How Often Should You Clean Gym Equipment?

Written by — Tonya

Cleaning gym equipment is a part of maintaining a sanitary exercise area.

You should clean your home gym equipment with a disinfectant spray and paper towel after every use. Every 1-2 weeks, you should do a deep clean to prevent a bacterial buildup.

From cardio machines to free weights, we’ve seen (and cleaned) every piece of exercise equipment under the sun.

Keeping your equipment clean not only prevents the accumulation of dirt and bacteria but also gives your equipment a longer lifespan.

In the rest of this article, we’ll walk you through each piece of exercise equipment and how often you should clean it.

Why Should You Clean Your Gym Equipment?

Any fitness enthusiast knows that when you use gym equipment, it’s going to become a safe haven for germs.

Whether it’s resistance bands, free weights, or a cardio machine, viruses and bacteria can accumulate on your equipment, potentially causing health concerns further down the line.

Even if you’re the only one using the equipment, the moisture from your sweat creates an ideal breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.

After all, with the heavy breathing, increased respiration, and the amount of sweat you produce, gym equipment is absolutely teeming with germs when you’re done.

You’re also at a much higher risk of putting these germs on your face, where they can begin to affect you simply by rubbing sweat from your forehead.

Using the equipment again without cleaning invites those no-good microbes onto your skin and into your body. Common bacterial and viral infections fostered and spread via uncleaned gym equipment include the following:

  • Common cold
  • Staphylococcus
  • Influenza

Whether you’re sharing equipment or using it yourself, introducing bacterial agents is all too easy, so it’s important for your health and safety to follow proper cleaning procedures, both at home and at the gym.

How to Clean Exercise Equipment

Cleaning exercise equipment varies based on the equipment you’re using, but you should give your equipment a quick clean after every use.

Additionally, your equipment will need a deep clean every 1-2 weeks to keep it in tip-top shape.

Yoga or Workout Mats

Yoga or workout mats need to be cleaned after each use. To clean, fill a spray bottle or bucket with warm water and add dish soap.

Spray the mat with the mix and use a clean cloth to rub down your workout or yoga mat.

Closed-cell mats need to be rinsed and wiped dry, while open-cell mats can be submerged in water and rinsed throughout.

Free Weights

Free weights are a type of gym equipment prone to spreading germs. You’ll want to be proactive in giving them a thorough clean.

Start by sanitizing your hands. If you’re going to use the equipment in a gym, it’s best to disinfect it both before and after use.

Spray disinfectant on a paper towel and rub over the free weight thoroughly, making sure to cover the entire surface area.

Once you’re done, dispose of your wipes and paper towels in a trash can.

Resistance Bands and Suspension Trainers

Resistance bands need cleaning after every use. To do so:

  1. Wipe them down to remove any surface dirt and submerge them in warm water, adding mild dish soap to the mix.
  2. Wait 5-10 minutes to let the dish soap work, then allow the bands to air dry.
  3. Please do not put them in the sun since you risk them becoming brittle and more prone to snapping.

Cardio Machines

Cardio machines can be quite challenging to clean simply because there’s so much surface area to deal with.

However, these machines should still be wiped down regularly to prevent a buildup of environmental pollutants.

Thankfully, the process is pretty straightforward. Just grab a handy-dandy microfiber cloth and apply the disinfectant spray.

Wipe down the entire machine carefully, paying particular attention to any hand grips or areas with a buildup of sweat.

You can alternatively use baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, or window cleaner on your cardio equipment to keep it clean and polished after your workout.

Adjustable Benches

If you’re using a bench after someone else or you’ve just finished using the bench, it’s prudent to wipe it down to keep everything sanitary.

To do so, you’ll simply need a microfiber cloth and a disinfectant spray. Dampen the cloth with your spray and wipe down the entire machine, wetting the cloth again where necessary.

Doing this after you’re done using the equipment is part of proper gym etiquette and helps prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses.

Foam Rollers

Foam rollers are used all over your body in areas that aren’t sanitized, so it’s important to clean your foam roller regularly.

Hot water and dish soap work perfectly to keep your foam roller sanitized and clean. Please give it a good scrub with a sponge and shake it outside when you’re done.

A good cleaning with some EPA-approved disinfectant wipes goes a long way to preventing bacterial buildup, too.

The rollers don’t need to be hand dried; instead, you can air dry them by putting them on a shelf. Don’t leave it outside exposed to the sun since it can cause it to crack and break off more easily.

Water Bottles

Your water bottle is an essential part of your workout equipment and needs just as much love when it comes to cleaning as your other equipment.

Ideally, it would be best if you cleaned your water bottle at the end of every day when you’re finished using it. Clean the bottle using warm water and mild soap.

Scrubbing the inside with a brush can help remove any unwanted buildups, and once you’re done, you can give it a good rinse out to get the soap out.

Let the bottle air dry after you’ve rinsed it out, either on a drying rack or upside down on a towel.

Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers need occasional cleaning, but you should exercise caution in the cleaning process.

Strong chemicals can damage it. Use mild soap to avoid skin irritation and dry off well before wearing again. Wet fitness trackers can cause skin irritation.

What to Clean Home Gym Equipment with

Clean your home workout equipment with warm water and dish soap. For most equipment, this is the best way to sanitize it. You can use a microfiber cloth and apply disinfectant spray for larger pieces of equipment.

The Difference between Disinfecting, Sanitizing, and Sterilizing

Disinfecting

Disinfecting aims to kill germs, bacteria, and viruses from a surface.

Sanitizing

Sanitizing aims to reduce the number of germs, bacteria, and viruses on a surface by cleaning.

Sterilizing

Sterilizing is the process of making something entirely free from bacteria or other living microorganisms.

This often requires very specific methods and isn’t possible in a home or traditional gym setting.

Is It Better to Disinfect or Sanitize Gym Equipment?

It’s better to disinfect gym equipment since common disinfectants actually kill bacteria on the surface of the gym equipment.

Sanitizing is helpful, but it doesn’t reduce the risk of bacterial or viral infection, in the same way that disinfecting does.

That’s why it’s important, both at home and at the gym, to spray your equipment with disinfectant where applicable to kill off harmful bacteria before you accidentally ingest them or allow them through the pores of your skin.

Conclusion

Cleaning your gym equipment is a necessary part of keeping both you and the next person safe.

In order to keep both you and the next user safe, you should clean your gym equipment regularly.

Using dish soap and warm water is ideal for smaller pieces of equipment, while a microfiber cloth and disinfectant spray works wonder on larger pieces of equipment.

If you’ve been neglecting cleaning your gym equipment, it’s time to get started by keeping those no-good bacteria off your gym setup!