What do Gyms Use to Clean Equipment?


Some types of commonly used disinfectant and a rag or paper towels. There are many types of cleaning agents to use. Gym managers must ensure they are not harmful to the various materials on equipment or to the many people who use them.

As for the material used to wipe off gym equipment, many gyms will leave towels in designated areas to wipe down each machine before and after each use. This is typically the responsibility of the user rather than the gym manager to help maintain multiple-use cleaning.

Types of “Dirty” and their Cleaning Solutions

There is more than just surface dirt and the sweat that comes off every gym user’s body that needs to be cleaned up. That means different cleaning agents are required depending on the dirt that needs cleaning. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Cleaning and Removing Dust

Get the loose dust off with a vacuum, and then wipe away any stuck-on dust with a dry microfiber rag. Tough-to-reach places, such as the tops of machines, collect dust the most and must be cleaned regularly after hours.

Avoid adding any solution or water before dusting, as liquid will cause the dust to stick. This leads to more buildup and tough-to-clean spots.

Removing Daily Sweat and Bacteria

If you are a regular gym rat, you have seen the bottles and rags in different areas around the gym. My gym has them near the treadmills, the strength training machines, and the team training floor. These areas make the most sense since that is where people sweat the most.

Sweat carries germs, as does the vast number of people that use each machine within one day at the gym. The CDC recommends cleaning equipment after every use, at home, and at the gym. So it makes sense for gyms to have these bottles for frequent wipe-downs. But what’s in there?

Typically a disinfectant or sanitizer solution is in the bottles for daily use. There shouldn’t be any harsh chemicals in the repeat daily wipe-downs, as these are meant for a quick clean to kill germs and bacteria immediately.

Most gyms have dry rags or a paper towel dispenser next to the spray bottles to wipe down gym equipment.

Getting their Scrub on

After hours or when the gym is the slowest is when staff or a cleaning company comes in to do its deep clean and to scrub the floors, doors, bathrooms, and gym equipment. Harsh chemicals are typically used here to wash away the grime and buildup from so many people using the facility regularly.

Many gyms use “green” or non-toxic solutions, like DIY and vinegar mixes. Others may use what the manufacturer suggests if they lease machines and need specific cleaning agents. For instance, Prosource uses Simple Green and a dry cotton towel over a microfiber towel.

For safety, always unplug machines before cleaning. Never spray cleaning solution or any liquids directly at the plug-in or cord. Spray the rag or towel to wipe down the power cord.

Other Cleaning Solutions

There are many options for getting sweat, dirt, and grime off gym equipment. Smaller studios may create their own mixes, while others invest in stronger options for after-hours deep cleaning.

Some solutions can’t be used on porous material like the metal of a weight machine, while others can’t be used on painted surfaces. Be sure to research what machines can be cleaned with what kind of cleaning agents.

  • DIY mixes of lemon juice or white vinegar with water
  • Clorox Wipes
  • Lysol
  • Bleach
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Add essential oils for smell

What NOT to Mix Together for Cleaning Equipment

If you decide to mix your own cleaning solution, BE AWARE of what you are mixing together. Alone, these chemicals kill germs but mix the wrong two together, and you can cause serious harm or death to yourself and others.

The quickest way to create a harmful gas that will clear a room and lead to a call to the fire department is by mixing bleach with pretty much anything other than water. If you need to use bleach for cleaning, use it separately and sparingly. Alone, it can disinfect, kill germs and bacteria and brighten the whites on anything, but mix it with another cleaning agent, and it can kill you and those around you.

Bleach with Rubbing Alcohol

Creates dangerous and corrosive chloroform and hydrochloric acid

Bleach with Ammonia and/or Vinegar

Creates a harmful gas that should NOT be inhaled

Vinegar with Hydrogen Peroxide

Creates peracetic acid, which is highly corrosive and irritating to the eyes and skin. Not only is this mix harmful to your body, but the corrosive behavior of pairing them together can severely damage metals on the machines, dumbbells, bars, and anything else with material sensitive to corrosion.

To Clean or Wipe Down?

Everything needs to be wiped down, but not cleaned every day. Machine seats and treadmill handles get wiped down throughout the day. But do the clients think about the bars, kettlebells, and medicine balls?

Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Weights, and Bars

These items should be wiped down as often as possible with a disinfectant and a dry rag to protect against corrosion and normal wear and tear. If residue or sweat-caked chaulk builds up, it can be uncomfortable for the next user and break down gym equipment sooner than anticipated.

Foam Rollers, Pads, Mats

These can be dusted off occasionally and wiped down even less. Adding any moisture to this kind of gym equipment can lead to the quick breakdown of the material.

Gyms use several different cleaning agents and rags to keep their gyms clean as much as possible while not disturbing their clients. After busy hours is the best time to bring out harsh and potentially irritating chemicals, while a simple sanitizer and disinfectant are typically used all day throughout the day by clients and staff. The trick is knowing what type of cleaner to use on what equipment without causing damage.


Hey, I'm Michael Jones and I support this blog with a group of authors consisting of Personal Trainers, Physiotherapist and sellers of fitness equipment.

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