How to clean resistance bands now you’re working out at home a lot more

Because now is not the time to be letting that sweat fester, here’s how you should clean your resistance bands...

Resistance bands
(Image credit: Getty)

Exercising at home has blown up as fast as pretty printed face masks in recent months. Without a gym or fitness studio - with all their endless shiny kit - people have had to make do with bodyweight movements via Instagram Live, Zoom, YouTube and the rest.

However, if you want to upgrade your HIIT workout that’s becoming less challenging by the rep, the humble resistance band is the ideal way to make your muscles work harder for added strength and tone. Whether latex or fabric, they’re affordable and easy to store.

But just like other gym equipment - such as dumbbells and yoga mats - it’s really important, now more than ever, to ensure you clean them properly on a frequent basis. “This should be a regular occurrence as they come in contact with your skin and your sweat every time they’re used,” explains David Wiener, training specialist at fitness app Freeletics

Indeed, before this year, when the ‘rona was only uttered within the deepest echelons of the scientific community, research found that treadmills, weight machines and other common gym equipment, are generally riven with bacteria and other infectious germs. Due to their snug contact with our bodies, resistance bands are likely to be no different. 

And while a gym or fitness studio has responsibility for ensuring their resistance bands are as fresh as can be, it’s down to you to stay on the topic of the cleanliness of the one stuffed in your sock drawer (#guilty). Read on to find out the best - and easiest - way to do this...

How often should I clean my resistance band?

Firstly, you don’t need to clean it after every use. Phew, we hear you cry. “If you're using your band yourself and not sharing it with anyone else when working out, you can use it a couple of times before needing to clean it,”  explains Katie Anderson, head of training at FLY LDN. That’s unless you're sharing equipment with people at home or in a class setting. In which case this should be done after every session.

Resistance bands

(Image credit: Getty)

How to clean a latex resistance band

“You can clean latex bands with skin friendly anti-bacterial wipes,” notes Anderson. You know, those ones you’ve probably had lying around in the kitchen for months alongside the hand gel. Or even better, Wiener suggests: “Wiping them down with a damp cloth or towel”  So there’s no excuses. 

But if you have more time - and let’s face it, you probably do given, err, external factors - Wiener advises, “Put your latex bands in a bucket with warm water, add some soap and hand wash them.”

Is your resistance band stuck together after washing it?

“A good trick is to use talcum powder on it,” reveals Anderson. (*Makes a serious mental note*). “Once washed you can use a towel to hand dry the bands, or if you like you can also let it air dry away from direct sunlight,” recommends Wiener. Simple.

How to clean fabric resistance bands

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about fabric bands. “You can wash them in a bucket of warm water and soap, gently hand washing and wringing dry”, says Wiener.

But if you’re feeling on the lazy side…

“You can throw them in the washing machine,” explains Wiener. “It’s best to wash them with a gentle detergent on a low setting.” This ensures the band retains its elasticity - or it won’t work your muscles so hard. Let it air dry away from direct sunlight.

Latex or fabric resistance bands: which is easiest to clean?

The stark differences in the cleaning process between them does beg the question of which you should choose if you’re in the market for one.

“Latex is best suited to be cleaned thoroughly as it’s effectively a sealed objective that stops dirt and bacteria from being harboured,” points out Jay Wall, a PT specialising in HIIT. “Using a fabric resistance band may well be a good option for personal use, but it could be impracticable in any kind of communal setting because it would need to be regularly machine-washed as it has the potential to hold bacteria and viruses.” And we all know the consequences of those...