Hot yoga is unique in that is performed in a hot and humid setting. For this reason, it often leads to profuse sweating. There are many different types, one of which includes Bikram Yoga—a form that incorporates over two dozen poses. Without a doubt, it is much more intensive than regular yoga.
As you can expect from any type of movement, hot yoga is associated with a number of benefits. For instance, it helps to lower stress, which is beneficial for your mental wellbeing. On top of that, it improves circulation and flexibility. By sweating, your body is also capable of getting rid of toxins. Considering all that, it’s not surprising to know that it has become so popular in recent years.
Still, hot yoga is not for everyone. After all, it can be quite challenging to move around in a room that’s set up to 40C. As a general rule, you should check with your doctor first prior to trying hot yoga; this is particularly true if you are pregnant or if you have any health issues. For instance, you might want to pass if you have heat intolerance, heart disease, or a history of heat-released illness. If it’s your first time attending a class, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the workout. Don’t force yourself to continue if you feel lightheaded or dizzy.
Do You Need Special Equipment for Hot Yoga?
Compared to other fitness activities, hot yoga is relatively simple in that you don’t need a bag of specialized gear. With that said, there are still a few things that you’ll need. For starters, you’ll need to wear the proper clothes—this often consists of leggings and a sports bra.
Aside from that, you’ll need to invest in a yoga mat. Why? Not only does it protect and cushion you from the floor, but it prevents you from slipping (something that can easily occur when you’re sweating). On top of that, it provides grip and stability for the different poses.
When it comes to picking out a yoga mat, you want to consider four things—grip, material, portability, and cushioning.
The Importance of Clean Hot Yoga Equipment
This might sound obvious but it’s important that you keep your hot yoga equipment clean. At the end of the day, you will probably be sweating—a lot. As you can imagine, this can easily lead to odors and the growth of bacteria. Not to mention that it’s bad hygiene to sit around in sweaty clothes. In some cases, it can even lead to skin irritation or infections!
Ideally, you should always change out of your workout clothes after a session (a quick shower is great too). This will help to prevent the fabric from soaking in more sweat, which would lead to more bacteria.
But wait, how should you clean your hot yoga clothes? Can you wash them with other items? What about your yoga mat? What should you do when it starts to get stinky? These are some of the questions that we’ll be addressing below.
How to Properly Wash Hot Yoga Leggings
Leggings are great for hot yoga (as well as regular yoga). Not only are they comfortable, but they allow for freedom of movement—something that is important when you’re trying to do different poses on a mat. While it depends on the individual legging, most are made out of man-made fibers such as polyester, nylon, and spandex.
In contrast to traditional fabrics such as cotton, they are specially designed to wick away perspiration. Ultimately, what this means is that you’ll be able to stay dry (relatively, anyway) during your hot yoga session. Given that they’re made out of different materials, it only makes sense that you’ll want to wash them differently and use the right detergent.
Washing Hot Yoga Leggings with the Washer
These types of leggings can safely be put in the washing machine. As a matter of fact, that’s probably the easiest way to wash out the oils and sweat. Depending on the colors of your leggings, however, you might have to separate them into different loads. If you mix various colors together, they can easily bleed in the wash.
Start by turning the leggings inside out; this will expose the inner layer, which will make it easier to get rid of the sweat. Place them into the machine. Next, add a small amount of ACTIVE detergent—a detergent that’s designed for activewear (more on that later). From there, select a gentle cycle and allow it to run. Always use cold water; hot water will likely cause damage to the synthetic fibers.
Pro-tip: Never use fabric softener on your leggings; this will hinder the material’s moisture-wicking properties. Avoid bleach as that can cause staining.
Take out the leggings once the cycle is done. Hang them up and allow them to drip dry. Do not put them into the dryer. While synthetics can be put into the dryer, the high heat will damage the fabric over time.
Washing Hot Yoga Leggings by Hand
If you have the time, you can also hand wash the leggings. For this, you’ll want to fill a large container or tub with cold or warm water. Add a bit of soap or laundry detergent to the water and mix. From there, you can place the leggings into solution—try not to overload the tub! Before you wash them, however, you want to let it sit and soak for at least 15 minutes; this will help to get rid of the oils.
Note: You can also soak it before putting it in the washer—this will help to get rid of the sweaty smell.
After letting it soak, pick up the legging and wash it by gently massaging the fabric. Next, rinse it with water—you can either do this under the faucet or with a tub of clean water. Either way, the aim is to wash out the soap. When you’re finished, hang it up to dry.
Best Way to Clean Sports Bras for Hot Yoga
As you can imagine, sports bras can get quite sweaty after a hot yoga session—perhaps even more so than your leggings. Luckily, they’re pretty easy to clean and wash.
Tossing Your Hot Yoga Sports Bra Into the Washing Machine
Similar to leggings, sports bras are often made out of synthetic fibers that can be tossed into the washer. Seeing as how they fall into the delicates category, you’ll want to protect them by using a mesh lingerie bag. This will prevent them from getting snagged on other items. Depending on the number of sports bras that you’re washing, you might have to use more than one laundry bag.
Put the laundry bag (with the sports bras) into the machine. Pour a suitable amount of ACTIVE detergent and wash with cold water on a delicate cycle. If you want, you can even wash them together with your leggings. Start the cycle and wait for it to finish.
After the cycle is done, remove the laundry bags. Take out the sports bras and drape them over a drying rack or something similar. Allow them to drip dry. If possible, do not put them into the dryer. While once or twice is okay, doing it regularly will damage the material and elastic.
Washing Your Hot Yoga Sports Bra by Hand
If you just have a couple of sports bras, you might want to consider washing them by hand. Given their size, it’s pretty easy—moreso than with leggings. Instead of using a large tub, you can simply use the sink. Fill it with water and mix in a little bit of ACTIVE detergent. From there, put the sports bras into the sink. Soak them for at least 15 minutes.
Afterward, wash them by rubbing the material against itself—you want to be gentle so that you will not damage the fibers. Once that’s done, rinse it with water. Hang it up and allow it to air dry. As mentioned earlier, avoid putting them into the dryer.
How to Clean and Deodorize Yoga Mats
Cleaning your yoga mats is important too! With all the sweat, bacteria can easily grow on the surface. While you can’t toss them into the washer (most of them, anyway), you can wash them with soapy water.
Washing Your Yoga Mat with Soap and Water
The first step is to create a solution with a bit of water and ACTIVE detergent. Be careful not to add too much soap; leftover residue can make it slippery. Dip a soft sponge or a rag into the solution and wipe the surface of the mat. Avoid cleaning it with coarse materials as that can damage the material. When you’re done, rinse the soap away with water.
Note: If your yoga mat is really dirty, you might have to soak it first. To do this, fill the bathtub with soapy water and put it in.
Gently press down on the mat to get rid of the excess water. If necessary, pat it down with a clean towel before hanging it up to dry. Depending on how thick it is, it can take a few days to dry completely. Do not put the yoga mat into the dryer.
Sanitizing Your Yoga Mat Without Washing It
Obviously, it’s not practical to wash your yoga mat after each session. You can, however, keep it clean by using a deodorizing or sanitizing spray. Don’t want to buy a commercial spray? No problem—you can create your own with a bit of water and white vinegar. Mix the solution together and pour it into a spray bottle. From there, you can easily spray your mat; the vinegar will kill some of the germs and get rid of the odor. Dry the mat afterwards with a paper towel.
Pro-tip: It’s a good idea to spray and wipe your mat after each use. This will prevent it from getting dirty over time.
Tips on How to Keep Your Yoga Clothes Smelling Fresh
There are several things that you can do to prevent your yoga clothes from smelling like sweat.
- Do not sit around in your workout clothes after a hot yoga session. Take them off and air them out if possible.
- Wash them immediately afterward. Do not lump them into a pile for a week before putting them in the washer.
- Take your yoga clothes out of the washing machine once the cycle is finished. Do not leave them in for prolonged periods.
- Avoid tossing them into a bag after taking them off. The dark, moist environment will cause bacteria to proliferate.
Best Laundry Detergent for Hot Yoga Clothes
As mentioned earlier, traditional detergents are a bad choice for yoga clothes. While they’re suitable for fabrics such as cotton, they are not designed for washing synthetic fibers. In other words, they won’t be as effective in removing the sweat and oils and will actually trap those odors in your clothing.
Instead of using traditional detergents, you want to opt for something that has the ability to remove and break down oils from synthetic fibers. ACTIVE detergent is a great example of such a formula. Formulated for activewear, it contains enzymes that dissolve sweat; this will leave your yoga clothes smelling fresh.