The biggest disadvantage of building your own home gym is that you will be responsible for keeping it clean and hygienic. And, that’s not an easy task! Instead of ‘Netflix and chill’, you will have to spend your rest day cleaning and disinfecting your workout space. If you fail to do that, your home gym will start smelling like a monkey butt!
The odor issue is prominent during the summer but cleaning your home gym is equally important during winter, even though it isn’t stinking. That's because a dirty gym can harbor as many bacteria as you can find on a public toilet seat.(1) Unclean home gym floor and equipment can cause various infections such as conjunctivitis, athletes’ foot, plantar warts, etc. (2)
In this article, we will provide you with our tried and tested methods on how to keep your home gym clean so it doesn’t smell as filthy as commercial gyms do.
Before we begin, let's first understand why gyms smell so bad.
Why do home gyms smell?
You probably know the answer; our sweat.
That sweat drop that rolls down your neck and falls on your mat is the main culprit. Plus, high temperatures, high humidity levels, and improper ventilation can make anything smell worse.
An interesting thing that we recently came to know is that our fresh sweat is odorless. Try it out. You will be surprised!
We and our workout clothes do not stink while we are exercising. We stink afterward. Our body odor changes when the bacteria on our skin starts to break down the proteins in our sweat. (3)
Now, when we are exercising, we drop our sweat (along with our skin bacteria) on the floor. We leave it on the handles of the treadmill, kettlebells, etc. And then, when we are done, we just close the door of our garage and leave. Due to poor ventilation, the smell of the sweat doesn’t get a chance to escape. And, within no time, your home gym will start stinking filthily.
If you don’t want that to happen, all you need to do is to make sure you do not leave your sweat anywhere in the gym. Plus, you need to ensure proper ventilation.
Here are some important tips that will help you with that.
How to keep your gym from smelling?
Air out your gym mats before installing
All rubber products smell and there is nothing much you can do other than airing them out for a few days until they have off-gassed properly.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Health Plan Management System (HPMS) suggests that leaving the mats out in the sun and rotating them at regular intervals can fasten the off-gassing process i.e. it helps release the VOCs from rubber. It also suggests washing them with water and vinegar solution and applying some peppermint oil, etc. (4) But, that’s not needed.
All you need to do is to leave them under direct sunlight for a few days. If you have horse stall mats, you may hose them every day because they often have a stronger, unpleasant odor compared to the EVA mats. Here are some more instructions on ‘How To Get the Smell Out of Horse Stall Mats’.
Install the mats in your gym only when their rubbery smell has almost gone. If you install them before that, they will make your whole gym stink rubbery.
Never leave your workout clothes in the gym
Image Source: YouTube
If you have ever been to a gym before, you must have met guys who used to wear the same clothes for almost a week. They used to sweat like hell, then they used to hang their clothes in their locker to dry, and the next day, they used to wear the same clothes. And, they used to smell horrendous. Plus, whatever they touched or used, that equipment also started to smell like them! The workout bench, the kettlebell handle, the yoga mat they used; everything used to stink.
Do not do that at home. Always wear fresh clothes and, when you are done, toss your used gym clothes into your laundry bag. Keep multiple sets, so you never run out of anything fresh to wear.
Clean your home gym floor every week
Image source: The Spruce
The next thing that gets the most of your sweat is the floor of your gym. And, cleaning it is not easy. You have to scrub off the sticky residues, vacuum the entire floor including the gaps between the mats, and then mop it thoroughly, making sure that water doesn’t get a chance to seep through the gaps or through the surface of the mats.
If water reaches the plywood or the carpet beneath the mats, you could get molds all over, which could damage the carpet and make your gym stink badly.
Our article on ‘How to clean horse stall mats for your home gym’ lists thorough instructions so you don’t end up with the mold issue. Although it is for horse stall mats, the instructions are the same for EVA tiles and all other forms of home gym flooring products.
Keep checking the floor beneath for molds
Image Source: Seattle Times
Even though you have tried your best to not let water seep through the rubber mats, you could still fail. A small quantity of water plus high levels of humidity are enough to cause serious mold issues.
Molds release toxic chemicals into the air. If inhaled, these chemicals could cause respiratory problems including asthma. Don’t take a chance.
Inspect the walls and floor underneath the mats at least twice a month during summer and once a month during winter. This shouldn’t take much time unless you have covered the entire room with the mats.
Make sure your home gym is well ventilated
That's probably the easiest way to keep your home gym from smelling. Proper ventilation will prevent the growth of molds. Plus, the odor of your sweat will also get a chance to escape instead of lingering around in the room for days.
If you have a garage gym, you can probably keep the door raised at about 1-2 feet from the ground during the day. You can even leave a floor fan on for some time to facilitate the ventilation process. This could add up to your electricity cost, so don’t overdo it.
Don’t have a fan yet? Check out the Commercial Electric 16 Inch Turbo Floor Fan that we highly recommend because its motor is powerful enough for garages.
If you have a basement gym, make sure you do not close the vents. You need to do something to keep the air moving in and out of the room.
Get rid of humidity
If you live in a hot and humid climate, you should use a dehumidifier to prevent your home gym from smelling. If you have the budget, you should buy a portable AC unit instead because it will help you bring down the temperature of the gym.
Black and Decker 14000 BTU portable AC is a good option but that will work only if you use it for a basement gym. It won’t work for garages that are in active use. In fact, nothing will work for garages if you use them for parking your car.
Don’t use swamp coolers if you live in a humid region because they do not help deal with humidity. AC units are better but if you don’t want to spend much on electricity, you can use a floor fan.
Use natural air fresheners to keep your home gym from smelling
Even after doing everything that we have mentioned above, your home gym could still stink mildly, which is natural because you keep sweating buckets there. So, a lot of people use aroma oils, scented candles, etc. to mask the odor. But, somehow we don’t like that.
We prefer natural air fresheners instead. You can place a bowl of coffee grounds, or baking soda, or a fragrant house plant in a corner of your home gym.
And, that’s all you need to do to keep your home gym from smelling
If your home gym still starts stinking, call the pros. Do not keep working out a musty, smelly area because poor air quality can cause respiratory problems.
References and Citations:
1. Examining Gym Cleanliness. FitRated. Published 2021. Accessed November 24, 2021.
2. Top 10 Diseases You Can Get from a Dirty Gym – Listverse. Listverse Published 2021. Accessed November 24, 2021.
3. Sweating and Body Odor. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17865-sweating-and-body-odor. Published 2021. Accessed November 24, 2021.
4. http://www.hpms.com/v/vspfiles/downloadables/Howto-Remove%20Rubber%20Smell.pdf. Accessed November 24, 2021.