By Matt Evans
Thanks to the COVID-19 global health crisis, more of us are working out at home than ever before. Whether running, HIIT, yoga or lifting weights, lots of us have purchased exercise equipment we can use in the comfort of our own homes.
However, there is one problem: after a sweat-heavy session, many of us are just rolling up our mats or putting our dumbbells to one side ready for next time. We're not cleaning them afterwards, and our exercise equipment quickly becomes a haven for bacteria.
Men's Health reported the average dumbbell used in the gym has 362 times more germs than an average toilet seat, which is absolutely gross, but makes sense if you consider these dumbbells are shared among everyone else. However, in order to prevent risks of infections and to maintain basic hygiene, (most) gyms sanitise their equipment on a regular basis.
We, on the other hand, don't often clean our kit, especially if we're used to using shared equipment at the gym. According to a recent report by the in-house hygiene experts at ShowerstoYou, up to 41% of people surveyed said they wore their dirty gym gear up to four times before washing it. We're willing to bet your exercise equipment doesn't get cleaned very often either.
Germs can live, at normal temperatures, for up to 48 hours on metal surfaces like bars and dumbbells. On porous surfaces like yoga mats, the risks are similar to clothes, with the mats become havens for infectious bacteria like Micrococcus and Staphylococcus.
To stay hygienic after working out, wash clothes between uses, especially if it's been a sweat-heavy session. If you're using specialist workout clothes made from moisture-wicking fabrics, try not to use additional fabric softener, as this can create a waxy build-up on clothes which can prevent the fabric from wicking away sweat the way it should.
To clean your exercise equipment, standard alcohol-based antibacterial spray is fine for hard surfaces like plastic or metal, like those used for weights.
For softer surfaces like yoga mats, harsh chemicals in alcohol-based cleaners like Lysol can potentially be damaging. Instead, you can make a spray of either white vinegar or dishwashing liquid combined with water to spray the mat down between sessions without alcohol, wiping it clean with a washcloth. For PVC and rubber mats, you can use a sponge and dish soap instead for a more vigorous clean.
- Need some more home workout kit to clean? Time is 'running' out to get the Best Black Friday Treadmill Deals
The good news is your personal exercise equipment is unlikely to pass on COVID-19 infections as long as you're following proper safety procedures, like washing your hands on a regular basis.
If you handle your exercise equipment with clean hands, wipe it afterwards to prevent bacteria from growing on your kit, and wash your workout clothes between uses, you'll maintain a more hygienic environment than you ever did in the before times. No more handling those toilet-seat dumbbells at the gym.
How to use Strava - plus is the fitness app any good?
Wondering how to use Strava? Allow us to break down the activity tracking and analysis app for you...
By Howard Calvert •
This man was bullied for being fat in high school, so he spent years getting ripped
Weight loss Queensland's Anthony Bayer overcame food addiction and a sedentary lifestyle to turn his health around
By Matt Evans •
"I will treasure this feeling forever": meet our Trainer of the Year!
Awards 47-year-old Emma Goodman-Horne was crowned Fit&Well's Trainer of the Year from a 70-strong longlist
By Stephanie Wood •
Fitbit Versa deals: Great offers on Fitbit's top multi-model smartwatch range
Deals Get Fitbit Versa 3, Versa 2 and Versa Lite – the ultimate fitness watch for style and features - at the best price
By Rob Clymo •
7 celebrity fitness secrets from over 50s: Barack Obama, Halle Berry & more
Fitness From Halle Berry to Barack Obama and Michelle Pfeiffer, steal the fitness secrets of celebrities
By Claire Fox •
How to get rid of aches, back pain and bad posture in 20 minutes a day
Fitness Simple stretching exercises are the best way to ditch bad posture and fix back pain, according to experts
By Matt Evans •
Best treadmill: The top indoor running machines for home gyms
Buying guide Our list of the best treadmills for you, from beginners to seasoned runners
By Lee Bell •
Best rowing machine: Top rowers to burn fat and tone your whole body
Buying Guide The best rowing machine offers both cardio and a full body workout, all in one machine
By Chris Smith •
Low-impact exercises: The best joint-friendly workouts for you
Fitness Joints hurting? These low-impact exercises allow you to workout without enduring the pain
By Lucy Gornall •
Best bicep workouts: How to tone your muscles and get bigger arms fast
Fitness Some of the best bicep workouts to net you a stronger, more defined set of guns
By Leon Poultney •