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Wiping Away Towel Myths

As I speak with fitness industry professionals around the country, and around the world, I am frequently asked about towels that are used to sanitize fitness equipment.  Or to be more specific:

“Doesn’t a towel that gets used repeatedly to wipe away sweat become germ-laden from all that sweat?”

Actually, the opposite is true. A spray bottle and towel equipment cleaning system proves to be a very effective method for sanitizing just-used exercise equipment surfaces.  Why?  Because the towels are progressively absorbing sanitizing cleaning solution.  In other words, they are continuously refreshed with the disinfectant.  Therefore, there is a concentrated/significant amount of disinfectant that remains on the towel at all times. The reusable spray-towel, when not in use, is sanitized; it is at “work” even while the towel is “at rest.”

Another important point to consider and understand is that per use, the volume of cleaning solution that is sprayed on the surface to be cleaned, or sprayed on the towel prior to wiping the surface, is generally much greater than the volume of body fluids that are wiped up.  The ratio of the volume of disinfectant on the towel to the volume to sweat is generally in favor of the disinfectant!

Still need convincing? Then consider a little sweat science:

  • In a fitness facility setting, equipment surfaces are NEVER exposed to full sweat-laden nude body surface contact (at least now at any club I’ve ever been to).   An exerciser stands on, sits on, or lies on a machine with a relatively small portion of their total body surface area actually contacting that machine.  However, the major point that can’t be overlooked here is…it doesn’t take much contact (sweaty or not, drops or not) to spread germs or viruses.  The good news, on the other hand, is that it doesn’t take much disinfectant solution to effectively kill germs and viruses!

  • Speaking of drops, excessive sweat at any one spot on the body can turn into a “drop.”  What is the volume of a drop?  It is generally accepted that 20 drops equal 1 ml.  Interestingly, the average amount of cleaning solution dispensed with one pull of a trigger-sprayer is approximately 1 mL. The average person pulls the trigger 3 to 4 times to clean a piece of equipment. That’s the equivalent of 60 to 80 drops of sweat – a lot of sweat!

Hopefully you now see the reasons why we say a towel based cleaning system is a safe and effective way to go: 1) The cleaning solution to sweat ratio is strongly in favor of the solution, 2) the cleaning towel is truly clean and safe to reuse—a very effective method for sanitizing just-used exercise equipment surfaces, and 3) a cloth towel-based equipment cleaning system can save you a lot of money versus pre-moistened wipes and paper towel based systems…and don’t forget, you won’t be generating environment polluting paper and wipes waste, either!

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