Germ Patrol

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When we think of spring cleaning, our minds immediately go to purging our closets, uncluttering our cupboards and giving things a good old fashioned scrubbing. While that is a great practice, there are little things that we often overlook that may be harboring nasty germs. When was the last time you cleaned your gym stuff?

Earbuds: They get tossed in your bag or your pocket with who knows-what-else, and then stuck inside your ears. Not only are they covered with bacteria from the bottom of your bag, or inside of your pocket, they are also covered in earwax and sweat from your ears. Take a moment to think about how gross that is, and then take action!
Use a toothpick to gently remove any visable gunk, and then wipe them down with a cloth that has been very lightly saturated in rubbing alcohol. Make sure the cloth is just damp, so that no moisture gets inside the earpiece. They will not only look and feel better, but they will sound better too!

Fitness Tracker:  We wear these items religiously on our wrists, day and night, and especially when we are working up a sweat. Do you ever think about cleaning them? Some trackers are water resistant and can be worn in the shower, like the Nike Fuel Band, while others need to be removed first. Make a habit of wiping down the band with either rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant wipe after hitting the gym. Would you take a shower and then put your used socks back on? Then don’t put your sweat covered tracker back on either. Most devices have manufacturer’s suggested methods for cleaning them. Fitbit suggests using a toothpick in the computer port in the back to gently remove any build up, and then using Q-Tips lightly soaked in alcohol to wipe the back area clean. (Are you seeing a pattern here yet?)

Gym Bag: We lay it on the floor, inside a locker and fill it with sweaty clothes and dirty sneakers, yet we don’t often think about cleaning it. If you use a washable bag, you are in luck. Toss it in the washer and dryer to freshen it up often. For many other bags, it isn’t quite so simple. Nylon bags can be wiped down with a soapy cloth and air dried. Wiping it down inside and out with an antibacterial wipe regularly is a good practice. Don’t forget the handles!

Yoga Mat: If you tote your own, its a good idea to keep it clean. Wipe it down with a solution of water and apple cider vinegar to disinfect it naturally and keep the rubber from degrading. Airdry it fully open and away from direct sunlight. If you use the mats available at the gym or studio that are shared by others, this might not be possible. Tote some antibacterial wipes along to give it good once over before beginning your practice.There are also special mat sprays available from a variety of sources, or you can make your own. Simply fill a small spray bottle with purified water (spring, distilled or filtered,) and a couple of drops of teatree oil and a drop of lavendar oil. Teatree oil is a natural antifungal and antibacterial and lavender helps  relaxation  and relieves tension. While you’re at it, give your sneakers a good squirt.

Phone: This is probably the most handled and germiest thing we own. It goes everywhere we go, and provides tunes to push us through our sweatiest of workouts. Show it some love, and clean it off. Apple does not advise using anything more than a lint free cloth to clean off their iPhones and iPads. Other sites claim a lint free cloth soaked in a little, you guessed it, alcohol is ok once in awhile. Apple also sells something called iKlenz spray, which is approved for use on their products. Using a screen protector is helpful as that can be wiped off, or easily and inexpensively replaced. The cases we use can be cleaned, and depending on the material they are made of, many can be removed and washed with a mild soap and water solution. Check with the manufacturer as to how you can clean your case.

Sneakers: Washing and drying sneakers isn’t a good idea, as it can damage the midsoles. If you do choose to put them in the washing machine, use a gentle cycle, and stuff them with newspaper to hold their shape while air drying. Alternatively, use a toothbrush to get the mud off of them, and a damp sudsy cloth to the uppers. Many companies from Amazon to Foot Locker sell a sneaker cleaning spray that is said to be very effective. A little squirt of mat spray (see above) or sprinkling them with baking soda after wearing them, helps to control the dampness and odor.

Now that you know what to do, get going and freshen up those germy gym accessories  today!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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