How to Keep Your Home Gym From Smelling (Tips & Tricks)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 12, 2023
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Exercising at home is sometimes better than going to a fitness center.

But if you don't have a dedicated location for a home gym, chances are you're doing it in your living room or bedroom, which may begin to smell.

How can you keep your home gym from smelling?

As a fitness trainer, I've researched ways to freshen the air and prevent odors in home gyms.

Quick Summary

  • You keep your gym from smelling by maintaining the room and equipment clean, washing your gym clothes, using an air purifier, installing air conditioning units, and eliminating the humidity.
  • A couple of things can cause a home gym smell, including not letting gym equipment dry, not sterilizing the equipment, and not cleaning the workout space.
  • Proper ventilation and temperature control are crucial in preventing the buildup of odors in home gyms.
  • In my opinion, investing in an air purifier and dehumidifier can significantly improve the air quality of a home gym.

What Causes That Home Gym Smell?

how to keep home gym from smelling

Home gym smell may be caused by not cleaning the room and equipment often enough or using the wrong cleaning chemicals or detergents.

Avoiding odors in the initial place is more beneficial than attempting to eliminate them afterward.

Home gyms smell for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Using the incorrect cleaning chemicals or detergent
  • Not sterilizing equipment regularly
  • After usage, the equipment is not properly dried
  • There is insufficient ventilation
  • Storage containers are not being cleaned regularly

Homes aren't gyms, so adjustments are needed. Ensure good ventilation and temperature control to handle workout moisture and heat.

First, adapt your space to prevent workout odors. Converting a space into a gym Includes ventilation, moisture-proofing, and budget for costs.

To prevent problems, invest in practical gym equipment like high-quality exercise mats that absorb sweat and are easy to clean.

Simple Tips for a Fresh-Smelling Gym

Woman cleaning barbell

Before quitting your home exercise, read these helpful tips on keeping your home gym from stinking.

1. Always Keep Your Gym Equipment Clean

Your home gym is a wonderful location to stay in shape and a breeding place for bacteria.

As a result, regularly cleaning your home gym equipment is critical to maintaining it hygienic and bacteria-free.

Use non-corrosive cleaning solutions and microfiber towels for effective and safe cleaning. This is essential to prevent equipment corrosion and the spread of germs, especially on high-contact areas like handles and padded surfaces.

2. Air the Gym Mats Before Using Them

Gym mat on the grass

Rubber items have a natural smell that fades over several days of airing.

CMS's Health Plan Management Solution suggests that exposing mats to sunlight and rotating them regularly can hasten the off-gassing, reducing rubber's Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

It also recommends cleaning with a water-and-vinegar mix and using peppermint oil [1].

For effective off-gassing, give them a few hours in direct sunlight. If using horse stall mats, which smell stronger than Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) mats, hose them down daily.

3. Clean the Floor of Your Home Gym Regularly

The home gym floor is the next thing that absorbs most of your sweat. It is also difficult to clean.

Scrub away the sticky residues, vacuum the whole floor, including the spaces between the mats, and then thoroughly wash it, ensuring no water seeps through the openings or the covering of the mats.

According to WebMD, if water gets to the plywood and the carpet under the mats, molds can grow all over, damaging the carpet and making your gym smell [2].

4. Never Leave Your Exercise Clothes at the Gym

Pile of dirty gym clothes

If you've ever been to a fitness center, you've probably seen individuals who wear the same dirty gym clothes for over a week.

Always wear clean workout clothing and discard your worn workout clothes inside your laundry basket when you're done.

Maintain various sets so you are never in the same clothes or without anything new.

5. Open All Windows and Doors

This will provide natural airflow, replenishing the home gym air faster than any equipment.

A window and some openings may significantly enhance indoor air quality.

"Simply open the windows and experience a breeze through your sitting room. It may appear apparent, but it will remove a lot of residual bad smells."

- Marilee Nelson, Co-Founder at Branch Basics

6. Install or Use Air Conditioning Units

Woman holding an aircon remote

Air conditioning has two purposes: it reduces humidity and temperature levels, providing comfort.

Lowering humidity also aids in the prevention of odors and mold growth [2].

Operating an air conditioning unit may keep the home gym smelling fresh for a long time.

The sole limitation is that residential air conditioners do not filter the air but can filter larger dust particles.

They are ineffective against tiny particles and hazardous gasses and cannot penetrate weak spores.

Connecting a home gym to a Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system with greater power and more efficient filters performs significantly better, albeit at a higher cost, than having window units.

7. Eliminate Humidity

If you live in a hot, humid place, use a dehumidifier to prevent gym odors.

Got the budget? Opt for a portable AC to cool down your home gym.

In humid regions, skip swamp coolers; they don't help. ACs are best, but a floor fan works for lower electricity bills.

Robert Pustowar from Home Athlete Zone also vouches for fans for air circulation and managing water vapor.

By positioning them on opposite sides, fans can reduce humidity around moisture spots or create a cross-breeze. Pairing fans with other methods boosts humidity control.

8. Wash Your Towels

Dirty towels in a washing machine

Regularly washing your gym towels keeps them clean and minimizes bacteria buildup.

It is also critical to launder your exercise towels to eliminate sweat and bacteria after each use.

If you do not have adequate time to clean your towel before each use, rinse it with hot water to prevent sweat or body oils from being drawn back into your skin and causing body odor and discomfort.

9. Use Organic Air Fresheners To Get Your Home Gym Smelling Fresh

Even after implementing all the above measures, your gym might still have a slight odor. In my experience, this is normal, especially in a well-used home gym. Regular maintenance and airing out the space can help keep this to a minimum, but a bit of a 'workout scent' often reminds us of all the hard work done there.

As a result, many individuals utilize fragrance oils, scented candles, and other products to cover the stink.

Instead, we prefer organic air fresheners. On the side of your home gym, add a container of coffee grinds, baking soda, or a scented house plant.

FAQs

How Can I Exercise in My Room Without It Smelling?

You can exercise in your room without it smelling by ensuring that after every workout, you clean the room and the equipment, humidify and let fresh air inside the room.

How Do I Freshen the Air in My Home Gym?

You freshen the air in your home gym by opening the doors and windows, installing an air conditioning unit, or using commercial-grade air purifiers.

What Causes Gym Smell?

What causes gym smell are body oils, bacteria, and sweat which build up in the synthetic fabrics, thus causing a literal stink.

How to Clean Home Gym Equipment?

To clean home gym equipment:

  1. Wipe Down: Use a cloth with mild soap and water or a disinfectant wipe to clean surfaces.
  2. Disinfect: Apply a disinfectant spray for non-porous surfaces like metal or plastic.
  3. Dry: Ensure equipment is thoroughly dried to prevent rust or damage.
  4. Regular Maintenance: Clean regularly to prevent buildup of sweat and bacteria.

References:

  1. http://www.hpms.com/v/vspfiles/downloadables/Howto-Remove%20Rubber%20Smell.pdf
  2. https://www.webmd.com/lung/mold-mildew
  3. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1056928/pdf
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