You're Probably Not Cleaning Your Yoga Mat As Much As You Should

Bad news for yogis — your yoga mat is probably way dirtier than you think. So much so that Dr. Robert Lahita, a professor of medicine at Rutgers School of Medicine, believes they are "a perfect incubator for many of our skin infections." Speaking to ELLE, he explained, "The yoga mat is a very fertile source for infection, mainly because people sweat on them and they rarely are cleaned." Just think of the sweat, dirt, and grim, that must be thriving there!

As a result, you should really be giving your yoga mat a clean after every practice. "The rule is, the sweatier or dirtier your mat gets, the more important it is to clean it after every practice," Lauren Porat, yoga instructor and founder of YogaSpark, told Women's Health. And according to Ingrid Yang, M.D. and yoga therapist at holistic healthcare center Saffron and Sage, cleaning your yoga mat is easier than you think, meaning there should be no excuses (via Martha Stewart).

It's essential that you dry your yoga mat after cleaning

Recommending that you clean your yoga mat with a sponge and body wash, Yang explained to Martha Stewart, "Soap is an 'amphiphile.' One end of the molecule is attracted to water and repelled by fats and proteins, and the other side is attracted to fats and repelled by water." She continued, "Basically, what happens is that the soap is attracted to the grease/oils on your mat via its fat-loving side and pulls the oils into the water via its water-loving side." 

But to reap the benefits of the clean you need to ensure you dry your yoga mat correctly, too. "Let it air dry and then roll it up," Porat told Women's Health. "I recommend finding a chair or other bar outside that you can throw it over to get maximum airflow, but if the weather is too cold, indoors will do — you just want to create maximum surface area," she added.