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How to Clean Football Equipment


Football needs essential gear like cleats, helmets, and shoulder pads. The bad odor emitting from your football equipment may contain bacteria from skin cells, sweat, and sometimes blood. The bacteria tend to grow and multiply in your equipment since it is wet, confined, and warm. To prevent staph infection, and skin irritations, make cleaning your football gear a regular habit. Here is a guide on how to clean football equipment effectively.

Effective Ways on How to Clean Football Equipment 

Cleaning Football Gloves

Football gloves are used for enhancing hand safety and ball gripping. First, wipe the gloves down to remove any  loose dirt. Read the instructions to check whether they are machine-washable. Add mild detergent to the water and let it mix thoroughly before soaking your gloves. If the gloves are sticky, try denture-cleaning tablets. Avoid hot water since the heat might damage the glove material.

If the gloves are machine-washable, turn them inside out to protect the outside material, enhancing the grip ability. You can place them in a lingerie bag or pillowcase before adding them to the washing machine.

Scrubbing the Gloves

Let the gloves soak in the solution until they are thoroughly wet. Using your fingertips, scrub them under water paying attention to stained areas. You can also put the gloves on and clean them in a similar way you wash your hands. Do not use abrasive materials to avoid destroying the grip and any other sensitive part of the glove. After removing all the dirt, clean them one last time and rinse to remove all the soap. Squeeze them over the sink to draw out as much water as you can. Air-dry them on a rack, flat surface, or clothes line.

Proper Care Between Washes

It is essential to treat your gloves well.  After every game or practice, allow your gloves to dry well to avoid multiplying bacteria.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells in Football Gloves

Football gloves get sweaty during practices and games. The following are methods on how to get rid of bad smells in football gloves.

Warm water and Woolite: add mild Woolite soap in warm water and mix them thoroughly. Scrub the gloves gently, especially in the dirty areas. Rinse and squeeze to get rid of any excess water. Dry the gloves in a flat area and store your gloves well.

Denture cleaner tablet: add denture-cleaning tablets in a sink or bucket full of water. Clean the gloves thoroughly and allow them to dry on a flat surface.

Stuffing with dryer sheetsin between matches, add a dryer sheet to each glove. Dryer sheets come in different scents, and you can select the best for your gloves. Ensure to replace the sheets after every game or practice to maintain the freshness of football gloves.

Filling with Newsprintthis is the simplest method as it involves old newspapers. Stuff them into your football gloves to absorb bad odor and moisture. To keep the gloves smelling fresh, change the newsprint after few days.

How to Restore the Grip after cleaning

Football revolves around catching, throwing, and holding onto the ball. Gloves with less or no grip will effect your game. Here are ways to ensure your football gloves maintain a strong grip.

  • Spit: at times, the old-fashioned way can be the easiest option to regain the stickiness. The method works best if the gloves are completely dry. Spit on them and use the pads to dry excess moisture on your hands. You can repeat the process in between games to promote high performance.
  • Wipe: before the game, take a baby wipe or a Clorox wipe and wipe down all the glove parts. After, rub them against each other to increase the stickiness.
  • Sun: keeping football gloves sticky is difficult for sweaty hands. Dry them in the sun before the game to restore their grip.

Cleaning Football Helmets

Helmets have greater risks of harboring bacteria. Football helmets are not something you dump in the washing machine with household detergents.

Cleaning helmets with removable pads

Remove the pads and keep them aside. Use a soft cloth, warm water, and a mild detergent to clean the helmet shell and chinstrap. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a paper towel. To clean the pads, mix warm water with mild detergent and wipe the pads gently using a soft cloth. Let them dry and use disinfectant spray to kill the remaining bacteria. Once all the parts are dry, reassemble your helmet and store it in the right place.

Helmets with non-removable pads

Clean the helmet inside and out using a soft cloth, warm water, and mild detergent. Ensure to get in between the pads inside the helmet. Since you cannot reach all the bacteria, use disinfecting spray and let it dry while sitting upright. Keep your helmet away from bright sunshine or heat to prevent pads’ degradation.

Safety tips

  • Abrasive cleaning pads might damage the interior surface and scratch the outer surface of the helmet.
  • Strong detergents can cause skin irritations or leave harsh residues on the helmet.
  • Ensure you remove dirt, loose mud, and debris with a dry paper towel before cleaning
  • Replace torn straps or missing hardware

Cleaning Football Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads need to dry after every game or practice to reduce mold and bacteria growth. Your cleaning frequency can reduce to once or twice a week if you allow them to dry well after a game or practice.

 Use a soft cloth dampened with water to remove any visible dirt. Remove the plastics pieces covering the pads and use a disinfectant spray to give them a fresh smell. Let the pieces dry completely.

Cleaning Football Jerseys

Most football jerseys are made of synthetic fabric or polyester. Such materials are easy to clean and dry. However, they need extra safety while cleaning since they have heat-pressed decals like logos.

Before you dump your jersey in the washing machine, ensure to spray stains. Tough stains like blood, grass, or sports drinks are difficult to clean. Here are tips you can follow to get rid of such stains.

  • Soak the stained area in cold water
  • Apply stain removing agents 
  • Rub it gently using a soft-bristled brush or stain removing sponge

Clean the jerseys separately since colors might bleed. Do not clean your football jerseys with blue jeans to prevent blue streaks from appearing on your jerseys. Before you place the jerseys in the washing machine, turn them inside out to avoid abrasion of wordings and logos.

Use cold water and laundry detergents to clean your football jerseys. Hot water might cause shrinking, fading, or damaging the decals. Borax will help get the smell out of your jersey.

How to Dry Football Jerseys

After cleaning the jersey, turn its right side out and shake to prevent the labels from sticking together. Do not use a dryer as the high heat can melt or crack the numbers. Also, avoid ironing your football jersey to avoid similar results.

Cleaning Football Cleats

Football cleats accumulate more dirt. You should clean them more often, just like the other gear. You cannot escape mud or dirt, especially when playing on grassy fields. Start by shaking off the excess dirt. Brush off the hard dirt, especially at the bottom of your cleats. Using a clean cloth, wipe any remaining dirt.

Regular cleaning improves the lifespan of your cleats. Use a soft-bristled brush and vapor fresh detergent to clean the upper part of the cleats. Do not dip them in water to avoid cracking the leather material. Hot water can also damage the material. 

Cleaning the soles

After the game or practice, immediately take off your cleats and hit them against each other to remove excess mud. Once you get home, use a dry scrub to remove the remaining grime on the soles. Avoid using sticks since they might scratch the soles.

Cleaning the upper part

First, run the laces under tap water and place them on a towel to dry. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub the upper parts of your cleats. With the laces removed, get to every part, especially the cleats’ tongue. Also, you can use an eraser sponge to clean the upper parts of your cleats.

How to Dry Football Cleats

Adequate air circulation in the cleat is essential. Try stuffing some newspaper inside the cleat and let it draw all the moisture. Using a blow dryer might unstick the glue holding the cleats together. Once they are dry, you can try the following tips to give cleats a fresh smell:

  • Soak paper towels in bleach and put them in each cleat
  • Dip a cotton ball in alcohol and use it to wipe the inside of the cleat
  • Put unused teabags in the cleats.  
  • Place a dry sheet in each cleat.