When’s the last time you washed your gym bag? If you can’t remember or the bag is starting to smell, it’s probably time to clean it out. Any odor is an indicator that bacteria are living and multiplying in your bag. Gyms are full of bacteria and fungus, all of that can end up in or on your exercise gear. These bacteria can make you ill with a cold or the flu as well as cause a host of problems, including rashes and staph infections. It’s relatively simple to protect yourself from unwanted bacteria and subsequent illnesses. A few simple life hacks and your bag will be germ-free in no time.
Tips to Protect Your Gym Bag and Exercise Gear from Bacteria
Never toss wet clothes directly into the bag
Whether your clothes are sweaty or wet from the pool throw them, headbands and hair ties into a plastic bag. This will protect the inside of your gym bag and the other items in your gym bag from the damp items. Plastic bags are also less likely to breed germs than leather and fabric. Simply reuse the bags you receive from grocery stores; there’s no need to spend any money on additional bags.
Keep your shoes separated from everything else
If your gym bag doesn’t have a separate compartment for sweaty shoes, put them in a plastic bag. Athletic shoes have bacteria both on the outside and on the inside! Contain them and consider using sneaker balls or fill socks with baking soda and place in shoes to absorb moisture and odors. Flip flops should also be cleaned off or tossed in a plastic bag. You wear them through the sauna, locker room, and shower to protect your feet – don’t transfer those germs to your gym bag and its contents.
Always clean your yoga mat
Bringing your own mat to classes can be a smart move but you need to clean that mat off after using it. Wipe off both sides (hello, dirty gym floors) with a disinfecting wipe or spray before bringing it home. In an interview with ELLE, Dr. Robert Lahita, a professor of medicine at Rutgers School of Medicine, said “A yoga mat is a perfect incubator for many of our skin infections. The yoga mat is a very fertile source for infection, mainly because people sweat on them and they rarely are cleaned.”
Keep your toiletries protected
Don’t let your shampoo, razor, hair brush, and other toiletries slide around in your gym bag, exposing them to potential germs. Our Toiletry Bag with 3 TSA Bottles is perfect for storing your gym toiletry necessities. The convenient hanging hook means it’s easy to have the kit handy without having to put your items down on the shower floor. The three bottles are individually marked as Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash making it easy to bring your favorite products along. Zippered pockets keep you organized without having to rummage around looking for your deodorant or body spray.
Need a bigger toiletries case? Check out our Toiletry Bag with Sonic Travel Toothbrush. This heavy-duty bag is water resistant and has two roomy zippered compartments. It also comes with 3 TSA approved travel bottles. It’s perfect to take to the gym and will organize everything you need to get ready for work.
Empty out your bag after each trip
We know you may be running to work or just plain tired after your workout but don’t neglect your bag. Wet clothes, towels, and shoes should be removed as soon as possible. Failure to do so could leave you with a case of mold inside your bag and on your clothes.
Pro Tip: Let damp gym clothes air out prior to tossing them into your hamper. Our Bamboo Laundry Hamper comes with two compartments so you can keep your workout clothes separate from the rest of your laundry. The bamboo slats let air circulate through its contents and the natural cotton liner doubles as a laundry bag.
Throw out snacks and clean water bottles
Leaving fruit, wrappers, or crumbs in your bag is asking for trouble; remove snacks, toss wrappers, and shake out crumbs. A reusable water bottle is eco-friendly but you need to wash that off quickly. Sweat from your hands, placing it down on gym surfaces and sports drinks can leave that bottle pretty dirty. Clean straws or pull-up tops with a small bottle washer brush and hot soapy water to prevent fungus from forming inside them.
Wash your bag often
Once a week wash your gym bag or wipe it down regularly with antibacterial wipes. Plopping it down on the gym floor or bench can transfer a lot of germs, including coliform bacteria to the exterior of the bag. You don’t want to bring that into your home and inadvertently place it on your furniture.
Since germs can last from mere minutes or several months, depending on the type of virus, it’s smart to take precautions. Certain viruses, like the norovirus, are highly contagious and live on surfaces for up to 5 months.
A Few Other Precautions to Stay Germ-free at the Gym Include
Wipe equipment down after usage
It’s polite to clean equipment when you are finished using it, but not everyone follows this courtesy. Wipe down equipment prior to using it and avoid touching your face.
Use a water bottle with a pull-up top
Using your hands to open a water bottle can transfer germs from your hands to your mouth when you touch the top of your water bottle. Use a bottle that allows you to pull up the top with your mouth instead. And never share your water bottle.
Be cautious using water fountains
People sometimes touch the spigot with their mouths or spit water back into fountains and the buttons themselves can be germy. Use a wipe to clean off the buttons and the spigot if you need a drink.
Never go barefoot
Protect your feet from athlete’s foot and other fungus in showers, saunas, and locker room floors by wearing flip flops. Are you using a gym mat for yoga or Pilates? It can’t hurt to wipe it down first and/or wear socks.
Use a towel before sitting down
Love the sauna or steam room? Put a towel down on the bench before taking a seat and keep your flip flops on. This also goes for the benches in the locker rooms!
This information is not meant to scare you or give you an excuse to skip the gym, but designed to help keep yourself healthy in all ways possible. Work out at the gym but use some sensible precautions and keep your gym bag free from bacteria. Why take chances with your health?