How to avoid germs in the gym

Hitting the gym often will help you stay fit and healthy, but sharing workout equipment with many people without any precautions will expose you to various types of bacteria, viruses and fungi. 

Don’t worry, though – the pros of going to the gym greatly outweigh the cons, and with a few precautions, you will ensure yourself a great gym experience and maximum safety.

Wipe down equipment before use

Since any place people gather to exercise unavoidably has germs, fungi and viruses, it’s best not to deny the reality of that fact but to confront it head-on and deal with it with logic and caution.

Contaminations happen due to sneezing, touching and coughing, but most often through skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids (saliva, sweat and even blood). So, to have a safe gym experience, always carry your own towel and use disinfectant wipes before and after using the gym equipment.

Wiping the equipment is one of the most effective prevention methods and will potentially save you a lot of trouble down the line.

The gym equipment with the most germs are:

  • Weight Benches;
  • Leg Press Machines;
  • Yoga Mats;
  • Free Weights;
  • Exercise Bikes.

Studies have also shown that about 35% of men never wipe down weight machines after using them, making it doubly important not to be among that group. Most gyms provide disinfectant wipes, but if you are not happy with the choice provided, you could always bring your own. 

Just make sure that you do it not only to protect other people’s health but also your own.

Gym germs can be really devastating for a business, especially if they infect multiple people and cause an outbreak. Light or infrequent cleaning is not enough to kill all the bacteria and pathogens. That’s why using the right EPA registered and FDA approved products regularly, or using a professional cleaning service are of utmost importance to keep a gym operating and its visitors safe.

Be careful what you touch and when (bottle caps, your phone, earphones)

Most people use their mobile phones at the gym to listen to motivating music, catch up with their favourite podcasts, or even listen to audiobooks. While all of those reasons are wonderful, touching the phone (and earphones) transfers germs from your hands to them. To prevent that use disinfecting wipes on both to keep safe, especially before leaving the gym.

Staying hydrated is also very important for all bodily functions, including the immune system. However, you should bring your own bottle instead to avoid infections, preferably one with a push top. That will minimise the risks of touching bottle caps with dirty hands and using the bacteria-teeming public fountain and help keep you safe.

Beware of reusable water bottles, for they often contain lots of bacteria and fungi. You should frequently clean or replace your water bottle to keep yourself healthy.

Don’t touch your face

The average human touches their face at least 23 times an hour, kids even more.

Now, imagine your face coming in contact with all those viruses, fungi and bacteria at the gym.

No wonder why most people get sick so often. 

To protect yourself and prevent the spread of germs, first stop touching your face during workouts. Next, always wash your hands before and after a workout (and especially after using the restroom).

Beware of the bathroom

After you are done with the workout, you should shower as soon as possible to wash the sweat off and avoid some common gym infections. However, you must never do it barefoot, as the bathroom surface is teeming with bacteria and fungi. To protect yourself make sure you always use your own flip flops and sandals.

After showering, dry your body thoroughly to avoid common infections such as yeast infections and jock itch. Also, if you must shave, you should never do it in the gym, for any cuts or nicks provide an excellent entry-point for germs.

Bring your own towel

Bringing your own towel instead of using the gym’s is also a great way to keep clean of various germs.

Mark the side you will be using to cover the equipment, so you’ll always know which side is the “clean one”. Don’t forget to wipe the surface of any machines, exercise balls, or mats before using them to minimise the risk of exposure and keep the towel somewhat cleaner.

It’s best to avoid the gym towels, for sometimes the “clean” ones are transported by the same means the “dirty” ones are. It’s also a good idea to buy two gym towels, so you will always be sure to have a spare if something happens.

Don’t forget to wash your towel after each workout, and never leave a damp or used gym towel sitting overnight with the rest of your laundry. If it’s impossible to wash immediately, leave it to air-dry overnight.

Protect your feet

Your feet are susceptible to all the various types of germs, fungi, and bacteria in the gym. To not contract any of those, you should never walk barefoot and should have your feet covered at all times.

Athlete’s foot, a fungal infection caused by various strains of fungi, is contracted through locker rooms, exercise mats, bathrooms and anywhere else people walk barefoot. It causes itching, scaling, cracking and redness of the feet, and is moderately difficult to treat after it’s contracted.

Staphylococcus aureus is a very dangerous strain of staph bacteria that may lead to health complications, including dangerous health complications like pneumonia and sepsis, which may even cause death. Each year more than 3 million people are infected, and approximately 20,000 people die from various complications caused by the bacteria.

You are at risk of contracting something if you have even a small cut on your feet, so your best bet is to keep them covered at all times.

Launder both your equipment and bag

Damp and sweaty clothing is bacteria heaven, so make it a habit to air out and wash it after hitting the gym. Leave any drenched pieces to air out and dry first, and never let them sit damp with the rest of the laundry overnight.

If you are using a yoga mat, be sure to always bring your own and sanitise it after each workout. Using the gym’s mats is not advisable, for they most likely are teeming with bacteria, plus it’s very difficult to properly clean them on the spot.

Don’t forget to frequently wash your bag as well, as it came in direct contact with the bacteria-infested gym surface and your dirty clothing and equipment on the inside.


Visiting the gym frequently and making gains is deeply satisfying, but none of that would be possible without protecting yourself first. Always follow proper preventive measures to ensure your health is protected, and you will be able to enjoy a great gym experience and the satisfying feeling of continuous progress.