This isn’t the kind of topic I typically write about, but I know there are a lot of hockey-moms out there, and what with hockey season starting up, I thought you might like to know that you don’t have to put up with the stink that starts seeping out of the hockey bags at this time of year. I’m going to share how I wash our hockey gear in the washing machine, effectively removing all traces of odour from it!
If you’re the mom of a hockey player, or the wife of one, you know the stink I’m talking about! That, “don’t come near me ’til you’ve washed your hands” stink. That “don’t bring that hockey bag into the house” stink. That “nose-offending, toe-curling, rotten-cheese” stink that, believe it or not, our hockey-playing kids and husbands find familiar and oddly comforting. GROSS!!
As much as a hockey player may be oblivious or even somewhat “attached” to the stench wafting out of their hockey bag, it really shouldn’t be ignored. The fact is that odour is the result of the sweat and bacteria that has permeated the equipment, and not only does it smell disgusting, if left unattended to, that bag becomes a breeding ground, and eventually you can expect mold and mildew to start appearing on your gear, and possibly fibres in your equipment to start breaking down and deteriorating.
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The best way to get rid of the stink in your hockey equipment:
The most obvious and easy way to help keep the smell under control, is to air the hockey bags out after every practice and game, laying all of the equipment out on the garage floor, or on the deck in the sunshine. But every so often, the most effective thing I do to banish the bacteria and odour is to throw it into the washing machine!
How to wash hockey equipment in a washing machine:
Did you know you can wash all of your hockey equipment, except for the helmet and the skates, in your washing machine?
Yep! Your washing machine! Chest protector, elbow pads, shin-guards, jock, pants, socks, neck guard and even the GLOVES can ALL be put through a regular warm-water cycle in your washing machine. Depending on the size of your washer, you may need to divide your equipment into 2 or 3 loads.
Front-loader or Top-loader?
For front-loaders: Front-loading machines work best for this because they tumble clean the equipment, where-as in a top-loader the equipment may tend to float at the top of the water. To help prevent this from happening in a top loader, you can fill your machine, and then let your equipment soak in it for 10 or 15 minutes to help saturate and weight down the equipment before starting your wash cycle.
Detergent and laundry booster:
As I do for all of my laundry needs, I use my homemade laundry detergent (get the recipe here) when washing our hockey gear. I like that it’s chemical free and gentle, but contains enough natural and powerful stain and odour removers to get the job done. A commercial detergent is fine if that’s what you use, as long as it doesn’t contain bleaching agents which could deteriorate the fabrics/materials in your equipment.
Because of the smelly/dirty nature of the equipment, to help combat odour and bacteria, I add an extra half cup each of Borax Laundry Booster and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
to the load. You can do this whether you’re using homemade laundry soap or not.
I only ever use vinegar as a softener or rinse agent in my washing machine, even when doing my regular laundry, and especially when washing our equipment. Vinegar is a natural odour remover, removes any soap residue from your laundry and your machine, and it won’t coat your equipment with chemicals and a waxy film like commercial softeners will.
Drying the equipment
The jock, socks, jersey and neck-guard can go in the dryer on low heat, but the rest should air-dry. I personally prefer to hang ALL of it on the clothesline on a breezy, sunny day. If you don’t have a clothesline, you can lay it all out on the patio or deck in the sunshine, turning it over occasionally until it’s dry.
The gloves in particular should never be forced to dry quickly in a dryer or by the heat of a fire. Allowing them to dry slowly and naturally, prevents the leather palms from cracking.
As I’ve mentioned, do not wash your helmet in the washing machine. I follow the simple steps listed here when washing a hockey helmet.
As for the skates:
Well, there’s not really much you can do about the skates, but I have heard that some people remove the insoles after every game/practice, and place newspapers in the skates to help speed up the drying process. In my experience though, the skates are the least stinky of all the items. It’s the gear and the GLOVES that smell the worst, and thankfully, you now have a solution for dealing with those!