Six Rules for Protecting Your Gym Bag from Bacteria

healthy gym bag

Written by Caila Ball-Dionne on

Caila Ball-Dionne is a freelance writer and full-time travel enthusiast. You can find more of her writing at

healthy gym bag

Don’t let bacteria get in the way of your otherwise healthy fitness routine. Protect your exercise gear from a bacteria takeover with these six simple strategies.

There’s nothing that kills post-workout endorphins quite like a stinky gym bag. Just one whiff is all it takes to remind you of an exercise dark side that you’d rather ignore: the bacteria thriving all over your fitness bag, attire, and equipment. These germs can cause a host of problems that are even worse than the stink, too. Exposure to this type of bacteria can potentially cause ailments ranging from uncomfortable rashes to a serious staph infection, especially if you have an open cut on your body.

Thinking about gym bag bacteria is enough to sufficiently gross anyone out, but there are plenty of solutions that don’t require burning all of your workout clothes or taking a permanent hiatus from the gym. Follow these six clean gym bag commandments to protect your bag and its contents from bacteria.

Commandment 1: Thou Shalt Separate Sweaty Clothes.

After a good workout, your clothes are likely soaked, so you should avoid tossing them directly in your gym bag. Instead, contain the germs and moisture by packing sweaty clothes in a protective organizer—such as the Pack-It® Isolate Cube. These organizers are made with an antimicrobial treatment that not only prevents bacteria and odor from spreading to your bag and its contents, but also prevents the growth of bacteria in the organizers themselves.

Commandment 2: Thou Shalt Not Let Shoes Contaminate Other Items.

Prepare yourself, because the amount of bacteria living on your shoes is just scary. A study at the University of Arizona found that an average of more than 421,000 bacteria live on the outside of shoes, with more than 2,000 bacteria on the inside. Keep those bacteria from contaminating the rest of your stuff by storing your shoes in a dedicated compartment, like the washable Pack-It® Isolate Shoe Sac, which not only contains the bacteria (and stink!), but also keeps it at bay with an antimicrobial treatment.

Commandment 3: Thou Shalt Dump Out Thy Bag Every Time.

Do you ever come home from the gym exhausted, toss your gym bag onto the floor, and think to yourself: "I'll unpack that later." Wrong move. It's not wise to neglect wet items, sweaty clothes, and forgotten post-workout snacks. Leaving those things trapped in a bag creates a prime environment for mold and bacteria growth. So dump and reload your gym bag after each use.

Commandment 4: Thou Shalt Protect Thy Toiletries.

Be especially careful with personal care products in your gym bag, such as body wash, lotion, deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner. You want to make sure that you’re not accidentally spreading bacteria to your skin. Store your toiletries in a water-resistant bag, like the Pack-It® Isolate Quick Trip, which keeps locker room mystery liquids and bacteria away from your products. If you’re not keen on putting your toiletry bag directly on a locker room surface, opt for a hanging option, like the Pack-It® Reveal Hanging Toiletry Kit.

Commandment 5: Thou Shalt Wash Thy Water Bottle.

When you use a refillable water bottle, you’re helping the environment by not constantly purchasing disposable, plastic bottles. The unintended consequence, however, is that you may contribute to bacteria growth by not cleaning your water bottle enough. The resulting germs can negatively affect your water, and also spread to your bag. Keep your water bottle bacteria- and fungus-free by washing it with soap and hot water daily. If you put sports drinks or any sugary beverage in your water bottle, wash it immediately after each use.

Commandment 6: Thou Shalt Clean Thy Gym Bag—Often.

The best way to keep your gym bag clean is to, well, clean it! Set a calendar alert for monthly washing, instead of waiting for a smell to remind you. For the best results, follow the care instruction tag on your bag. In between washes, give your bag a weekly once-over with antibacterial wipes.

Once your gym bag is clean, take it to the next level with the Pack-It® Isolate organization system. These cubes, sacs, and toiletry bags are designed to organize your clothing and gear.

Remember, if your gym bag is clean, you'll help yourself stay healthy—and you'll spare yourself from the inevitable stink!

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

No Sweat! How to Pack the Ulitmate Gym Bag

Our Best Packing Cubes Just Got Better

Alternate Uses for Packing Cubes and Sacs