How to wash hockey equipment at home in the washing machine to keep your gear clean, fresh, and bacteria-free, all season long.
Rink-stink. You know it well. It’s the stench of smelly hockey gear. It’s seeping out of your kid’s hockey bag as we speak and it’s penetrated the membranes of your nose too many times to count.
The Don’t come near me ’til you’ve washed your hands! stink. The Don’t bring that hockey bag into the house! stink. The nose-offending, toe-curling, rotten-cheese stink that our hockey-playing kids and husbands find oddly comforting.
Well, I’ve got good news. You can wash the stink out of your smelly hockey equipment and bag, and it’s easy.
How do you do it? Well, you probably didn’t know this, but you can wash your kids’ hockey equipment in the washer. Like, WASH wash. In the washing machine, any old time you want.
Some people actually wash their hockey gear in the bathtub or dishwasher, but um… the bathtub? Wouldn’t be a drippy process? I mean, how do you wring out a chest protector and hockey pants?
And the dishwasher? I think I’d prefer to wash my kids’ smelly, grimy, sweat-drenched hockey equipment in the appliance designed for washing smelly, grimy, sweat-drenched garments than in the appliance designed to wash my dishes.
Why should you wash your hockey equipment?
Although your hockey player may be oblivious or even somewhat “attached” to the <cough> aroma wafting up from under their jersey, smelly hockey gear and garments shouldn’t be ignored.
That hockey stink is a sign of bigger problems brewing.
The odour in your kid’s hockey gear is caused bacteria which is the by-product of the sweat that’s permeated their equipment.
Not only does it smell disgusting, if left unattended, the equipment and hockey bag will become a breeding-ground, and eventually, mould and mildew will set in. Bacteria and mould on equipment can lead to rashes and infections, and break down the fibres in the gear, causing it to deteriorate.
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What’s the best way to get rid of the stink in your hockey equipment:
The easiest way to keep bacteria from flourishing is to air out the hockey bag when you get home from the rink.
After every game or practice, open up that bag, and lay the equipment out on the garage floor to dry. Or get one of these space saving drying racks to hang all of your gear on.
My boys empty their hockey bags beside the dehumidifier, which help wick the moisture out of the equipment and shorten the drying time.
At least once a week, my guys spread their equipment out on the back deck so the sun’s UV rays can kill the bacteria.
However, the most effective way I’ve found to remove bacteria and odour from their hockey equipment is to wash the it in the washing machine.
How to wash hockey equipment in a washing machine:
You can wash everything except helmets and skates in a warm-water load in your washing machine: chest protector, elbow pads, shin-guards, jock, pants, socks, neck-guard and even the gloves. Depending on the size of your washer and your kids’ equipment, you may need to divide the gear into 2 or 3 loads.
What about washing goalie gear?
My older son is a goalie. I do not wash his blocker and trapper. Those gloves are his prized possession, and I would never mess with those. Same goes for his pads, not that they would fit into the washing machine anyway.
Front-loading or Top-loading?
Front-loading machines work best for washing hockey gear because they tumble the equipment.
Top loading machines work well but I’ll give you a tip to keep the equipment from floating to the top of the drum: once the drum has filled with water, let the equipment soak in it for 15 minutes before starting the wash-cycle. This will saturate the gear and weight it down.
Detergent and laundry booster:
I use my homemade laundry detergent when washing our hockey gear. I love it, and use it for all of our laundry needs. It’s natural and gentle, but it powerful enough to remove tough stains and odours. You can use your regular brand though, as long as it does not contain bleaching agents. They can be hard on the fabric/materials in the equipment.
Because hockey equipment is extra smelly, I add an additional half-cup each of Borax Laundry Booster and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda to the load. Go ahead and do this regardless of the type of detergent you’re using.
Regular white vinegar is my fabric softener of choice when doing laundry and especially when washing our hockey gear. Vinegar neutralizes odours naturally instead of masking them with fragrances, and it’s great for removing detergent residues from your laundry. Bonus: it won’t leave a chemical coating on your equipment like commercial softeners will.
Drying your hockey equipment:
The jock, socks, jersey and neck-guard can go into the dryer on low heat, but the rest should air-dry. I like to hang our equipment on the clothesline on a breezy, sunny day. If you don’t have a clothesline, you can lay it all out on the patio in the sunshine, flipping it occasionally, or hang it on a drying rack.
How to dry hockey gloves:
Never force-dry your hockey gloves in the dryer. Allow them to dry slowly and naturally to prevent the leather from cracking.
Washing your hockey helmet:
As I’ve mentioned, do not wash your helmet in the washing machine. You can follow the simple steps listed here to wash your helmet.
Removing the odour from hockey skates:
You can’t wash your skates, but there are ways to keep the odour under control. You can remove the insoles after every game and stuff the skates with newspaper to absorb odour and moisture. Or, you can tuck these deodorizers into the skates to do the same.
The skates are probably the least of your worries though. It’s the gear – particularly the gloves – that smell the worst, and thankfully, you now have a solution for dealing with those!
Now, grab that hockey bag, and head to the laundry room. Before you know it, that stinking heap of hockey equipment will be clean and bacteria-free, and smell as fresh as a daisy!
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.