How To: Clean Your Hockey Gear
Let's talk about a subject that almost every hockey player tries to avoid: cleaning your gear. Most of the guys on my beer league team take pretty good care of their equipment, with the exception of myself and my defensive partner. Our team has coined the phrase "dumpster duo" to describe the two of us. As much as I enjoy sharing this awesome (not really) nickname with my buddy, I think it's time for a change. I no longer want to be that smelly guy in the locker room. I want my gear to smell like those tree-shaped car air fresheners you find next to the bathroom at a Chevron station. So, in order for me to get that Bayside Breeze, Lavender, Ocean Mist, or Royal Pine scent that I'm after, I had to do a little research into how to properly clean my hockey gear. Here's what I found:
Shoulder Pads, Elbow Pads, Shin Guards, Pants, & GlovesGive it a Bath
This is the best way to clean your gear without damaging any of it in the process and it will only take you about 30 minutes! Simply fill up the tub about halfway with warm water and add 1/4 cup of laundry detergent. After the detergent mixes in, throw in all of your protective gear (see list above) and let it sit for around 30 minutes. Then, drain the tub and rinse off the excess detergent in room temperature water. Hang it up to dry and you're all set! This is a quick and easy process that everyone should do at least once a month depending on how often you play.The Washing Machine
Technically, you can just wash your gear in the washing machine like you would with most other clothes, but the problem is the spin cycle. If you have some nicer, higher-end gear, there are special types of padding in all of your protective gear that do not benefit from being thrown through a liquid carnival ride. The padding can warp and bend, which will cause it to lose its strength and durability. If you don't feel like washing your gear in the bathtub, the washing machine is still an option - just make sure you put the settings on "Delicate" and set the water temperature to cold. Although the gear can take a beating on the ice, it deserves a little T.L.C. off the ice.The Swimming Pool Myth
Not gonna lie, I might have tried this one myself a few years back. The story goes that all you need to do it throw your gear into the swimming pool for around 30 minutes and the chlorine will help get some of the smell out. Well, it doesn't work. Your gear will have discoloration after it is exposed to the chemicals in the chlorine and the smell will not go away. Also, when you wear the gear after you are at risk of having chlorine on your skin as you sweat.
Skates, Helmets, AccessoriesCleaning your Skates
This is one of the easiest and important things to do when taking care of your equipment. For hockey players, the skates are the most important and most expensive weapon in our armory of gear. Taking good care of them is a must if you want them to last long and perform well. Here are some of the key points of skate cleaning:
- Always wipe down your blades after use
- Don't leave your skates in your car!
- Make sure to loosen up your skates before taking them off and putting them on
- Hang your skates upside down with the toe facing up when drying
- Spray them with Lysol or other disinfectants every other use
Simply wipe down the inside of your helmet with a wet towel, or if you feel like it really need some cleaning, you can add tear-free shampoo to the towel for some extra cleaning power.Accessories
This last category should be pretty straight forward. You have a bag, jerseys, socks, jocks, compression base layer, and maybe a neck guard or wrist guards. First off, dump the bag, spray it with Lysol and throw it back in the corner. Next, take the rest of those accessories and just throw them in the washing machine. Make sure you take the cup out of the jock pants/shorts before washing them! Last, make sure to dry everything on low heat, especially for the items with padding since the pads can warp.
Never leave your bag in your car! Whether it's summer in California, or winter in Minnesota, your gear will get ruined! After you play, make sure you air out your bag. This will help stop bacteria growth and won't trap that horrible smell inside for all of eternity. Take care of your gear and it will take care of you. Thanks for reading, and we'll see you guys on the ice!
When I wash my protective gear, besides the detergent, I usually add some Listerine (the mouthwash). Yes, I know, sounds strange but I learned the trick from a hockey mom and it actually works to get you closer to that Royal Pine scent that you’re after. http://angrybrow.com/hockey/listerine-for-that-clean-hockey-glove-smell/
We all know how embarrassing and annoying stinky gear can become, and how difficult it is to clean. Bacteria overgrowth creates odours which eat away at your equipment, making it less effective and puts your own skin at risk to pickup a staph infection such as MRSA. If you have damp, sticky and stinky gear and are looking for a solution, we have exactly what you are looking for.
I’ve used this trick in my skate bag and gear bag for years and no smell. Just leave a few bars of Irish Spring Soap, opened, but still in the box in the bag. Somehow that brand of soap absorbs most of the smells. Still need to actually wash stuff, but it does keep everything smelling good. I have two bars in each bag. Plus you’ll always have backup bars for the shower, hotel, etc.
I have started using oils to help control not only smell but bacteria growth also. It does keep the grear smelling fresher for longer. Just a few drops in the tub. Helpful oils include tea tree, fir, pine, citronella grass, cilantro, orange, eucalyptus.