It’s Time to Spring-Clean Your Gym Bag

Remove the germs and replace grimy gear with our top picks for the season.

When I say “spring,” you say “clean.” Spring. Clean! Spring. Clean! Yes, it’s that season again. It’s time for spring cleaning. While it would be nice to have a cheerleading squad to help encourage you through the process, most of us just have to roll up our sleeves, break out the proper supplies, and dig into closets, junk drawers, gardens and cars.

One item that often goes sadly neglected this season is your trusty gym bag. Yes, that beat-up, possibly double-duty (diaper bag and/or briefcase, anyone?) satchel that houses your sweaty shoes, stinky sports bras and countless hygiene products for cleaning up after a workout. If you think about it, the bag and its contents are basically a petri dish of your own ick mixed with countless other gym-goers’ blech, as everything comes into contact with equipment and locker rooms. Gross.

“Your bag goes with you from home to workout to work, so it works just as hard as you do,” says Mike Fox, professional equipment manager who has worked with high school, college and professional teams over the past 35 years. “The combination of heat and wet makes the bag an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. Add to it the dirt from outside workouts or the spillage from your toiletries and preworkout and postworkout snack remnants. It needs to get cleaned.”

Where to begin? Fox suggests the following:

1. Empty everything out of your bag, shaking out any loose dirt and/or crumbs. Throw away any trash. Vacuum up any debris hiding in the seams or stitching.

2. If the bag is wet, towel-dry it first, then wipe it out with baby wipes and a solution of warm water and white vinegar.

3. If multitasking with the bag — such as working out, going to work and then going to play in your kickball league — pack plastic bags for all the dirty and wet clothes, which will protect the clean ones and the inside of your bag.

4. Air-dry your shoes often. Some shoe bags are rubberized, and they will hold moisture, which lends itself to bacteria growth.

5. Most bags have compartments, so try to use the same compartments for the same purpose each time. That way, you don’t lose your snacks in the bag, you keep your toiletries together and you minimize any liquid leaks.

6. Give your bag a good wipe down and time to air out at least once a week. You also can put in dryer sheets to kill the odors or use dry tea bags in your bag and shoes to kill odors overnight. Mix a spray bottle with water, white vinegar and an essential oil, like tea tree or lavender, spray the bag down and let it dry over night. This mix is also great for yoga mats.

Spring Splurges

Once you’re done cleaning your bag and reassessing its remaining contents, you may notice it’s time to replace the things you use the most or add new products to your preworkout and postworkout routines to help cut down on odors.

No need to scour the internet for ideas. We’ve tested them out and have included our recommendations below. They are bound to put a little spring in your step this season.

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