How To Clean and Care For Your Punching Bag

How To Clean and Care For Your Punching Bag

Part of a boxer’s training is taking care of your boxing equipment. Learn how to properly care for and clean your punching bag to keep your workouts on point.

Published: June 28, 2021

Topics: Tips & Tutorials, Boxing Equipment

Author: Nikolay Tsenkov

If you're committed to your boxing training, your punching bag will take a beating with both sweat and impact. All fitness equipment requires proper care and maintenance especially boxing equipment. In this article you'll learn ways to ways to properly care for and clean your heavy bag, what to clean it with, how to prevent damage, and when to replace it.

When you follow these few simple steps to care and clean for your punching bag, you can extend the life and use of it for years to come. Don't let a smelly bag with holes be the reason for skipping that kickboxing workout.

How To Clean Your Punching Bag

Cleaning your punching bag is the most important step you can take to care for this piece of boxing equipment.

During your boxing training, your punching bag will inevitably come into contact with a lot of sweat and will become an environment hospitable to bacteria and fungi.

You can easily prevent this by doing the following at the end of every workout:

  • Wipe your punching bag with a slightly damp cloth

    • Once a week - use a little bit of disinfectant on it

  • Dry the punching bag with a dry cloth or just leave it to dry naturally

Don't use alcohol or bleach-based disinfectants!

Chemicals found in alcohol and bleach-based disinfectants will dissolve and degrade the surface of the punching bag. It's better to use a milder disinfectant that will still eliminate any bacteria on the bag but will not damage the bag’s surface. A mild dishwashing detergent is often a good choice.

Surface-specific care

Leather

If you have a leather heavy bag, you should treat the bag with a leather conditioner once every 1 or 2 months. This will prevent drying out and easy breakage of the surface.

Vinyl

If you have a punching bag with a vinyl surface, you should keep it out of direct sunlight. The heat can melt or harden the material and make it more susceptible to breaking apart when hit. For example, it wouldn’t be a good idea to keep a vinyl punching bag outside.

Canvas

In general, canvas punching bags are difficult to keep clean. The canvas surface is also known to wear down boxing gloves faster than other surfaces. Some people recommend taping canvas bags to create a vinyl-like surface, but even that is not an ideal solution.

Hanging Punching Bag vs. Free-Standing Punching Bag Care

How To Take Care of a Hanging Punching Bag

First and foremost, it’s key to ensure proper installation of your hanging punching bag prior to use. Next, for the safety of the person using the bag AND those around them, it's a good idea to check the bag for any damage before you hang it.

For example, a heavy bag hanging from your ceiling is likely going to have some metal parts for attaching. Be sure to check those (as well as any other connecting elements) for damage and/or rust to prevent your bag from accidentally falling on someone or something. If required by the manufacturer, oil the necessary parts with machine oil.

If you are instead using a frame or stand to hang your punching bag, ensure it is well-built and secure.

How To Take Care of a Free-Standing Punching Bag

A free-standing bag doesn't require any additional maintenance whatsoever. Even if you've filled the base with water, as long as it wasn't contaminated with bacteria, you shouldn't even need to change that.

(In case you missed it, here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up your free-standing punching bag properly.)

Taping holes up

Usually, not something that will occur soon after getting the bag, but if you use it for a long time, it will likely start to show signs of wear and tear. If a tear in the fabric appears on your bag, but there is no significant damage, you can prolong the life of your punching bag with duct tape. Try to tape over the bag a few times so the tape doesn't fall off.

Preventing damage due to environmental factors

A big part of maintaining any equipment is limiting exposure to the elements and making sure the place where it’s stored and used meets certain conditions.

Keep away from heat source(s)

Your punching bag should be at least 6-7 feet away from a heat source at all times. No matter the material your bag is made of, constant heat is going to erode it.

Keep out of humid environments

Punching bags shouldn’t be kept in environments with over 65% humidity. At 70% formation of mold begins and since humidity is rarely a constant - it’s a good idea to be 10 or at least 5% under that limit.

Protect from outside elements

Training outside is great because of the fresh air. But keeping your punching bag outside isn’t the best idea. Direct sunlight, heat, and rain can damage your bag as we mentioned above.

So, if you train outside, make sure to do so somewhere dry, with limited or no direct sunlight. Remember, after your workout is done - make sure your bag is clean & dry before you put it back into storage.

When is it time to get a new bag?

A high-quality punching bag should last for years. Investing in durable boxing equipment is key when starting your boxing training. That being said, all boxing equipment will wear out in time.

Here are a few potential reasons to call it quits and grab a new bag:

  • The bag has significantly softened on the top half

  • If it has too many holes in it to tape

  • The taping has mimed the shape of the bag

  • Regardless of your perfect cleaning schedule - it becomes infested with mold

  • You stored it in bad conditions and it now smells badly

  • It's not worth the trouble (or it’s too expensive) to completely repair the bag and it's better to go for a new one

If you are in the market for a new punching bag, check out the FightCamp guide on how to choose the best free-standing punching bag and what all the punching bag options are.

If you follow the guidelines in this article, you will significantly prolong the life of your punching bag. Keep your bag clean, dry, safely installed and protected from the elements, and your punching bag will last!

Plus, if you need tips for how to take care of your other boxing equipment, you can read up on how to care for your boxing hand wraps and gloves here. For more content like this make sure to keep an eye for new posts on FightCamp's blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Nikolay Tsenkov

Nikolay Tsenkov is a dad, husband, entrepreneur, and boxing aficionado. He has trained alongside national and European champions and professional boxers. He is an avid student of boxing, but enjoys all martial arts.

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