Cleaning your garage gym is a topic many people seem to want to ignore. Sure, everyone loves working out in their garage gym and most people even “plan” to clean their gym, but unfortunately, most gyms don’t get the cleaning love that they should. Excuses are a dime a dozen. “Don’t have time.” “I’ll do it next week.” “It’s just me working out, what’s the big deal.”
The big deal is a garage gym, or any gym for that matter, can become a great home for viruses and bacteria. It’s generally a warm area that is then filled with sweat, dirt, dust and respiratory droplets from yelling and grunting. Then, all of it gets to linger and accumulate, one workout at a time.
Let’s be honest. This is disgusting! There are two things I learned as a strength and conditioning intern many years ago – always be early and the weight room needs to be cleaned daily! We had a cleaning checklist that hung up in the office. Some tasks had to be done after each lift, some daily and others once a week.
Each staff member had assigned responsibilities and they had to be approved by the Director of Cleanliness. (That wasn’t an actual title, but sounds like the sort of thing we’d make up). It was a full scale operation.
You don’t have a 10,000 sq foot weight room though so you don’t need an entire staff. All it takes is a few minutes each day to keep your garage gym clean and looking good.
Make a Cleaning Routine
Chances are you have a training program for your workouts. Friday’s might be heavy squat day. Every four weeks is a de-load week. I could go on and on. Your cleaning routine should be no different.
Start putting together your routine by splitting your gym up into different components.
- Non-Metal Surfaces
- Metal Surfaces
Each of these components are going to get cleaned either daily, weekly or monthly. Don’t have a mirror or cardio in your garage gym? Your cleaning list just got shorter!
Cleaning Your Gym Floor
I’m going to assume for a minute you have some type of rubber flooring laid down on your garage floor. I like to start off every one of my lifts by doing a quick sweep of the floor.
I lift with my garage door open which is one of the best parts of working out in your garage, but it lets in lots of dust and debris. A quick sweep gets rid of the dust, making sure I have a clean space to lift and allowing me to start mentally focusing on the lift ahead.
Once a week (usually on mop day) I’ll use a leaf blower (here is the one I have) to blow out my gym area. The only downside to using a leaf blower is it will kick up dust onto every piece of equipment in your gym. If you’re going to blow it out, plan on wiping everything down after.
Once a week your floor needs to be mopped. This will be the most involved, most time-consuming piece of your cleaning routine. It’s also one of the most important.
Will you hate doing this, especially the first couple of times you do it? Most likely, yes you probably will. Will you also start to really take pride in how good your floor looks after you mop it? Absolutely yes.
Pro Tip: The most cost-effective way to mop your floor is to use a concentrated floor cleaner. Just pay attention to the proper ratio of solution to water. (And don’t forget how many ounces in a gallon!)
Cleaning Non-Metal Surfaces
Nonmetal surfaces include benches and basically any seats or padded areas of any machines you might have. The rule on these is pretty simple. If you use them in your workout that day, you wipe them down at the end of the workout. At the end of the week, give everything a quick wipe down even if you haven’t used it.
Metal surfaces are generally going to be your racks and the metal portions of any machines. These surfaces should be wiped down at least once a month. Depending on how dusty your garage may get, you may want to up that to every two weeks. Don’t forget often overlooked areas like the metal under your benches.
If you have mirrors in your garage gym, first off, kudos to you. Mirrors generally need to be wiped down once a month. The exception would be if you have your mirrors in front of any cardio machines. In my experience, mirrors that sit in front of cardio machines get pretty nasty really fast.
Cleaning Cardio Machines
Speaking of cardio, cardio machines should be wiped down every time they are used. Every time. This is non-negotiable.
Cardio equipment is easily the piece(s) of equipment that takes the most abuse in terms of sweat and gunk for all the obvious reasons. We keep a container of Clorox wipes next to our elliptical so they’re handy anytime we finish a cardio session.
All Lifting Equipment
When I say equipment, I’m referring to bars, plates and dumbbells. These should all be wiped down once a week. Then, once a month take a wire brush and do a deep clean on your bars. This is a bit tedious but well worth it. This is will get out all of the dust, chalk and dead skin that can end up in the crevices of the knurling of the bar.
By the way, if you think doing one or two bars is a lot of work I’m not going to argue with you. But, I will share with you this fun fact. When I was an intern at the University of Tennessee, we would clean every bar, every week. Almost twenty years later I can tell you with 100% confidence we had exactly 38 bars.
Put together a Cleaning Calendar. I’ve put together a sample calendar below. I can’t explain how much it helps to create a calendar, print it out and literally hang it up somewhere you’ll see it every day you lift. It will go a long way toward helping you stay on a routine. At the very least it will eventually guilt you into submission if you keep choosing to ‘do it tomorrow’.
|Non Metal Surfaces||If Used||If Used||If Used||If Used||X|
|Metal Surfaces||1st of Month|
|Mirrors||1st of Month|
|Cardio||If Used||If Used||If Used||If Used||X|
|Bars, Plates, Dumbbells||X||
1st of Month*
*Deep Clean with Wire Brush
Stock Your Cleaning Supplies
You can’t clean your gym unless you have everything you need to actually clean your gym. I suggest keeping a separate stash of cleaning products specifically for your gym. It makes things way easier and will cause fewer fights than using a bunch of stuff intended for the rest of the house. This way it’s never ‘the gym’s fault’ that you’re out of Clorox wipes.
So what cleaning supplies should you get for your garage gym?
Here is a list of registered disinfectants from the EPA. For more info, check out this article from USA Today on cleaning products and methods. There is good info from the EPA and CDC in it. I’m not going to pretend to be more knowledgeable on cleaning products than either the EPA or CDC so here is the list of a few of the products they recommend:
- Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
- Clorox Commercial Solutions
- Clorox Disinfecting Spray
- Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner + Bleach
- Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner
- Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist
- Lysol Heavy-Duty Cleaner Disinfectant Concentrate
- Purell Professional Surface Disinfectant Wipes
Final Thoughts – Actually Do It!
So now you’ve got your calendar and you’ve got your supplies. The only thing left is to actually do it! Don’t allow yourself to fall into the, “I’ll do it tomorrow” trap. That’s a dangerous game that often leads to a disgusting garage gym where everything is coated in crud. Not only is that embarrassing when someone comes to lift with you in your garage, but it also leads to an unhealthy atmosphere.
Take pride in your gym. If you really love your garage gym, you’re going to end up spending a lot of time (and money!) in it. Make it a place you can be proud of.