentle cycle using warm water. If the drum becomes unbalanced, turn off the washer and rearrange the mat so that its weight is more evenly distributed in the machine.
It is best to let all yoga mats air dry, because the heat of a dryer can damage them. Roll your yoga mat up with an absorbent towel and gently step on it to squeeze out all of the excess water. Unroll the damp mat and spread it out someplace flat that offers good air circulation to dry. This can take between 24 and 48 hours, so plan ahead before washing your mat.