Gym Equipment

Eliminate Germs With Our 4 Step Guide On How To Clean Dumbbells

how to clean dumbbells

Whether you’ve invested in home gym equipment or purchased kit for your commercial gym, you’re likely to own a set of dumbbells. Much like weight plates, dumbbells are highly versatile and used by pretty much anyone attending the gym. They certainly get a lot of use.

Something you may not have given much thought to is how to clean your dumbbells. Whether your dumbbell sets are made from rubber, urethane, or steel, in this article we’ll look at the easiest way of cleaning your dumbbells and keeping them free from bacteria.

How To Clean Dumbbells: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Gather The Materials

Before you start cleaning the dumbbells, the first step is to gather what you need:

  • Soapy water (a few drops of dish soap will suffice, be sure not to use anything that could damage the surface of your dumbbells)
  • A soft-bristled brush
  • A cloth or sponge
  • A clean, dry cloth

Step 2: Clean The Dumbbells

Using a soft-bristled brush and the mild soapy water, gently scrub both the dumbbell ends and the handles to remove any accumulated residue such as chalk. Chalk mixed with sweat can stick into small gaps and knurling on steel handles, so take time to ensure this is done properly. Another tip is to avoid using a metal wire brush. This can be very abrasive and may result in surface scratches, a better alternative is a plastic wire brush which is less abrasive.

When it comes to cleaning solutions, be sure not to use anything acidic such as alcohol-based cleaners. Whilst these can be efficient cleaners they can also corrode surface coatings, especially finishes such as nickel or zinc and even rubber coating.

If the surface coating is diminished, you could end up with a set of rusty dumbbells. Read the labels on cleaners and if you’re still unsure enquire with the manufacturer.

Step 3: Carefully Remove Soap Residue

Take a soft cloth and submerge in clean warm water. Take this wet cloth and carefully wipe over each dumbbell with the aim of removing any soapy residue. Take care to check over each dumbbell and ensure that all surface grime has been sufficiently removed.

Step 4: Dry The Dumbbells

Using a clean towel (preferably lint free), wipe over the entire surface area of each dumbbell taking special care at any gaps and crevices, especially any knurling on dumbbell handles. Don’t be tempted to leave them to air dry as this can seriously damage the surface area of your dumbbells. The goal here is remove every bit of moisture from the dumbbell to prevent any surface damage and consequently rusting.

Additional Maintenance Tips:

  • If your free weights are a in heavy traffic commercial gym, you may want to consider an additional step of wiping down your dumbbells with disinfectant wipes or a disinfectant spray. This is probably not necessary for home use dumbbells. As with the soap cleaning solution, be sure to check that it’s suitable for your dumbbells and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that may damage their protective layer.
  • If you notice any rust on your dumbbells, you can try and remove this prior to cleaning by using a white vinegar solution. However, this isn’t always practical, as dumbbells would require soaking for long periods of time.
  • If you have stubborn stains on your rubber dumbbells, try using a mixture of baking soda and water with an old toothbrush to scrub the surface. Baking soda is a natural cleaning agent. It can help remove stubborn stains without damaging the rubber surface.

Difference Between Neoprene And Rubber Dumbbells

Neoprene and rubber are two commonly used materials used in the manufacture of dumbbells. Whilst both materials are known for their durability and flexibility, there are distinct differences between the two.

Neoprene Dumbbells

Neoprene is a synthetic compound known for its strength and resistance to weathering. We see this material in wetsuits, gloves, and other outdoor gear. It can withstand exposure to the elements and resist fading, cracking, and tearing. Neoprene is also known for being fire retardant, making it a popular choice for products that require added protection against fire.

When it comes to neoprene dumbbells, they are usually distinguishable by their different colours and tend to be in the form of a coating over the top of cast iron weights.

Rubber Dumbbells

Rubber, on the other hand, is a more versatile material. A naturally occurring compound, rubber is flexible and has good resistance to weathering, making it suitable for outdoor use. However, when compared to neoprene, it is not as resistant to weathering and has less fire resistance. That being said, rubber dumbbells are generally available in higher weight increments.

Cleaning Neoprene And Rubber Dumbbells

There really is no difference when it comes to cleaning neoprene coated or rubber dumbbells. Simply follow the steps as suggested above. These steps would apply regardless of the material used in your dumbbells whether they be stainless steel or those with a urethane coating.

Types Of Dumbbells

Some more common types of dumbbells other than neoprene and rubber that you may encounter are:

Cast Iron Dumbbells

Cast iron dumbbells are among the most popular and widely used type of dumbbells, and also the most cost effective. They are made of solid cast iron and are typically coated with a durable finish to prevent rust and corrosion.

Adjustable Dumbbells

Adjustable dumbbells are a versatile option that allows you to change the weight of your dumbbells quickly and easily. They come with a weight-adjusting mechanism. These tend to be better for home workouts.

Hexagonal Dumbbells

Hex dumbbells are, as the name suggests, shaped like a hexagon. They function to reduce rolling when on a gym floor.

No matter what type of dumbbells you may have, regular maintenance and cleaning with the right products is a must.

Frequency Of Cleaning Rubber Dumbbells

The frequency with which you clean your dumbbells will depend on several factors. They may include how often you use them and the environment within which they are stored.

Here is a short guideline to help determine how often you should clean your rubber dumbbells.

After Every Use

Whilst some may suggest cleaning dumbbells after every use is important, this isn’t particularly practical, especially in a busy commercial gym. In this case, it could be suggested that gym members wipe down dumbbells once they’ve finished using them, whether they do this though remains to be seen!


Weekly cleaning simply using a soft bristle brush to remove any chalk build up is recommended. This is less time consuming then washing and drying them but, removing any chalk sediment will help to protect the dumbbells coating and help to prevent corrosion.


Brushing down and washing your dumbbells could be done monthly to keep them in their best condition. Not only that, but you can also inspect dumbbells for any damage and, if you have rotating dumbbells, you can check they are in full working order before putting them back on the gym floor.

The environment in which you store your dumbbells can also impact how often you clean them. Many gyms tend to be quite humid with a lot of moisture in the air, especially in busier gyms. In this case, you’ll want to regularly inspect your dumbbells for signs of surface damage which could end up resulting in corrosion in the long term.


Dumbbells can be a costly investment and they are likely one of the most used items in your gym so regular inspection, maintenance and cleaning is important to get the most life out of them. Following the suggestions mentioned above can keep your dumbbells looking their best and help to keep away rust.

Remember, always check the labels of your cleaning products to ensure they are suitable and make sure to dry them thoroughly to keep them in top condition.

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