In most gyms, the equipment that sees the most use are usually the cardio machines, in particular, the treadmills. These machines are expensive, and require some regular basic maintenance and cleaning to keep running properly. Treadmills, more than almost any other piece of equipment, absorb a LOT of wear and tear. Just a bit of caution and common sense will keep your machine in top form (while it keeps you in top form!), and prevent you from having to buy expensive replacement parts, or even worse, a new treadmill.
Whether your treadmill is in a gym or at the home, your best friend is going to be the operation manual. Whether in booklet form or on-line, make sure to read it thoroughly and see what the manufacturer recommends for regular maintenance and cleaning. If in doubt, either visit the company's website or give them a call for further information.
The cleaning supplies you'll need are simple. Some soft rags, a cleaning solution of some kind (mild, non-acid soap is best), some Isopropyl alcohol, and a vacuum with a hose attachment. That's pretty much it. Remember to observe proper safety. Turn off and unplug the machine before doing ANY cleaning to it.
Give your machine a wipe down after each workout. This keeps your body oils and sweat off the machine, which can corrode certain parts. A clean rag or equipment wipes will do the trick. Once a week, give it a more thorough cleaning, especially if it's in a gym environment. Take a mild soap and water solution and apply to a rag. Give it a once over, paying attention to the areas that are touched the most, such as the hand rails, the heart monitor grips, and the control console. Be sure the rag is damp, not dripping wet.
Dirt and dust are also a big issue with treadmills. The deck that the belt runs over needs a smooth surface to run correctly, and even small particles of dust collecting underneath the belt can cause big damage to the deck. To prevent this, all you need is a simple vacuum cleaner. If equipped, periodically raise the elevation, pop on the hose attachment and vacuum underneath the machine. Hand dust any places the hose won't reach. Also, lift the motor cover and vacuum the exposed area. If the treadmill is in a gym, make sure that your patrons don't wear the shoes they came in off the street with on the treadmill. Proper workout shoes will keep the grime and dirt off the treadmill and decrease your maintenance issues.
The deck is one of the most expensive parts of any treadmill, and you want to keep it in good working order. Some decks require waxing. Depending on the machine, the wax is either applied automatically from an internal reservoir or the deck needs to be waxed by the user. Either way, make sure you do this! Keep the reservoir full, and make sure you have wax on hand if you have to do it yourself. Keep the surfaces of the deck clean from grime, and give it a good wipe down with a soft cloth once a week.
Cleaning the heart monitor grips is important, too, especially in a gym. Many people rely on these to check their heart rates during workouts, and since the grips are touched by many, many different hands, they can get dirty very fast. Combat this with a little Isopropyl alcohol or use a disinfecting wipe. Apply Isopropyl alcohol to rag and wipe down. Even if it doesn't look dirty, it probably is. Cleaning these grips once a week will keep them working like new.
Belt slippage is a common problem with most treadmills, but it's an easy one to fix if you know how. If you notice that the belt on your machine looks or feels slippery, it probably needs to be tightened. At the rear part of the machine, there will be two large adjustment bolts. Find where these are using your manual. After getting the proper sized socket and wrench (something you should have in case of maintenance issues anyway), give them a quarter turn clockwise, then get on the treadmill and check if it still feels the same. Keep turning the bolts a quarter turn then checking until it no longer slips.
A treadmill is like any other machine. It needs a little TLC from time to time. Keeping it clean and maintained will make sure that it lasts you a long time.