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Gym cleaning 101: How to keep your gym clean

Gym cleaning is crucial for member satisfaction & compliance with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and can be a factor in member retention.

First off, let's face it: gyms can get gross. We're talking about a place where sweat is literally part of the decor. But who wants to grab a barbell that's stickier than a melted protein bar? Or step into a shower that's a biology experiment gone wrong? No one, that's who.

Now, imagine a gym so clean, you could eat your post-workout snack off the floor (but let's not). That's what we're aiming for. In this guide, we're going to tackle everything from those suspiciously sweaty benches to the mystery smells lurking in the locker room. 

Because cleanliness in a gym isn't just about looking good - it's about feeling good, staying healthy, and making sure everyone can focus on their gains without worrying about germs.

If you're a gym owner trying to attract more members who don't want to wear their hazmat gear to their next session, this article is your golden ticket.

We'll give you the lowdown on the best cleaning hacks, products that are both tough on dirt and kind to the planet, and routines that'll make cleaning as routine as your leg day.

So, lace up your sneakers, put on your favourite hype playlist, and let's get into it. Because a clean gym is everyone's gym goal!

Source: Pexels

Understanding the gym’s environment

Understanding your gym's environment is the first step in mastering its cleanliness. Here's the deal: Not all gym spaces are created equal. Your gym is a unique blend of equipment, spaces, and, yes, the people who sweat it out daily.

Equipment and surfaces

Your gym is more than just a room with weights. You've got a diverse array of equipment – cardio machines humming in one corner, weight racks standing tall in another, and those yoga mats that have seen more poses than a fashion model. 

And let's not forget the benches, dumbbells, and the beloved (or dreaded) treadmill. Each of these surfaces interacts differently with germs and sweat. Knowing which surfaces are germ magnets and which are easier to keep clean is like having a secret weapon in your cleaning arsenal.

High-traffic vs. Low-traffic areas

Think about the foot traffic in your gym. The front desk, the weight area, and the cardio section are buzzing with activity, making them high-traffic zones. More traffic means more sweat, more germs – more cleaning attention needed. 

Then you have your low-traffic spots, maybe the corner where the kettlebells live or the stretch area. They might not see as many gym-goers, but they still deserve your cleaning love.

Germ hotspots: The invisible culprits

Here's a not-so-fun fact: Germs love gyms as much as fitness enthusiasts do. The free weights? They could be hosting more germs than a toilet seat. And those cardio machine handles aren't far behind. Identifying these germ hotspots is crucial. 

It's not just about wiping down visible sweat; it's about targeting areas where bacteria love to hang out, invisible to the naked eye but ready to crash the health party.

The air we breathe

Last but definitely not least, let's talk about air quality. It's not just about how clean the surfaces are; the air your members breathe is a big deal.

Proper ventilation and air filtration can be game-changers in maintaining a healthy environment. After all, no one wants to gasp for air in a gym that feels like a sauna or smells like a locker room left unchecked.

In short, understanding your gym environment is about knowing your territory. It's about looking beyond the obvious and seeing your gym through the lens of cleanliness and health. Keep these points in mind, and you're well on your way to creating a space that's not just fit for workouts but also shines in cleanliness and hygiene.

Read also: Top 5 best gym equipment brands for your facility

Source: Pexels

Daily cleaning tasks

As a gym owner, your daily cleaning routine is the frontline defence against germs and grime. It's not just about making the place look good; it's about safeguarding the health of your members. Let's break down these tasks into manageable, effective actions.

1. Surface wipe-down: The non-negotiable

Every surface that sees human contact needs a wipe-down – yes, every day. We're talking about the obvious suspects like weights and machines, and the often-forgotten heroes like door handles, railings, and even the edges of benches.

Use a disinfectant that's tough on germs but gentle on the equipment. A quick tip: Opt for microfiber cloths. They're effective, reusable, and a friend to the environment.

2. Focus on the floors

Your gym's floors are not just the foundation of your space; they're a magnet for all things dirty. Daily vacuuming or sweeping is a must, especially in areas like the free weights section where dust and debris love to hang out. 

Follow this with mopping using a disinfectant cleaner. Be mindful of the type of flooring in each area – rubber mats and wooden floors have different cleaning needs.

3. The battle against high-touch areas

High-touch areas are like Grand Central Station for germs. This includes equipment controls, touch screens, dumbbells, barbells, and yes, even the yoga mats. These areas need special attention daily.

Use disinfectants, but also consider providing disinfectant wipes for members to use before and after touching the equipment. It's a team effort!

4. Restroom and locker room

These areas can make or break your gym's reputation. Restrooms and locker rooms need to be more than just clean; they need to be hygienic. This means regular cleaning of toilets, sinks, showers, and lockers.

Stock up on toilet paper, hand soap, and towels – running out is a big no-no. And don't forget the mirrors; streak-free and clean mirrors make a huge difference.

5. Air quality check

While not a 'cleaning' task in the traditional sense, ensuring good air quality is essential. This means regular checks and maintenance of your HVAC system and considering air purifiers in areas with less ventilation. Fresh air is part of a fresh gym!

Remember, consistency is key. Your daily cleaning routine sets the standard for your gym's cleanliness and is a direct reflection of your commitment to your members' health and well-being

Source: Pexels

Weekly deep cleaning procedures

While daily cleaning keeps your gym presentable and hygienic, it's the weekly deep clean that really maintains its sparkle and healthiness. This is where we go beyond the surface and tackle the nitty-gritty.

1. Deep dive into equipment cleaning

Every piece of equipment deserves a deep clean. Start with the cardio machines - treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes. They're not just sweat collectors but also dust gatherers. Disassemble parts that can be safely removed and give them a thorough wipe. 

Next, hit the weight area. Dumbbells, barbells, and weight plates can harbour bacteria in their crevices, so give them a detailed scrub. Remember, a well-maintained piece of equipment lasts longer and performs better.

2. Floor focus: Beyond sweeping and mopping

Your gym's floors need more than the usual sweep and mop. If you have carpeted areas, it’s time for a deep steam clean.

For rubber mats and wooden floors, a specialised cleaning solution is essential to remove deep-seated dirt and sweat stains. Pay special attention to corners and edges where dust and debris love to hide.

3. Ventilation and air quality

This might not involve scrubbing or wiping, but it's just as important. Check and clean your HVAC filters. Poor ventilation can lead to a musty, stale atmosphere - not the vibe you want.

If possible, open windows during this deep clean to let fresh air circulate and carry away airborne dust and microbes.

4. Inspect and restock

Take this opportunity to inspect your cleaning supplies and equipment. Restock items running low and replace tools that are worn out. Efficient cleaning relies on having the right tools at your disposal.

5. Special attention areas

Finally, focus on areas that might not get daily attention. This includes the undersides of machines, behind the equipment, and storage areas. These spots might be out of sight, but they shouldn't be out of mind.

A thorough weekly deep clean not only enhances the overall cleanliness of your gym but also demonstrates your commitment to providing a top-tier fitness environment. It's all about creating a space where members feel valued and safe, and a sparkling clean gym does just that.

Source: Pexels

Monthly maintenance and inspection

When it comes to maintaining a top-notch gym, your monthly maintenance checks are where you take a step back and see the bigger picture. This isn’t just about cleaning; it’s about ensuring every aspect of your gym is functioning at its best.

Let's dive into what these checks should entail.

1. Detailed equipment inspections

Each month, give all your equipment a thorough check. Look for signs of wear and tear, loose components, or any damage that might have gone unnoticed.

This includes examining cables, pulleys, and other moving parts in machines, as well as checking free weights for chips or rust. It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about preventing accidents and ensuring the longevity of your equipment.

2. Deep cleaning beyond the surface

This is the time to tackle areas that don't get daily attention. Pay close attention to the nooks and crannies of machines, underneath treadmills, and behind the stacks of weights.

This deep clean reduces the buildup of dust and grime, which can eventually lead to equipment malfunction or an unsanitary environment.

3. Scrutinize upholstery and soft surfaces

Upholstered surfaces like bench pads and yoga mats can harbor bacteria and odors. Monthly, give these areas a deeper clean than your regular wipe-downs. Check for any rips or tears that could harbor bacteria or pose a safety hazard.

4. Review of cleaning supplies and equipment

Do a stocktake of your cleaning supplies. Are your disinfectants effective and suitable for the different surfaces in your gym? Are your mops and brooms in good condition? Ensuring you have the right tools and supplies not only makes cleaning more efficient but also more effective.

5. Flooring maintenance

Your gym's flooring takes a constant beating. Monthly, you should give it extra attention. Depending on the type of flooring, this might include special treatments or deep cleaning procedures to keep it in prime condition, whether it's rubber, carpet, or hardwood.

6. Checking ventilation and air quality

Good air quality is vital in a gym setting. Use this monthly check to service any HVAC systems, replace filters, and ensure that your air circulation is optimal. Fresh air is crucial for a comfortable and healthy workout environment.

7. Safety equipment and emergency exits inspection

Safety is paramount. Ensure that all safety equipment, like fire extinguishers, are in working order and not expired. Check that emergency exits are clearly marked, unobstructed, and easily accessible.

This not only ensures compliance with safety regulations but also provides peace of mind for you and your members.

Source: Pexels

Selecting the right cleaning agents and equipment

When it comes to maintaining a gym, selecting the right cleaning agents and equipment is as crucial as the workout equipment itself. The goal is to ensure a clean, hygienic, and welcoming environment for everyone. Let's dive into what you'll need:

1. Hand Soap and hand sanitizer

Start with the basics: hand soap and hand sanitizer. Encourage cleanliness from the get-go by placing hand sanitizer stations at key points like the entrance and front desk.

Ensuring that your gym has adequate supplies of hand soap and sanitizer, especially with a minimum of 60% alcohol content, is essential in preventing the spread of germs, including viruses like the coronavirus​​. [1]

2. Gym wellness wipes

Provide gym wellness wipes for members to use. These are specially designed to reduce bacteria commonly found in gyms.

Placing these wipes near equipment and high-touch areas like door handles and counters encourages members to wipe down the equipment before and after use, fostering a culture of cleanliness​​.

3. Approved cleaning products

For your staff's cleaning routine, use EPA-approved disinfectants that are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria, including MRSA and coronavirus.

These products should be used to regularly clean and disinfect all equipment and restrooms in your facility. The EPA's List-N Tool can be useful in finding the right products​​. [1]

4. Cleaning equipment

Invest in high-quality cleaning equipment, such as mops with replaceable heads, microfiber cloths, and brushes or vacuum cleaners for removing visible debris.

These tools, when used with the right cleaning agents, are effective in maintaining a clean gym environment. Remember, the right tools make the job easier and more efficient​​​​. [2]

5. Focus on all surfaces

Your cleaning efforts should encompass all surfaces, including benches, lockers, showers, sinks, toilets, and mirrors. Powerful antibacterial cleaners are crucial in these areas to prevent the spread of infections.

It's also important to regularly check and restock dispensers for paper towels, soap, and toilet paper to maintain high hygiene standards throughout your facility​​. [2]

Read also: How to clean a yoga mat: Basic supplies, disinfection, deep cleaning, drying

Source: Pexels

Designing and implementing a cleaning schedule

Creating a robust cleaning schedule is key to maintaining a pristine gym environment. It's about establishing a routine that ensures every nook and cranny gets the attention it deserves, while also being manageable for your staff.

Here's how to design and implement an effective cleaning schedule:

1. Tailor the schedule to your gym's needs

First, assess the specific needs of your gym. High-traffic areas like the weight room and cardio machines may require more frequent cleaning than less-used spaces.

Also, consider the peak hours of your gym to schedule cleaning during less busy times, ensuring minimal disruption to members.

2. Assign responsibilities

Clearly define who is responsible for each task. Whether it’s your staff or a professional cleaning service, everyone should know their roles. Assigning specific tasks to individuals or teams can improve accountability and efficiency.

3. Use a checklist

Implement a checklist system for daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tasks. This ensures nothing is overlooked and provides a clear record of what has been completed. It's a simple yet effective way to keep track of cleaning duties.

4. Train your staff

Proper training is crucial. Ensure your staff knows how to use cleaning products and equipment safely and effectively. This includes understanding the correct dilution ratios for cleaning agents and the proper techniques for cleaning different surfaces and equipment.

5. Regular reviews and adjustments

Finally, regularly review and adjust your cleaning schedule as needed. This could be due to changes in gym usage patterns, feedback from members, or new health and safety guidelines. A flexible approach allows you to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness at all times.

Source: Pexels

Educating gym members and staff

A clean gym is a team effort, and educating both staff and members plays a crucial role in maintaining a hygienic environment. Here's how you can effectively impart this knowledge:

1. Staff training

Start with comprehensive training for your staff. They should be well-versed in cleaning protocols, the proper use of cleaning agents, and equipment maintenance. Regular training sessions ensure they stay updated on the best practices and safety measures.

This not only empowers your staff but also ensures a consistently high standard of cleanliness.

2. Member orientation

When new members join, include a brief orientation on cleanliness norms. Explain the importance of wiping down equipment after use, proper disposal of towels, and the availability of sanitizing stations. Clear signage around the gym reinforcing these practices can also be very effective.

3. Promote a culture of cleanliness

Create a gym culture that values cleanliness. Encourage members to take ownership of their hygiene by using wellness wipes and sanitizing their hands. Recognition or rewards for members who consistently follow cleanliness practices can motivate others to do the same.

4. Communication is key

Keep the lines of communication open. Regularly update your members about any changes in cleaning protocols or schedules. This can be done through emails, social media, or notices in the gym.

Transparent communication builds trust and shows your commitment to their health and safety.

5. Feedback loop

Encourage and act on feedback from both staff and members regarding cleanliness. This feedback is invaluable in identifying areas for improvement and making your gym a cleaner and safer space for everyone.

By educating both your staff and members, you create a collaborative environment where everyone contributes to maintaining a clean and healthy gym. Remember, when everyone pitches in, maintaining a clean gym becomes not just a duty, but a shared value.

Addressing common cleaning challenges

In the gym environment, certain cleaning challenges are inevitable. Tackling these effectively is key to maintaining a pristine facility. Let's explore some common issues and how to address them:

1. Sweat and body fluids

Gym equipment and surfaces often get coated with sweat, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. To combat this, ensure that disinfectant wipes are readily available for members to use before and after equipment use.

Additionally, staff should routinely clean all equipment and high-touch surfaces with a robust disinfectant.

2. Odor control

Gyms can develop a musty odor due to sweat and humidity. Regular ventilation is essential. Use air purifiers and ensure your HVAC system is in top condition.

For a more immediate solution, consider using non-overpowering air fresheners or odor neutralizers, especially in areas like locker rooms and restrooms.

3. Rust and wear on equipment

The combination of sweat and metal often leads to rust, particularly on weight equipment. Regularly inspect for early signs of rust and address them promptly. Using a mild disinfectant that doesn’t accelerate corrosion and keeping equipment dry can prevent rust from developing.

By addressing these common cleaning challenges head-on, you ensure that your gym not only looks and smells clean but also extends the life of your equipment.


You've officially graduated from the Gym Cleaning 101 class! Remember that maintaining a clean gym is not just about aesthetics; it's a commitment to the health and safety of your community. 

By implementing the strategies discussed - from daily cleaning routines to educating members and staff - you create an environment where health and hygiene are paramount. This commitment not only enhances the experience of your gym-goers but also sets a standard for excellence in your facility.

In the journey to keep your gym sparkling, remember that every small step counts. Whether it’s wiping down equipment after each use, ensuring proper ventilation, or conducting regular deep cleans, each action contributes to a larger goal - a gym that members are proud to be a part of. 

Keep striving for cleanliness, and watch as it positively impacts the success and reputation of your gym. Remember, a clean gym is everyone's goal, and it starts with you!


Friska 🐨

Read next: 5 gym marketing ideas to get more clients in 2024

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