After a hard-fought 60 minutes, cleaning gear is the last thing on your mind. But as we head back onto the ice, having good hockey hygiene will be crucial to staying safe. Bacteria and viruses thrive in warm, wet places like your gear and high contact sports like hockey make it easier for them to spread. Luckily, there are some easy ways to keep your gear clean and healthy.
Wearing a base layer of compression shirts and pants does more than just wick away sweat keeping you dry during play. It also adds an extra layer between you and your equipment that can easily be tossed in the washing machine post-game.
Most gear — except helmets, skates, and goalie pads — can be washed in the washing machine. Use a gentle detergent free of bleaching agents that are harmful to the materials in your pads and gloves. Pre-soaking everything for an hour with warm water and a cup of vinegar will help kill some of that bacteria before heading into the wash for a more thorough clean.
It’s tempting just to drop your bag and go after a game or practice. But properly drying your equipment is the most important and effective way to get rid of odor and bacteria. Empty your bag and air-out your gear as soon as you get home. Using shelves or a drying rack helps circulate airflow so even the hardest to reach places dry out.
After washing the sweatband in your helmet with the rest of your gear, wipe the outside and inside of your helmet with a mixture of warm water and no-tear shampoo to disinfect and keep from irritating your eyes during gameplay. Wearing a fresh pair of socks in your skates prevents the transfer of sweat and oils from your shoes into your skates. Once off the ice, remove your skate’s insoles and open the tongue as far as you can.
Using specially designed sports sprays as part of your post-game routine will help keep things clean and odor-free. Liberally spray down areas like skates and gloves and let dry completely before putting your gear back in your bag.