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Do You Really Need to Clean Your Personal Gym Equipment?

If you’re a gym buff, you’ve seen the signs all over the gym reminding you to clean your equipment after each use. Almost all gyms nowadays provide antibacterial wipes in multiple locations so that members can wipe down the equipment for the next person to use. It’s basic common courtesy. But what about in your own personal gym? Do you really need to clean the equipment in your own home? The short answer is yes.

Regardless of whether or not you’re the only person using your personal gym, cleaning your equipment can do wonders for your health, as well as the health of your equipment. Here are some reasons why you should invest in cleaning your home gym equipment.

Kill the Bacteria Invaders Lurking in Your Equipment

The most obvious reason why you should clean your home gym is because of bacteria and sanitation issues. According to a study conducted by FitRated, an exercise bike has 79 times more bacteria than a water faucet, and free weights have 362 times more bacteria than a public toilet. The sweaty, moist, and warm conditions that surround gym equipment, especially at home without commercial air ducts, are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria such as E. coli, staphylococcus aureus (staph), bacillus, and streptococcal bacteria. When spread, these bacteria can cause pneumonia, meningitis, rashes, and ear, eye, and respiratory infections.

Even if you’re the only person that uses your home gym, and you’re comfortable exercising in your own sweat, bacteria from the outside world can congregate on your equipment. Whether you’re at work, meeting friends for dinner, or taking the dog to the park, you’re constantly accumulating germs. These germs live on your body throughout the day and are then transferred to your equipment when you start your workout routine. They thrive on the sweaty environment and can live on your equipment for weeks. Bacteria especially love the different grooves on exercise machines, as they allow them to hide and flourish.

Without proper cleaning, your equipment becomes a thriving community for bacterial invaders.

Better Monitor Your Heart Activity

Most gym equipment comes equipped with a heart monitor to track your heart rate and overall level of activity. The heart monitor works via pulse sensors that are usually found on support bars or moving arm bars on exercise machines. These sensors interpret the electrical signals that pulsate through your skin and turn the responses into the readable number that flashes on your equipment’s screen. Generally, heart monitors give an extremely close approximation of your heart rate. However, any interference between the skin and the sensor can skew the sensor’s responses.

The dirt and oils on your hand can rub off onto your machine and interfere with its ability to detect your heart rate or to give an accurate reading. To provide the most accurate readings, you should periodically clean your machine’s handlebars and rid it of any unnecessary dirt, bacteria, and interference. This will also increase the longevity of your heart monitor.

Prolong the Life of Your Expensive Equipment

A home gym is as an expensive luxury. You spent a lot of your hard-earned money on building up your personal gym and therefore, you should take care of it and ensure the equipment lasts as long as possible. Exercise equipment that is used regularly should last anywhere between seven and twelve years. However, equipment that is not properly cleaned and maintained could fall short of this lifespan.

The sweat and dust that accumulate on gym equipment is extremely damaging and can cause the machine to erode. Our sweat is comprised of water, salts, and acids that are extremely corrosive. Therefore, sweat can cause rust that damages the metal components of your exercise machines overtime. Sweat is also known to be a factor that contributes to brake pad and track deterioration, which causes machines to vibrate during workouts and breakdown earlier than expected.

Dust is also a major killer of exercise equipment, mostly because people are unaware of the high presence of it lurking around their home gyms. Many people have the misconstrued idea that dust only accumulates on an exercise machine when it’s not in use. This is completely false. Dust can also accumulate on machines that are regularly used. When a machine is in use, it actually sucks up dust, dirt on the floor, and carpet fibers through many components such as the braking system, bearings, electronics, and wheels.

Since many of the parts of an exercise machine are constantly moving, they need lubrication to move successfully. The presence of dust counteracts this lubrication and can cause parts to fail overtime. Dust that gets into the electronics of the machine can also cause it to short and burn, and dust on wheels can cause the wheels to lock up.

How Should You Clean Your Equipment?

To prevent any one of these factors, it is important that you clean your machine regularly and efficiently. You should wipe down the entire surface of your equipment after each use with a wet wipe. Make sure you get into the creases of your machines and be sure to allow time for it to dry.

You should also conduct a deep wash of your equipment weekly or bi-weekly. If you live in a more humid or wet climate, you may want to clean your equipment more regularly. However, you need to be sure that you are using the right products. Avoid using WD-40 and drying chemicals as they can cause premature degradation of your machine, and avoid bleach and hydrogen peroxide as they can rub off the machine and onto your skin, causing rashes and irritation.

Instead, you will want to opt for ammonia mixtures that are quaternary ammonia mixed with water or organic, non-irritants. And don’t forget to vacuum and dust the area around your equipment. This will prevent excess dirt from being reintroduced to your cleaned workout machine. Eco-friendly solutions include use of baking soda as an anti-fungal agent, which may be less irritating to many than ammonia.

If you’re ever in doubt, seek a professional. In the right hands, a professional can prolong the life of your equipment, prevent the spread of germs, and improve the accuracy of heart monitors.

References

Mail Online - How The Gym Can Be Bad For You

Livestrong - Pulse Sensors Explained

AZCentral - How Long Exercise Equipment Lasts

WikiHow - Sanitizing Gymn Equipment

Header Image By Hannes Grobe, Alfred Wegener Institute - Own work, CC BY 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

Hospital cleaning - maintaining a sanitary environment - Penn Jersey