How To Clean & Disinfect A Treadmill Properly

Posted by Stephen Steinberg on Oct 22, 2021

How To Clean & Disinfect A Treadmill Properly

Stephen Steinberg, Founder of Raw Athletics and Vapor Fresh Stephen Steinberg | October 22, 2021


Treadmills. We sweat on them more than any other piece of gym equipment, so cleaning them is important. Treadmills also have many different mechanical and electrical components that make cleaning them a bit more nuanced.

Here are some general tips on how to clean and disinfect your treadmill properly:

Always Follow Your Manufacturer’s Guidelines

The tips and suggestions below are general guidelines. If anything discussed here conflicts with what your treadmill manufacturer says in their manual, always listen to the treadmill manufacturer. When it comes to maintenance and cleaning, your treadmill’s manual should be the go-to source for information.

Frequent Cleaning Procedures For Treadmills

Whether we’re talking about a treadmill at home that gets used a few times per week, or a treadmill in a large gym that gets used a few times per hour, there are some general cleaning procedures and guidelines you should follow frequently to keep your treadmill as fresh and clean as possible.

“Frequent” can mean different things for different treadmill owners. If this is your personal treadmill at home, that probably means after every workout or every other workout. If this is a commercial treadmill used much more frequently, that probably means you should have staff go through at select intervals throughout the day to perform these cleaning procedures to keep your gym presentable and your members happy.

Clean The Display, But Don’t Spray It Directly!
Most modern treadmills have some sort of display with controls that get used with sweaty hands. A dirty display will be very noticeable and uncomfortable to use. No one wants that, so be sure to clean it often!

Cleaning the display of the treadmill is a bit more nuanced because there are electrical components you don’t want to get wet. The main point to remember is to never spray a treadmill screen directly as that increases the risks of liquid sneaking through the crevices and into the electrical components.

If you are managing a commercial gym, you shouldn’t provide your members with cleaning spray at all because that’s inviting disaster. Instead, set up a few gym wipe dispensers within your gym and stock them with our Vapor Fresh Disinfecting Gym Wipes specifically designed for fitness equipment.

For your own personal treadmill at home, we highly recommend using our Vapor Fresh Home Gym Disinfecting Wipes, which are the same wipes used in the top gyms nationwide in small canisters for convenient home use.

If you prefer to use a cleaning spray, we recommend you spray a microfiber towel until slightly damp and then use that to wipe down the display. This will significantly reduce the risk of water damage. Our Vapor Fresh Sports Cleaning Spray is a fantastic option if you prefer spray.

Clean The Handlebars And Cup Holders
The handlebars and cup holders are probably the second most dirty part of the treadmill after the display. Luckily there are no electrical components to worry about here, so cleaning them with the same product you used to clean the display is perfectly fine and most convenient.

One thing to note is that cup holders tend to collect liquid, so if you do opt to use a spray, be sure to dry everything as best you can to prevent pooling of liquid that won’t dry properly on its own.

Vacuum Under & Around The Treadmill To Prevent Dust Damage To The Motor
Many people ignore the running belt and the base of the treadmill because they assume cleaning it is a lost cause. However, keeping the belt and base clean is by far the most important thing you can do to keep your treadmill running well for as long as possible. Dust and debris floating around the base of your treadmill will inevitably enter the hood and engine area, where they will interfere with the lubrication and movement of the mechanical parts. Too much of that will force parts of your treadmill to be replaced earlier than usual.

For the base and the belt, we first recommend vacuuming the floor under and around the treadmill, and then vacuuming the belt and the side of the base. Sometimes it helps here to have the treadmill running at a very slow pace so you can vacuum while it's moving.

Clean The Base And The Belt
After vacuuming the base and surrounding area, you should wipe the belt clean using a cleaning spray or gym wipe of your choice. This will remove the excess sweat, odor and debris remaining which will keep your treadmill looking and feeling like new.

Maintenance Cleaning Procedures For Treadmills

The frequent cleaning procedures above will help keep your treadmill running properly and looking great, but you’ll still need to perform some deeper cleaning and maintenance procedures every once in a while to truly protect your investment.

Always refer to your treadmill’s operating manual first for specific maintenance schedules and procedures, but here are some general tips that we suggest:

Use A Towel To Clear Away Dust Under The Running Belt
Vacuuming under and around the treadmill will help prevent significant dust accumulation within the hood and chamber of the treadmill, but dust accumulation will still occur. Considering how damaging this rogue dust and debris can be to your treadmill, we recommend using a towel to clear away dust, dirt and debris from under the treadmill’s belt where a vacuum may not reach.

To do this, you’ll want to take a long dry towel and slide it under one side of the belt until it comes out of the other. Then you’ll want to pull both sides of the towel so there’s no slack in the towel. Then, while holding both sides of the towel in place so it doesn’t move, turn on the treadmill to the slowest speed possible. While the belt turns, the towel will be collecting dust and debris. After the belt makes 1-3 turns, turn the treadmill off and remove the towel.

Here’s a short YouTube video explaining the process:

Remove The Hood To Vacuum Away Dust Around The Motor
Occasionally, you’ll want to open up the treadmill’s hood to expose the engine and carefully vacuum away dust and debris inside this compartment.

Again, it’s important to refer to your owner’s manual here to determine the specifics for this procedure, but this will ensure your treadmill runs smoothly for a long time.

Avoid Harsh Cleaning Chemicals - They Will Eventually Come In Contact With Your Body!

It’s also important to determine which cleaning products to use. There are many factors to consider, but here are a few we think are most important when it comes to fitness equipment and treadmills specifically:

Avoid Quats
Most cleaning spray and wipes on the market use quaternary ammonium compounds, or quats, as their active ingredient to clean surfaces. Unfortunately, quats come with a whole host of health concerns, especially related to eyes, skin, lung and reproductive health in both men and women. For example, quats have been shown to cause eczema, as well as new cases of asthma. They’ve also been shown to be toxic to the reproductive systems of both male and female mice.

Is that something you want to use to clean your treadmill, which will eventually come in direct contact with your skin? Neither do we. That’s why we formulate all Vapor Fresh products to be 100% free of quats and instead rely on ingredients with better safety profiles.

Choose A Disinfectant (Not Just A Sanitizer Or Cleaner)
Fitness equipment has been shown to harbor many different types of harmful germs, including MRSA. It doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning your personal treadmill or a commercial treadmill shared by many, you need to disinfect it properly to keep everyone safe.

Contrary to popular belief, sanitizers and disinfectants are not the same. Disinfectants have a much higher bar to pass than sanitizers in terms of what they kill and how thoroughly they kill them. For example, disinfectants are registered to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, while sanitizers are only registered to kill bacteria. In addition, in order to be approved for sale, disinfectants must kill 10x the amount of germs that sanitizers do.

It’s for these reasons that disinfectants are necessary for cleaning surfaces in important settings where safety is paramount, such as healthcare facilities, childcare facilities and gyms.

Vapor Fresh Can Help Clean Your Treadmill Properly

Vapor Fresh is trusted by some of the most premier gyms, fitness centers, college recreation centers and community centers nationwide. We pride ourselves on developing stronger, safer and greener cleaning products specifically for the sports & fitness community. From cleaning sprays, laundry detergents, disinfecting wipes and much more, we’ve got what you need to keep your treadmill fresh and clean!


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