While the summer season is still a ways off, you might have noticed that the air conditioner has been working overtime. And that’s not a bad thing; without a doubt, the A/C is responsible for saving us from the sweltering heat that is sure to follow hot summer days.
Now that the summer season is upon us, it’s a good idea to start thinking about taking care of your equipment. And as much as we’d like to believe that dried perspiration and the occasional spilled drink are the only things that can break down our equipment, the truth is that the elements can still damage your equipment even if it’s dry and clean outside your gear (this is especially harmful to the rubber parts of your skates and the metal parts of your sticks).
To that end, it is imperative that you understand how to clean your hockey bag thoroughly and effectively, so you can prevent future breakdowns and maintenance expenses. Luckily for you, we’re here to teach you.
The Science Of Hockey Bag Cleaning
In a nutshell, here’s how dirt and moisture get inside your bag and how they can cause serious damage: Sun and heat cause the outer layer of the rubber (the part that touches the ice) to deteriorate. The sun’s UV rays further weaken the material, making it more susceptible to damage. Along with heat, UV rays and dust also contribute to the growth of fungi and bacteria, both of which can lead to significant odor and potentially dangerous spoiling of your equipment.
If you travel with your hockey bag, you’ll notice that the contents become damp and cold very quickly once you stop moving. And although this might not seem like a problem at first glance, remember that the contents of your bag are essentially a delicate ecosystem and can quickly outgas and spoil if not looked after properly. In addition to the rubber parts, these microorganisms can seriously damage the metal parts of your skates, especially the bearings and the pivot points (the points where the two halves are connected). They can also cause significant wear to your tires if you use a bike to get around. In either case, your wallet will thank you for the extra caution.
These microorganisms can thrive in an environment filled with oil and moisture, and since your bag’s contents are mostly made of organic materials, it’s the perfect place for them to breed and multiply.
In light of the above, it becomes evident that wiping your bag down with a damp cloth won’t suffice. You’ll also have to subject it to an intensive cleaning process that can only be accomplished by using a good cleaning agent and plenty of elbow grease.
How To Clean Your Hockey Bag Properly
Once you understand the importance of cleaning your bag thoroughly and effectively, you’ll be able to follow a systematic process that will get the job done right. Begin by removing all of the contents of your bag and separating the pieces of equipment into individual containers (at least for the time being). You need to do this in case any of the equipment gets wet or damaged during the cleaning process, in which case there’d be no choice but to start from scratch.
After you remove the contents of your bag, wipe it down with a dry cloth to remove any oils or moisture. Now take a few hours (or longer, if need be), and clean each and every bit of it with a good scrubbing substance and plenty of elbow grease (rubbing alcohol is a perfect example of a good cleaning agent, and it’s also environmentally friendly). Make sure that you do this inside-out, starting with the inside walls and working your way out (this is especially important with regard to the pivots and the metal parts of your equipment).
Once you’re done with the inside of your bag, you can move to the outside and give it a good wipe down with a damp cloth. This will help prevent further decomposition of the rubber and keep your equipment looking like new.
The Final Step: Dry It Out
When you’re done cleaning and drying your hockey bag, you need to let it air dry completely before you go back into it. This is especially important with regard to the metal parts (like your skates and hockey sticks). If these items are still damp when you put them back into your bag, you might rust or ruin them. A good rule of thumb is to leave them outside your bag for at least 12 hours before you put them back in – if this isn’t possible, then at least do the same thing in the fridge (for maximum effectiveness, leave them there for several days).
After you’ve dried and pressed all of the air out of your bag, re-load it with the contents you originally had in there and see how it feels. If it doesn’t seem right, then you’ve either been using the wrong equipment or it’s time for an upgrade.
Hopefully, this article was able to shed some light on how important it is to clean your hockey bag properly. In addition to preventing potential damage to your equipment, you should also be thinking about cleaning it as a means of removing the sweat and odor that it is permeated with. In case you were wondering, the best way to clean your equipment is by using a mixture of ½ white vinegar and ½ water. And if you want to keep your equipment looking new, then be sure to air dry it regularly and don’t overload it with too many items (like socks and underwear, which are often used as inflatable cushioning).