Hockey is a physically demanding sport played by athletes who leave everything on the ice. They put their skill, energy, and effort into every game to win. But when the lights go off and they take off their gear, what’s left is an enormous pile of smelly equipment.
The smell emanating from a hockey bag is not only unpleasant but also dangerous. The bacteria accumulated over time on the gear can cause infections or illnesses that could sideline even the best players for some time.
Cleaning hockey gear regularly should be part of any player’s routine to avoid these situations. However, cleaning such specific items requires more than just throwing them in the washer machine.
“Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education.” -Maria Montessori
In this blog post, we’ll guide you through an easy step-by-step process to sanitize your hockey gear thoroughly. We’ll cover everything from how to clean helmets, gloves, skates, and any other protective equipment you need to play competitive hockey safely.
Ready to learn how to have your equipment smelling fresh while keeping yourself away from contagious germs? Keep reading!
Pre-treat the Gear
Remove Excess Dirt and Debris
The first step in cleaning hockey gear is to remove any excess dirt and debris from the equipment. This can be done by shaking off loose dirt or using a brush to scrub away tougher spots of grime.
Pay special attention to any hard-to-reach areas such as the inside of elbow pads or between the fingers of gloves. Getting rid of the surface-level dirt will make it easier for the cleaning solution to penetrate deeper into the fabric when you start soaking the gear later on.
Use a Stain Remover
Hockey players know how difficult it is to keep their gear looking spotless, especially with all the sweat that accumulates during games and practices. That being said, don’t worry if you still see some stubborn stains even after wiping down your gear at this stage. We’ll get to those in just a bit.
If there are any visible stains or discoloration on your gear, pre-treat them with a stain remover before proceeding to soak the equipment. Spray or apply the solution directly onto the affected area and let it sit for several minutes before gently dabbing away the stain with a cloth or sponge.
Soak in a Cleaning Solution
Now that you’ve removed the majority of surface-level dirt and treated any stains, it’s time to actually clean the gear. Fill up a large container (such as a bathtub) with warm water and add a few drops of mild detergent or vinegar.
Make sure there’s enough water to fully submerge all the pieces of equipment you want to clean. Gently agitate the water around the gear to create suds and help break down any remaining dirt or bacteria. Let everything soak for around an hour (or longer, if desired).
Be sure to read the care instructions on each piece of equipment beforehand to ensure you’re not using a cleaning solution that could damage the material. Additionally, avoid using bleach or fabric softeners as these can break down the fibers in your gear over time.
After soaking, drain the water and rinse off each piece of gear with clean water until no suds remain. You might need to wring out excess water from some pieces before setting everything out to air dry.
“The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.” -Navy SEALs
Cleaning your hockey gear probably isn’t the most exciting task on your to-do list, but it’s essential for keeping yourself safe and healthy on the ice. Neglecting to regularly clean your equipment can lead to unpleasant odors, increased risk of infection, and even compromised performance during games.
While it may take some time and effort to get all your gear looking and smelling fresh again, following these pre-treatment steps will ensure you’re starting off the cleaning process on the right foot. Remember to always check manufacturer guidelines and use caution when using any new cleaning products to protect both yourself and your equipment!
Wash the Gear in a Washing Machine
Cleaning hockey gear is important to maintain hygiene and prevent unpleasant odors. A washing machine can be used to wash most types of hockey gear, provided you take the appropriate precautions. Here are some steps on how to clean hockey gear effectively:
Select the Appropriate Cycle
When using a washing machine to clean hockey gear, it’s essential to choose the right cycle to avoid damaging the equipment. It’s best to use a gentle or delicate cycle that will ensure your gear gets cleaned without causing any damage. You should also set the machine to cold water setting as hot water could cause shrinkage or other damages.
Use a Mild Detergent
Avoid using heavy-duty detergents or bleach when washing hockey gear as these products can be harsh on materials and may even strip away protective coating. Instead, opt for a mild detergent that won’t harm the padding, plastic, fibers or leather materials commonly found in hockey gear.
Avoid Overloading the Machine
To prevent overworking your machine and damaging the gear, it’s crucial not to overload the washing machine. Although it’s tempting to wash multiple sets of equipment at once, this could result in less-than-adequate cleaning outcomes and potential damage. So, it’s recommended to only wash what your washing machine can handle, which usually means one or two sets at a time.
Air Dry or Tumble Dry on Low Heat
Once the washing process is complete, remove the gear from the washing machine immediately and air dry them completely. Generally, most gear needs 24 hours to dry. But if you need it quicker then hang the things outside under shade. Avoid directly exposing gear towards sunlight. If you must use a dryer, be sure to choose a low heat setting to avoid damaging the gear materials.
“Hockey is a unique sport in which kids can progress and grow at their own pace while still playing games. Hockey is for anyone who loves speed, teamwork, precision, and physical challenges.” -Unknown
Cleaning hockey gear with a washing machine is recommended once every few weeks or after you have been sweating heavily or if there are any glaring visible spots on your gears. Remember that poorly maintained gear can harbor bacteria and fungus that cause skin rashes and other illnesses so never forget to maintain good hygiene by washing your gear regularly.
Use a Disinfectant Spray
Hockey gear can accumulate bacteria, fungi, and viruses over time due to sweat, dirt, and exposure to other players. It is crucial to disinfect hockey gear regularly to prevent infections and bad odor. Using a disinfectant spray on your hockey gear is an effective solution for killing germs and removing unpleasant smells.
Choose a Suitable Disinfectant
Selecting the right kind of disinfectant spray is essential for keeping your hockey gear clean and safe. Look for a product specifically designed for sports equipment like hockey gear. The disinfectant spray should have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, which will kill all kinds of harmful organisms that may reside inside the equipment.
- Bleach: A bleach-based disinfectant is an affordable option for sanitizing hockey gear. Mix one cup of bleach with five gallons of water and use a spray bottle or cloth to apply it to the gear evenly. Make sure to rinse the gear thoroughly after spraying with the bleach mixture.
- Vinegar: Another natural disinfectant that you can use to clean hockey gear is vinegar. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and shake well before using. Apply the mixture liberally to the hockey gear and let sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing with cold water.
- EPA-approved products: You can also opt for EPA-approved disinfectant sprays that are tailor-made for sports equipment. These are more expensive than home-made solutions but are highly effective in destroying germs and bacteria.
Spray the Gear Thoroughly
To ensure that your hockey gear is adequately disinfected, you need to spray it thoroughly. Start by taking each piece of equipment separately and spraying both the inside and outside surfaces entirely. Pay extra attention to areas with high levels of sweat accumulation like underarms, groin area, and helmet lining.
Make sure that you cover all exposed parts of the gear with the disinfectant spray thoroughly. For example, for knee pads, open them up and spray on the padding underneath the hard shell. Don’t forget to also clean your hockey bag if applicable because bacteria can reside in there too.
Allow the Gear to Dry Completely
Your hockey gear must dry out after using a disinfectant before packing it away. Drying prevents moisture build-up, which could lead to even more significant microbes’ growth. You can hang the gear outside or use a dehumidifier to hasten the drying process.
Avoid using a dryer since it can melt some parts of your gear or damage the leather elements of certain products such as skates.
Repeat the Process Regularly
Cleaning your hockey gear should be part of your regular routine to ensure its longevity and your safety and hygiene. Hockey players are generally advised to sanitize their gear at least once every month during seasons and twice every off-season.
“I clean my gear about once a week in season and probably twice a year off-season.” -Drew Doughty, NHL player
The frequency may vary depending on how frequently you play and sweat. If you notice any foul smell coming from the equipment, consider cleaning it immediately instead of waiting for the next scheduled clean-up.
Regularly cleaning your hockey gear using a disinfectant spray is crucial in maintaining good hygiene and preventing infections caused by germs and bacteria. Be sure to choose a suitable disinfectant, spray your equipment thoroughly, let it dry properly, and repeat the process regularly to keep your hockey gear in great shape for longer.
Dry the Gear Properly
After cleaning your hockey gear thoroughly, the next step is to dry it properly. Drying the gear will prevent mold and mildew from forming, which can cause a foul odor and damage to the equipment. Here are some tips on how to dry your hockey gear:
Avoid Direct Heat Sources
Avoid using direct heat sources such as space heaters or radiators to dry your hockey gear. The high heat can damage the materials in the gear, causing them to warp or melt. It can also weaken the stitching and adhesive used to hold the gear together.
According to Eric Adler, founder of ECO Cleaners, “Heat is bad for all types of athletic apparel”. This includes not just hockey gear but other sports gear like soccer shin guards or yoga pants, hence you want to avoid exposing your gear to these kind of heat sources.
Hang or Lay Flat to Dry
Instead of using heat, hang up your gear or lay it flat to air-dry. Hang items like jerseys, socks, and base layers on hangers or clotheslines where there’s ample airflow. For protective gear like helmets, shoulder pads, and gloves, you can lay them flat on a towel or drying rack to absorb any moisture that may be trapped inside.
In Brian Champlin’s article on Pure Hockey, he emphasizes the importance of allowing sufficient air flow when drying hockey gear: “Don’t stack wet undergear pieces on top of each other because this will trap moisture and delay drying time.”
You can also use a fan to speed up the drying process by placing it near the gear but make sure it’s not directly blowing onto the equipment. As mentioned before, excessive heat can negatively impact the gear.
Drying your hockey gear properly is essential to maintaining its quality. Avoiding direct heat sources and utilizing ample airflow will help prevent mold and mildew growth, prolonging the lifespan of your equipment. Remember, prevention is key in keeping your gear fresh and odor-free!
Store the Gear Correctly
Hockey gear is an essential part of playing hockey. Without proper gear, it’s easy to get injured while on the ice. Protecting your gear and keeping it clean is critical to ensuring its longevity.
Clean and Dry the Gear Before Storage
To store the gear correctly, you first need to make sure it’s clean and dry before putting it away. This includes everything from gloves, pads, helmets, skates, and sticks.
The best way to clean your equipment is to use a solution of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Simply spray down each piece of gear and wipe it clean with a cloth. For tougher stains, you can try using a mild detergent mixed with water.
Once everything has been cleaned, be sure to let it air dry completely before storing it. Damp or wet gear left inside a bag or container is prone to developing mold and bacteria growth that can ruin it over time.
Avoid Sunlight and Humidity
When considering where to store your hockey gear, it’s essential to keep it away from areas exposed to sunlight and humidity. Ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun can cause fabrics to fade and break down over time, while humid conditions promote the development of microbial agents like mold and mildew.
If possible, aim for floor-level storage as this helps prevent moisture buildup from collecting near the ceiling. Also, keep the gear out of any basements or garages as these areas tend to fluctuate in temperature and are typically more humid than other areas of the home.
Use Breathable Storage Containers
A great way to protect your gear from harmful UV rays and humidity is by investing in a breathable storage container. A well-designed hockey bag or bin allows air to circulate through the gear, which helps reduce odors and prevents bacteria growth.
When choosing a storage container, look for options that have sturdy straps for easy transport and pockets for storing things like socks and tape. A high-quality container may cost you more upfront, but investing in one will save you money from having to replace your equipment sooner than necessary.
Store in a Cool, Dry Place
The best location to store the hockey gear is somewhere cool and dry. Typically, this could be inside an air-conditioned room with low humidity levels or near where there’s circulation from AC vents or fans to assist in keeping the temperature down.
Avoid locations close to windows exposed to sunlight as well as areas prone to damp conditions. Some ideal places to consider include closets, mudrooms, laundry rooms, or any other space in the home that has good ventilation and limited access of direct sunlight.
“The longer you let sweat sit on your gear, the harder it will be to remove it later,” said Alex Gravelle, a pro goalkeeper coach who has worked with NHL teams such as Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes.
Storing hockey gear properly is essential to its longevity and overall maintenance. Proper cleaning with a vinegar solution or mild detergent can help keep your stuff free of unwanted bacteria build-up. It’s also important to keep the gear out of exposure to UV rays and humid areas, so invest in breathable containers that offer protection while allowing airflow. Finally, storing things in cool, dry spots throughout your home will keep them smelling fresh and extend their life.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should you clean hockey gear?
You should clean your hockey gear after every use. This includes washing your jersey, socks, and undergarments, and wiping down your helmet, gloves, and skates with a disinfectant spray. It is also important to deep clean your gear at least once a month to remove any built-up bacteria and odor.
What is the best way to clean hockey skates?
The best way to clean your hockey skates is to wipe them down with a damp cloth after every use. If they get really dirty, use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away any dirt or debris. Do not use hot water or any harsh chemicals, as this can damage the skates. Always make sure your skates are completely dry before storing them.
What products can you use to clean hockey equipment?
You can use a variety of products to clean your hockey equipment, including a disinfectant spray, mild soap, vinegar, and baking soda. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before using any cleaning products on your gear. You can also purchase specialized hockey equipment cleaners that are designed to remove tough stains and odors.
Can you machine wash hockey gear?
No, you should never machine wash your hockey gear. The agitation and heat can damage the materials and cause them to lose their shape. Instead, hand wash your gear in a bathtub or large sink with mild soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly and hang dry in a well-ventilated area.
How can you remove the smell from hockey equipment?
To remove the smell from your hockey equipment, use a disinfectant spray or a mixture of vinegar and water. You can also sprinkle baking soda inside your gear bag to absorb any odors. Make sure to air out your gear after every use and avoid storing it in a damp, dark place.
What is the best way to dry hockey gear?
The best way to dry your hockey gear is to hang it up in a well-ventilated area. Do not use a dryer, as the heat can damage the materials and cause them to lose their shape. You can also use a fan or dehumidifier to help speed up the drying process.