A treadmill is an amazing piece of machinery. It allows you to run as many miles as you like, at whatever pace you want, all in the comfort and security of your home. Just hop on the belt, press start, and off you go. However, like all machines, a treadmill must be maintained to ensure it is working properly. There are a few quick and easy ways to maintain your treadmill to increase the odds that everything is running smoothly when you hit the start button. One of the best ways to prolong your treadmill’s life is to clean and lubricate its belt regularly.

Where Is the Treadmill Belt?

The treadmill belt is the rubber surface you run on. When you turn the treadmill on, the motor powers the belt to move in a circular motion around the treadmill deck. The deck is the stationary platform under the belt. When the treadmill belt turns, it slides over the deck, creating friction. Lubrication applied between the underside of the belt and the top of the deck reduces that friction. Keeping your belt clean and lubricated will prevent the motor from working harder than it should to move the belt.

There are two steps to cleaning your treadmill belt: cleaning the top where your feet touch and cleaning the underside that rotates around the deck. Cleaning the top of the belt is as easy as wiping down your kitchen counter. However, cleaning the underside requires a little more attention to detail to ensure there is adequate lubrication when you are finished.

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How to Clean the Top of the Treadmill Belt

The most common ways treadmill belts get dirty are from the bottom of your running shoes and sweat dripping down on the belt. Both dirt and salt from your sweat can build up on the surface of the belt over time. Scott Eastman, senior test lab manager at Nautilus, recommends being proactive with wiping down the belt and foot rails after each use. “This will prevent the buildup of dirt and salt, and minimize the need for a more time-intensive cleaning.” He says to use a towel and a mild cleaner, such as Simple Green, to thoroughly scrub the surface of the belt. It’s important to wait until the belt is fully dry before using it.

Jon Fasulo, owner of TreadmillFixation, a full-service treadmill repair company based in the Philadelphia area, feels cleaning the top of the belt is mostly cosmetic. He’s run motor stress tests before and after cleaning the top of a dirty belt and found the motor wasn’t working any less after the cleaning. However, he sees value in cleaning the underside of the belt, especially if the treadmill has been exposed to a construction zone where dirt and debris are spread in the air.

how to clean a treadmill
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How to Clean Underneath the Treadmill Belt

To clean underneath the belt, Fasulo recommends taking a clean, dry terry cloth, or towel, and sliding it between the belt and deck so that the edges of the towel are sticking out on both sides. Then, grab both ends of the towel and slide it back and forth a few times before pulling it out. Shake out the towel to remove any debris and turn on the treadmill to rotate the belt. Slide the towel back underneath the belt and repeat the back-and-forth motion.

Fasulo warns you should approach with caution when cleaning the underside of the belt because it also can remove a lot of good lubricant the belt needs to perform well. He has seen situations where “someone has a good amount of lubricant on the belt, they go to clean it, and they liberally lubricate again, and there's actually less lubricant than when they first started.” Because of this, it may be best only to clean the underside of the belt when you suspect the treadmill has been exposed to exceptionally dusty and dirty environments. If this is the case, you’ll want to apply lubricant.

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