How to stop Hockey Equipment from Stinking! A guide to Get the Smell out

wash your hockey equipment

by Jeremy Rupke on January 1, 2013

Now that it is halfway through the season your hockey equipment has likely acquired a wonderful and unique odour, a stench that would put a skunk to shame. Don’t worry, I am here to help, in this article I will teach you how to prevent (or delay) your hockey equipment from stinking, and also how to get the stink out of hockey equipment once it starts to smell. Stinky hockey equipment is a normal problem that almost every hockey player has, luckily I have found a few easy ways to deal with it.

Don’t forget to check out my video at the bottom of this article

Tip 1 – Stink Prevention: Step One Create a Layer

There are a few ways to prevent your hockey equipment from smelling in the first place, I have discovered these methods over about 20 years of playing hockey.

Put a layer between you and your gear – I didn’t discover this trick until a few years ago when I got my first under armour shirt to wear under my hockey equipment. I noticed that by wearing it and airing it out my hockey equipment stunk a lot less. I think this works on a few different levels. #1 it absorbs a lot of your sweat and helps it evaporate (so all your sweat doesn’t soak into your hockey equipment) and #2 it is a layer between you and your equipment, this helps stop any dead skin, grease, etc to getting onto your gear (bacteria will feed on that stuff)

Player recommendation – I only use an Under Armour shirt, but a friend of mine says he uses the entire under armour layer (or a base layer from Bauer) to cover his entire body. He said that he airs it out and washes it regularly and he has never had a problem with his hockey equipment smelling.

Tip 2 – Stink Prevention: Step two Air that Stuff out!

I highly recommend wearing something between you and your hockey equipment as it makes step two a lot easier. Now that you have played a good game of hockey your hockey equipment will be damp. You need to air it out otherwise it will stink! Airing out your hockey equipment is one of the most important steps here. Here is what I do

  • Hang up my Under Armour
  • Hang up my jock
  • Pull out my shin pads, padding side up
  • Hang up my elbow pads
  • Put my skates so the foot hole is facing out of the bag (if they are really wet you can take the insoles out)
  • Hang up my socks

Usually I keep my socks, jock and Under Armour in the side pocket of my bag so I can pull them all out at once.

What to hang your gear on?

You can buy some cheap shelving units if you have a place to set it up, a sports drying rack is also an option (links included in the product section below), I use the Gear Monkey, you could build something similar if you use your imagination.

Tip 3 – How to Get the Smell OUT of your Hockey Equipment

After a while it seems your hockey equipment will start to smell no matter what you do. By implementing the steps above my actual equipment rarely ever smells, I just wash my jock, socks and Under Armour and the rest of my stuff is fine. If your hockey equipment smells there is a very easy way to clean it

Put it in the wash machine!

Yes, it is that easy. A lot of people are scared to put their hockey equipment in the wash machine, but I have put mine in a top loader, and front loader and have never had problems (well one problem, but I will mention that so you don’t make the same mistake)

Tip – If your hockey equipment REALLY stinks rinse it first buy filling the wash machine, letting it soak, draining it, and then put it through a proper wash cycle.

What Hockey Equipment can go in the wash?

  • Socks, jerseys, Under Armour
  • Jock (take the cup out first and do the Velcro up so it doesn’t stick to everything)
  • Shin pads
  • Hockey Pants
  • Elbow pads
  • Shoulder pads
  • Gloves

Stuff that CANT go in the wash

  • Helmet
  • Skates

Washing machine warnings – If you have Velcro straps try to attach them to their Velcro partner, otherwise you can end up with a birds nest of equipment.
Do not use bleach.
Bleach can deteriorate your padding, I used it once with my old hockey pants and the foam started falling out of my torn and ripped pants (I had them for 10 years anyways). Out of the 10 years I have been washing my hockey equipment in the wash machine this is the only time I have wrecked anything.
Top loading machines may rip some equipment if you don’t allow enough room for the hockey equipment to move.

Tip 4 – Putting hockey equipment in the dryer – Drying out Hockey Equipment

I don’t like to put any of my equipment in the dryer however it is fine to put your socks, jock, jerseys and Under Armour in there. I have put my hockey gloves, and elbow pads in the dryer before however I think it is not good for the leather palm.

How to dry your hockey equipment

The easiest way to dry out all your gear after you have put it through the wash is to simply leave it out to dry and point a fan at it. If your hockey equipment still feels fairly wet after going through the wash you can move it around a bit (to re-balance the load) and run it through the spin cycle one more time and then put it out to dry.

Tip 5 – Products that will help

There are a lot of products available, not everyone has a back room or a lot of space to store and air out their hockey equipment. Here are a few products I have tried, used, or have heard great things about that will help you keep your hockey equipment smelling good. Most of them are available for purchase at GoalieMonkey.com

  • Rocket Dryer – I have heard great things about this from A LOT of guys on hockey forums. This is the ideal product for people in apartments or traveling in hotels and need to dry the gear out quickly. With the Rockey Dryer you simply hang all your gear up on a carousel type hanger, then put the big nylon type cover over it and turn on the fan. It quickly dries out everything. It has a timer, heating system, and a carrying case for road games.
    Sells for $149.99 on Amazon (currently on sale for $119.99)
  • Gear Monkey – This is what I use to hang all my stuff up, it doesn’t take up too much space and can be hung in a lot of spots
    $69.99 from GearMonkey.ca
  • Shelving unit – A cheap wire shelving unit or a better quality plastic one is good for storage, and also good to lay your equipment out on between games and practices.
    $49 on Amazon or get the smaller metal rack for cheaper
  • Hockey Equipment Drying Rack – These racks sell for about $50 a piece and are good to tuck in your furnace room or garage and hang your equipment on. If you use one of these in a room without much air circulation I would recommend turning a fan on for about an hour to help dry the stuff out a bit faster.
    $44.99 on Amazon – Looks fairly sturdy and has four 5 star review
  • Hockey Equipment Spray – I’ve used a few sports sprays but only noticed short-term results. The only thing that has worked in the long run is drying the stuff out and washing it (as described above) when the smell accumulates. If your equipment doesn’t smell that bad or you need something to tie you over while at a tournament this stuff should work. It has the highest rating on Amazon.
    $9.99 on Amazon – Seems to be the best based on the reviews

Tip 6 – Getting the smell out of Hockey Gloves

Put them in the wash machine!

Trust me I used to fight with really filthy smelling gloves and I tried all the sprays and “tricks” but nothing really got the smell out EXCEPT washing them. I started washing my gloves with all my other gear a few times a year and my gloves have been smelling fine ever since. (don’t put them in the dryer though, it dries out the palms)

Tip 7 – Getting the smell out of hockey skates

Hockey skates are tough to wash because of their design.

Prevention – The best thing you can do (a tip from a power skating instructor who spends almost all day in his skates) is take the insole out after each game or practice and let them dry out completely. Taking the insole out helps get all the moisture out. I also like to wear fresh socks in my skates, this keeps the built up odours already in your shoes and boots from getting into your skates. I use thinees (thin socks for hockey) and air them out each time. After about 4 times of using and airing them out I wash them or swap them with another fresh pair I have in my hockey bag.

Taking out the insoles also helps keep your rivets from rusting.

Dealing with Contaminated skates – If your skates already stink you can try some of the special sports gear sprays to neutralize the odour, or just spray and wipe the insides out with a wash cloth and some vinegar and then let them dry out completely. It will take a number of treatments before you can get them to smell better, but over time the smell will get a bit better.

How to clean Hockey Equipment and Prevent Smell – Video


The video is long but covers everything you need to know

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Jeremy Rupke

Coach
Hi my name is Jeremy. I LOVE hockey and I am passionate about improving and helping others improve. My goal is to break every hockey skill down into easy to understand articles and videos. I explain everything step-by-step to help others improve. If you want to learn more about me you can read my about page. Thanks for reading and sharing!

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Ahad July 18, 2014 at 9:14 am

Hi Jeremy what should I do if my gear says it cant go into a machine or hand wash. Can I put it into a washing machine anyways or not.

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