Rubber flooring is a natural fit for gyms. Its durable, shock-absorbing ability protects the subflooring while also reducing noise and vibration. Rubber will absorb a dropped weight better than most other materials.
Rubber, though, is a very porous substance. As a result, it can quickly absorb sweat, debris, and bacteria. That makes it vital that you keep it clean.
If you’re a gym owner, home gym enthusiast or have rubber matting for any other reason – knowing how to clean a rubber gym floor is essential.
In this article, I’ll lay out the simple steps to properly cleaning a rubber gym floor. I’ll also answer the most commonly asked rubber gym flooring questions.
Three Different Ways to Clean Your Gym Floor
Having been in the gym business for 35 years, I’ve had quite a lot of experience with cleaning rubber gym flooring. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different methods and cleaning frequencies and have narrowed it down to three methods:
- Removing stains, dust and stuck-on items
- Mopping the floor
- Using an automatic scrubber
Every day, I recommend going over the floor to remove stains, dust, and stuck-on items.
Once a week, you should mop the floor. And once a month, I suggest going over it with an automatic scrubber.
These are general guidelines. Large commercial gyms may want to mop two to three times per week and go over the floor with an auto scrubber once a fortnight, if not more frequently.
BTW – if your gym mats sit over a hardwood floor and you’re getting a lot of noise – go here to discover how to fix a squeaky hardwood floor.
Removing Stains, Dust & Stuck-on Items from Your Gym Floor
Step One: Vacuuming
Every day, you should vacuum your gym floor. If you have a home gym, you can cut this back to every couple of days, depending on how many people are using the gym. You should use a vacuum with soft bristles and adjust the vacuum to a carpet setting.
Step Two: Manually Remove Stuck On Items
It is not uncommon for gym goers to bring gum or other nasties into the gym on the bottom of their shoes. These can easily get attached to your rubber flooring. The vacuum won’t remove them, so you’ll need to get down on your hands and knees and scrape them off.
I recommend that you use a wooden or plastic scraper rather than a metal one. I can tell you from sorry experience that metal scrapers can easily gouge into your rubber matting!
To remove stuck-on items, carefully work the scraper under it and gently encourage it up and away from the flooring. Once the item is removed, go over the area with your vacuum cleaner to pick up any debris.
Check out this research on Strong Home Gym about the best home gym flooring options.
Mopping Your Gym Floor
Step One: Mix Up Your Solution
To create a solution that will be gym floor friendly, fill a bucket of water with warm water. Now add a quarter of a cup of pH-neutral floor cleaner. Don’t use a solvent-based cleaner as it can damage your gym flooring. This is another lesson I’ve learned from bitter experience.
Step Two: Mop the Floor
Use a nylon or sponge mop. Start at the room corner that is most distant from the door. Work systematically as you progress toward the door. Make sure that you do not walk over areas that you have already mopped.
If you’re mopping the rubber floor of a commercial or an especially large home gym, you may have to change out the solution in the bucket. Do this as soon as the liquid gets dirty. Continuing mopping with dirty water will only make your floor less clean.
Step Three: Allow the Floor To Dry
Walking on a wet gym floor will track debris onto it and defeat your purpose. As a result, you should not allow anyone to walk on the floor until it is completely dry.
This can be a challenge if you are operating a commercial gym that is open 24/7. I found that the best time to mop the rubber flooring was after 9 pm when the evening rush had died down. Even then, I had my staff, mop in sections so that gym goers could still use one area while the other was drying.
Aside from large expanses of rubber flooring, most gyms also have sections of other flooring materials – more often than made from laminate. Cleaning a laminate floor without leaving residue can be tricky – but we’ve got you covered there too.
Using an Automatic Scrubber
Step One: Acquire an Automatic Scrubber
Cleaning your rubber gym floor with an auto scrubber only needs to happen monthly. As a result, many people find it economical to hire a machine. You should be able to get a half-day hire for around $30.
If you operate a commercial gym, it will probably make more sense to purchase an auto scrubber. You can pay anywhere from $80 to close to a thousand bucks for a quality machine.
Just as when choosing your rubber floor mop, you should make sure that the scrubber has soft bristles. Those with hard bristles are liable to leave scuff marks on your rubber flooring.
An automatic scrubber will dispense clean water at the same time that it sucks up dirty water. This makes it far more efficient than manual mopping.
Step Two: Add Liquid to the Auto Scrubber
Follow the instructions that come with your auto scrubber to prepare it for use. This will probably involve adding warm water to a compartment opening on the top of the machine. The warmer the water used, the more likely you will be to kill germs and bacteria lurking on your rubber flooring.
You can add the same neutral pH solution that you used for mopping. Apply the same ratio of a quarter cup of solution for every bucket of water. So, if the scrubber capacity is the equivalent of half a bucket, use an eighth of a cup of solution. Using too much solution may cause detergent to become embedded into the rubber floor material.
Step Three: Clean the Floor
Having applied the solution, you can now plug in and turn on the machine. As with mopping, you should start at the furthest corner from the door and work your way back. It will take a bit of getting used to maneuvering the machine. When you do, you should follow a rhythmic pattern to cover every area.
Some scrubbers will require you to push a button to release the cleaning liquid and another to suck up water. On other machines, this will happen automatically.
Rubber Flooring Tips
- Do not lay rubber gym flooring over carpet. The carpet will make the ground beneath your feet unstable. This is definitely not what strength trainers need.
- If you want to get the smell out of rubber gym flooring you can leave it out in the sunlight for up to two weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why should I use a pH-neutral floor cleaner on my rubber gym flooring?
Floor cleaners that are either high or low in pH may cause skin irritation when the human body comes in contact with them. The human body operates ideally at a close to neutral pH of 7.4. A cleaner with a higher pH than that is considered to be alkaline, while those lower than 7.4 are acidic.
Acidic cleaners can be very corrosive, so may also cause damage to your rubber gym flooring. They may also cause toxic fumes. Neutral pH cleaners are safer for the human body and for the environment.
How do I seal my rubber gym floor?
To seal a rubber gym floor, use a sponge mop that has been dipped in a rubber floor finish and sealer. Do not dilute this solution. Apply the solution evenly with a light coat, being sure to cover all areas of your rubber floor.
Sealing your rubber gym floor is a good idea. It will provide you with an extra layer of protection against disintegration and bacteria absorption. However, you should not seal a floor covering that is made from recycled rubber. Doing so has been shown to speed up the deterioration of the flooring.
How often should I clean my rubber gym flooring?
The frequency with which you clean your rubber gym floor depends on the level of foot traffic that it receives. If you are the only person using your home gym, you won’t need to clean it as frequently as a commercial gym floor.
For home users, I recommend cleaning the floor every couple of days, mopping weekly, and using an auto scrubber monthly. Commercial gym operators should clean the gym daily, with mopping taking place every two to three days. An auto scrubber should also be used monthly, if not fortnightly.
Rubber makes an ideal gym floor covering. Its porous nature, though, means that you need to be on top of cleaning it.
I recommend following a three-tier cleaning schedule, involving a light daily clean, weekly mop, and the use of an auto scrubber on a monthly basis.
The frequency of cleaning should be adjusted in line with the foot traffic that your gym gets.
We will leave you with one last great tip in the quick video below – happy cleaning!