Let’s be honest: How often do you really clean your gym equipment? And, FYI, simply throwing your sports bra in the wash or wiping your yoga mat down with a towel just won’t cut it when you’re trying to sanitize your gear. As you might already know, bacteria and fungus literally flock to anything that’s damp…and when you’re breaking a sweat, the last thing you want to worry about is doing your downward dog head-first into a cesspool of germs. Whether you’re at the gym or in the comfort of your own home, using dirty equipment makes you susceptible to germs that can cause colds, flus, norovirus, athlete’s foot, staph infection, and more. Not to mention, oil and dirt left behind can cause the padding and material of your gym-essentials to literally deteriorate. Scary right?
Here’s the dirt on how we keep our gym gear clean:
For the most part, throwing your sweaty gear into the washing machine just won’t cut it. Plus, if not washed properly, clothing will stay smelly even after it’s thoroughly rinsed. If your clothes are dripping in sweat, wash them immediately. If you don’t have a washing machine, hand wash them. If you can’t wash ’em till later, hang them up to dry instead of throwing them in the hamper (this prevents them from growing icky mildew). Still stinky? Try soaking them in one-part vinegar and four-parts water for thirty minutes or in half-part baking soda and half-part detergent to kill bacteria and remove stains. If you’re strapped for time, simply wash your clothes with a detergent specifically for workout wear- We love Tide plus Febreze Freshness Sport (fitsugar.com).
According to yogajournal.com, if your mat is lightly soiled, use a spray bottle, damp sponge, or terry cloth to apply a solution of two cups water and four drops dish soap. Rub the soiled areas and wipe the mat with clean water; then rub with a dry terry cloth towel and hang up to air dry. If your mat is heavily soiled, submerge it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent; use very little soap as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use. Hand wash the mat and rinse in clean water. Squeeze out the mat and lay it on a dry towel, rolling the mat and the towel together (stepping on the rolled up mat will squeeze more moisture out)! Unroll and hang to air dry.
Weights & Equipment
We’re not telling you to get downright crazy with the sanitation here, but we do suggest that keeping your hands clean will help ensure those pesky germs won’t do you any harm. A little tip: before and after using each machine or set of weights, use the wipes at your gym to wipe your weights and equipment down thoroughly.
Womenshealthmag.com says that plastic water bottles tend to hold bacteria and that the only ones you should be using consistently should be made of metal. To clean yours, wash it in hot, soapy water.
Since gym bags are moist, dark, and dirty, they’re the perfect place for fungi to grow. Avoid contaminating your bag by putting your clothes and sneakers in a plastic bag once you’re done with your workout. As soon as you get home, take your clothes and throw them directly into the washer and wipe your sneakers off with a disinfecting wipe.