How to Clean Treadmills: Tips For Cleaning And Disinfecting a Treadmill

Whether you own one of the best treadmills or routinely use one at your local gym, cleaning and disinfecting these exercise machines is a requirement for ensuring optimal performance, resisting corrosion, and prolonging its overall lifespan. However, cleaning this fitness equipment also requires a basic understanding of a treadmill’s mechanical and electrical components. Using the wrong cleaner or being infrequent with your cleanings can cause more harm than good.

In this guide, we’ll be discussing tips on how to clean treadmills and how often you should disinfect them. These tips will cover not only home gyms, but commercial gyms as well. As a certified personal trainer, I’ve cleaned my fair share of treadmills and instructed clients on how to do so as well. Read on as we walk you through a step-by-step process to cleaning the various surfaces and components of a treadmill.

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.

Treadmill Maintenance Tools

To perform the basic maintenance and cleaning of a treadmill, you will need the following tools and supplies. However, before you begin cleaning your treadmill, make sure that you always turn the power off and unplug the power cord from the outlet. Additionally, consult your user’s manual to see if there are any requirements for cleaning your specific treadmill model.

A microfiber cloth that won’t leave scratches when cleaning the treadmill monitor

Choose a disinfectant over a sanitizer because they kill more bacteria and viruses than sanitizers.

If you aren’t sure what kind of disinfectant to get or are allergic to particular chemicals, then we recommend a mild soap and warm water. You could also add white vinegar to the soap and water, as it has natural acids that can help remove stains, odors and bacteria.

A silicone-based lubricant.

You may need an Allen wrench or screwdriver to loosen the screws that keep the belt firmly on the deck. 

Multiple towels or rags.

How to Clean a Treadmill Monitor

The treadmill monitor can often have dirt, dust, and fingerprints on it due to regular usage. So, it’s important to keep the monitor clean in order for it to continue working properly.

Console on a NordicTrack T-Series Treadmill.

However, there are a few key steps to this cleaning process that you should follow, as you can damage the monitor if done incorrectly. 

[Related: Best Budget Treadmills]

Step 1: Turn Power Off, Unplug Power Cord

Turn your treadmill’s power switch to the off position, then unplug the power cord from the wall or surge protector.

Step 2: Use A Microfiber Cloth

We recommend using a microfiber cloth when cleaning your treadmill’s monitor. This type of cleaning cloth is very soft and will not scratch the display screen. Avoid any abrasive cleaning towels or wipes. 

Step 3: Use Appropriate Cleaner

Make sure you use the appropriate cleaner for your monitor. Do not use glass cleaner, as it can leave permanent streaks on your monitor. Sometimes, a treadmill’s user manual will provide you with suggestions for a disinfectant, though you can also use a mild soap and water with a touch of white vinegar. Additionally, some sanitizing wipes are designed to clean electronic displays and could be a great alternative to wiping down your monitor.

Step 4: Do Not Spray The Monitor Directly

Never spray the monitor directly as this could damage the electronics behind the screen. Always apply the cleaner to your microfiber cloth. Additionally, don’t drench the cloth, but slowly apply the cleaning solution until the cloth is damp. Then wipe the monitor with the damp cloth.

How to Clean a Treadmill Belt

The treadmill belt is the largest surface area on your exercise machine. Due to the constant usage, this portion of the treadmill is often the dirtiest and in the most need of cleaning on a regular basis. However, most people think that cleaning the belt is just about wiping down the top of it. That’s not the case. You should also clean underneath the running belt as well.

A BarBend tester pounding the belt on a treadmill.

For this cleaning process, you will need at least two towels or rags. One towel should be a foot longer than the belt’s width. You’ll also want a cleaning solution and an Allen wrench or screwdriver. Here are some steps on how to clean treadmill belts

Step 1: Turn Power Off, Unplug Power Cord

Before cleaning your treadmill, always make sure that the power switch is turned off and you pull the power cord from the outlet or surge protector.

Step 2: Wipe Down The Top Of Belt

Before wiping down, check your owner’s manual to see what type of cleaner is approved. Apply the cleaner to one of the towels or rags. Never spray the treadmill directly, as this could potentially cause electrical issues with the console or motor. 

We recommend cleaning the top of the treadmill belt on a daily or every-other-day schedule. Those in commercial gyms should clean the top of treadmill belts throughout the day, especially when there is a high volume of usage. It’s common practice for athletes in a gym to wipe down a treadmill after usage. 

Step 3: Cleaning Underneath The Belt

Now that you have cleaned the top of the belt, it’s time to clean underneath. This step is a little more in-depth because it requires multiple cleaning tools. Take your Allen wrench or screwdriver and head to the rear of the treadmill to loosen the belt screws. Make sure to turn the screws counterclockwise to loosen the belt.

Once the belt is loosened and you can fit your hands underneath, take the larger towel and slide it underneath the belt. Make sure the ends of the towel are sticking out on both sides of the belt so that you can grab both ends. Once you have a firm grip on the ends of the towel, slide it back and forth as you move up and down the belt. Manually rotate the belt and repeat this step to ensure you clean the entire belt.

If you have a treadmill at home, this step should be repeated every one to two months, depending on how often you use it. For commercial gyms, cleaning underneath the belt should be done at least once a month. This same process also applies to cushioned treadmills

Step 4: Re-Tighten The Belt

Once you are done cleaning underneath the treadmill belt, make sure you re-tighten the screws so that the belt is firmly in place on the deck. Plug the power cord back in and turn the treadmill on. Stand to the side of the machine, turn the belt on to a slow speed, and make sure that the treadmill is operating smoothly before using it again.

How to Lubricate a Treadmill Belt

Lubricating a treadmill helps to keep your exercise machine running smoothly. Without a regular upkeep of lubrication, the treadmill belt can rub against the deck and cause friction. A large amount of friction could end up damaging the treadmill belt and motor.

Our BarBend product tester walking on the ProForm Pro 9000.

If you hear squeaky, loud noises when the treadmill belt is running — or if you there isn’t a waxy or oily feel on the underside of the belt, it’s likely that lubrication is needed. We recommend lubricating the belt at least once every three months to ensure proper operation. Here are some steps on how to lubricate a treadmill belt.

Step 1: Turn Power Off, Unplug Power Cord

Always shut off the power and unplug the power cord before cleaning or performing any maintenance.

Step 2: Loosen The Belt

Find the belt or roller screws located at the rear of the treadmill and turn them counterclockwise to loosen the belt. You will need a screwdriver or Allen wrench, depending on your specific treadmill model.

Step 3: Wipe Underneath The Belt

Grab a clean towel or rag to clean the underside of the walking belt. You want to remove all dust or debris from the surface. You can apply the same cleaning process detailed above, in which you slip a towel under the belt and slide it back and forth while moving up and down the belt. You’ll also want to wipe down the running deck underneath the belt.

If you add lubricant without first wiping it down, you risk making things worse — the combination of debris and lubrication may increase belt friction.

Step 4: Add Lubricant

Check your owner’s manual to see that the lubricant you’re using is approved before applying. We recommend a 100-percent silicone lubricant like Horizon Fitness’ Silicone Treadmill Lubricant, one of the best lubricants we’ve come across. It has a thick consistency that can properly lubricate the belt, and it requires just a small amount with each use, ensuring one bottle should last you quite a while. 

It’s worth noting that non-silicone lubricants, including WD-40, have additives that can damage the belt.

Make sure that the surface underneath the belt is dry and clean before you begin applying lubricant. Although some treadmills might be different, you will usually apply the lubricant along the underside of the belt where it touches the deck. Run the lubricant along the length of the belt to ensure the proper amount. Manually roll the belt to make sure that the lubrication is fully dispersed.

Step 5: Test It Out

Now that the lubricant has been applied, make sure the belt is firmly in place by re-tightening the screws. Stay off the belt, then power up the treadmill and let it run for three to five minutes at a slower speed. This will ensure that the lubricant is evenly spread out and that the belt is moving smoothly without friction or squeaky sounds.

How to Clean Everything Else

In addition to the parts detailed above, there are more areas of a treadmill that need to be cleaned on a consistent basis. The following is a quick overview of other surfaces and components that you should regularly clean on your treadmill. 

Cup Holders

Many of the best commercial treadmills have cup holders, though they can become pools of spilled fluids, dust, and grime if you’re not careful. When cleaning them, do not spray the treadmill directly. Instead, spray paper towels or a rag and firmly wipe out the cup holders. If you can’t fit your hand into this part of your treadmill, a small cleaning brush or toothbrush are great options to reach any buildup.


With the same rag that you used to wipe down the cup holders, proceed to wipe down the treadmill’s handrails. Wiping down each hand rail at least two times will ensure that they’re properly disinfected. Whether you’re at home or at a commercial gym, you should wipe down the handrails after every use.

Treadmill Motor

We highly recommend consulting the user’s manual before attempting to clean a treadmill motor. If the motor needs cleaning, you will likely need to hire a technician, as it requires disassembling the treadmill and handling electrical components. Furthermore, you could run the risk of violating your warranty if the task is performed improperly. Gyms have specialized technicians that are contracted to perform this complex level of cleaning on exercise equipment.

Treadmill Rollers

When cleaning under the treadmill belt, you can use the same rag to wipe down the rollers. I do not recommend removing rollers to clean, as this requires disassembling the treadmill. Instead, a thorough wiping should do the job. Most treadmills have two rollers — one in the front and one in the back.

Treadmill Mat

Scoring one of the best home treadmill mats can be a great way to protect your floors from the weight and usage of your exercise machine. However, many people forget that these mats need to be cleaned as well. 

You might need someone to assist you in moving the treadmill off of the mat and out of the way. We recommend vacuuming the mat to remove all dirt and debris. You’ll then want to apply the cleaning solution to your rag and wipe down the mat at least twice to ensure it is thoroughly cleaned. Let the mat air dry before placing the treadmill back on it. This cleaning should be done monthly in the home and daily in a gym.

Surrounding Area

While you’re cleaning the treadmill mat, it’s also a good idea to vacuum the entire area where the treadmill is located. Pick the mat up and vacuum underneath as well.

Always keep clutter away from your treadmill to avoid any potential dangers, like things getting stuck in the treadmill belt or a high accumulation of dust and dirt. Vacuuming around the treadmill should be done a few times per week in the home. Commercial gyms should perform this task daily due to high volume of traffic.

[Related: Where To Position Your Treadmill]

How Often Should You Clean Your Treadmill?

BarBend expert reviewer Amanda Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, CSNC, believes that “treadmills are a great home gym item,” and we absolutely agree. However, they require a great deal of commitment and responsibility to clean and maintain.

BarBend’s Jake Herod running on a treadmill.

If you own a treadmill and run or walk on it daily, then you should follow a regular cleaning routine each day. At the very least, implement an every-other-day cleaning routine of wiping down the console, handrails, cup holders and top of the belt. Every week, you should vacuum around and underneath the treadmill. For deep cleaning and regular maintenance — like belt lubrication — we recommend doing it every two to three months.

If you own a gym or are an employee of one, a thorough cleaning before and after gym hours is highly recommended. This also includes vacuuming around the exercise machines. For more in-depth maintenance and cleaning, those should be done monthly due to the volume of usage.

Frequent gym usage results in a greater amount of sweat, dust, dirt, germs and bacteria, so athletes in a gym should always be wiping down their machines after usage in order to sanitize and disinfect. 

Final Word

Although treadmills are fantastic exercise machines to maintain and improve your health, they do require consistent maintenance and cleaning to ensure long-term usage and to prevent any damage. This means giving it a little TLC on daily, weekly, and monthly basises. 

The volume of usage will determine the frequency of cleaning, regardless if it’s a home treadmill or one in the gym. Additionally, the types of cleaning, surface areas, and maintenance will all factor into the frequency. I highly recommend creating a monthly cleaning and maintenance schedule for all at-home or gym equipment. This can help ensure that your treadmill will continue supporting your fitness goals far into the foreseeable future. 


What should I use to clean a treadmill?

Treadmill cleaning tools we recommend include a microfiber cloth, towels and rags, and some soap and water with a touch of white vinegar. A disinfectant spray or sanitizing wipes can also be used, but be sure to consult your user manual before using them to make sure they don’t contain any harmful chemicals.

What happens if I don’t lube my treadmill?

If you don’t lubricate your treadmill belt on a regular basis, then you can damage the belt, rollers and the motor. The lubricant prevents friction from the belt on the deck and rollers. An increase in friction can lead your motor to work even harder, which can result in premature failure or other malfunctions.

How do you clean under a treadmill belt?

First step is to loosen the screws that hold the belt firmly in place on the deck. Use an Allen wrench or screwdriver to loosen these screws, which are located at the rear of the treadmill. Lift up the belt and slide a towel underneath so that the ends stick out on both sides of the belt. Then grab both ends and slide the towel back and forth as you slowly move up and down the belt. Manually rotate the belt and repeat this process so that you wipe down the entire treadmill belt.

The post How to Clean Treadmills: Tips For Cleaning And Disinfecting a Treadmill appeared first on BarBend.


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