On a good day, a single piece of gym equipment may have over 100 users and not all of them clean up after using the machines. Sweat isn't the only problem, viruses can live on a surface anywhere from a few seconds to 48 hours. All it takes to catch a cold is to touch an infected surface and rub your eyes or nose. Gyms do clean their machines but it is still easy to become exposed to another person's sweat if you use the machine shortly after they do. To protect yourself, there are several options for wiping down the machines both before and after your workout. Home machines may not present the same health hazards but sweat corrodes metal and breaks down the vinyl and foam padding on most exercise machines.
Vinegar and Water
Mix a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar in a trigger spray bottle and keep it on hand to wipe down the machines. Carry a small pump spray bottle in your gym bag for use at the gym. Spray the solution directly on the machine or on a rag or paper towel. Wipe the machine thoroughly to prevent corrosion.
Mix two tablespoons of borax and one-quarter cup of lemon juice in a trigger spray bottle, with two cups of hot water. Keep it on hand to wipe down your machine and shake well before each use. This solution may not work well in a pump spray bottle because the borax may clog the smaller spray opening. But an adjustable trigger spray should hold up well inside a gym bag.
Gym Spray Bottles
Many gyms offer spray bottles and paper towels for patrons to wipe down machines. These spray bottles may contain an ammonia solution or a similar cleaning agent. Other gyms may use specially formulated wet wipes.
Store-Bought Wet Wipes
If your gym does not offer spray bottles, or if you would rather not mix you own solution, you can use wet wipes. Drug stores and supermarkets carry name-brand wipes, like Lysol, as well as generics. Baby wipes are also effective for wiping down machines.
While towels will not kill viruses or bacteria, they do wipe up sweat well. Bring an extra towel to your workout for wiping down the machines and be sure to keep that towel separate from your workout towel.