Gym cleaning 101: Why it's important to keep your gym clean

11 min read
In this post, we'll be sharing tips on how to clean your gym and encourage your members to help keep it spick and span.

In this post, we'll be sharing tips on how to clean your gym and encourage your members to help keep it spick and span.

Maintaining cleanliness in a gym is crucial for member satisfaction and compliance with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). According to Zogics, 56% of gym-goers expect their gyms to be germ-free. A clean gym promotes a healthy environment and can be a major factor in member retention. 

In this article, we will cover the importance of gym cleanliness, tips on how to clean your gym, sanitize gym equipment, and how to establish a cleaning schedule to ensure ongoing cleanliness.

A man cleaning gym equipment.

Why is a clean gym important? 

While a clean gym seems to be a given for most gym owners and club members, there is more to a clean gym than meets the eye. Here are some reasons why a clean gym is important:

Membership attraction and retention

An IHRSA report shows that gym cleanliness is the most powerful tool to maximize member satisfaction, member retention, and average revenue per member in a fitness facility. First impressions last, and a clean gym is an attractive one and encourages member attendance.

Equipment protection

Fitness equipment is expensive, and it is better to maintain it than to have it repaired or replaced. Clean gym equipment goes a long way.

Disease prevention and bacteria reduction

Eighty-two percent of gym club members equate dirty gyms to having more bacteria, and more than half (56%) expect their gym facilities to be clean. An interesting study even showed that free weights had 362 times more germs than an average toilet seat. Common viruses for the common cold, influenza, salmonella, and other infections are common in gyms.

Gym hygiene and cleanliness should be a priority for gym owners.

Benefits of having a sanitized and organized gym

A clean fitness center that is maintained, sanitized, and organized regularly has plenty of benefits. Here are some of them:

  • A consistent cleaning schedule helps improve the overall gym experience of members. Clean gym equipment also encourages people to work out more since they feel safe that they won’t be exposed to bacteria and germs.

  • A gym’s cleanliness directly impacts a member’s willingness to renew by as much as 90%. Meanwhile, an unsanitary gym (or one that is perceived to be not maintained or sanitized regularly) decreases a member’s likeliness to renew

  • Dirty equipment leads to shorter lifespans since working out with equipment that has debris stuck on some of its parts (or isn’t maintained regularly) is more likely to break down sooner than later. Cleaning them regularly will help keep them in top condition.

Tips for cleaning your gym

Here are some tips on how to clean your gym most efficiently and cost-effectively as possible:

  • Incorporate sanitary elements into your gym. If you are remodeling or building a gym, have sanitary equipment included in the gym plan right away. A high-filtration vacuum system to remove dirt and germs on the floor, good ventilation, and a shower room with a superior drainage system to prevent bacteria and fungi formation are good examples.

  • Have a cleaning schedule and train staff. As the owner, create a cleaning schedule and ensure strict adherence. Educate your cleaning staff on the important and correct methods of cleaning and maintaining gym facilities and equipment.

  • Invest in proper cleaning equipment. Having the right cleaning equipment helps you care for your gym better. It might cost you more at first, but it will help your cleaning operations be more cost-effective in the long run. For example, buying heavy-duty polishers and scrubbers if your gym has large hardwood courts and open floor spaces is a good investment—it will help your staff clean them better and faster. It will also help maintain your floors and improve their lifespan.

Woman in workout gear cleaning equipment at the gym.

How to clean a gym facility?

You need a system to clean your gym since there are so many areas you need to consider. We listed steps to ensure you get everything covered below.

1. Wear protective gear while cleaning

Cleaning staff must protect themself before gym cleaning so they will be safe. Wash your hands and use a sanitizer (a hand gel will suffice). Wear gloves and other protective equipment to stop contracting germs and bacteria (usually, a mask, hair net, and cleaning gloves are enough).

2. Clean gym equipment 

Workout machines are the most visible part of your fitness facility, and we outline the steps for cleaning them in the section below. It involves cleaning (removing dust), sanitizing, and disinfecting from harmful pathogens.

3. Clean the changing rooms (toilets, showers, and lockers)

Members use changing rooms a lot. And toilets and shower rooms are breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. Clean your changing rooms at least every hour and have a cleaner on standby. 

Proper air circulation is vital to keep the air fresh in changing rooms, so dehumidify the air with proper vents and equipment. Disinfect the benches and common areas. 

4. Control odor

Don’t just use air fresheners to cover up the bad smell—find the root cause and address it right away. Routinely check all the drains, mats, toilets, and machines to find out where the foul odor comes from. A steam cleaner can directly eliminate most causes of the smell. A preventive measure to help your gym smell pleasant is to use diffusers and scented candles.

How to clean gym equipment?

Cleaning gym equipment is different from cleaning your facilities. Equipment is reactive to alcohol-based cleaners and other abrasive chemicals, and improper cleaning can lead to a shorter lifespan instead of a longer one.

Here are three simple steps to clean gym equipment—clean, sanitize, and disinfect.

1. Clean: Remove dirt and grime from equipment surfaces

Gently remove dust, fingerprints, debris, dirt, and stains using a damp microfiber cloth with a cleaning solution or water from equipment surfaces. Pay attention to handles, and don’t forget the crevices. Air dry before proceeding to the next step. Do not apply the solution directly to an entire machine as their electrical components might get wet, which can be an electrical hazard.

2. Sanitize: Apply an FDA-approved sanitizer

After removing surface dirt, it’s time to sanitize the equipment to kill germs. Apply the sanitizing solution to a microfiber cloth and wipe down the equipment. Your sanitizing solution should be able to remove 99.9% of germs. Do not use spray bottles to spray directly on surfaces because they can cause damage, especially to cardio equipment. Let the solution dry completely before going to the next step.

3. Disinfect: Use an EPA-registered disinfectant to kill bacteria

Once the sanitizing solution dries, apply an EPA-registered disinfectant to kill pathogens such as  MRSA. Make sure to don a pair of gloves to protect your skin. Wipe down the equipment. Take note of the recommended dwell time, which is how long a surface must stay wet to kill pathogens. 

4. How to create a cleaning routine for your gym?

Establishing a cleaning routine for your gym helps maintain its cleanliness. Sticking to the schedule helps. As a gym owner, create a cleaning routine for your staff to refer to every day. You can also create specific checklists they need to sign off on so they can be kept accountable for tasks they are assigned to.

Ideally, you will create hourly, daily, and weekly cleaning schedules for each area of your gym that needs cleaning. Take a look at the recommended schedule below:

For locker rooms:

  • Hourly inspection and tidying up
  • Daily: Sweep and mop floors, clean and disinfect surface areas
  • Weekly: Deep clean

A woman opening a locker at the gym.

For gym equipment:

  • After each use: Wipe down with disinfectant
  • Daily: Clean gym equipment thoroughly and disinfect it at least once daily

For exercise mats:

  • After each use: Clean and disinfect with disinfectant spray
  • Bi-weekly or monthly: Seal (depending on the volume of usage)
  • Quarterly: Clean with a bleach solution


For rubber floors and yoga mats:

  • Daily: Clean and disinfect
  • Bi-weekly or monthly: Seal (depending on the volume of usage)

For wooden floors:

  • Daily: Clean and disinfect
  • Periodic burnishing
  • Annual recoating

Common areas in the gym that need regular cleaning

Identifying common areas that you need to stay on top of for regular cleaning helps your facility's overall hygiene. Here are key areas you need to keep your eye on:

Workout Equipment

Exercise equipment in the workout area is the most important area that needs regular cleaning as these are the ones that make contact with different gym-goers all the time. It is necessary to do a quick clean after each use, daily disinfection and sanitization, and routine equipment checks, especially for cardio equipment.

Locker rooms, toilet, and shower areas

A cleaning staff must be on standby in these areas at all times so that it is always clean. Removing grime from fixtures helps prevent rust from forming. Avoid standing water or moisture build-up in shower stalls and locker rooms (a potential breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and fungi). Routinely spray air fresheners to keep the odor pleasant. The floors should be kept as dry as possible to prevent slips and falls.

Gym reception area

The entrance and reception area are the first things your customer see when going to fitness facilities. Make it as clean and as warm and inviting as possible. Review fingerprints and smudges on glass windows and doors. Proper sanitization, vacuuming, and polishing should be routine.

Tips for maintaining a clean gym

Maintaining the cleanliness of your gym involves a variety of factors. Your staff, gym members, cleaning equipment, and more contribute to maintaining a clean gym.

Educate your gym members

To maintain gym cleanliness, have rules and reminders for your members. For example, you can put up signs on how they can clean their equipment after use. You can also hang reminders for them to put back equipment once they are done using them. Machines that come into contact with sweat regularly might have little stations for cloth wipes, or towelettes members can use to wipe it with. Have a hand sanitizer for each station too.

A gym customer wiping down a running machine after using it.

Train your staff properly

Training sessions are compulsory to teach staff the proper way to clean equipment and sanitize gym facilities. Regularly update them with new protocols as the need arises. Have clear responsibilities for each employee and a checklist they need to tick off every time they do their cleaning.

Keep an updated cleaning inventory

Cleaning resources are necessary to help your employees clean properly. Investing in high-quality cleaning solutions and top-of-the-line equipment is worth it. Keep an updated cleaning inventory at all times to know your operating expenses.

Hire a professional cleaning company

Paying for a professional cleaning service might be a better way to help maintain gym cleanliness. On top of your employees, these professionals can give your gym an overall general cleaning every once in a while and even help identify problems you need to address. After all, they are the cleaning experts. Consulting them will help you give a better gym experience to your members. 

Frequently asked questions

Why it's important to clean the equipment after every use?

Germs and bacteria can live up to five months on a dry surface if not disinfected. Since gym equipment is the most used among members in a fitness center, it is crucial to clean the equipment after each use to prevent disease transmission.

What to clean gym equipment with? 

Make sure to only use approved cleaning products—FDA-approved sanitizing solutions and EPA-registered disinfectants, usually with a microfiber cloth. You want to protect your cleaning staff, gym equipment, and customers, so use only safe chemicals.

How to remove rust from gym equipment?

Rust forms because of high humidity (sweat) and improper maintenance. To remove rust from gym equipment, brushing and sanding surfaces often work. You would need to add a protective coating once most of the rust has come off to prevent rust formation from happening again.

Why do gym owners need to take care of gym equipment?

Taking care of gym equipment improves its longevity and lessens the need for repair or worse, replacement. It will be more cost-effective in the long run for gym owners to spend and exert effort on maintenance than spend on repair and replacements.

What should you clean in a gym?

Gym areas that gym owners should keep an eye on are the reception area, workout equipment, and locker rooms (toilets, shower stalls, and changing rooms).

How often should gyms be cleaned?

Gyms should be cleaned often. For example, exercise machines should be wiped clean from sweat and dirt after every use, and shower stalls and toilets should be cleaned as often as possible. Regular daily cleaning is a must, and periodic deep cleans and maintenance services should be scheduled as well.

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