How to Clean Dumbbells

When was the last time you cleaned those dumbbells?

When was the last time you cleaned those dumbbells?

Your dumbbells may be good for your muscles but bad for your skin -- if you aren't cleaning them regularly, that is. Bacteria, viruses and fungi can all get left behind on exercise equipment, leading to skin infections that range from pesky to potentially deadly. Warm, soapy water, however, is enough to kill most of the culprits. If you are lifting some serious weight and your dumbbells can't fit in your kitchen sink, try a large bucket, plastic storage container or baby wading pool.

Items you will need

  • Large sink
  • Dish soap
  • Rag
  • Sponge
  • Towel

Step 1

Plug the drain in your kitchen sink with a sink stopper. If your sink didn’t come with one specially fitted for it, you can buy a simple plastic plug that creates suction over the top of the drain.

Step 2

Add a few squirts of dish soap to the bottom of the sink. Any type of dish soap will work, including antibacterial, phosphate-free or natural soaps.

Step 3

Fill your kitchen sink with warm water. It shouldn’t be so hot that it is uncomfortable to touch. Let the water run until the sink is full enough to cover your weights. Aim the stream of water to hit the soap so that it creates suds and mixes.

Step 4

Take your dumbbells completely apart. Some are only one piece -- you can leave these alone -- but if yours have removable parts to help you adjust the weights, disassemble them.

Step 5

Dust each piece with a rag or towel. This removes the large debris that gather when the dumbbells sit between uses.

Step 6

Submerge all pieces in the warm, soapy water. Let all the parts sit for a few minutes to soften any gunk that may be on the weights.

Step 7

Scrub the dumbbells with a fresh sponge. Don't use the same sponge you use for cleaning dishes, as scientists at the University of Arizona have found it tends to be the dirtiest thing in your house.

Step 8

Turn the sink back on and rinse each dumbbell or part under the stream of fresh, warm water.

Step 9

Dry the dumbbells or parts thoroughly with a towel to prevent rust or mildew. If the weights still feel damp, set them on a towel on the floor to air-dry for 24 hours.


  • Never lift a dumbbell that may be too heavy for you, even to clean it, as you could strain muscles or drop it and injure yourself.

About the Author

Kelly MacGregor holds bachelor's degrees in news-editorial journalism and ecology/evolutionary biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In addition to writing for the "Colorado Engineer Magazine," the "Boulder Daily Camera" and EdNews Parent, MacGregor's work has been picked up by the "Colorado Daily," EdNews Colorado and the "Denver Post."

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images