Cleaning & Housekeeping

3 DIY Eco-Friendly Gym Equipment Cleaners – Disinfect Workout Gear Naturally

Updated on
Gym equipment

I love doing some exercise at home before starting to work. It helps me jump-start my brain (and I also want to look fit and be healthy, of course). Sometimes I also visit the gym nearby.

I know, unfortunately from experience, that using the gym equipment without sanitizing can cause some unpleasant health issues. Therefore, I always clean the workout gear with a normal disinfectant.

However, the other day I read an interesting article about the adverse effects of household chemicals and I wondered if there was an effective eco-friendly way of sanitizing the gym equipment. So I did some research and tested a few homemade, natural, and non-toxic disinfectants.

As it turned out, you can make your own environmentally-friendly DIY gym equipment cleaner pretty easily. And the best of all is that if you do it the right way, it’s just as effective as a traditional disinfectant.

Why You Should Wipe Off Workout Equipment Before Exercising – Dangers of Not Sanitizing

The surface of gym equipment is an ideal environment for many bacteria and viruses where they can survive for many days. If you use workout gear without sanitizing after an infected person, there’s a good chance you’ll get infected too.

Skin infections are pretty common. According to the CDC, approximately every third person carries Staphylococcus aureus bacteria which can potentially cause skin problems. These conditions can be transferred just by touching the infected surface. Studies found that between 10 and 30 percent of gym surfaces contain bacteria that can cause skin disorders.

While bacteria causing skin infections are the most common, they’re not the only type of pathogens you can meet in a public gym. Many viruses stay alive for a relatively long time on gym surfaces. It’s enough to touch a contaminated handle and then rub your eyes to get infected.

You may wonder if it’s necessary to clean your home gym as well. After all, probably you are the only one who uses the equipment (and maybe your family). While it’s true that there’s a much lower chance of being infected if you’re using a home gym, it’s still recommended to sanitize it regularly.

Over time dirt and dust can build up on the surfaces that can serve as a breeding ground for germs. Sometimes you may use your workout gear without washing your hands after touching contaminated surfaces in the supermarket or on the subway (or at home). It happens more often than you might think.

Bacteria and viruses multiply amazingly fast under favorable conditions and your gym equipment will be full of germs after just a few days if you don’t clean it regularly.

The Best DIY Green Gym Equipment Cleaners

1. Thymol-Based Disinfectant: The “Green Bleach”

Thymol is a plant-based EPA-registered surface disinfectant that’s highly effective against a broad spectrum of germs, including influenza A, Staphylococcus aureus, and TB. Thymol is found in the oil of thyme.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a pretty reliable toxicity rating system that ranges from one (most toxic) to four (least toxic). Thymol is in category IV, so it’s relatively non-toxic (bleach is in category I – just for comparison).

Let’s see how you can make an effective disinfectant containing thymol that you can use to clean gym equipment.

Note: Thymol is not always easy to get, however, it can be found in the oil of thyme that’s widely available. That’s what we’re going to use in our DIY gym sanitizer.

Tools you’ll need:

  • 8 oz. spray bottle


  • 20 drops of 100% pure thyme essential oil
  • 1 oz. vodka or rubbing alcohol
  • 10-15 drops of lemon essential oil (optional)
  • 7 oz. water


  • First, mix the vodka or rubbing alcohol with the essential oils (it’s best to shake them well) and let them sit for a few minutes.
  • Then add the water and your environmentally friendly gym sanitizer is ready to use. Just spray on the surface, let it sit a little bit, and then wipe it clean with a paper towel.

If you want to use this sanitizer on very delicate sports equipment, leave the vodka and alcohol out. Instead, use alcohol-free witch hazel.

If you prefer a ready-to-use solution, you can’t go wrong with Benefect or CleanWell products. Their botanical ingredients kill most microorganisms, including flu and cold viruses, on gym equipment surfaces.

2. Vinegar & Vodka Based Gym Sanitizer

A small bottle of Vodka between two fingersPin

Vinegar and vodka (or rubbing alcohol) both have strong antibacterial effects and by using them together you can get rid of most germs. They’re natural, non-toxic disinfectants that have stood the test of time.

Tools you’ll need:

  • 8 oz. spray bottle


  • 3 oz. vodka or rubbing alcohol
  • 2.5 oz. white vinegar
  • 50 drops of essential oil of your choice (choose one with a scent you like)
  • 2.5 oz. water


  • Mix the essential oil with the vodka (or rubbing alcohol) and shake them well.
  • Then add the vinegar and finally the water.

Note: I have never seen any workout gear that contained granite or marble but I must point out that it’s not recommended to use this sanitizer on special stone surfaces and very delicate sports equipment. It might damage them.

3. Disinfect Workout Gear with the Power of Tea Tree: Essential Oil Based Sanitizer

Tea tree oil has natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It’s effective against a bunch of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It’s an often-used ingredient in hand sanitizers, natural antifungal products, acne cleansers, and deodorants.

Apple cider vinegar also has some pretty significant antimicrobial properties. It’s highly popular among people who like green products because it’s very versatile and has many proven health benefits.

Tools you’ll need:

  • 4 oz. spray bottle


  • 40 drops of tea tree essential oil
  • 20 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 20 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 2 oz. apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 oz. water
  • 0.5 oz. rubbing alcohol or vodka or witch hazel (optional)


  • As a first step, mix the essential oils with the rubbing alcohol (or vodka or witch hazel) and shake well.
  • Then add the water and the apple cider vinegar and shake again.
  • For delicate sports equipment use alcohol-free witch hazel instead of rubbing alcohol and vodka.
  • It’s recommended to shake the bottle before each usage.

Does your home gym smell sour? Check out this useful guide and learn how you can get rid of the smell quickly and permanently.

If you like homemade green stuff, make sure you also have a look at our post on the best natural drain cleaners here.

In Summary

When it comes to sanitizing, many people think about traditional chemicals, like bleach or products containing quaternary ammonium that are potentially toxic and can cause serious health issues. Not to mention their negative impact on the environment.

As you can see, you don’t have to give up using green products if you need powerful sanitizing. You can make your own DIY eco-friendly gym equipment cleaner in minutes. Then you can use it on all kinds of workout gear and exercise machines, like workout benches, weights, cardio equipment, or yoga mat.

Make sure you always wipe down the gym equipment before using it. Your new green disinfectant will help you to get rid of germs and prevent infections so you can concentrate on your workout with peace of mind.

James Mora author profile photo
About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is a home improvement expert, contractor, avid DIYer, and security manager. He is passionate about home repairs, remodeling, and teaching. Read More