How to Clean and Maintain Sports Equipment

March 23, 2018

How to Clean and Maintain Sports Equipment

Late summer is a great time to take inventory of your and your family’s sports equipment, including taking the time to repair, condition and properly store the items so they are ready the next time you need them. Failure to take these steps may result in the loss of the considerable investment made in the sports you and your family enjoy. Take a bit of time now to save a lot of irritation and money later.

Unload the Bags

If you have a yard, pick a sunny day and empty out the sports bags on the lawn. No yard is not a problem; simply find a spot in your home where you can spread out a bit--the garage, family or living room. Sort through the clothing, accessories and equipment. Jerseys, socks, shorts, pants, undergarments, towels all need to be laundered. If any of these items are extremely worn, consider replacing them rather than storing. Check for sizes; if clothing is outgrown hand it down to a younger member of the family or donate it to an organization that seeks gently used sports clothing.

Now look at the actual equipment. Many sports use padded protective items like shoulder guards, shin guards and helmets. Make sure all the gear is in good working condition, including checking for cracks or missing straps. Have the athlete try on the equipment and check for proper sizing, moving the equipment along if it has been outgrown.

Helmets often have a “expiration” date, based upon when it was purchased new and what the recommended time frame is for replacing it. If a helmet has a lot of years of experience it may be time to consider a new one, most definitely if it has any damage or if it did its job and protected a head that was involved in a collision or crash.

The equipment you feel is safe to use for the next season now needs a good cleaning. Some items can be washed if your washing machine can handle its size and the materials can stand up to a mechanical wash. Some examples include compact shoulder guards and shin guards. Wash in the gentle cycle with some soft towels and keep an eye on the progress to make sure the machine and the equipment are managing the process. Once the cycle is over, hang the equipment up, preferably outside, to dry. Items that can’t be washed can be scrubbed down with a gentle soap and water, rinsed and also hung to dry.

Special Cases: Leather Equipment

Often protective equipment and the tools of your favorite sports are made of leather, as are the all-important footwear individualized to the different sports. Even equipment made of today’s synthetics can benefit greatly from the specialized cleaning and conditioning offered by the products carried in our online store.

Soiled leather items come clean with our saddle soaps or leather cleaners and balms from Bickmore, Woly, Moneysworth & Best and Saphir. Often these products combine conditioning with the cleaning, leaving the leather smooth and supple. These brands also feature conditioners for leathers and synthetics.

If the above cleansing and care is not enough, Leather Honey is a premium leather care product that athletes and coaches rely upon to bring gloves, pads and all manner of balls and accessories back to vibrant life, even after the punishment they take over a season. Bickmore also has a superior leather conditioner. These products should be applied as directed, and then the sporting equipment should be stored in a well ventilated area until the next season.

That Smell

Even after a wash or scrub and airing out, some sports equipment, particularly footwear, can have a lingering and unpleasant odor. Try one of our shoe deodorant sprays to get to the cause of the odor, which is typically bacteria. After cleaning and treatment ensure the footwear or other items are stored in a dry area where fresh air can circulate.

A New Season

With proper care most sports equipment can last for many seasons to come, and with a little planning, the proper products and a judicious application of time and elbow grease your equipment will remain in the game.




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