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How Hygienic are Britain’s Gym Enthusiasts?

gym hygiene habits

Ever wondered how your gym hygiene habits match up to the rest? Keep reading to find out the latest stats on Britain's gym goers.

The new year marks the start of a new gym routine. Whether that’s joining the gym for the first time, increasing the amount of times you train per week or upping the intensity of workouts,  many Brits are wanting to set their fitness goals for the year.

So, Tap Warehouse has decided to question exercise enthusiasts in the UK to reveal how grimy their gym hygiene habits are, and the results are particularly eye opening... 

1 in 10 of Brit Gym-Enthusiasts are Making Themselves Prone to Fungal Infections 

After exercising, you would think people would jump in the shower straight away to rid themselves of any sweat (and tears), but Tap Warehouse’s research uncovered that 13% of British gym fanatics sway away from the bathroom taps and prefer to stay in their smelly gym clothes for an hour or longer.

What’s even more concerning is that 32% don’t shower straight away! This could be a result of life getting in the way or being too tired after a gym session, but this could actually lead to fungal infections. 

Doctor Asif Munaf, founder of wellness company Endorance, says that “people should aim to shower within an hour and most definitely, should not sleep without showering. Failure to do so could cause bacterial and mycotic (fungal) infections on sweaty clothes or in between toes.” Therefore, it may be worth having a quick rinse off in the gym showers or as soon as you get home to prevent infections. 

Over a 1/4 of Brits Aren't Washing Their Gym Clothes After Every Session

gym hygiene habits

If you’re the type to go to the gym everyday and do high intensity workouts for hours upon end, hopefully you’ve washed your sweaty gym clothes recently?

Well, our research has revealed that 26% of Brits admit to not washing their gym clothes after each session. Of course, this depends on the type of gym session and how long you train for, but 13% of respondents said that they wear the same gym gear twice. 

On a better note, 74% of Brits do keep up their hygiene and wash their gym clothes after one use.

But, how harmful is it to re-wear gym clothes on the regular? According to Dr Abigail Short, private doctor from, “gym clothes can harbour lots of bacteria due to sweat and because of the interaction between gym apparatus and public changing rooms. Touching the machines, wiping your sweaty hands on your clothes, or sharing dumbbells with others can transfer germs.” So, whilst you may not feel as though you’ve sweated that much or need a shower, your clothes most likely do need a wash! 

6 in 10 Brits Aren't Sanitising Their Hands When They Enter the Gym

gym hygiene habits

Hand sanitiser wasn’t just beneficial for reducing the spread of COVID-19, but it’s also essential for encouraging hygiene. As such, most gyms have hand sanitiser scattered around the rooms, so you don’t even need to remember to bring it with you.

Our survey shows that a whopping 61% of Brits fail to wipe down gym equipment before each use, whilst 57% aren’t wiping it down after use. This means, when we go on a new fitness machine, we’re touching or sitting on someone else’s sweat and then potentially touching our faces or clothes. But what’s even more interesting, is that 19% of Brits are aware of the health risks associated with poor sanitising, but continue to do so.

Meanwhile, 4 in 10 Brits admit to visiting the gym being knowingly unwell which provides the breeding ground for germs to spread through hands, mouth and air. But what only 29% of gym users know, is that you can conduct E Coli from not wiping down equipment.

E-coli bacteria can cause severe stomach cramps and vomiting, which is pretty nasty. After exposure to germs, it can take 3-4 days for symptoms to begin, so you may not be aware that it’s from the gym, but chances are it might. 

Keeping up to date with good hygiene can decrease your chances of developing this infection, so it’s worth keeping your hands sanitised and wiping down your gym equipment after use. 

57% of Women are Exposing Their Skin to Breakouts

If you’re going straight to the gym after work, there’s a high chance that you’ll still have your make-up on from the day, but how many women actually remove their make-up before exercising?

Shockingly, 57% of women wear makeup whilst exercising, which could be detrimental to your skin. According to dermatologists, the mixture of sweat and increased temperature means your pores are more open, leading make-up to clog in pores and breakups. 

Alongside this, many women will have heard the classic ‘don’t touch your face because you’ll get spots’, but with 92% of gym users admitting to touching their face whilst at the gym, not only are you increasing your likelihood of breakouts, but you could be creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. With 1 in 10 saying they’re always touching their face, which is bad for your skin - the gym can make it 10 times worse!

Dr Abigail Short mentions, “while at the gym, our hands and face are often touching yoga mats and other equipment- which has plenty of germs on. If you’re wearing make-up, it’s much easier for the bacteria to cling onto it.”

1 in 5 Brits Aren't Always Wearing Underwear to the Gym

If you’re an avid TikTok user, you may have seen posts surrounding fitness fanatics going commando at the gym. This is mostly because people don’t want their underwear lines to show in shorts, but also because some find it more comfortable when working out. 

With 24% of Brits admitting to not always wearing underwear, what’s even more surprising is that 10% of men admit to never wearing underwear to the gym, whilst a further 4% of women also don’t. Hopefully this isn’t going to be a trend that continues through the new year. 

The Importance of Shoes in the Gym

gym hygiene habits

Some people prefer doing certain exercises, in particular, lifting weights without shoes on as they believe this will offer them more stability and a better workout overall. In fact, a large majority (81%) of Brits admitted to going barefoot at the gym - whether this is for weights, pilates or using the scales. Most commonly, 37% take their shoes and socks off on the scales, whilst a further 30% go barefoot on yoga mats (we hope they’re bringing them from home!) 

However, it is interesting to see that a whopping 3 in 10 people find that going barefoot gives them the ‘ick’. Not only is going barefoot ‘icky’, but it’s also a safety hazard. With 10% of respondents going barefoot when using free weights, if anything heavy was to drop on your foot, the damage would be more significant than if you had shoes to protect your feet.

But bad shoe habits don’t stop when you get to the changing rooms. Our data shows that only 1 in 4 Brits always wear flip-flops or some form of shower shoes in the changing room or shower, whilst 2 in 10 Brits admit to never wearing them. Wearing shoes can help protect your feet and avoid contamination of fungus or other bacteria. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool in your gym, it’s also prudent to wear them when walking to and from the changing rooms.

1 in 10 of British Fitness-Fanatics Don’t Clean Their Water Bottle Enough

Washing your bottle? Never heard of it!

According to our survey, 11% of Brits leave their water bottles unwashed for at least overnight or longer by the kitchen taps, but many are unsure of how often you should be cleaning it. 

Dr Abigail Short says that, “not washing your water bottle can create an environment for germs to thrive, because of the moisture. No matter what your bottle is made from, you should be using hot soapy water to keep it hygienic and then thoroughly dried.”

Four Tips for Pumping Up Your Gym Hygiene

After reading this, chances are you’ll be heading over to the nearest supermarket to purchase hand sanitiser, some flip-flops and maybe a new water bottle. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of ways to keep yourself clean and hygienic at the gym and afterwards.

1. Wash your hands 

Probably the most important point, but with so many people using the same equipment, you should ensure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after. It’s also beneficial to try avoiding touching your mouth whilst you’re at the gym, as this can cut down your chances of contracting infections. 

2. Sanitise

A little sanitiser can go a long way! Whether you have a home gym or you’ve joined a communal one, you should be sanitising the apparatus before and after use. Use the disinfectant spray they provide you with at the gym and spray on the handles and apparatus to properly clean it before use. Wipe it down after so that it’s hygienic for the next person. 

3. Shower

Make sure you don’t get too distracted after the gym and get out of your sweaty gym clothes to avoid the risk of skin infections. It’s best to shower as soon as you can after working out to ensure best results. 

4. Wash gym bags and water bottles

Your gym bag and water bottles are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Remember, you’ll be shoving in your dirty gym clothes and transporting them home and then the next day putting clean clothes in, so it’s best to keep your gym bag as fresh as it can by regularly washing it to limit your exposure to germs. 


We surveyed 2,000 Brits on their gym habits. Data collected in January 2024.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Brits’ hygiene habits in the gym, you might appreciate discovering what Brits get up to in the bathroom

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