6 simple ways to keep your gym bag fresh

A Fit Mess
June 28, 2016

Yes, today I’m tackling one of those dirty little secrets we all keep from each other: we don’t clean our gym bag as often as we should (or maybe at all). Properly caring for our workout bag tends to be something we forget about, but keeping your gym essentials in good order is really important. Taking just a few extra steps can ensure your contents are kept organized and clean. This will cut down on the spread of germs and can really extend the life of your gear.


Here are 6 simple ways to keep your gym bag fresh:


1. Organize your items.

A tidy bag is a clean bag. Keep items in separate pouches and containers to prevent germs from spreading and to provide easy access to your accessories. For example, I keep all of my personal care items (like deodorant and shampoo) in a small cosmetic bag. I also keep my designated shower flip-flops in a plastic baggie. And it helps to have your sneakers separated in some way from everything else since they pick up a ton of germs from the ground. There are a lot of gym bags out there that actually contain a separate spot for your sneakers — a great feature.


2.  Keep a dryer sheet (or two) in your bag.

This is a sneaky way to keep everything smelling fresh and to cut down on odors. I usually throw a couple of dryer sheets into my bag and switch them out every 2 weeks. I’ve also heard that spraying water mixed with a few drops of essential oil (like peppermint) on your bag does the trick, but the dryer sheets have always worked really well for me.


3.  Separate sweaty clothes.

Store your used gym clothes in a separate bag (try a plastic grocery bag) to keep them from spreading germs and bacteria throughout your bag. Ideally you should wash your clothes right away, but if you’re like me and you workout midday or don’t have immediate access to your washing machine, your clothes can sit in your bag all day. Storing them in a plastic bag can keep your wet clothing contained until you’re able to throw them in the wash.


4.  Let your bag breathe.

Keep your gym bag open or unzipped to let the fabric breathe. Sometimes scents can get trapped in your bag so it’s really important to take some time to air things out. This is especially helpful if you are storing your sweaty clothes inside your bag, too.


5.  Wash (and rotate) your bag regularly.

I try to wash mine once a month, but I probably should do it more frequently given how often I use it. Tip: have more than one gym bag on hand so you can rotate them out once in awhile. Plus, if you’re washing one then it helps to have a second bag ready to go.

There are a couple of ways to wash your gym bag. Try adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle (place this in the spot where you add fabric softener). Don’t add it directly to the detergent as they can counteract each other. Another option (my favorite method) is to toss 1/2 – 1 cup of baking soda into your machine at the start of your wash. You can add this at the same time as the detergent. Use hot water to kill the bacteria. Hang your bag out to dry or place it in the dryer until completely dried.


6.  Wipe/spray down your bag.

In between washings you should definitely wipe down the inside and outside of your bag and let it dry. It’s important to clean the outside of your bag since it’s usually placed on the floor and can pick up way more bacteria and germs than what’s inside your bag. You can use any type of disinfectant wipe you’d like (be sure to test on a small part of your bag to make sure it won’t affect the material). I really like using a combination of vinegar and water (1:1 ratio), but you could also try using a cleaner with tea tree oil.


Still want to talk gym? Check out my previous post about what I keep in my workout bag. I update it every so often.


Further reading:

How to get your gym clothes smelling fresh – this is a pretty helpful (and entertaining) article. Make sure you check out the cat video in #9. I am dying.

In case you want to gross yourself out, give this article about the germiest places at the gym a glance.


Would you add anything to this list? I’d like to hear from you!

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