Overwhelmed illustration of mom trying to wash hockey gear in front of washing machine

Best Detergent: How to Wash and Clean Hockey Gear


Why Cleaning Hockey Gear is Crucial

When it comes to hockey, the game isn’t just about scoring goals and making saves. Behind every victorious moment on the ice lies a hidden challenge that all hockey parents and players know too well: keeping that gear clean.

Hockey equipment, with its padding and protective layers, is a breeding ground for bacteria and odors. Over time, if not properly maintained, this can lead to unpleasant smells, skin infections, and even degraded performance of the gear itself.

Therefore, regular cleaning is not just a matter of hygiene, but also of health and safety.

And yes, it is a dreaded chore….

One of the most common problems faced by hockey parents and players is the persistent and stubborn odor that clings to the gear. Despite frequent airing out and drying, the smell often lingers. And as your kiddo gets older, the smell grows with each inch of your kid. Welcome, puberty…

Additionally, the bulkiness and variety of materials in hockey gear pose a significant challenge in finding the right cleaning method that ensures all parts are thoroughly sanitized without being damaged. Missteps in maintenance can lead to reduced durability of the gear, meaning more frequent and costly replacements.

Enter the world of specialized detergents and cleaning techniques designed specifically for sports equipment. Yep, it is confusing. Just as overwhelming as the superstore washing detergent aisle. We are met with various cleaner agents in Hockey and Sports stores!

Using the right detergent can make a world of difference in combating the odor and ensuring a hygienic clean.

These products are supposed to be formulated to break down the bacteria and sweat residues embedded in the gear, restoring it to a fresh and clean state. Moreover, they are hyped they are gentle enough to preserve the integrity of the materials, extending the lifespan of the equipment.

Types of Detergents Suitable for Hockey Gear

Oxiclean Powder and Oxiclean Spray

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OxiClean powder and spray have become go-to solutions for hockey parents and players looking to keep their gear in pristine condition. Renowned for their versatility and powerful cleaning properties, these products effectively tackle the toughest grime and odors associated with hockey equipment.

OxiClean’s active oxygen formula works to lift stains and break down organic matter, making it particularly effective at targeting the sweat and bacteria that embed themselves in the padding and fabric of the gear.

Using OxiClean powder in a washing machine or as a pre-soak can significantly enhance the cleaning process. When dissolved in water, the oxygenated bubbles penetrate deep into the fibers, dislodging dirt and breaking down the bacteria that cause odors.

This thorough cleaning helps not only to remove visible stains but also to neutralize the sources of odor, leaving the gear smelling fresh and clean.

The OxiClean spray, on the other hand, is perfect for spot-treating areas that need extra attention. This spray can be used directly on stubborn stains or particularly smelly spots, delivering a concentrated dose of the powerful oxygenated formula. Love to use this in fingers of the gloves!

Tide, Win Sports Detergent, and HEX Performance

When it comes to cleaning hockey gear, not all detergents are created equal. The choice between liquid, powder, and eco-friendly detergents can make a significant difference in how effectively your gear is cleaned and how long it lasts.

Liquid detergents are often preferred for their ability to dissolve easily in water, ensuring that they penetrate deep into the fabric and padding of the gear.

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Powders can be effective as well, particularly in hard water areas, but they require careful dissolution to avoid residue.

Eco-friendly options are becoming increasingly popular, offering powerful cleaning action without the harsh chemicals that can break down materials and cause skin irritation.

Among the top recommendations for detergents that are effective on sports equipment are brands like Tide, Win Sports Detergent, and HEX Performance.

Tide is well-known for its powerful cleaning properties and is widely available, making it a convenient choice.

Win Sports Detergent is specifically formulated for sports gear, targeting the bacteria and sweat that cause odor and build-up.

HEX Performance offers an eco-friendly alternative that’s tough on grime but gentle on fabrics, making it a favorite among those looking to minimize their environmental impact while keeping their gear in top shape.

When choosing a detergent, it’s important to avoid products with harsh chemicals and strong fragrances. Harsh chemicals can weaken the materials of your gear over time, reducing its protective qualities.

Strong fragrances, while they may mask odors temporarily, can be irritating to the skin and do not address the root cause of the smell.

Opting for detergents that are specifically designed for sports equipment, or those labeled as hypoallergenic and free of dyes and perfumes, will ensure a thorough clean that is safe for both the gear and the player.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Hockey Gear

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Pre-wash Preparation

  1. Separate Gear: Start by sorting your hockey gear into two categories: machine-washable and non-machine-washable items. Machine-washable items typically include jerseys, socks, base layers, and some padded clothing. Non-machine-washable items usually consist of helmets, skates, and other gear with hard shells or intricate components.
  2. Remove Loose Dirt and Debris: Use a soft brush or cloth to wipe down any particularly dirty areas. This will help prevent clogs in your washing machine and ensure a more effective clean.

Washing Machine Settings

  1. Load the Machine: Place the machine-washable items into the washing machine. Avoid overloading the machine to allow for thorough cleaning.
  2. Add Detergent: Use a detergent specifically designed for sports equipment, such as Oxiclean powder in pre-soak or as an addition to: Tide, Win Sports Detergent, or HEX Performance, or a general but effective option like Tide. Follow the detergent’s instructions for the appropriate amount.
  3. Set the Temperature and Cycle: Select a gentle or delicate cycle to prevent damage to the fabric and padding. Use cold or warm water, as hot water can cause shrinkage and damage the materials. Cold water is generally sufficient for cleaning while being gentler on the fabrics.
  4. Extra Rinse Cycle: If your machine has an option for an extra rinse cycle, use it to ensure all detergent residues are thoroughly washed out, which helps to further eliminate odors and prevent skin irritation.

Hand-Washing Tips

  1. Prepare a Cleaning Solution: For items that can’t go in the washing machine, like helmets and skates, prepare a solution of warm water and a small amount of mild detergent or specialized sports gear cleaner.
  2. Clean Helmets and Skates: Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the exterior and interior surfaces of helmets and skates. Pay extra attention to areas that come into direct contact with the skin, as these are prone to accumulating sweat and bacteria.
  3. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the cleaned items with clean water to remove any soap residue. Use a clean towel to pat dry the surfaces, then leave them to air dry completely in a well-ventilated area. Avoid using direct heat sources, as these can damage the materials.

Drying and Maintaining Hockey Gear

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Drying hockey gear properly is crucial to avoid damage and ensure thorough drying. The best practice is to opt for air drying over machine drying. After washing, spread out each piece of gear in a well-ventilated area, ideally outdoors or in a room with good air circulation.

Use drying racks or hangers to allow air to flow freely around the items.

This method prevents the breakdown of materials caused by the high heat of a dryer, which can lead to warping or weakening of the protective padding.

For items that must be dried quickly, using a fan can expedite the process without the risks associated with machine drying.

The best practice is to opt for air drying over machine drying.

After washing, spread out each piece of gear in a well-ventilated area, ideally outdoors or in a room with good air circulation.

Utilizing the sun for drying can be highly effective, as the UV rays help to kill bacteria and further deodorize the gear.

However, be mindful not to leave items in direct sunlight for too long, as excessive exposure can degrade certain materials. Use drying racks or hangers to allow air to flow freely around the items, ensuring all parts dry evenly.

This method prevents the breakdown of materials caused by the high heat of a dryer, which can lead to warping or weakening of the protective padding.

For items that must be dried quickly, using a fan can expedite the process without the risks associated with machine drying.

Pro Tips and Tricks from Hockey Parents and Players

Several useful hacks and products can make the cleaning process more efficient.

Dryer sheets are a popular trick to help keep gear smelling fresh between washes; simply tuck them into gloves, helmets, and skates. If you have kids with any inflammatory conditions or allergies, I would avoid thi.

Vinegar solutions are also highly recommended for their natural deodorizing and antibacterial properties. Adding a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle can help break down any remaining odors and bacteria.

Another tip is to use a mixture of water and baking soda as a pre-soak for particularly stubborn smells. These simple, affordable solutions can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your regular cleaning routine, ensuring your hockey gear remains in top shape throughout the season.


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