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If you’re an avid gym goer, you know all too well that in more recent years, fitness facility owners and employees have laid down a new rule (and even provided some cleaning products to go along with it): To sanitize your equipment. But alas, like all rules, there are some who just simply don’t follow along – AKA that token guy who sweats after his 5-mile treadmill stint and discretely walks away without wiping down the freshly sweated-up machine. Maybe you’re a gym goer who cringes at those members who don’t clean their machines. Or maybe you’re that person who genuinely doesn’t think wiping down equipment is a necessary rule to follow.

No matter the case, here’s why you should absolutely get into the habit of wiping down equipment at the gym:

Gym Equipment Can Carry Serious Germs

An even more accurate statement would be that the equipment most likely does carry serious germs…and infections. Some of the worst, top contenders include Human Papillomavirus (HPV), community-acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Klebsiella and Influenza. While the actual machines are a great way to pass along said contaminations, other equipment with porous materials (yoga mats and other padding) are even riskier. Bacteria literally thrives on such softness, especially when it’s damp from sweat. All in all, a handful of the germs commonly passed along at gyms derive from contact with shared surfaces – meaning everything is fair game, since you basically share everything at a gym. Yep, that includes something as small as a 6-pound hand weight to items that don’t even help you work out, like a water fountain.

Athletes are at a Higher Risk

It’s common knowledge that athletic teams, from hockey players to swimmers, spend a significant amount of their practice and training time inside gyms. Because of this — and a variety of other reasons— athletes are at a much higher risk for contracting infections. As mentioned, this risk isn’t just increased because of the amount of time they spend there. In fact, many of the infections, bacteria and germs athletes are susceptible to come from their continued shared use of gym showers, locker rooms, saunas or steam rooms, equipment – and even a towel and razor used by two different people. Aside from the aforementioned common gym germs, athletes are especially prone to Escherichia Coli (E. coli), Candida and Streptococcal bacteria (strep throat).

You Can Prevent Something Illness, Before it Even Begins

Here’s a fun fact: A recent study found that ten percent of gym equipment had staph on it before it was cleaned at the end of the day. Yikes. The good news about this less-than-calming statistic? It makes a good case for gym users to always wipe down the equipment before AND after use. After all, be honest with yourself. You really have no idea what type of germs or infections the person who used that leg press machine before you is carrying, and left for you to contract. Cleaning off your piece of gym equipment before you begin to work out is a smart way to protect yourself and others – after all, prevention is the easiest way to avoid illness and infection.

When you head back to the gym and sanitize a machine, it’s just as important to know exactly what you should use to clean it as it is to know why you are cleaning it. While antibacterial wipes are commonly offered at fitness facilities as a means of cleaning, they are far from perfect, and – spoiler alert – these wipes won’t actually get the job done. Instead, choose an effective disinfectant spray – ideally one that is EPA-approved, non-corrosive and safe on skin.

Not sure which spray to use? Check out Clear Gear Sports Spray, used by athletes who highly rate it. A one-stop-deal, Clear Gear Sports Spray is a popular and ready-to-use product that will clean, disinfect and deodorize all types of athletic equipment and gear in one easy step.