Hot Mess: How to Keep Yoga Flooring Clean
Yoga is hot. According to data reported on by Yoga Journal, 20.4 million Americans practice yoga: That's a 29 percent increase from 2008. This is good news for the thousands of yoga and Pilates studios in the US, whose practitioners spend a whopping $10.3 billion a year on classes and products, almost double what they spent in 2008. But this uptick has also caused a surge in yoga-related skin infections, a sure turnoff to your clients. Keeping the yoga flooring and equipment clean can mean the difference between a successful studio and a practice that ties your patrons in knots.
Harshing your Mellow
Any health club provides a great place for germs, bacteria, and viruses to congregate, but the problem is worse in yoga studios. Here, lightly clad, barefoot patrons commonly share equipment like mats, straps, and blankets. Boost the temperature to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity to 40 percent (the common setting for Bikram, a heated yoga), and the problem gets worse. These hot, sweaty conditions let bacteria, viruses, and mold thrive. Plus, the smell of sweat and mildew will put off patrons.
Another Yoga Journal article lists the many types of bugs that practitioners may encounter in an unclean yoga studio. They include athlete's foot, plantar warts, ringworm, and the more dangerous Staphylococcus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The publication laments the lack of regulation of sanitary standards for yoga studios. Dr. Greg Cohen, a podiatrist at Long Island College Hospital agrees. In a New York Times article, he credits unclean yoga mats for the the 50 percent spike he'd been seeing in patients with athlete's foot and plantar warts. Fox News Magazine calls yoga mats dirtier than cells phones and airline seats.
Setting and adhering to a strict cleaning protocol will keep patrons healthy and coming back to your business again and again. While you may be tempted to reach for a strong chemical to get the job done, a yoga studio that smells harsh can be as off-putting as one that smells of sweat and mold. Instead, create balance with a mixture of daily and deep cleaning.
In Self Magazine, yoga instructor Mandy Ingber recommends spraying mats with a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water after each class. Yoga Journal suggests spraying mats with a spray with quats (quaternary ammonium compounds) and 70% alcohol, and letting the solution sit for 30 seconds before wiping. Bolsters, blocks, straps, and blankets should be wiped or laundered at least weekly.
Special care must be taken if Bikram Yoga is practiced on a carpet. While it seems an unlikely yoga flooring choice, carpet is actually required by Bikram Choudhury, according to Sports Turf Northwest. If you have carpet in your studio, Yoga Journal suggests deep cleaning it twice a week. Hard flooring should be swept and washed daily.
Click here for more ideas on how to keep flooring clean and safe.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.