Keeping Gyms & Fitness Centers Clean

Did you know that the type of chemicals you're using on your gym equipment could actually be ruining it? Plus, learn the 3 easy steps to quickly & effectively clean your fitness center.

The Top 4 Chemicals That Destroy Your Gym Equipment

You’ve invested a big portion of your budget in equipment, furniture, and other amenities to make your gym functional and comfortable for your residents. And filling your gym with equipment is not cheap! However, are you properly maintaining your investments? 

If machines begin to malfunction and surfaces begin to crack, rust and get scratched, you’ll have to replace these items. Since you’ve already spent thousands of dollars to buy them, you’ll be spending more than double to replace them. Protecting your equipment and machinery boils down to two things: care and proper maintenance.  With the 
estimated cost to stock a small gym totaling $10,000 and even more than that for larger gyms, it’s easy to see why taking good care of your equipment is necessary.

Part of good care and maintenance is knowing what you should and shouldn’t use to clean them. Using cleaning products with certain chemicals can accelerate the demise of your equipment, causing them to break down, experience glitches, and become discolored or corroded.


If you are using wipes, sprays, or cleaning solutions that contain the following four chemicals, you should throw them out ASAP. 


Alcohol is one of the most common chemicals used as a disinfecting agent in cleaners. Generally, it’s used in the form of isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol, which kills different germs and bacteria based on different concentration levels. You’ll find alcohol in many common cleaning products like wipes and sprays. However, when it comes to your gym, alcohol is one of the worst chemical disinfectant agents to use on your valuable equipment. 

When you clean with alcohol-based products, you’re putting equipment like vinyl benches, rubber grips, steel weights, and treadmill screen monitors at risk. Cleaning with alcohol can cause unattractive cracking in surfaces where germs can hide, it can expedite rusting on metal objects like hand weights, and can dissolve protective screen coatings making touch screens less responsive and sometimes, cloudy. When selecting the right cleaner for your gym equipment, it’s best to stay away from alcohol at all costs. 



Hydrogen peroxide has a reputation for being a less-dangerous disinfecting agent than alcohol or bleach, however, hydrogen peroxide can also do serious damage to your gym equipment. Hydrogen peroxide is notorious for oxidizing aluminum, copper, iron, steel, tungsten, and other base metals or base metal alloys.

This means any surface on your equipment made from these metals, in the form of pilates reformers, on rowing machines, and even stationary bicycles could be severely damaged if you clean them with hydrogen peroxide. 

These chemicals react with the surface of the metal and what’s left is a layer of rust on your gym equipment. Metal corrosion can occur quickly, and if you continually clean with hydrogen peroxide and make the damage worse, it can weaken the integrity of your machines, not only making them dangerous for your guests but also making them wear out much faster than they should.

Check liquid chemicals such as sanitizers and disinfectants to make sure they don’t have hydrogen peroxide listed as a disinfectant to help save your customers, and yourself, a big headache. 



Bleach has been branded as a go-to disinfectant since the beginning of time. When people think bleach, they think “gold-standard clean”, but for gyms, bleach can lead to disaster. Using products with bleach can fade and discolor gym equipment and surfaces. Your investments into the best mats, benches, and even counters or desks can quickly be undone when you clean them with bleach.

Another undesirable side effect of cleaning your gym equipment with bleach is that it  corrodes protective layers on your gym equipment and can break down the structural integrity of machines and surfaces to cause rusting or cracking. There are many other products you can use to properly disinfect or kill germs on equipment besides bleach that are much safer. 


Just reading the word ammonia might instantly bring its unforgettable odor to your mind. Ammonia is used to clean a variety of surfaces and you can find it in anything from toilet cleaner to floor polish. But because of how quickly it evaporates, ammonia is mostly used to clean surfaces that could become streaky.

It’s often used in its liquid form for cleaning use, but cleaning with ammonia carries a lot of risks. Not only can it irritate the respiratory system, but it can also lead to breathing issues and can trigger allergy or asthma troubles. Ammonia can also cause serious skin burns if it comes into direct contact with any part of the body.

In the case of your gym equipment, when not handled correctly, ammonia can cause discoloration and cracking of equipment. There are many odorless disinfectants that will be gentler on your equipment and be safer for your members and their health.




So what should you use to kill harmful bacteria while removing dust, sweat, and dirt from your gym equipment if you can’t use alcohol, bleach, ammonia, or hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners? 

Thankfully, there’s a very simple solution. You just need to look for QUAT based, phenol-free cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfectant wipes. 


Why wipes? Spraying liquid cleaner and disinfectant directly on your equipment can cause significantly more damage to your equipment, especially those with screens and electrical components. Apply too much spray, and the integrity of the electric or computer system can become damaged. 

Apply the spray in the wrong area and you can accidentally expose vulnerable parts of your equipment to dangerous chemicals that will slowly damage them without any sign that the machine is rusting or becoming weak inside. 

But, when you choose a QUAT based, phenol-free disinfecting wipe, you are free to clean with confidence. You’ll have control of the chemicals that you’re exposing your valuable and delicate gym equipment to and you’ll have full control of how and where the chemicals are applied, ensuring that you are fully protecting your investments, your customers, and saving massive amounts of money over time. 

Try American Patriot Industries' favorite:

2XL GymWipes Advantage Wipes - 6"x 8"- 900 / Roll

Alcohol-free, Bleach-free, Phenol-free, Non-toxic, Non-irritating

How To Clean Gym Equipment in 3 Easy Steps

Why It’s Important to Clean Gym Equipment (the right way)...


Knowing how to clean your gym equipment and machines is necessary for retaining and attracting members, as dirty equipment can ward off customers. In fact, hundreds of gym-goers said that an unclean gym will lose their business during a survey. The last thing someone wants to see when they step on a treadmill, grab a weight, or sit on a bench is sweat or oil stains left behind by the person who used it before them.

Keeping equipment free of dirt and grime can also maintain the lifespan of machinery and equipment such as weights, mats, benches, and others. When dust, sweat, fingerprints, oils and other forms of grime build up over time, they can cause malfunctions and glitches. For example, when a treadmill collects loads of dust, it can clog the rollers and cause friction.

Lastly, removing grime can kill germs that can get people sick. One study found that there are as many as 25 different kinds of bacteria hiding in gyms. There are many diseases and infections members can get from dirty equipment, the most popular being MRSA, Staph, and rhinovirus (the common cold). Staph, in particular, can survive for weeks on surfaces if it isn’t killed.

Pathogens that spark these illnesses are commonly found on gym equipment in fitness centers across the world. Making sure your customers are safe should be your priority, so cleaning equipment to kill pathogens should be high on your to-do list.

How to Clean Gym Equipment

The equipment in your gym may consist of various different materials and surface types. Common ones are rubber, steel, LED screens, vinyl, and others. You also have to be careful because of electrical components, which can pose a hazard.

Figuring out how to clean them and what to clean them with can be intimidating and even overwhelming. Here’s how to clean your gym equipment in 3 easy steps.

1. Remove Surface Layer Dirt and Grime 

Use a pre-saturated general cleaning wipe, or dampen a microfiber cloth with water. Gently remove dirt, dust, fingerprints, stains, and more. Don’t forget to wipe grips, screens, handles, and the nooks and crevices of the equipment. This can include the inside of cup holders and other small spaces. Let air dry before proceeding to the next step.

Note: It’s important to thoroughly clean the top layer of dirt and grime before applying sanitizers and disinfectant solutions. General cleaning allows them to be more effective at killing and destroying germs, bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

2. Apply an FDA Approved Sanitizer

Once you have cleaned the top layer of dirt and grime, use a sanitizing wipe or apply a sanitizing solution to a cloth and then wipe down the equipment. Make sure you are using a sanitizer that removes 99.9% of germs. This will reduce the level of germs that are present on the equipment.

 Avoid using spray bottles to spray the solution directly on the surface, as it can cause damage, especially to cardio equipment. Consider using sanitizing wipes so you don’t have to measure and mix liquids. Wipes also decrease the use of multiple towels. Let air dry before proceeding to the next step.

3. Apply an EPA Registered Disinfectant to Kill Bacteria

Once the sanitizer has dried completely, it’s time to use an EPA registered disinfectant wipe or solution to kill harmful pathogens such as MRSA, Staph, E. coli, and others. Read the kill claims carefully to make sure the product kills pathogens that are native to your fitness facility.

Before applying the disinfectant, put on a pair of gloves to protect your skin. Wipe down the equipment and make sure that it stays wet for the recommended dwell time, which is how long a surface must stay wet to kill pathogens. If the equipment is touched before the dwell time is reached, some harmful bacteria may still remain.

Think about investing in disinfectant wipes with a fast-acting formula, as they can streamline and simplify the disinfecting process.


Cleaning Equipment Don’ts

Now that you know how to clean your gym equipment and the risks associated with not doing so, let’s discuss what not to do or use to clean fitness machines and surfaces.

1. Don’t Use Alcohol, Bleach, Ammonia and Other Abrasive Chemicals

As we've already discussed, you should not use alcohol, bleach, ammonia, or other harmful and abrasive chemicals when cleaning your equipment, as it can lead to discoloration, cracking, corrosion, and otherwise damage the gear. Utilizing these types of chemicals will ultimately shorten the lifespan of your equipment and cost you more money in the long run.


2. Don’t Use Brushes With Wire or Stiff Bristles

Don’t use brushes that have wire or stiff bristles, as they can scratch your equipment and leave visible scrapes. In addition to this, they can also deteriorate the appearance of the equipment quickly.


3. Don’t Use Spray Bottles to Apply Liquid Solutions

Don’t use spray bottles to clean your gym equipment, as this can cause damage and be an electrical hazard.


How Often Should I Clean My Gym Equipment?

Using these steps to clean your gym equipment will keep them clean and in service for your guests while demonstrating to your members that hygiene and cleanliness is your top priority. It’s recommended that you clean your equipment once a day or every few days, depending on the amount of traffic your facility receives.


Quick Recap on How To Clean Gym Equipment

1. Remove Surface Layer Dirt and Grime 

2. Apply an FDA Approved Sanitizer

3. Apply an EPA Registered Disinfectant to Kill Bacteria

Clean Equipment Once Every Few Days or as needed!



  • Use Alcohol, Bleach, Ammonia and Other Abrasive Chemicals

  • Use Brushes With Wire or Stiff Bristles

  • Use Spray Bottles to Apply Liquid Solutions


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