Most people who wear fitness monitors such as heart rate monitors (HRMs), try to take decent care of them, watching that they don’t hit the devices while training, store them in safe locations, replacing the batteries carefully and so on. Keeping fitness monitors clean is just as important to their performance, however, so if you’re not sure how to keep yours free of grime and grossness, this tutorial may very well extend the life of your device.
Immediately After a Workout
After you exercise with a fitness monitors, the chest strap, transmitter, and interior of the watch band likely all will be saturated with oils from your skin, as well as sweat that includes salt. They’ll also have accumulated dirt and dead skin cells that naturally slough off your body due to friction as you exercise. These elements can end up causing the fitness monitor components to irritate the skin or take on an unpleasant odor. They also can interfere with the electrical impulses the device needs to interpret and transmit.
When you’re done with your cooldown, take the watch, transmitter and strap off. If possible based on your fitness monitors design, disconnect the transmitter from the strap. Wipe the transmitter off with a barely damp, alcohol-free antibacterial wipe, and then wipe the transmitter dry with a clean, lint-free cloth.
For the watch band, you generally may use the same basic process as the transmitter, wiping everything clean with an alcohol-free antibacterial wipe and drying it with a lint-free cloth. If your band is very grimy, however, you usually can use a drop of non-moisturing soap and an old toothbrush to gently scrub it. Then, assuming your fitness monitor is water resistant (it can be worn during bathing or showing and handles splashes just fine), rinse the band with clean water and dry it off. If your fitness monitor is not water resistant, wipe the band with a slightly damp cloth to remove the soap and any remaining grime before you dry it. Note that some newer fitness monitor from certain manufacturers have removable wristbands, which allow users to swap out colors according to their style or color preferences. If this applies to your model, remove the main watch from the band and pay extra attention to the inside of the band. Remove any excess moisture from the band before reinserting the watch
To clean the strap, rinse it well under water, apply a few drops of a non-moisturizing soap, and gently scrub the strap with your fingers or an old toothbrush. Rinse the strap, blot out any excess moisture and hang it to air dry. Be careful not to bend the electrodes on the strap as you clean it.
Although post-workout cleaning should keep your fitness monitors decently sanitary, grime still can hide in a few spots that you’ll want to check occasionally for a deeper clean. Two such areas on the watch are around the buttons and in the grooves of the back panel. For cleaning these areas, you’ll need to take an alcohol-free wipe and a toothpick. Place the wipe over one end of the toothpick and very gently work your way around each button and in the panel grooves. Reposition the wipe occasionally as needed to make sure you’re still working with clean material as you go. If you have a removable transmitter, it’s also a good idea to use this method to clean off the metal points where the transmitter and strap attach. Dirt and corrosion on these points can cause a weak connection that causes unreliable signal transmission. A great time to do this deep cleaning is when you replace the batteries in the watch and/or transmitter.
Time is admittedly valuable, but it’s not worth it to try to cut corners when it comes to cleaning a fitness monitor. Some straps can go in the washing machine (your user manual or strap label should give the okay here), but in general, NEVER put your watch or transmitter in the washer. Stay mild with whatever cleanser you use, avoiding moisturizers, dyes and bleach. If you know you won’t be able to clean the fitness monitor right away after a workout, get a mesh bag to throw it in so air can circulate around the device, and keep the mesh bag separate from or at the very top of your gym bag, not buried inside your sweaty clothes.
Fitness monitors are similar to other electronic devices in that they’re constantly exposed to dirt and lint. Unlike other devices, however, they also are bombarded with oil, sweat, dead skin cells and salt. Removing these residues can improve the performance or extend the life of your monitor, so make a habit of cleaning up the device and its accessories after every workout.