Getting rid of that Horrible Smell
Everyone that plays sports, not just Hockey players, know that the equipment is going to smell afterwards. With most sports the basics can be thrown in the wash and taken care of. Pads and other items are generally left at the school to be taken care of, and not a thought is put into it. When you own your own equipment for any sport though, it needs to be taken care of, or it will start to smell. Hockey equipment is thicker and not something you can just wash like normal clothing, so it needs to be taken care of differently. Your jersey, socks, jock strap (for guys) and regular clothing should always be washed normally.
After playing the sport, both in leagues and later as a coach, I’ve seen several different methods over the years. Here I share with you what I have learned so you can decide for yourself which cleaning method will work for you.
You could choose not to touch it
Just reading that heading makes me cringe, but believe it not some players do exactly that. While there is no real harm in it, most of the padding goes over some form of underclothes anyway. The smell however can get quite ripe after a while. I’ve heard of players never washing them and just stuffing them in the bag, the odor stays in the bag while zipped up, but unzipping it could make you gag. Some players will even throw in something scented or a fabric sheet to try and remove the scent.
As a player, I did this for a while before I learned how to clean some of the gear myself. Inline skating equipment is much easier to clean than ice skating equipment though due to the thickness in the padding. It would get rid of most of the odors and generally be much cleaner than doing nothing at all.
As a coach, I would let it slide for a while, but then put my foot down if it got too bad. Some players have superstitions and they won’t wash certain things during a season if they are playing well. If it gets too bad, or I noticed rashes or marks they would get sent home until the equipment was cleaned in order to protect their health and the health of the other players.
Spray it down with a cleaning spray
Since the cleaning process might be less affordable than a player’s budget allows, some of them opt to spray down their gear with things like Febreeze. This is a spray that makes it smell fresh and blocks the odors that the gear could be giving off. While it doesn’t actually clean the gear of get all of the germs or bacteria out of it, it helps. There is also Lysol spray which comes in
different scents for slightly better results. This spray is designed to eliminate bacteria and germs and is a staple used in many places to disinfect just about anything. Some of the gear might also need to be wiped down after a game and if you are spraying anything stronger than these two chemicals to prevent it from bleaching the equipment.
Know which chemicals are safe before you try them on your equipment or you could be buying a whole new set. If you do use anything that you are unsure of, make sure there is no residue left over on the equipment. This could prove hazardous not only to the player but the gear too.
Clean it yourself
Cleaning your own equipment is time consuming and the last thing a player wants to think about after practice or a game. It also requires the use of a steamer to get the job done right. (A steamer is needed for ice hockey gear; inline gear can be cleaned in the bathtub.) While the surface of some of the equipment can be wiped down, it’s what is in the pads themselves that needs to be soaked.
For those playing inline hockey the gear is a little different. The pads are hard on the inside with soft padding on the inside to protect the player. These can be soaked and rinsed in the bathtub, and the resulting yellow water that comes out is all the buildup sweat. Keep doing this until it is clean, and let air dry for best results.
Ice Hockey gear requires a steamer since the pads are thicker, and it makes them harder to try and ring all the water out of them. It can also ruin the padding with soaking so it is not recommended to try and clean them yourself in the tub. A steamer though, set at the right temperature will do just the job to sanitize the equipment and keep it fresh. They do need to sit and dry afterwards, so don’t clean them right before they are needed.
Have it Professionally cleaned
While teams that use, these services are the best to be a part of, it doesn’t mean that everyone has access to these services or that they are readily available. In fact, most of the time these are sent to a professional cleaner anyway, to get the entire teams gear cleaned. A professional cleaner is not the type you take your clothes, such as suits and dresses to. This is a specialty service that uses things like Sani-Steam and other similar steamers to clean the gear. Most regular cleaners don’t have these machines, so you will need to look one up in your area. They often located near places that have hockey rinks or sports stores that sell a lot of equipment that needs this type of cleaning. There is always a risk with a professional cleaner of losing or damaging your gear, or even giving it to the wrong person. It is far more likely that you will damage it yourself if you do the cleaning yourself though.