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How to Stop a Home Gym From Smelling

How to Stop a Home Gym From Smelling (10 Tips)

Working out at home is great, you don’t need to wait for equipment to be free, you can purchase any equipment that you like, and you don’t even need to leave to the comfort of your home to get a solid workout in. 

Yes, there are numerous advantages to a home gym, however, it’s not all great news having a home gym. One of the biggest downsides to a home gym is when it starts to smell!

You could clean regularly but when you are sweating in a home gym, the steps needed to keep it clean and odor-free are very different from what you might do with your regular cleaning routine. Read on to find out how to stop a home gym from smelling with some expert tips for an odorless home gym. 

Why Do Home Gyms Smell

Firstly, it’s important to know why home gyms smell. 

The reason for this is that preventing odors in the first place will be more beneficial than trying to eliminate them later on. Home gyms tend to smell for a number of reasons which are:

  • Sweat causes bacteria and moisture to cling to surfaces
  • Dirty gym clothing
  • Rubber or rust odors coming from gym equipment
  • Poor ventilation resulting in mold or mildew developing

There are some other factors to keep in mind but a very important note to consider is that most homes are not designed to be used as a gym. The ventilation, temperature control, and surrounding surfaces like walls and furniture are not suitable for changing temperatures and moisture levels as a result of a training session. 

Therefore, to prevent the smells initially, you need to work on making your home gym more suitable for training. This can be a long process with an investment needed into ventilation, sealing surfaces to control moisture, and generally making the area into an actual “gym”. 

For those reading this that need a quick fix though, read on for some temporary solutions to a smelly home gym and some quick fixes or quick wins you can use easily and cheaply. 

How to Stop a Home Gym From Smelling

There are a number of ways to stop a home gym from smelling, the 10 best tips you can use to stop your home gym from smelling are:

  1. Have a regular cleaning routine
  2. Improve airflow and ventilation 
  3. Use air fresheners
  4. Use a clean towel when working out to wipe away sweat
  5. Rotate gym clothing regularly
  6. Use a dehumidifier
  7. Use an air purifier
  8. Add baking soda to the gym to absorb odors
  9. Check for mold
  10. Deep clean new or used equipment

Below, we’ll cover each of these tips in more detail. 

1. Regularly Clean Your Space and Equipment  

It seems like a no-brainer, but after pushing yourself through an intense workout it’s way too easy to put off cleaning your equipment and your area. If you want bacteria… Well, that’s how you get bacteria! This is something that you can easily change, however, because chores like cleaning become a habit with enough repetition.

If you work out with a music soundtrack, append the soundtrack at the end with some music that you like which is a little less intense and which lasts for about 15 – 20 minutes. During this time, clean your equipment well and supplement this cleaning with a twice-a-week tidying up that is completely separate from your workouts.

It’s difficult at first, but if you teach yourself this habit early and use the musical interlude as a timer, then this ‘chore’ will change into a fully-developed ‘habit’.

2. Circulate the Air

You’ve gotta have good air circulation and ventilation or your home gym is going to get musty. 

This is easy to accomplish and won’t break the bank. Start off with one or two ground fans and install a ceiling fan as well for maximizing air circulation. This will help to keep a little ‘stink’ off of your equipment and it will be much more amenable to your maintenance cleaning sessions.

3. Time-Release Air Fresheners

Air fresheners definitely help, although some of them are a bit on the ‘chemical’ side, and having to breathe them can sometimes be torturous when you are trying to focus on your workout. A good way to avoid this is to use all-natural citrus air fresheners and there are some that you can plug into a handy outlet that will time-release a few times a day.

Rather than that weird, synthetic and chemical scents that you get from most air fresheners, these air fresheners employ concentrated citrus juice. The result is that your workout area smells like you’ve got a bowl of fresh oranges somewhere and the effect is actually quite nice.

4. Always Use Clean Towels 

Resist the urge to “change the towels later”. When you finish your workout, you’ll be sweaty if you are doing it right, and this warrants a pristinely clean towel which you should use and take straight to the laundry bin. If this seems like a hassle, get more towels so that you can effectively rotate them and only have to launder a ‘workout batch’ once a week.  

5. Workout Shoes and Clothes

A common mistake that a lot of beginners make is only having one set of workout clothes and using the same shoes that they use all of the time. Shoes can get funky pretty fast and those scents will linger in your gym and the same goes with workout clothes.

After an intense workout you’ll sweat a lot and bacteria build up in this humidity very quickly, so when you workout in the same clothes twice or thrice then you’re not only dirtier than you think, but you are transferring that bacteria and smell to your equipment.

Get a pair of shoes specifically for working out and keep them outside of your gym. Invest also in extra shorts and shirts so that you’re always working out in clean clothes as well and you’ll be one step closer to that pristine home gym that you’ve always imagined.

6. Invest in a Dehumidifier

A portable dehumidifier can really go a long way towards deterring odors. That’s because bacteria and molds thrive in humid environments and with a dehumidifier, the moisture in the air is going to be drawn into it and ‘swapped out’ for drier air.

As an added bonus, this is also going to make your home gym a little cooler, since that dry air is much easier to cool than the hot, humid air that you’ve got right now!

A dehumidifier is particularly useful in a garage gym where airflow, insulation, and ventilation are typically less prominent and for some home gym beginners, these might not even be in place at all. 

7. Use Air Purifiers

An air purifier is also a good investment, just be sure that you select one that uses HEPA filters. HEPA filters are common on the market now and not very expensive, which is something that you should take advantage of because they are rated to clean up to 99.97% of contaminants in some cases.

This means dust, smells, fungus, and even airborne bacteria can be reduced to almost nothing. The air in your gym home will be amazing!

8. Add Baking Soda to Your Home Gym

Some of us learned from our parents that sticking an open box of baking soda in the fridge will keep your refrigerator from getting smelly, but you might not know that you can do the same for your home gym! Get one or two boxes of baking soda, pop open the triangular tab in the front, and place them near your workout area.

The baking soda will absorb a large amount of any odors that are present and your gym will smell sweeter for it.

9. Check for Mold 

A mold check at least once or twice a year is a good idea. Check the walls, the flooring, and any other places where moisture might be seeping in and giving mold a chance to grow and thrive. This is especially important if you are using the garage as your workout area, as that musty smell that we often detect in the garage is usually – almost always – mold.

It never hurts to check and if nothing seems to make your gym smell better, then consider the possibility that it might just be mold.

10. Clean New Equipment

Whether you are buying gym equipment that is brand new or used, you’ll need to do some initial checks and cleaning to remove any odors that are present now or ones that could arise later. What do we mean by that?

Firstly, if you are buying any new rubber weights or dumbbells, you’ll likely be greeted by a very strong and toxic odor when taking it out of the box. This is also true for any rubber matting that you might be installing for a home gym floor. 

This shouldn’t be an alarm bell for faulty equipment though, it’s normal and you can check out our guide on how to get the rubber smell out of dumbbells and weights

Secondly, you’ll want to clean any used equipment. Sweat and bacteria from previous users are likely to be present in the upholstery for any weight benches and the presence of rust on barbells, weights, or equipment will also create a smell. 

If you already have this issue, check out this page on barbell rust to have your equipment looking like new again. 

Final Thoughts

While home gyms are great, something that’s not so great is when they start to smell! You can have a regular cleaning routine that involves dusting, wiping down surfaces, and vacuuming, but these will only help with part of the problem when it comes to home gym odors. 

Due to sweat, bacteria, moisture, and poor ventilation in most home gyms, there are many other factors that you need to tackle in order to minimize smells in your home gym. Some simple wins can be checking for mold, keeping the gym area clear of used gym gear or towels, or using an air purifier/air freshener. 

For long-term odor protection, you’ll want to invest some money into key items like a dehumidifier, an extraction unit for ventilation, or just some fans to improve airflow and circulation.