DIY: How to clean and maintain your home gym
Did you know that bacteria and viruses like Covid19 linger on surfaces for up to three days and sweaty, grimy gym equipment is reportedly dirtier than your toilet? Yuck! Hold on, don’t run to get all your cleaning supplies just yet; certain chemicals and sprays can damage your expensive equipment. Here’s how I recommend cleaning your home equipment:
As a general rule of thumb:
- Don’t use harsh and abrasive chemicals like bleach or ammonia. They will degrade machine parts and dry out plastic pieces.
- Use a mild soap and water solution (10 parts water and one-part soap) or even diluted vinegar solution (10 parts water and one-part vinegar). A simple Internet search will direct you to specialized wipes and solutions specially formulated for gym equipment if you don’t want to make your own. I have an excellent product for vinyl surfaces that I recommend.
- Wipe down equipment after EVERY USE, especially if you share equipment with another person.
- Don’t forget to deep-clean your equipment monthly, including maintaining and looking over moving parts like chains, cables, and belts.
Tips for cleaning home exercise machines:
- Always unplug your machine before cleaning.
- Never spray liquids directly onto machine surfaces; instead, spray or wet a cloth and gently wipe down bars, plastic or rubber handlebars, buttons, touch screens, and heart rate sensors.
- Thoroughly dry with a microfiber towel to prevent dripping into expensive electrical parts or crevices to prevent rusting.
- Dust vents and fans with canned air instead of using a liquid solution.
- Don’t forget treadmill belts and bike pedals! You may not think about these parts as particularly dirty, however, between bacteria on your shoes and sweat, these parts are not to be overlooked.
Cleaning yoga mats, foam flooring, upholstery, cushions, and foam parts:
- Never soak these materials; instead, wipe down with a microfiber cloth dampened with a mild soap solution (mentioned above). These materials are usually the most delicate and therefore degrade quickly when harsh chemicals are used.
- Patch up minor tears or holes in upholstery with easily obtained upholstery patches, but if it is worn beyond repair, it will need replacement. Often, a repair company specializing in gym equipment, like my company MHTT Equipment Technicians, will know what you need, how to get it, and how to replace it safely.
- Use a damp mop with mild soap solutions for flooring and foam mats and allow them to dry thoroughly. Avoid soaking as too much water may take too long to dry and lead to bacteria growth, defeating the purpose of cleaning!
- Watch for giant pits and holes in foam mats or connecting foam flooring, which can lead to injury. Usually, it’s better to replace rather than patch major surface issues to maintain a safe workout.
- There are special sprays made specific to yoga mats available for purchase, but a simple wipe down, and even the application of essential oils after every use should keep germs and odors at bay.
- Weight machines have guide rods (the part that moves the weights up and down or adjusts the seats) and need regular cleaning because dust can quickly accumulate. I recommend silicone or lithium, also dry lubricant spray to keep moving smoothly.
Cleaning hand weights, barbells, and free weights:
Cleaning any of these items will depend on what material they are made of or coated with, but generally wiping down with the soap and water solution followed by a thorough drying will do.
- Rust is a common problem for steel or iron weights, but keep in mind that these metals will also develop a patina, a natural occurrence that happens over time. Patina is orange-ish and smooth and not a problem, but if red wipes off on your hands, then you’ve got a rust problem. There are some good websites that provide step-by-step instructions for maintaining and cleaning your free weights.
- Wipe down high-touch surfaces—bars, benches, and weights—after every use to prevent grime build-up.
When should you call a professional to replace or repair home gym equipment?
As you can see, there is a wealth of DIY tips for cleaning home gym equipment out there, but how do you know when you should contact professional specialists for repairs and replacements?
- Electrical problems? These are best left to a trained technician to avoid permanent damage to the equipment.
- Don’t try to patch or fix twisted or frayed chains and cables; cases like these require a technician’s attention. Working out with faulty cables and chains could lead to serious injury.
- Hear a strange noise coming from your equipment? Lagging, grinding, or squeaking like automobile brakes requires immediate attention from a technician. Ignoring these problems could lead to costly repairs.
- Malfunctioning heart-rate and speed sensors might be an inconvenience, but don’t necessarily warrant a repair. It’s up to you if these functions are worth paying to fix or not. It won’t affect the operation of the machine itself.
Didn’t see the type of equipment you use in your workout? From tension bands to exercise balls, it’s best to keep in mind if you touch it, you sweat on it, and therefore should also be wiped down with a mild cleaning solution after every workout.
Over the past year, ‘home’ has become synonymous with not only your workspace but your workout space as well. It only makes sense that regular cleaning and maintenance of your workout equipment will not only keep you in tip-top shape but safe and healthy as well. Enjoy your workouts and stay safe, always.