How to Maintain and Clean Your Gym Equipment

It’s no secret that gyms can be hotspots for germs. This fact has become increasingly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many fitness enthusiasts have shifted their workouts to the safety of their homes. You may have dedicated a section of your living room or basement to exercise, equipped with cardio machines, free weights, or resistance bands.

However, you’re like many other home-based exercisers. In that case, the cleanliness of your gym equipment may be a low priority. It might be time to consider giving that equipment a good scrub. The unique nature of gym environments combines high-touch surfaces and heavy, rapid breathing, which can lead to the dispersal of respiratory droplets. When you consider the combination of touching cardio machine displays, lifting dumbbells, and wiping sweat from your brow, it’s clear there’s potential for germs to spread. The unseen microorganisms await an opportunity to enter your body through your eyes or mouth.

To put it into perspective, let’s compare this to other areas of your home. Studies show that the household items most laden with bacteria are sponges and dish rags, followed by kitchen sinks, toothbrush holders, and pet bowls. In one study, researchers found that over 75 per cent of dish sponges and rags contained coliform bacteria – including strains such as salmonella and E. coli – indicating possible faecal contamination. This highlights the importance of cleanliness, not just in your kitchen but in your home gym as well.

To help you, we have compiled a list of how to clean your equipment correctly below.

New home gym cleaning routine

For any exercise-related activities, it’s considered best practice to disinfect your equipment after each use. This should include everything you interact with during your workout – mats, weights, machines, clothing, and water bottles.

Generally speaking, a thorough wipe-down with a disinfectant wipe or spray and a paper towel after each use should keep your gym equipment reasonably clean. But this relies on how often you use your home gym; a more comprehensive cleaning every one to two weeks is advisable. For this, wearing gloves and cleaning everything with mild soap and water is recommended, followed by a disinfectant.

You can use popular brands like Clorox and Lysol or refer to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for a list of effective cleaning products against SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. If you prefer a homemade solution, consider mixing a quarter cup of bleach with a gallon of water. Apply the solution to the surfaces, let it settle for a minute, and then wipe it off.

It’s crucial to ensure you thoroughly rinse off each cleaning product and allow the surface to dry completely before applying another cleaner. Mixing different cleaning products can release harmful gases. When using strong disinfectants, wearing a face mask and open windows is wise to ensure good ventilation.

Cleaning your gym equipment

Achieving a germ-free home gym through standard cleaning methods is unrealistic if you resort to high-temperature cleaning, similar to medical equipment sterilization. But that’s not necessary – regular cleaning keeps bacteria at manageable levels. Here are some expert tips to help maintain a healthy gym environment.

  • Yoga mat: Thoroughly spray it with a sanitizing spray and allow it to dry – drying is essential for eliminating germs. If you use disinfectant wipes, ensure to cover the entire surface. Let the mat fully air dry before rolling it back up. Consider scrubbing the mat in your bathtub and wiping it down with a disinfectant once dry for a deeper clean.

  • Foam rollers: Should be wiped down similarly to yoga mats. However, avoid submerging them in water as they can retain moisture, which can encourage bacterial growth. If your foam roller appears worn out or discoloured despite surface disinfecting, it might be time for a replacement. Choose a solid, nonporous surface that’s less likely to harbour particles.

  • Hand weights: Can accumulate dirt and grime, especially on textured surfaces. Spray disinfectant into tiny cracks, or use a scrub brush with soap and water for a deeper clean. While most attention goes to the handles, remember to clean the ends of the weights.

  • Resistance bands and suspension trainers: Disinfectant wipes are suitable for daily cleaning. For a more thorough clean, soak them in warm, soapy water, scrub, and once dry, apply a disinfectant.

  • Cardio machines: Are relatively easy to clean thanks to their smooth surfaces. Wipe the screen and handles with a disinfectant after every use, and remember the pedals or tread during deep cleans.

  • Workout shoes: Should be used only at home. If you’ve worn street shoes on your yoga mat or cardio machine, wipe down any contact points.

  • Workout clothes: Can harbour bacteria within their fibres. It’s recommended to wash them after every use and change them immediately after your workout to reduce the risk of skin and genital yeast infections.

  • Water bottles: A study in the Journal of Exercise found significant bacterial contamination in 83 per cent of reusable shaker bottles. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep these clean as well.

Conclusion

Maintaining and cleaning your gym equipment is essential to any fitness routine. Not only does cleaning ensure the longevity of your equipment, but it also helps create a healthier and safer workout environment. Each piece of equipment requires a unique cleaning approach, from yoga mats to cardio machines, to eliminate germs and bacteria effectively.

Always practice good hygiene before, during, and after workouts, including washing your workout clothes and disinfecting water bottles. By incorporating these cleaning practices into your fitness routine, you can focus on achieving your health goals in a clean, germ-free environment.

Always keep in mind that a clean gym is a healthy gym!