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Stash These Things In Your Gym Bag For a Less Disgusting Workout

5 Neat Things5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person.” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.

It is good to work out! It is also gross. The gym, or the yoga studio, or that weird basement where you go to ride bikes to nowhere; they are all filthy, and smelly, and just really vile places. Also your gear! It, too, is nasty. Which is why you might want to consider stashing some or all of these items in your gym bag, to help you retain a modicum of cleanliness even as you sweat through your underpants.

Ask a Clean Person and Style Girlfriend are teaming up to bring you the latest on what to wear for spring and summer... this week, they’re talking gym bags.

Gym Bag Waterproof Sport Sack

Rather than putting your sweaty gym clothes directly into your gym bag, put them in this antimicrobial waterproof sack. It’s much easier to wash a dry bag than it is to wash an entire gym bag.
Photo: Amazon

The forever question of what to do with your sweaty, smelly, soggy gym clothes in between the time you wear them and the time you wash them doesn’t have a great answer. But! The question of what to do with your sweaty, smelly, soggy gym clothes in between the time you wear them and dump them into your gym bag to fester sure does: The wet bag will easily and handily solve the problem of sweaty clothes befouling your gym bag.

Wet bags, as the name suggests, are designed to contain, well, wet things. Gym clothes, sure, but also bathing suits if you’re a swimmer. This one’s also lined with a antimicrobial material that helps to contain smells, so everything else in your gym bag won’t smell like leg day.

NewDenBer Rubber Sandals

Shower Sandals should be lightweight, affordable, and fast-drying, and this pair checks all of those boxes.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Now I know you know not to go wandering about in a gym locker room barefoot, and to never, ever step foot into a gym shower without shower sandals. Remember when we gathered in this space to talk about fungal infections of the foot? Well of course you do, what fun we had! So right, you need some shower sandals. But not all shower sandals were created equally, oh no. What you want in a shower sandal is two things: 1. it should be lightweight and not take up a lot of space in your gym bag; 2. It should dry quickly. These thong-style rubber flip flops fit the bill perfectly.

Shower Pill Body Cleaning Wipes

If you don’t have time for a full shower after working out, these shower sheets can get you clean enough to pop into the store on your way home.

But let’s say you can’t manage to grab a post-workout shower, for whatever reason … maybe the showers are too gross, maybe there’s no water, maybe you’re in a rush or there just simply aren’t bathing facilities where you work out. No problem! Body wipes will do pretty much everything a shower will do, other than wash your hair — of course, dry shampoo exists to take care of that problem!

They’re thicker than baby wipes, so you can use them to really scrub yourself clean of dirt and sweat without them tearing, and they have moisturizing properties that won’t leave your skin feeling sticky or dry after use.


Alcohol wipes like these Pharma-C-Wipes can be used to clean mats, gym equipment, your phone, your body, and even do some emergency first aid.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

You could buy mat cleaner to use on your yoga or exercise mat, or equipment wipes to wipe down machines during times when the gym runs out or fails to provide equipment cleaner (dear my gym: this happens ALL THE TIME and it is ANNOYING AND GROSS) or you could stash a canister of alcohol wipes in your gym bag. Alcohol wipes will clean a mat, they can be used to wipe equipment down, or you can use them to clean your hands off if you can’t get to a sink with soap and water. They can also double as screen cleaners to wipe your cell phone free of sweaty fingerprints after your workout, and can pull first aid duty on any cuts or scrapes you might sustain during your workout.

NonScents Shoe Deodorizer

The easiest way to keep your gym bag from getting too smelly is to toss a few NonScents shoe deodorizers in there to neutralize the worst odors.
Photo: Amazon

Even if you use a wet bag to contain sweaty, smelly workout clothes, a gym bag is likely to start smelling funky — maybe your sneakers smell? Maybe your gym towel went a bit mildewy? — and so it’s not a bad idea to keep an odor absorbing sachet tucked inside the bag. These sachets are designed to fit inside shoes, so if your sneakers are the culprit, you can pop these in and let them do the work of removing smells. They can also be used inside a bag or locker to keep stale odors at bay.

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About the author

Jolie Kerr

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person