Wiping Down Gym Equipment Has Never Been More Important - Here’s Why

  • It’s safer to work out in a public restroom?! We're not even kidding

  • Don’t be duped by disinfectant products with glitzy labels

We’ve all seen it. That sweaty, wheezing, huffing-and-puffing guy on the elliptical that not only overstays on your choice of exercise equipment, but drenches it all in sweat. And then just walks away. 

No wiping down, no drying off, no thought or consideration. There’s not even a paper towel in sight!

It makes you reconsider your list of necessities for a planned visit to the gym. Exercise towel? Check. Electrolytes? Check. Tub of disinfecting wipes? Check!

Gym goers around the world have had to endure this for years, and now there is yet another dimension to consider. The global pandemic continues to dominate our thoughts. How do we know we won’t get this dreadful disease from using that piece of equipment? 

We disinfect, we sanitise, we mask up, wash our hands, don’t shake hands and keep 6 feet apart. And we wipe down gym equipment, both before and after use, right?

Don’t use a treadmill, use a public toilet. It’s safer!

It should come as no surprise that gyms have a high concentration of bacteria. But how bad is it? A study found an entire civilisation of bacterial families and generations living on the surfaces we touch when we visit the gym. 

“But we are surrounded by bacteria!” you say. And we are, but they also found “pathogenic or potential pathogenic bacterial genera including Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, and Micrococcus.” Next time you’re busting out miles on that rowing machine, think about the Klebsiella making its way through your pores. Great!

If that’s not enough to convince you, consider the number of colony-forming units (CFUs) found on a treadmill compared to a public toilet seat. "But hang on, what is a CFU?" you say.

A CFU is a fancy term used by scientists when they measure how many cells of a type of bacteria are actually able to multiply. Those are the ones that matter.

So back to the comparison. This is based on testing done by the fitness equipment review crowd over at FitRated. They found over 1.3 million CFUs on a treadmill, compared to the average public toilet seat which apparently only contains around 3 thousand CFUs. 

So not only are you running your butt off to get nowhere, but you are exposed to over 400 times more bacteria than if you were just hanging out, reading the paper in the public convenience. Are you starting to see the benefit of carrying those wet wipes around with you yet?

What to look out for in a disinfectant product - beware those glitzy labels

This information will affect you, whether you are a gym goer, a gym worker or a gym owner. Before we start disinfecting, there is a vital first step to consider.

Surfaces that require disinfecting must first be cleaned. In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) explicitly states that cleaning should be done before disinfecting. So get to cleaning that gym equipment first! Once that vital first step is out of the way, we can turn our attention to selecting the best disinfecting product for the job.

With the number of new products flooding the market, all claiming to be effective against the ‘Rona, it’s more important than ever to check the label. Whether you choose to use a disinfectant spray, disinfectant wipes or perhaps a combination of the two, there are a few things to look out for.

Sometimes you might think you are buying a great disinfectant product when you might even be better off making your own. A word of caution: please do not try to make your own disinfectant using any type of chemicals or mixing of substances. It can be very dangerous!

There are two things you need to look for: independent testing results and contact time.

There are established testing standards that the makers of disinfectants can use to prove how well their products work. These tests are performed by independent laboratories to ensure that the data is accurate. They are expensive and time consuming, and this means:

  1. That they are beyond the reach of most “pop-up” companies looking to make a quick buck during the pandemic, and 
  2. The users of these products have a simple way of ensuring that it does what it says on the label

A prime example would be the BS EN 14476 standard. This is THE test that can confirm whether a product is effective against a host of viruses, including COVID-19.

The second thing to take into consideration is contact time. In a nutshell, the standard testing answers the question “Does it work?” with either a “Yes” or “No.” What it does not answer are more relevant questions, such as how long it takes to work and how to best use it. 

For that, you need to look at the label on the product itself for information on efficacy (how long it takes to work) and usage instructions. Don’t be fooled by beautiful designs or cool looking colours. Companies (especially with everyone jumping on the COVID train) often spend a few quid on getting a professional looking label, rather than ensuring the product is fit for purpose.

You will be surprised at how few products actually provide efficacy information. That’s often a good indicator that they either have not properly tested the product, or that they prefer not to mention the efficacy numbers.

After all, would you buy a disinfectant product that claims to sanitise your kitchen counter in 15 minutes once applied? That would be completely impractical, yet that is theoretically what could happen. Purchasing a product that rightfully claims to be effective, but does not provide information on the time it takes to work, may give you a false sense of security.

We just want you to stay healthy

With lockdowns hopefully easing up in 2021, many of us are looking forward to getting back to the gym. Carrying these extra pounds following the holiday season, especially after so many months of being cooped up at home in 2020, likely means gym memberships will skyrocket in the new year.

Let’s make sure we’re first cleaning and wiping down equipment properly, and then use a disinfectant product that works -- and works fast -- to help everyone stay healthy and virus-free.

3G Medical Limited has been active in the infection control industry since 2015. Our disinfectant wipes and sprays are independently tested (updated in October 2020). They are proven to kill viruses in 1 minute or less and are ideal for gym goers, gym operators and gym owners across the UK and Europe.

Contact us for more information, or shop online.

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