I have two things to confess. First, I am one of those weirdos that actually don’t mind workouts on the treadmill. For certain workouts, I even prefer to do it on the treadmill, even if it’s not the middle of January in the Northeast and perfectly fine to run outside. The treadmill allows me to peg a pace and hold it and the treadmill offers little distraction (for better or worse!). I’m notorious for returning from runs where I’ve stepped off the curb or onto a root and twisted an ankle.
Second, I am a championship sweater. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 20 minute low impact stretching session or a 90 minute tempo run, at the end my shoes will be sodden and I’ll be five pounds of fluid lighter. And if I’m doing that workout on the treadmill, most of that run off ends up the treadmill. In short, my treadmill is well-loved and usually disgusting.
Here are the things I try to do daily, weekly and monthly to keep it working and fungus free.
- Wipe off the sweat from the dashboard and the deck to avoid corrosion and injury to anyone using it after you.
Otherwise known as avoiding your spouse/partner angrily seeking you out and demanding you wipe all the DNA and germs off the machine. Seems pretty simple and straightforward, but sometimes it’s the easiest things that slip. You’re tired. You’re done your workout. You just want that post-workout smoothie. You skip the wipe down. The sweat stays. It dries. It gets easier to let it slide the next time. Keep some paper towels nearby and just take the 2 minutes to wipe down the worst of it.
Once a week
- Wipe down the entire treadmill with a damp cloth and water
If the daily wipe down is a sponge bath for your treadmill, this weekly cleaning (I typically do it after my long run day) is more a full on spa treatment. Take some time to really get into those nooks and crannies. One word of warning: stick to water as some more abrasive cleaners can do more harm than good by damaging lubricants or breaking down components.
- Vacuum around and under the treadmill to pick up dust and debris that could get under the belt or in the electrical component.
- Wipe down the belt itself, push it with your hand to rotate it and then carefully dry it the same way.
- Unplug the machine and remove the motor hood. Clean any dirt and debris that has accumulated with a soft cloth or vacuum attachment.
This is akin to taking the cover off your desktop computer tower and cleaning it out. The treadmill sits near the floor, it accumulates tons of dust and junk. Cleaning it out can make a world of difference in extending the life of your motor. I know it’s a pain, but the motor is the one part most likely to break on a treadmill, so taking the time to do this even every few months if worth the time and trouble.
- Lubricate the treadmill belt (refer to the owner’s manual for specific information on what type of lubricant to use and where to apply). Typically a standard silicone-based lubricant will get the job done. Depending on how much usage your treadmill gets, this can be done every 6 to 8 weeks.
- Tighten and align the belt if it has become loose or misaligned.
If I’m honest, this one doesn’t get done monthly and usually only gets adjusted when I notice the belt going off center or slipping. Again, check your owner’s manual, but most home treadmills can adjust the belt tension and centering by adjusting the bolts on the rear roller using a hex or allen wrench.
That’s it. Not hard, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you are going to spend the money and invest in a home treadmill, than a little every day or every week maintenance can help you get the most out of your equipment and avoid costly repairs or replacement.