Five Cleaning Products Every Gym Rat Needs

Graphic: Shep McAllister
5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “[Ask a Clean Person](” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.   

Today is the day that every gym rat hates: January 2nd, a.k.a The Day of the Resolute.

Okay so hey, maybe you’re one of the many (many, many, oh God so many) people who has resolved that this year — the Year of Our Lord and Savior ARod, who will, so help me God, marry JLo in 2019 because as a country we need a JRod wedding to heal and uplift us, amen — you will become A Person Who Goes To The Gym.

As A Person Who Goes To The Gym, I welcome you (even if I’m muttering curses at you under my breath for jamming up my sacred space when I KNOW you won’t be there come March), and I would like to encourage you to stick with the gym habit for longer than the 10 weeks I know you’re actually in it for. Being a gym rat has been life-changing for me, and I hope it will be for you too. HOWEVER. The gym is FILTHY and so, as your resident Clean Person, I’m here to offer you some products that will help you, like, not contract a staph infection while you’re getting your sweat on.

Mat cleaner

Graphic: Shep McAllister

Do you have your own yoga mat? Well then you’ll probably want to clean it from time to time to extend its lifespan and ensure that it doesn’t take on an unbearably funky smell. Do you use a communal mat at the gym or in classes? Well then you’ll DEFINITELY want to clean it before you put your hands and face and hair all over it to remove the filth from the previous user’s hands and face and hair!

Enter mat cleaning spray. This one is super nice because it’s made from all-natural ingredients, so you won’t need to worry about any weird chemicals getting all up in your sweaty skin. And, it comes with a reusable microfiber towel for wiping the mat off, which means you won’t have to waste any paper towels (just be sure to wash that towel from time to time, okay? Okay!) This brand comes in six different scents, or, if you can’t choose , you can get a six-pack sampler.

Equipment Wipes

Graphic: Shep McAllister

But let’s say you’re more of a machine guy. Same! You can’t always bank on the gym supplying equipment wipes, and you definitely can’t trust your fellow gym-goers to wipe machines when they’re done, so the trick is to wipe them down before you use them.

These Wipex Equipment Wipes will more than do the job, and if toting around the entire canister is too much, you can take a few wipes out of, stick them in a zippered freezer bag, and toss that in your gym satchel for easy access.

Sports Detergent

Graphic: Shep McAllister

The clothes in which you exercise have special needs. They just do, and the sooner you accept that, the better smelling and longer lasting your gym clothes will be.

While most of those special needs have more to do with laundry practices, rather than with products (with one notable exception that we shall get to in short order!), it is truly not a bad idea, if you’re a person who works up a sweat more than, say, two or three times a week, to invest in a sports detergent. I love HEX, I love Sport Suds, and I even love Tide Plus Febreze Sport even though I hate Febreze.

Dryer Balls

Photo: Amazon

Here comes that notable laundry product exception: STEP AWAY FROM THE FABRIC SOFTENER.


Sorry for the yelling but seriously this is probably the biggest mistake people make when laundering their gym gear, and I figured if I got up in your face/monitor and started screaming you’d be more likely to commit this Rule Of Workout Clothes Washing to memory, so: No fabric softener on your exercise outfits, ever. Not the liquid stuff that goes in the wash, not the sheets that go in the dryer. NONE OF IT. There are reasons and I will go into them in a VSE of Squalor later this month, but for the time being, just know that you mustn’t use the stuff when you wash your gym togs. Instead, switch to dryer balls, which will help to soften fabrics by creating extra air flow in the dryer.

Sneaker Balls

Graphic: Shep McAllister

Speaking of balls! [SPORTING JOKE GOES HERE] Here’s one last product to mention to those of you who might be undertaking a new fitness habit in the new year — sneaker balls! Sneaker balls are these little, well, balls that you pop into your, well, sneakers after you take them off. The reason for the popping-inning is that they perform a deodorizing function, i.e. they’re gonna keep your sneaks from smelling to high heaven after all that working out you’re so committed to doing.

A fun thing about sneaker balls is that there are all kinds of motifs you can choose from, from SPORTS BALLS to assorted emoji to sassy hashtags to … whatever this is (it’s tie dye, I guess? I dunno, I once got high and went to the gym and it was a whole thing so if that’s your jam, jam out with your tie dye sneaker balls out is what I’m saying.)

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