How to Clean Rubber Gym Floor Mats – Your Garage Will Sparkle!

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“Since when does ‘getting fit’ involve learning ‘how to clean rubber gym floor mats’?” you might be wondering, thinking you may have mistakenly come across a misplaced article.

It’s a good question and I’ll admit that I don’t think I ever got (too) much fitter mopping my gym floor (I don’t use that much elbow grease…I’m obviously a wimp).

However, in the spirit of discussing all things “garage gym”, learning how to clean rubber gym floor mats (and other types of gym flooring for that matter) is part and parcel of maintaining a home gym you’ll be proud of for years to come.

how to clean rubber gym floor

So…let’s set aside our macho, “lyft or die!” craziness for a second and don our rubber gloves…it’s time to get cleaning!

…and not the power or hang variety!

Why Should You Clean Your Gym Flooring?

I’ll admit that anyone who actually knows me pretty well will be laughing at the thought of my lecturing anyone on “how to clean rubber gym floor mats”. If I’m honest with myself, they should be laughing!

But…man…after reading some of this info on gym floors and germs…well…consider this your “trigger warning”!

Still here? Ready for the “ugly truth” of what’s lurking on your gym floor (before we get to the all-important topic of how to clean rubber gym floor mats!)? Then…here we go…

Did you know that there can be up to 63 species of bacteria in the gym (not counting the oftentimes “germ-like” people who make you want to work out in your garage)? These bacteria live on the equipment and, of course, on the gym floor. 

This shouldn’t be surprising when considering the flood of sweat pouring throughout the gym every day. This makes it an ideal place for spreading infections like ringworm, warts, athlete’s foot, or even more serious ailments such as staph infections (if you ever knew a wrestler in high school, you certainly know all about this one!)

“Thankfully”, in the case of home or garage gyms, it’s probably just your bacteria. That makes it less scary, but it can still cause bad smells and create an unpleasant workout environment. Either way, regularly cleaning the rubber gym floor is essential for comfortable and safe training. 

Ideally, you should clean the gym floor at the end of every training day (ha), especially after a very busy or strenuous session (hahahaha!) However, if you’re the only person using the gym, you don’t have to make this daily cleaning routine too thorough. Still, once in a while, give your gym floor a good scrub, using the following instructions as your guide (because if you’re like I used to be, you really have no idea what to do!)

How To Clean Rubber Gym Floor: Step-By-Step Guide

Cleaning a rubber gym floor is not rocket science. You will need:

  • mop
  • bucket (or two, so you can use the second one for rinse water)
  • soft-bristled brush
  • cleaning agent
  • fresh warm water
  • optionally a rubber floor finish for an extra protective touch

Gathered your equipment and chemicals? Great! Now follow these steps on how to clean rubber gym floor:

1. Sweep Or Vacuum The Floor

The first step is getting rid of macro particles such as dust. You can use a vacuum cleaner, or an old-school broom and dustpan. A vacuum cleaner will do a better job of course. Plus, it’s easier and faster. Just make sure to use one with a soft beater brush so you don’t scratch the rubber floor.

2. Prepare The Cleaning Solution

There are different cleaning agents you can use on rubber gym mats:

  • Mild dish soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Dedicated rubber floor cleaner

It’s recommended to use pH-neutral cleaning solutions so you don’t damage the rubber. You may be tempted to use vinegar, a go-to cleaning agent in many households. However, vinegar may damage the rubber so you should avoid it. Also, avoid oil-style cleaners, abrasive cleaners, and harsh chemicals such as bleach.

After you choose your cleaning agent, you need to mix it with warm water in order to create a cleaning solution. If the solution doesn’t have a particularly “nice” smell, you can add some essential oil for extra fragrance and antibacterial properties. Some of the good choices are:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Eucalyptus oil

(If this is a big concern of yours, remember, it’s a gym…not a perfume store…dork)

3. Spot-Clean

Check the floor for any easy-to-spot stains or places that you often sweat over. Clean the spots thoroughly with your cleaning solution and soft-bristled brush. You can also go over some hard-to-reach places that you won’t be able to attend to with a mop later.

4. Mop The Floor

When you’re done with spot-cleaning, it’s time to mop the whole place. First, get the right mop for the job. Here are some options:

  • Strip mop: made of synthetic fibers, should be used in a figure-8 pattern instead of a straight line;
  • Flat head mop: washable microfiber cover, so you can reuse them, good for flat surfaces but not for textured floors;
  • String mop: made of cotton, not a great choice if your floor consists of rubber tiles since this kind of mop is harder to wring out so more of the excessive water might end up between the tiles;
  • Sponge mop: consists of a sponge head and a built-in wringer so you don’t need a special bucket for it, made for cleaning in a straight line.

For large gym spaces, you might consider using an automatic floor scrubber that will do the job faster and more efficiently.

A few tips might come in hand when learning how to clean rubber gym floor mats with a mop:

  • Clean off the mop head frequently. For that, it’s best to use a separate bucket with rinse water apart from a bucket with a cleaning solution.
  • Change the rinse water as many times as you need. This will ensure that you are cleaning with an actually clean mop, not one dipped in gray water. Also, make a fresh batch of cleaning solution if you notice that the first one got dirty.
  • Do a final clean-water rinse. Mop the entire gym floor with plain warm water if you are using chemicals in your cleaning solution, especially if your cleaning agent requires one (which can happen with store-bought cleaners). Also, some cleaning solutions require leaving it on the floor for a certain time for the effect, so make sure to read through the instructions.

5. Let The Floor Dry

After mopping, leave the floor to dry completely, preferably overnight. It will help if you open windows for extra airflow. If your gym is half-open or outdoor, the breeze will work wonders. In any case, don’t start working out in a gym while the floor is wet…for…obvious reasons.

6. Seal The Floor (Optional)

Optionally, you can seal the rubber gym floor with a rubber floor finish. You should apply it after cleaning the floor.

(You definitely don’t need to get this specific product. I just include this to show how far the infomercial world has fallen since the untimely passing of Billy Mays…RIP.)

Rubber floor finish adds an extra wax layer that will give a wet gloss look to your floor and make it appear as new. But more importantly, it protects the floor from damage such as scratches and makes it more water resistant. However, floor sealant is mostly used in commercial gyms with high traffic, so you might not need it in your home gym.

If you decide to apply the rubber floor finish:

  1. Clean the floor and let it dry completely.
  2. Use a sponge mop, a roller, or another type of applicator to spread the sealant over the floor.
  3. Apply as many coats as needed (read the instructions because the number can vary between different products) and let it dry between each new coat.
  4. Leave the floor to dry for at least 24 hours.

However, floor sealants are not suitable for every type of rubber. If your floor is made of recycled rubber, it’s better not to use the sealant since it could damage it. Always check the instructions prior to use (and, preferably, prior to spending money on something that may not work out for you!)

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning how to clean rubber gym floor mats might lead to some additional questions. Here are three of the most common!

Rubber sealant will make your rubber floors shine, so you can apply it after the cleaning. In the case of floors made of recycled rubber, you can use wax for recycled rubber.

No, you shouldn’t use bleach on a rubber gym floor. It is a corrosive agent that might damage the rubber over time.

How long your rubber gym floor will last depends on the type of rubber, its quality, and how well you maintain it. It’s estimated that a rubber floor can last 20 years or more if you care for it properly.


Yes, I get it.

All of you people from my past who are thinking “wow…it is pretty funny that Tom of all people just taught me how to clean rubber gym floor mats!”…I get it.

The thing is, your perspective changes when it’s your garage or home gym floor and they’re your rubber gym floor mats! The cleaning crew ain’t gonna come in after hours to do it for you!

Thankfully, with just a few pieces of cleaning equipment and common household chemicals, you can ensure that your gym floor is both clean and lasting. The fewer corrosive “baddies” embedding into your mats over time, the longer your floor will last. 

…and remember, as obnoxious as cleaning your gym equipment/floor is, it’s a lot more obnoxious to have to replace it!

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Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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