By: Patrick Smith
No matter how often I played, whether it was the three games on the weekend when I was younger, or the drop in hockey I play now, my equipment would always smell like a dumpster.
My name is Patrick, and I’ve been playing hockey off and on for 17 years. I started playing on roller blades when I was first learning how to skate and then transferred over to ice hockey. I used to be involved with youth leagues, but they were hard to find because Texas is not exactly the hockey capital of the world. I eventually grew up and ended my dreams of playing for the Dallas Stars. Nowadays, I go to the occasional open hockey at the local Dr. Pepper StarCenter. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about how to keep my equipment smelling fresh and not offending my mother or my teammates.
Hockey players have more equipment than most sports. Try fitting skates, long socks, shin pads, shorts, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, helmet, and any other stuff that I forget to pack into a hockey bag. Hockey players know that all the excess ice from a game or practice will find its way into the bag no matter what we do. Add the sweating we just did, and the bag now smells like roses.
As soon as I got home, I would open my hockey bag, and the smell hit me right away. Even if I was tired, I had to string out my hockey equipment around the garage. I put my shoulder pads on a tool hook, gloves on top of my hockey net, skates laced together around the chair, and just threw everything else on the floor like normal. Add a few games, scrimmages, and practices to your mileage and the neighbors may come over to file a complaint about the smell. Leaving the equipment out in the garage for the Texas heat to enjoy wasn’t helping either.
My mom just wasn’t having it. If something stinks in her house, “Forget about it,” as New Yorkers would say. I applied Febreze to my equipment after every skate because my pads would always smell like how I played my last game, terrible. Yeah, like that did anything. My equipment then had the distinct smell of opening up a bottle of Febreze and dumping the liquid onto the gear. The Febreze just masked the smell, not eliminate the odor.
Now with hockey equipment, there is no dumping it in the washing machine. With all the pads and straps, good luck not breaking the washer or ruining your gear. Unless you want to do laundry for 8 hours, you also can’t just wash one piece of gear at a time you water waster.
The one thing that partially worked was treating my equipment like it was a car wash. I laid out my gear on the patio furniture, filled up a small bucket with water and soap, and used a sponge to hand wash all the equipment except for the skates. I used a mild soap because how do I know if it will ruin my pads? Afterwards, I rinsed it all off with the garden hose and let it air dry overnight. Washing the pads seemed to work, but not so great. Honestly, if I just got home from a hard game or practice, the last thing I’m thinking about is making sure my equipment is squeaky clean. I did the hockey car wash about once every month.
I found that hanging the gear out to dry when I got home from playing hockey was the best way to combat odors. Turning the fan on my pads helped out too. Hockey equipment is costly, and we couldn’t afford the best pads, so taking care of your equipment is very important. However, It may be beneficial to buy new hockey pads whenever the old ones got smelly. For the sake of either your Mother or teammates, I’d suggest making sure your hockey equipment is clean.
In addition to fighting the odor, it’s important to understand the health concerns that come with smelly hockey gear, especially if bacteria are involved. If you’ve taken a slash to the back of the leg or puck to the neck as I have, your open wounds can be prone to bacterial infections. Many medical studies have shown the link between unclean sports equipment and bacterial infections such as staph, strep, and folliculitis to name a few. To help us smelly hockey players, ProStock Hockey has made an easy-to-follow chart on how to clean hockey equipment.
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