Blog Post

Eww, That Smell: A Guide to Cleaning Your Football Equipment

September 16th, 2019

The offensive smell emitting from your athlete’s football equipment contains bacteria from sweat, skin cells and occasionally blood. These bacteria love to grow and multiply in your athlete’s equipment because it is confined, wet and warm. To avoid your athlete experiencing skin irritation, Staph infection, MRSA and other illnesses caused by these bacteria make cleaning your football equipment a daily habit.

CLEANING FOOTBALL HELMETS

The helmet is one of the most notorious pieces of equipment for harboring bacteria. For this first step in cleaning your football equipment, you should:

Avoid:

  1. abrasive cleaning pads that can scratch the outside of the helmet and damage the soft interior surfaces
  2. strong cleaning detergents that can leave a harsh residue and irritate skin.

Remove loose mud, dirt and debris from the helmet. You may need to use a clean dry cloth or paper towel.

Check for and replace rusted or missing hardware and broken or torn straps.

Helmets with removable pads

If your helmet has removable pads, remove the pads and set them aside.

Use a microfiber or soft cloth with warm water and gentle, liquid dish soap to thoroughly clean the chin strap and helmet shell (inside and out), rinse and dry with a soft cloth or paper towel.

Dip the removed pads in warm soapy water and wipe away any extra grime with a microfiber or soft cloth, rinse and set aside to dry.

Once the pads are dry, spray them with a disinfectant spray to kill stubborn bacteria.

Once all the parts are clean and dry reassemble the helmet and have the athlete put the helmet on. Check that pads get reinserted properly and check for proper fit.

Helmets with non-removable pads

If your helmet has an air bladder or non-removable pads, use a microfiber or soft cloth with warm water and gentle, liquid dish soap to thoroughly clean the chin strap and helmet inside and out. Make sure to get in between the pads on the inside of the helmet as best you can. Wipe the inside and outside of the helmet with a rag dipped in plain water to remove the soap.

To kill the bacteria from your sweat and skin cells that can travel inside the pads of your helmet, you will need to spray the entire inside of the helmet with a disinfectant. Leave the helmet sitting upright on a hard surface until it is COMPLETELY DRY; the spray will penetrate the pads as the helmet dries. Keep the helmet out of extreme heat or bright sunshine as it dries, as these can degrade the pads.

When cleaning your football equipment, have the athlete put the helmet on and check for proper fit. Air bladders will expand in hot weather and contract in cooler temperatures. Add or remove air to adjust the fit as needed.

CLEANING FOOTBALL SHOULDER PADS

Football pads need to DRY after each practice and game to reduce the growth of bacteria and mold.

You can cut down on the frequency of laundering pads to once or twice a week during football season if you allow the pads to completely dry after each practice and game. Once you get home from practice or a game, take your shoulder pads out of your gear bag and set them on the floor to dry.

Use a microfiber or soft cloth dampened with water to clean off dirt. Then wipe with a dry cloth to dry the shoulder pads. To remove stubborn streaks and disinfect football shoulder pads, clean them with an athletic gear disinfectant cleaning solution or a household disinfectant cleaning solution labeled safe to use on plastics. Always follow the instructions printed on the label.

Check for and replace rusted or missing hardware and broken or torn straps.

After the season is over, take your pads to be professionally reconditioned and sanitized. The pads will be removed from the hard-plastic shell and washed in 140-degree water and the shell will be inspected for cracks and cleaned with an anti-bacterial solution.

CLEANING FOOTBALL BODY PADS

Another step in cleaning your football equipment is cleaning football body pads. To clean removable body pads, remove pads and belt from the pants and launder them in a washing machine set on cold water using a bleach-free detergent. You may launder pads, belts, pants and jerseys together and you may air dry them or dry them in a clothes dryer set on LOW HEAT. Replace the pads and belt in the pants after drying.

To clean non-removeable pads, remove the belt and launder them in a washing machine set on cold water using a bleach-free detergent. You may launder pants with pads, belts, and jersey together and you may air dry them or dry them in a clothes dryer set on LOW HEAT. Replace the belt in the pants after drying.

Football pads need to DRY after each practice and game to reduce the growth of bacteria and mold.

Summary

Cleaning your football equipment should be part of your regular routine. Get into the habit of taking care of the football equipment that is designed to take care of you. Don’t get sidelined by bacteria that can cause skin irritation, Staph infection, MRSA or other illnesses. Wash and dry your football equipment regularly.

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