There is nothing less glamorous than picking up your wooden roll-down bar, push-through bar, or gondola pole and feeling your palms stick to the surface. Yuck!
Learn from my mistake: I once spent thirty minutes with some steel wool on a roll-down bar only to end with an ugly, bare piece of wood and a pile of flakes of grime and wood finish!
In this quick guide I want to share with you how to maintain your wooden dowels and, if necessary, deep clean them.
How did they get this way?
The problem with these wooden dowels is that they usually get overlooked when it comes time to clean the equipment after a session. Most clients are great at wiping down the upholstery, but other things like footbar, rollers, balls, handles, and dowels often get neglected. This can cause all their sweat, hand lotion, and skin oil to build up very time. This clear, sticky buildup can then catch dirt and dust, too, turning it an ugly red-brown color.
An ounce of prevention
The first thing you want to do to prevent this buildup is verbally instruct your clients to clean their dowels after a session. I recommend spraying your cleaning solution on a towel, and then wiping down the wood surface. If you aren’t sure what to use to clean after every session, check out this blog post. It is important not to use something that is really heavy-duty and will leave a film of its own.
If you already notice some buildup on your dowels, don’t worry! It might not be too late (and hopefully won’t require too much time.) I recommend starting with a slightly-more-than-damp microfiber rag (use just water) and some patience. Rub the water-soaked towel on the dowel giving some pressure with your hands and allowing the water to “soak” in. Don’t be afraid to spend some time rubbing with light pressure. Seriously. Have some patience because it probably won’t wipe off quickly. That’s okay!
The reason for this method is two-fold. First, you don’t want to use any chemicals that will easily strip the grime because they will also likely remove the finish underneath. Using a dowel without a coat of finish on it will make it even harder to clean in the future, and it just doesn’t look good.
Second, using an abrasive scrubber like steel wool, a screwdriver, or the stiff back of a sponge can also scrape off the grime AND the finish, so avoid those unless you want to undertake the re-finishing process yourself. The exception to this is using your fingernail, where you may have better tactile feedback and can very lightly scrape the grime off and leave the surface finish alone. But, that is quite tedious.
The best solution to combine soaking/wetting power and scrubbing power might be to use a silicone sponge like this one, or the soft side of a sponge.
What if it’s too far gone?
If this process doesn’t work for you, obviously, you can just live with the grime. You could also replace the dowel from your manufacturer, or, you could refinish the dowel yourself. There are lots of YouTube tutorials on how to refinish a piece of wood, and I recommend following one of them that tells you how to use polyurethane to seal it.
If your dowel is unfinished like one of those dowels that goes in the chair pedals or a home-made gondola pole, scrub away. You could even sand it, though, in my experience the grime doesn’t respond well to sanding. If grime is a problem on these dowels I recommend sealing the dowel yourself, though, to help make cleaning in the future easier.
As always, if you have a specific question about your piece of equipment, you can email me at BBGarage@pilates.com and I’ll be happy to help.