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Turns Out, Your Gym Bag Is Crawling With Germs — Here's How to Clean It

Popsugar logo Popsugar 6/10/2018 Laura Arndt

a person wearing a suit and tie: Photographer: Diggy LloydRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only. No advertising or print.Product Credits: MPG pants, Uniqlo jacket. © POPSUGAR Photography / Diggy Lloyd Photographer: Diggy LloydRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only. No advertising or print.Product Credits: MPG pants, Uniqlo jacket.

If you're anything like me, you have a favourite bag you've used to lug your clothes, shoes, water bottle, and towels to and from the gym for years. After a workout, I always empty my bag, wash my water bottle and clothes, and remove my gym shoes so they can air out. But it wasn't until a client mentioned disinfecting her gym bag that I realised mine is long overdue for a deep clean.

The reality is your gym bag houses just as many germs as the items you place inside it. You can remove your shoes (ugh, the bottoms!) and sweaty clothes, but that doesn't mean they won't leave dirt and bacteria behind. Then there's the stuff your bag picks up from the gym and locker room floor. "Everyone thinks of locker rooms, showers, and gyms as reservoirs for germs, but your gym bag — used to store those sweaty clothes — can also be harbouring bugs," Dr. Prachi Ranade, MD at Infectious Disease Consultants, PLC, told POPSUGAR. "Make sure to clean the inside of your bag often — at least twice a week."

What's the Best Way to Clean It?

Disinfectant wipes are one of the easiest ways to keep your gym bag clean. Keep the wipes in your car or wherever you pack your bag, and give it a quick wipe inside and out every couple of uses. For a deeper clean, you may be able to throw it in the washer. "If you use a regular canvas bag, you can simply wash with your favourite detergent, but be sure to wash in cold water as warm will shrink down the canvas," said Jacqueline Maria, owner of Ivy Glove Cleaning Services, who uses these methods to clean her son's football gear. "If you have a multi-fabric bag, mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar, then add a small amount of Dawn dish soap. Use a soft sponge to wipe the bag down, both inside and out." However you clean your bag, the key is making sure to do so regularly.

Even better, prevent the spread of germs before it starts. Keep that bag off the floor, and do what you can to shield your clothes. "Most people are considerate and wipe down machines after using them, but those germs are persistent, and an additional wipe down before hopping on ensures more protection," Dr. Ranade said. Then, when you're done working out, be careful how you pack up. "Damp clothing attracts mould and germs," she said.

Maria suggests keeping those germs isolated. "For example, wrap wet or stinky shoes in plastic shower caps before placing them in your bag," she said. You can also keep dryer sheets in your bag if it tends to smell — and of course, you should empty it ASAP when you get home.

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