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How to Maintain and Care for Weights or a Dumbbell Set

Dr. Abby Campbell is a Naturopathic Doctor & President of 911 Body ResQ, an online store providing organic and non-GMO supplements.

How to maintain and care for weights or a dumbbell set is easy.

How to maintain and care for weights or a dumbbell set is easy.

How to Clean Your Dumbells

If you've ever been involved with bodybuilding, powerlifting, or any form of weightlifting routine, you have come into contact with weights, barbells, or dumbbells. You may have even purchased your own fitness equipment that may include a dumbbell set for home use. Though it doesn't take a ton of maintenance, fitness equipment of any kind does require some care and occasional cleaning.

No matter how strong, heavy, or durable a weight or dumbbell is, common sense will tell you that any fitness equipment should still be handled with care. Weights and dumbbells should never be clanked together, nor should they be thrown on the floor. Handling them improperly will damage them, and it will most definitely damage your floors or any other surface they are slammed with.

Barbells, weights, and dumbbells come in different forms. Some are metal only, while others are rubber only. Some may be a combination of both. Others are made with a urethane coating. Each requires a specific cleaning solution for maintenance and long wear. Learn how to care for and clean your weights or dumbbell sets properly below.

How to clean iron weights.

How to clean iron weights.

How to Clean Iron Weights and Dumbbells

Iron weights and dumbbells are usually painted using a high-quality, semi-flat enamel paint or powder coating. The enamel usually wears gradually over time, and oxidation occurs as it becomes worn. To clean:

  1. Mix a few drops of dish soap in a gallon of water.
  2. Use a damp cloth from the mixture and wipe clean.
  3. Use another cloth to dry to prevent rusting.

How to Clean Steel Weights and Dumbbells

You would care for solid steel weights and dumbbells just as you would iron equipment, and make sure you do dry them to prevent rusting. If you keep your fitness equipment outdoors, you may want to keep them covered to prevent moisture buildup and rust.

Cleaning chrome dumbbells.

Cleaning chrome dumbbells.

How to Clean Chrome Weights or Dumbbells

Some weights and dumbbells are plated with chrome for a beautiful shiny metal finish. In order to keep your chrome fitness equipment looking great for many years to come, you may want to occasionally wipe them down with a high-quality moisture inhibitor or protectant like WD-40:

  1. Apply a thin layer of high-quality protectant (WD-40) to weights or dumbbells.
  2. Wipe equipment down.
  3. Wipe them again using a soft dry cloth.
Cleaning rubber weight plates.

Cleaning rubber weight plates.

How to Clean Rubber Weights or Dumbbells

Rubber dumbbells are either completely encased in rubber or just the ends are coated with rubber with metal or chrome handles. The rubber may be natural or synthetic, and weights and dumbbells made with this rubber coating are waterproof. The sun's UV rays can damage rubber, so you may want to keep them covered or indoors to keep them from rot. As for your rubber weights and dumbbell sets, you can do the following to clean them:

  1. Mix a few drops of dish soap in a gallon of water.
  2. Use a clean cloth to wet in the soapy mixture. Wring to make damp only.
  3. Wipe equipment down.
  4. Drying is optional.

Rubber can also have a horrible odor or smell, especially when new. Though time is the only real solution to getting rid of rubber smell completely, there are some steps to help you eliminate some odor:

  • Increase the room's ventilation.
  • Expose to direct sunlight for a few hours.
  • Mix a cleansing solution of one (1) ounce Murphy's Soap to one (1) gallon of water and cleanse with a damp cloth from mixture.
Urethane kettlebells and dumbbells last longer than rubber.

Urethane kettlebells and dumbbells last longer than rubber.

How to Clean Urethane Weights and Dumbbells

Urethane dumbbells usually are made of steel but covered with urethane, a synthetic compound that is stronger than rubber. Some may only have the ends coated in urethane with steel handles. Urethane is extremely durable and lasts longer than rubber as they are impervious to tearing, peeling, chipping, flaking, or delamination. They are also impact-resistant and shock absorbing, which is protective of floors. Just don't throw down your weights as the weight itself can do damage. Urethane weights and dumbbells need little care, but periodic dusting or cleaning is needed. Following are some directions:

  1. Use a clean, damp cloth only.
  2. Wipe equipment down.
  3. Drying is optional.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not use acetone, ammonia, or alcohol-based cleaners (i.e., 409, Fantastik, Windex, etc.) as they will dull the surface. These cleaners will not damage the weights or dumbbells, and you will still be able to perform with them. However, they will change in appearance and will no longer look new.

A Note on Gym Sanitation of Weights and Dumbbells

If you use weights and dumbbells at your local gym, the gym usually provides sanitation wipes to clean off the machines you've been gripping and sitting on. It's a good idea to use the wipes to clean and sanitize the weights and dumbbells as well. This is only courteous to the next person who uses the same equipment.

Also, note that most fitness equipment comes with a limited warranty. However, many warranties only provide coverage if you maintain and care for your weights and dumbbell sets properly.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Nic on July 09, 2017:

Excellent advice, but I'm wondering. I'm a thrifty college student so I'll never pay full price for something I know for a fact that people will put up for pennies on the dollar on sites like craigslist. Trouble is, buying secondhand, some of the equipment is dirt-cheap but not just probably unsanitary, it's also often been neglected eg plates allowed to sit in a garage and rust, rubber/urethane gotten particularly grimy, etc.

Do you have any recommendations for deeper/heavier cleaning? I've got an offer in on 400lbs worth of iron plates for 2$ but they've obviously been left outdoors, exposed to the elements at some point.

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on October 13, 2016:

Hi Callum. Thank you for your compliment and comment. Since I don't know what type of dumbbells you have, I don't know what to tell you. You would definitely treat rubber weights differently from metal.

Callum on October 12, 2016:

My Dumbbells are really dirty but none of these methods work. Please help Abby i love your work and your so very pretty

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on May 25, 2016:

Rebecca, Thank you for your comment. What type of weight set do you have (i.e., steel, rubber, etc.)?

Rebecca Townsend on May 25, 2016:

What do you do when the weights put off a smell since they were purchased and still stink months later? I have to store them in a box because they stink up the whole room

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on January 02, 2015:

Thank you for sharing, Victoria. :-)

Victoria S on December 17, 2014:

I didn't use my chrome dumbells for a really long time as I had been doing other forms of exercise (Yoga and ballet). Then I decided to add back my wonderful weights, but they were rusty (they look just like the pictures in this article). I had a steam cleaner (the kind they use in Scandinavia) which will clean anything in my home, and it was a really good idea. No more rust or dirt. They are like brand new, and no damage or scratches to my very expensive set of dumbbells. When I used them all the time...I merely had to wipe them down a little, but when they set (even protected) for any length of time, they DO get dirty and even a little rusty. Just so you know.

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on May 28, 2013:

No problem, Randi. Glad I could help! :-)

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on May 27, 2013:

I'm wirtth Bill on this one. I don't think I've ever cleaned mine! But, now that I know how! Thank you!

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on May 27, 2013:

Haha, Bill. I think I clean mine 1-2 times per year as well. I figure I don't have germs. LOL. Thanks for commenting. :-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 27, 2013:

I'm laughing only because I can't remember the last time our weights were cleaned. Sheez, Abby, you shamed me into a chore. LOL Thanks a lot!