At most gyms there are little dispensers of wipes scattered throughout, or maybe rags and spray bottles so you can clean up after yourself. Some people use them religiously, some ignore them. What should you do as a good citizen of the gym? What must you do to not be a gross person? Here are some rules of thumb.
What you should always wipe
Anything you have left a visible sweat stain on
Yoga mats that will be shared with another person
Benches and the seats and headrests of machines, whenever possible
Sometimes you’ll run off to get a wipe and return to find somebody on the bench or machine you were about to wipe. Either they didn’t notice your sweat puddle, or they don’t care. Let it go, and hang on to that wipe for the next thing you’re going to drip on.
What you don’t usually need to wipe
Anything you have covered with a towel (for example, if you lay a towel down on a bench before you use it)
Anything that belongs to you and only you (your sweaty yoga mat, your problem)
The floor, unless you have created a slippery or dangerous situation
Read the room
Gyms have different standards of cleanliness from each other, just as some houses are inhabited by neat freaks and some are, let’s say, not. At some gyms, nobody wipes anything.
If your gym has rags and bottles of spray cleaner in prominent locations, canisters of wipes right by your equipment, signs asking people to please wipe things after using? Wipe that shit. If a sign in a gym asks you to do something, just do it. That’s a good rule for life, ok?
A little people-watching will clear up some of the ambiguities of the wiping policy. Should you wipe the handles of the treadmill when you’re done using it? I think it’s silly (what, you think I carry a towel around everywhere to wipe doorknobs?) but if everybody else does, I will.
The power of the wipe rests with you
Let’s talk about the opposite situation, one that came up when I was looking for jerk moves in the gym. I got a lot of complaints about people who sweat everywhere and wipe up none of it.
I think it’s time for a different approach. Trying to correct the other guy’s behaviour has not been working out for you. The gym employees have more things to worry about than whether this person didn’t wipe that machine. Especially when, as you estimated, 60 per cent of the people there didn’t wipe anything. I’d leave gym staff out of this, and not individually confront people either.
Fortunately, you have a perfect solution right there in that wipe canister you’re so familiar with. If you don’t want to sit where somebody may have butt-printed, wipe the bench before you sit on it. That’s the power of the wipe: you can use it to clean things for your own use, as well as to leave your station smelling fresh for the next person. Go ahead, treat yourself.