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4 Practices to Effectively Clean & Maintain Your Gym Equipment

by Chloe Dennison |

With the fear of heading back into lockdown due to Covid-19, conversations about increasing cleanliness are beginning to reappear. Gym goers and gym owners must work together to keep cleaning methods to the highest standard. Keeping you and your clients safe from  harmful germs such as bacteria, viruses and fungi is a more of a priority than ever. Weight equipment tends to have a higher rate of bacteria and viruses compared to cardio machines as their rough surfaces are harder to clean down. Giving thought to creating a cleaning plan and training new employees will keep everyone safe and give your gym competitive advantage. Need help coming up with a regime? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.


Do your Research. Learn the Differences Between Cleaning, Sanitising & Disinfecting.

It is important that you understand the different terms used to describe cleaning gym equipment. Do you know the differences between cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting?

Cleaning – is the process which removes dirt, soil and large numbers of germs (bacteria, viruses and fungi) and other particles. Cleaning is an important step prior to disinfection or sterilisation. It is important to understand that cleaning only removes germs rather than kills them.

Sanitising – is the reduction of germs to a safe level but may not kill all viruses. Sanitisation is a step after cleaning that will eliminate a certain amount of bacteria.

Disinfecting – is the removal of up to 100% of germs and destroys most micro-organisms on the surface. Disinfecting gym equipment can be done with appropriate disinfectant wipes or spray and paper towels.


4 Steps to Cleaning your Gym Equipment


     1. Preparation

Before cleaning, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Hand sanitisers are equally as beneficial when soap and water is not at hand. Just ensure that they contain at least 60% alcohol. It is also important that you use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as disposable gloves or masks. Ultimately, this will protect you from breathing in contaminated air or contact with corrosive liquids or materials.


     2. Remove Exterior Dirt, Dust & Grime

Before heading in with cleaning solutions, it is important to collect dust and dirt off equipment, weight machines and weights. Firstly unplug any machines from power sources. Dust can often cause malfunctions particularly in treadmills as it can clog the rollers and cause friction. This step is essential as disinfectants and sanitisers will be more effective in destroying bacteria, viruses and fungi.

  • Dust can be removed with a damp microfibre cloth (Mild dish soap and water 1:10 dilution) or a general cleaning wipe. This will ultimately remove any unwanted marks, stains and fingerprints.
  • It is important to not forget screens, handles, weight pins, levers and any other small spaces that have a tendency to collect dust, dirt and germs in general.
  • Use a dry cloth to wipe down equipment or let air dry before moving onto step 3.


     3. Head in with an Approved Sanitiser

After the surface layer of dirt and grime has been removed you should begin sanitising your equipment, which will kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria remaining on the top layer.

  • Sanitising can be done with a sanitising solution and water or to make things a little bit easier, sanitising wipes can be used also. Using wipes is beneficial however, spray will reach smaller areas that will be more difficult by hand.
  • If a sanitising spray is being used, avoid spraying directly on equipment and especially on monitors or screens. This can cause glitches and discolouration.
  • Leave to dry before applying disinfectants.


     4. Apply a Suitable Disinfectant to Kill all Germs, Viruses, Bacteria and Fungi

Choosing the most appropriate disinfectant for your equipment is key, as some chemicals used in disinfecting agents can cause them to break down, become discoloured or cause glitches on screens and monitors. Using a heavy duty disinfectant spray will destroy any present viruses and bacteria. Disinfectant sprays such as Lysol or Virex II 256 are suitable for gym equipment.

  • Once the sanitiser spray is dry, head in with a disinfectant wipe or solution. Wipe down the surface and leave for a recommended dwell time of 10 minutes. This is an essential part of the disinfecting process to kill pathogenic micro-organisms. Avoid spaying directly on the surface
  • Each disinfectant spray is different, so read the label before beginning.
  • It is important to note that the same cloth or paper towel should not be used repeatedly as you’re contaminating other surfaces.
  • Throw out all wipes and towels after you’ve finished disinfecting all surfaces.


Chemicals to Avoid When Cleaning your Gym Equipment

You’ve invested a lot of money into your gym equipment, the last thing you need is equipment malfunctions, rust, cracks, corrosions and glitches. There are 4 chemicals you should completely avoid when cleaning your gym equipment.


     1. Bleach

Many individuals jump to bleach when disinfecting is involved, especially with the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic. Bleach may be good for heavy duty cleaning in toilets and showers however, it is a forbidden chemical when it comes to gym equipment.

Although bleach kills germs, it can fade surfaces and discolour equipment, leaving a yellow rust like tinge. Bleach can also corrode surface layers and create crevices and cracking. Staying away from disinfectants that contain bleach is the best way to go.


     2. Alcohol

Similarly to bleach, alcohol should be avoided at all costs when disinfecting gym equipment. This may be hard as many sanitisers and disinfectants contain alcohol. Usually in the form of ethyl or isopropyl, spraying alcohol on mats, benches, attachments and monitors can cause cracking. This is beneficial for germs as they can hide in small crevices however, it puts your valuable equipment at risk. Alcohol can also cause rusting especially when used on metal surfaces such as weight plates and bench legs.


     3. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide can be deadly when used on gym equipment made from iron, steel, aluminium and any other metals as it can oxidise the surface and cause a layer of rust to form. Gym equipment including cardio and strength machines and rigs and racks are made from many of these metals and can be severely damaged with hydrogen peroxide. Metal corrosion is both unattractive and dangerous for both you and your equipment, as it can cause them to deteriorate much faster. As well as being lethal for your equipment, hydrogen peroxide can irritate your skin or cause a rash.


     4. Ammonia

Ammonia usually comes in a liquid form and is in many cleaning products specifically for floors and toilets however, when its not handled correctly, it can cause abrasions and discolouration on gym equipment. Not only is Ammonia foul smelling, it can also be dangerous to the user as it causes irritations in the respiratory system. When used on screens, mats and leather upholstery, Ammonia usually causes streaking which can be a pain to get rid of. Do yourself and your equipment a favour and avoid Ammonia based products.


How Often You Should Clean Equipment

Now that the process for cleaning gym equipment is outlined, you should make a cleaning plan of when and who will clean the equipment. If you are working out in your home gym, deep cleaning the equipment should be done every few days. However, in a personal training or commercial gym, cleaning should be done every day with members sanitising equipment after use and employees carrying out a deep clean at the end of every session.