One of the most consistent questions I see out there related to hockey gear is how to keep your equipment clean – besides the need to eliminate “The Stench”, that foul, uniquely characteristic odor which emanates from gloves and other equipment that has sat in your bag for too long, there are also safety issues to consider. Damp areas with stagnant air are perfect breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bacteria, which can lead to serious health issues if left unaddressed.
So what we’ll cover here is what you’ll need to do on a game-by-game basis, along with the occasional cleaning job. For each of those, we’ll talk about the bare minimum requirements, a recommended solution, and the prime choice for those looking for the best solution.
Drying your hockey gear
The most important thing you can do on a regular basis is make sure you let your equipment air out properly between uses. A typical hockey bag (even if you open it up) doesn’t allow for enough airflow to properly do the job, so you can look at a variety of options on that front.
The Bare Minimum
Lay your equipment out so it (and your hockey bag) can dry out. On a nice sunny day, you can spread it out on the driveway or back porch, and watch birds plummet out of the sky as they soar through the rising fumes. You can also use a series of wall hooks & pegs on your garage wall, but you’ll want to plan the layout so you’ve got room to spread things out.
There are an assortment of equipment racks available (such as the Wet Gear Metal Locker Rack shown at left), which are already designed to hold all of your gear. It sets everything up while taking the least amount of space (if, for example, you have to set this up in a garage).
The Prime Choice
For those of you who consistently play on back-to-back nights, or even sometimes a skate in the morning and evening, a Rocket Sports Dryer system may be the better option. This consists of a racking system of bars & hooks over which is hung a bag. The heater unit then continuously circulates warm, dry air to quickly dry and deodorize your equipment in a matter of hours.
Not only is this a good option for those who play most frequently, but if you are limited for space (say, you live in an apartment and don’t have garage space), this option allows you to keep your gear fresh without having to spread it all out, or stink up the joint.
Cleaning your hockey equipment
OK, we’ve got you at least getting your gear dried out between skates, but on occasion you still need to give it a good cleaning.
The Bare Minimum
If you really can’t put the time and effort into a proper cleaning, at least use something like Odor-Aid Disinfectant Spray, which can help combat the bacteria which can produce not only The Stench, but also an assortment of serious disease risks.
A basic combination of liquid dish soap and hot water can be used on your bag, gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, shin guards, pants, and helmet. Whether you’re doing this in a tub, or a sink, you’ll want to clean that afterwards, too, considering the level of funk you’re introducing into that environment. Remember to follow the advice above to make sure your equipment dries out properly after cleaning.
This article has a good breakdown of how to treat the various components differently, if you like, and passes on the advice which leads to our Prime Choice:
“When I factor in time and cost the Ozone Machines will allow me to reduce the wash frequency, while still ensuring my gear is free from bacteria and odors. Additionaly, using an ozone machine to kill bacteria prior to washing ensures that I’m not contaminating the living area of my home, the bathtub, sink, laundry room, etc. with dangerous bacteria.”
The Prime Choice
If you have one available in your area, an Ozone Machine like the Sani Sport can disinfect your equipment thoroughly, for a small fee. This video would pretty much scare anyone into looking into ozone cleaning as a means of eliminating infectious bacteria from your entire set of hockey equipment (and the bag), as it drives ozone gas into every nook and cranny, which can be difficult to achieve with simple hand-washing.
Sani-Sport also offers a locator feature which can help you see if one is located in your town. Typically you can find them at your local rink, where for a few bucks and less than an hour of your time, you’ll get some serious peace of mind.
Sanitation in hockey – ignore at your own risk!
Let’s face it, having clean, disinfected hockey gear is nice, it’s smart, but in many cases, it’s also essential to keep your game going. If you have a significant other in the house who complains about the mess or the smell of that gear, then you need to step up your efforts. There enough battles on the ice you need to face, you don’t need more just to get there!