How to Clean Treadmill Belts: Your Guide to a Squeaky Clean Cardio Machine  

Due to the intensity of cardio and your body’s response to cool itself, it’s almost customary to shower your treadmill in sweat. Now add in the dirt, grime, and debris of your running shoes on your running belt, and voila! — you’ve got the perfect breeding ground for build-up, odor, and bacteria.

Still, we think having a treadmill in your home is great for maintaining your exercise routine. “Treadmills are a great home gym item for individuals who want to increase their daily or weekly cardio exercise via walking, jogging, or running,” says BarBend expert reviewer Amanda Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, CSNC. 

Even the best treadmills require some TLC to keep them in prime condition, so you’ll want to partake in routine treadmill maintenance — and that includes knowing how to clean treadmill belts. Thankfully, you don’t need to call the treadmill doctor for this task. Cleaning a treadmill is straightforward, so grab your DIY hat and read on for step-by-step instructions on cleaning your treadmill belt.

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 and the information we provide to help ensure we’re delivering helpful, accurate descriptions and recommendations.

How to Clean a Treadmill Belt

If you’re entirely new to owning a home treadmill, treadmill maintenance and the components of your fitness equipment might seem like a foreign language. Let’s start with the basics: What is a treadmill belt?

The belt deck of the NordicTrack EXP 7i.

The treadmill belt — also known as the walking belt or running belt — is the rubber surface that rotates around the treadmill deck. Proper belt cleaning is a combination of cleaning the surface and underneath the surface of the belt. It’s also a convenient time to apply your treadmill lube.

In most cases, you’ll want to give it a quick wipe down after every use and then a more thorough cleaning every few weeks. If you’re a heavy sweater or plan on using your treadmill for high-intensity workouts and endurance runs, you may want to consider cleaning it more often.

[Related: Best Treadmills for Running]

Before cleaning the treadmill walking belt, unplug the fitness equipment’s power cord and grab your supplies. 

Remove Excess Dirt and Dust

There are likely thousands of treadmills in the USA that have been repurposed as clothes racks and dubbed “dust collectors,” but as it turns out, they collect dust even if you use them regularly.

Dust bunnies and hairballs are commonplace around and underneath fitness equipment. Begin the cleaning process by dusting your treadmill off with a dry cloth or a quick vacuum if it has accumulated a build-up of dust, hair, or dirt.

BarBend’s Jake Herod pounding the treadmill belt.

Some treadmills can be folded up, which may make cleaning your treadmill belt and underneath your treadmill a little easier — not to mention provide an opportunity to clean that treadmill mat.

Clean the Belt Surface

Starting from one end of the treadmill walking belt, remove any build-up with a damp cloth and approved cleaning solution. Use your hands to move the belt manually until you’ve cleaned the entire belt surface. 

For tougher stains, use a soft-bristle brush (like a toothbrush) or sponge to work the stain out of the belt.

Be mindful not to use too much water and keep the water away from the power cord, electronics, and motor cover. Some manufacturers will void a warranty if there is water damage. (1)

Clean Underneath the Treadmill Belt

Just like your mom told you to clean behind your ears, it’s important to clean the unseen — and this includes underneath the treadmill walking belt.

If your treadmill is positioned in a dirtier environment like a garage or basement, you won’t want to neglect cleaning under the belt. Dust, dirt, and all kinds of debris can get stuck between the treadmill deck and walking belt which can impact the quality of your workout and potentially harm your equipment.

[Related: Best Folding Treadmills]

Lift the treadmill belt and slide a dry towel between the walking belt and the treadmill deck. With the ends of the towel hanging out of each side of the belt, shimmy the towel back and forth to remove any dirt and debris, occasionally shaking out the towel. 

Manually move the belt with your hands and repeat this step until you’ve cleaned the whole length of the belt.

Alternatively, you can use the small nozzle of a vacuum to clean the underside of the running belt and deck. If the belt is too tight to insert the vacuum nozzle, you can adjust the treadmill belt to loosen it up for more slack.

While the belt is separated from the treadmill deck, do yourself a favor and mark off another item on your maintenance checklist — checking your treadmill belt lubrication. Knowing how to lubricate a treadmill along with cleaning your treadmill belt will keep things running smoothly and prolong the life of your investment. 

Dry Thoroughly

Once you get your treadmill squeaky clean, it might be tempting to hit the road running. Before you hop on your never-ending sidewalk, make sure you’ve completely dried all the components to prevent moisture damage or a potential safety hazard.

Use a dry towel to remove any moisture from the treadmill belt and its components.

Create a Regular Treadmill Cleaning Habit

A quick wipe down after your sweat sesh will make a big difference and reduce the amount of sweat, grime, and build-up that can accumulate over time. 

Keeping a cloth and sanitizer spray nearby is a good way to build the habit of giving your gym equipment a frequent wipe down, making your deeper cleans easier and less time-consuming.

How to Know a Treadmill Belt Needs Cleaning

In a perfect world, we would have a scheduled time every couple of weeks for our gym equipment to get a good cleaning. But we all have lives to live and sometimes cleaning our treadmill belt isn’t at the top of our to-do list.

If it’s been a while since you gave your treadmill some cleaning love, here are some common clues that it might be time:

Visible dirt, discoloration, grime, or sweat stains

Squeaking or squealing sounds during operation

Unusual friction or resistance

Unpleasant odors (it could be burnt hair, an overload of bacteria, or something in the electrical components, but in any case, odors are no bueno)

Treadmill Belt Cleaning Tools

If you’re doing a basic clean, you can generally accomplish this with a towel or cleaning cloth and a little bit of water or cleaner. For deeper cleaning, a few more tools help you in your belt-cleaning process.

What You’ll Need

A damp cloth

A dry cloth

Paper towels

A small vacuum

Silicon belt lube

Sanitizing cleaner (check your owner’s manual for an approved treadmill belt cleaner)

A soft, non-abrasive brush or sponge

Pro tip: If you don’t have a mild cleaner on hand, a solution of water and white vinegar is a great, natural cleaning alternative.

What to Avoid

Harsh chemicals 

Excessive moisture

Spraying cleaner on electronics

Improper lubrication

Why You Should Clean Your Treadmill Belt

Cleaning your home treadmill belt might not rank high on things you like to do on the weekend. But taking care of the investments in your home gym can make a big difference in the performance of the equipment and how long it lasts. (Because let’s be honest, even the best budget treadmills are a significant investment.)

BarBend’s Jake Herod running on a treadmill.

While cleaning your treadmill belt may seem purely cosmetic, it impacts a lot more than your treadmill’s appearance. The overall function of the treadmill, the treadmill motor, and its components are all affected by its cleanliness — or lack thereof.

Final Word

Ironically, treadmills are dust collectors even if you regularly use your treadmill. The amount of cardio sweat and running shoe grime can all add to a treadmill’s uncleanliness. Cleaning your treadmill belt may not be as exciting as finishing a killer HIIT treadmill workout, but is necessary to keep your equipment running smoothly and lasting for years to come.

How often you clean your treadmill will depend on how often you use it and the intensity of your workouts, but as a general rule, you should clean your treadmill belt and components once every couple of weeks. If you follow our tips and recommendations above, there’s no reason your treadmill can’t keep you sweating far into the foreseeable future. 


What should I clean my treadmill belt with?

Clean your treadmill belt with a clean cloth and a non-abrasive, mild cleaner to prevent deterioration and discoloration. Your user manual should have specific guidance on what cleaner is best for your model.

How do you get sweat stains out of a treadmill belt?

A cleaning cloth and water or mild cleaner should remove most sweat stains. Apply a small amount of the cleaner to the stained area and wipe clean. For tougher stains, a non-abrasive brush or sponge can help lift the stain.

How do you disinfect a treadmill?

Check your user manual for approved cleaners for your model but generally speaking, a diluted household disinfectant or antibacterial cleaner can be sprayed on high-touch areas and the treadmill walking belt. Use caution on electronics and don’t spray cleaners directly on screens and buttons.


Terms and Conditions. Retrieved April 23, 2024. Icon Health and Fitness.

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