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How to clean free weights, including dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and medicine balls


We’ve always encouraged our gym-goers to wipe down their equipment after use, as both a measure of courtesy and cleanliness. But now, more than ever, it is essential that anyone using free weights such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and medicine balls in gyms be proactive with cleaning the items they use.

Wondering how to go about cleaning free weight training equipment? Read on to find out more.

General cleaning of free weights equipment

Each item is slightly different, but there are some key steps to take when cleaning any kind of free weight:

  1. Start with clean hands: sanitise your hands when you enter the gym, wash them for 20 seconds before your workout and continue to sanitise them throughout your workout. At our gyms, you’ll find more cleaning and sanitising stations available for convenience.
  2. Ideally clean the equipment before and after using – hopefully whoever used it before you will have done the same, but we still encourage all members to clean kit before use as a precaution.
  3. If you’re using a disinfectant spray, don’t spray it straight onto the equipment; this could dislodge anything sitting on the surface and cause it to spray into the air. Instead, spray twice onto a folded paper towel and use this to wipe over the entire surface area of the equipment. We also recommend using disinfectant wipes and we will be supplying these throughout all of our gyms.
  4. Don’t use a gym or sweat towel to wipe down your free weights. In fact, in our gyms we’re requesting you don’t bring a sweat towel to the gym at all to limit the spread of germs brought in from outside the gym.
  5. Be thorough and make sure to wipe all different parts of the equipment, not just the area you’ve been holding.
  6. If the paper towel or wipe you’re using begins to dry out while you’re cleaning a piece of kit, please get another, or spray more disinfectant on the paper to finish up.
  7. Leave 20 – 30 seconds after wiping the weights equipment before using it, to allow the disinfectant time to work and dry.
  8. Always dispose of used wipes and paper towels in a bin.

How to clean dumbbells

Dumbbells are small, hand-held weights which come in a few variations - some have fixed weighted ends and others have removable or adjustable weight plates. When cleaning them it’s important to:

  • Ensure the handle has been thoroughly cleaned all over, not just the part facing you.
  • If the weighted ends are fixed, make sure these have been carefully cleaned all over, including any ridges or indents.
  • Always return the dumbbells to the appropriate rack when you’re finished.

How to clean barbells

Barbells are longer bars, usually between five to seven feet long, which can be loaded with weighted plates at each end, or on some occasions have fixed weights permanently attached. You’ll find them on our squat racks, our lifting platforms and smaller ones on racks in the gym. When cleaning barbells before and after your workout you should always:

  • Clean not just the bar, but also any weighted plates you have used or will be using.
  • With fixed-weight barbells, ensure you’re cleaning the entire surface area.
  • Wipe over the entirety of the bar part of the barbell, playing particular attention to the textured area where your hands will be gripping on.
  • Return the bar and weighted plates to the appropriate rack when you’re finished.

How to clean kettlebells

Kettlebells are a bell-shaped hand-weight with a handle on top, coming in a variety of different weights. They come in one fixed piece, making them easier to clean, but some specifics include:

  • Make sure to wipe over the entirety of the kettlebell, with a more thorough focus on the handle area.
  • If there are any ridges, or raised or indented logos on the kettlebell you’re using, making sure to clean in and around these carefully.
  • As with all movable weights in the gym, make sure to return your kettlebells to the appropriate rack when you’re finished.

How to clean medicine balls and sandbags

Medicine balls and sandbags are carry-able weighted spheres or bags which can be used as part of a workout to train and strengthen all muscle groups. These can come with straps or handles, be inflatable or filled with sand. When cleaning please remember to:

  • Wipe around the whole of the medicine ball or sandbag. These items in particular could be handled in all manner of ways and could be pressed against the body on areas that haven’t been sanitised before use, so require particular care to make sure they’re fully clean.
  • Don’t forget to focus on any straps or handles, making sure to get into any seams or indents.
  • Return these free weights to the appropriate rack when you’re finished with them.

With a little consideration for cleanliness, we can dramatically reduce the risks faced from Covid-19 and other viruses, and create a safer space for all our members. Find out more about the safety steps we’re taking at all of our gyms with our TrainSafe guide.

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