Wearable technology can make you healthier—but if you don't clean it the right way, it can also be pretty gross

By Caitlin Carlson
Updated: November 16, 2015
Corbis Images

Just how gross your fitness tracker is depends on what kind you have (do you clip it on your shirt? Wear it around your wrist?), how often, and how you use it (do you sweat in it every day? Just wear it to bed?). (Check out these 8 New Fitness Bands We Love.) Regardless, says cleaning expert Jolie Kerr, author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag... and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha, its probably pretty germy if you've never thought to clean it.

Don't worry, you're not alone if you're now thinking: "Wait, I'm supposed to clean it?!" But it makes sense. Your wrist band or clip-on is collecting dirt and germs just like everything you else you wear, but what makes this piece of gear particularly offensive is that you wear it All. The. Time. That's including during workouts, which often take place at the gym-one of the germiest places out there, per Kerr. "You don't need to become a germaphobe," she promise, "but there are things you should clean from time to time-especially any gear you're using when you work out. (Find out The Best Way To Clean Your Yoga Mat.) You sweat on them. Your dead skin and body oils collect on them. You get the picture.

So, how does one go about cleaning that sucker? Again, it depends on the type. For trackers with detachable bands, take off the electronic bit and wipe it down with rubbing alcohol (safe for electronics). Then, hand wash the band itself with a bit of dish or laundry soap (just 1 tsp of either!). Let it soak in the sink for up to 15 minutes. (Check out 7 Things You're Not Washing (But Should Be).) "The water might turn a really nasty color, which is gross, yet, kind of satisfying," says Kerr.

Then roll it up in a dish towel and press to dry (It shouldn't take long-most bands are designed to dry quickly since they're also meant to resist sweat!). If the band itself also covers electronic software (like a Jawbone UP 24), don't submerge in water. Instead, wipe the whole thing down with rubbing alcohol. Check the manufacturer's website for info on your particular tracker, but if it's safe to take in the shower, it doesn't hurt to keep it on when you strip down so it gets a rinse. But, don't use soap-stick to the rubbing alcohol method.

If you wear your tracker every day, aim to clean it once a week, suggests Kerr. (Psst: Check out The Latest Fit Tech From the Consumer Electronics Show.)

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