How to Clean Ellipticals: Clean, Mean, Low-Impact Machines

Adding an elliptical to your home gym can provide you with a low-impact means to strengthen your heart, improve your sleep quality, and aid in weight management. (1) But even the best ellipticals require a little TLC to keep things operating smoothly. As such, you’ll need to brush up on how to clean ellipticals to protect your investment. 

Like treadmills and exercise bikes, these machines can get sweaty post-workout. Over time, this can result in corrosion to a machine’s frame, not to mention the spread of bacteria. When wiping your exercise equipment down, you’ll want to be careful of its motor and electrical parts. You’ll also want to be prepared for regular maintenance, such as lubricating and tightening parts, that can keep your elliptical elliptical-ing for years to come. 

About Our Expert

This article has been reviewed by Amanda Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, CSNC, a certified personal trainer and CrossFit Level 1 instructor. She reviewed the research we cite to help ensure we’re providing helpful, accurate descriptions and recommendations. 

Elliptical Maintenance Tools

Ellipticals are a wonderful option for individuals who want to increase their cardio exercise volume but need a low-impact way to do it,” says Amanda Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, CSNC. Ellipticals are among the best cardio machines because of this low-impact nature, as well as their ability to incorporate your upper body into your cardio workout via their moveable arms. Luckily, you won’t need much to maintain this exercise equipment, and you may have many of the necessary tools already in your home. However, it’s important to make sure you’re not using harsh or abrasive cleaners on your equipment.

List of Basic Maintenance Tools

Microfiber cloth, sponge, or disinfecting wipes without harsh chemicals like ammonia, bleach, or alcohol

Warm water or cleaning solution without harsh chemicals like ammonia, bleach, or alcohol

Allen key, wrench, screwdriver, or whatever you’ll need to tighten loose screws, bolts, and parts

Silicone-based lubricant

Vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment

Before you try to clean your elliptical, read the owner’s manual for any specific details on how to clean and maintain your equipment. Some user manuals will recommend specific products, discourage other products (like glass cleaner or harsh chemicals), and suggest frequency of cleaning and maintenance. Using the wrong products to clean your elliptical can potentially void your warranty, so it’s important to know what’s expected and recommended for you to do.

Daily Elliptical Cleaning and Maintenance

Just like when you’re at the gym, you should also wipe down your home machine after every workout. Before you clean your elliptical, it’s best to turn off the machine and unplug the power cord from its power source. This can help avoid dangerous shocks or shorting of the equipment.

Wipe Down

With a damp, soft cloth, wipe down the console and handlebars, making sure to pick up any dust, debris, or sweat splatters you can see. It’s best to use a lint-free cloth or microfiber towel, but it’s not the worst thing in the world to use a paper towel. 

Screen and handles on the NordicTrack AirGlide 14i elliptical.

Also, be careful not to drench the console or mechanical components. If you’re using a spray bottle, it’s best to just spray your cloth rather than the machine. This way, you can limit how much water is used and stay in control of what gets wet.

What Not to Use

Avoid using household or commercial cleaning products on your elliptical. These often contain harsh chemicals, which can damage your equipment over time. You’re also in direct contact with your elliptical, so any residual cleaning product on the machine can be transferred onto you.

If your elliptical has a touchscreen, you’ll also want to avoid using glass cleaner since this can damage the protective layer of the screen and affect the touchscreen’s functionality. (3)

Weekly Elliptical Cleaning and Maintenance

Whether you’re the proud owner of a commercial elliptical or you’ve got a budget buy from a guy who knows a guy, routine maintenance can prolong the lifespan of your fitness equipment. In addition to your daily wipe-down, you’ll want to inspect your machine weekly for wear and tear. This is just a quick inspection, but it can help you detect early signs of issues before they become full-blown problems.


Do a visual inspection of your machine from top to bottom. This includes scanning the handles and pedals for signs of wear and checking bolts and screws for tightness. Some parts may become loose throughout the week, and this is your opportunity to tighten everything up. To make those adjustments, you’ll need a set of Allen keys, a screwdriver, or a wrench to tighten your gear.

It’s also a good idea to check beneath the machine to make sure the floor is handling your fitness routine as well as you are. If divots are forming where the elliptical touches the floor, you’ll want to invest in an exercise mat to help prevent further damage. 

[Related: The 6 Best Treadmill Mats]

Monthly Elliptical Cleaning and Maintenance

Ellipticals have many moving parts, and keeping your machine’s nooks and crannies from filling up with dirt, dust, or crumbs (anyone else sneak a cookie mid-workout?) can result in parts that don’t operate as they should. 

Vacuum the Mechanics

With a slim handheld attachment on your vacuum cleaner, suck up any debris or dust that’s built up around the base, on the rails, or in crevices on your elliptical. This schmutz can attach itself to any of the parts of your machine that are lubricated, which can spell trouble for moving parts. 

Clean the Belt

The drive belt on the elliptical takes a lot of wear and tear, so it’s important to keep it clean and up for the task. Once you’ve located the belt on your machine, clean out any dust or debris using a handheld attachment on your vacuum. You can then wipe down the belt with a damp cloth, making sure to allow the belt sufficient time to air dry before you next use your elliptical.

Rails and Wheels

If you don’t regularly clean your elliptical, you may start noticing thumping or squeaking coming from your machine — a morning workout’s nightmare when you’re trying not to wake the whole house. If you’ve inspected that all the hardware is tightened, the culprit may be buildup on the rails. Clean the rails and wheel with a microfiber or lint-free cloth and rubbing alcohol. If there’s stubborn buildup, try using a fingernail or a piece of plastic to scrape off the grime. 

Just be sure to avoid using anything with metal to scrape off this buildup, as this can damage your equipment. Once cleaned, apply a small amount of lubricant, wiping off the excess.

Biannual Elliptical Cleaning and Maintenance

The pedals on your elliptical machine generate friction throughout your workout. To prolong the life of your machine, lubrication every four to six months can help provide a smooth operation. Here are the steps to lubricating your elliptical. 

The rollers and rail on your elliptical should be lubricated every 4 to 6 months.

Apply one of the best lubricants for ellipticals to the rails or ramps where the foot pedals slide.

Add some of that lubricant onto the ball bearings where the wheel, which allows the foot pedals to slide, is housed.

Wipe the areas you lubricated with a dry cloth to remove any excess.

How Often Should You Clean Your Elliptical?

You’ve likely spent a good chunk of cash on your elliptical, so you’ll want to protect that investment by taking care of your equipment. Wiping down your machine after each use is the best way to maintain your equipment since sweat, which contains salt and minerals, is incredibly corrosive to metal. (4

Additionally, some minor weekly, monthly, and biannual maintenance should be expected to keep your gear as good as new, including a more detailed inspection, cleaning, vacuum, and lubrication. 

Owning an elliptical requires a commitment to maintain the machine. If you don’t think you can keep that commitment, you may want to reconsider bringing one of these cardio powerhouses into your home. “Machines require maintenance, such as cleaning and lubrication,” says BarBend expert reviewer Amanda Capritto,  CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, CSNC.“It’ll be helpful to understand the maintenance requirements ahead of time, so you don’t purchase something you can’t keep up with.” 

Of course, even when you take incredible care of your cardio equipment, parts will eventually wear out and need replacing. As you inspect your gear, keep an eye on parts that are showing signs of wear and tear, so you can be proactive in finding replacement parts. 

Continuing to use your elliptical with damaged parts can lead to other parts of your elliptical becoming damaged as well. You’ll want to keep a keen eye on the belt or resistance motor, as these are two key components you’ll want to be replaced as soon as possible when they begin to deteriorate.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your elliptical is preventative maintenance, and the minor effort put in to wipe down, vacuum, and lubricate various components will help keep your machine from breaking down, making noise, and requiring expensive maintenance down the road. 

If you’ve managed to design a home workout routine that you’ve been sticking to like glue (you go Glen Coco), there’s nothing worse than your gym equipment falling apart and derailing your momentum. By following these maintenance guidelines, you’ll be setting yourself up to have an elliptical that’ll last. 


What should I use to clean an elliptical?

A wet sponge, soft cloth, or microfiber towel can be used to clean dirt and sweat off of your equipment. However, you don’t want to douse your equipment in water, so be sure to wring out your cloth, sponge, or towel before you get to work.

How often should I lubricate my elliptical?

We recommend lubricating your elliptical machine at least twice a year.

Can I use WD-40 as a lubricant?

While it may be tempting to use WD-40 on your elliptical, it’s not actually a lubricant. It displaces water, and can degrade quicker than actual lubricants. (5) We recommend using a silicone-based lubricant for the rails and wheels on your elliptical machine, and a white lithium grease on parts that don’t come into contact with plastic or rubber.


Mahindru, A., Patil, P., & Agrawal, V. (2023). Role of Physical Activity on Mental Health and Well-Being: A Review. Cureus, 15(1), e33475.

Olsen, M., Campos, M., Lohning, A., Jones, P., Legget, J., Bannach-Brown, A., McKirdy, S., Alghafri, R., & Tajouri, L. (2020). Mobile phones represent a pathway for microbial transmission: A scoping review. Travel medicine and infectious disease, 35, 101704.

Invisible Glass. What Should You Not Use Glass Cleaner On?

COLLINS K. J. (1957). The corrosion of metal by palmar sweat. British journal of industrial medicine, 14(3), 191–197.

Machinery Lubrication. Can WD40 be Used as a Bearing Lubricant?,rapidly%20if%20used%20at%20even

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