Working out comes with a lot of equipment—from your water bottle and athletic shoes to weights and mats. How often is the right amount to clean each of these things?
We asked a few experts to weigh in on the items that fitness enthusiasts tend not to clean regularly enough, plus their recommendations for how frequently you should give this gear a good scrub-down.
Even if you lay a towel down on top of it during your use, Samantha Markovitz, owner of GraceMark Wellness and Lifestyle Coaching, says your mat needs to be cleaned regularly. “Keep mat wipes in your bag so that you can quickly but thoroughly wipe and dry the mat before rolling it up and heading out,” she recommends. “Once a month, take a few minutes to do a longer scrub with soap and water.”
If you think that your water bottle is perpetually clean since all you fill it with is, well, water, think again. Fitness instructor Patrick Mason says your water bottle should be, at the very least, rinsed out after every workout. “You should be rinsing your water bottle daily to avoid any kind of mold build-up,” he recommends. “Once a week, give it a good, deep clean by putting it in the dishwasher or washing with soap and water.”
Whether you’re training with your own weights or borrowing a pair from a fitness facility, Dr. Altmann says to wipe those puppies down before and after every use. “Before lifting weights or using kettlebells, use a disinfecting wipe on the grip to kill any germs that may be there from the person who used them before,” she says. Even if you were the last person to use your weights, don’t think you’re not germy, either.
How often you wash your sports bra depends on how hard the girls are sweating. If you’re taking classes like Pilates or yoga, where you’re not dripping sweat, Joy Rushton of Canada’s Cleaning Crew says you can get away with washing your sports bra once a week. But for classes that leave you completely soaked, you’ll need to wash your bra after each class. “Instead of putting them through the wash every time, you can clean your sports bras with laundry soap in the sink,” she says. “Hang dry them after washing.”
We put our gym bags through a lot. “We put our sweaty face towels inside, perhaps our boxing gloves and old sports bras,” Mason says. “Gym bags can carry all sorts of nasty bacteria.” Babin suggests washing your gym bag at least once a month. “If your bag can handle it, run it through the gentle cycle in your washing machine,” she suggests. “Otherwise, a vinegar solution will do the trick. Make sure you’re keeping the contents of your bag clean so you don’t put dirty, smelly gear in a clean bag.”
If you practically live in yoga pants, Rushton says to make sure you’re taking into account how much you sweat in those things, and washing them accordingly. If you’re putting your yoga pants through hardcore workouts on the regular, Rushton recommends washing them after each intense workout. “Dry them on low heat or hang dry to help keep them looking new,” she suggests.
Whether you’re running outside or during class, the bottoms of your running shoes can get extremely dirty, very quickly. “Once a week, spray rubbing alcohol on the bottom of your running shoes,” says Rushton, “and allow them to dry overnight.”
It’s not technically a workout accessory, but your phone is exposed to all the germiest parts of the gym. “We lay it down in the locker room, rest it in the cupholder on the elliptical, and then put it up to our faces to catch up on calls on our way out,” says Markovitz. To get rid of the grime, she suggests using an electronics-friendly solution and paper towel, (or electronics wipe) to remove sweat, bacteria and germs as part of your post-workout routine.