Here’s What’s Living In Your Dirty Sports Equipment

As an athlete, you already demonstrate the drive and determination needed to dedicate yourself to a sport. But while you may be motivated in most aspects of your life, you might find yourself a little reticent when it comes to properly maintaining your gear and equipment.

So what’s the big deal? Sports equipment is bound to smell, right? Especially with all of the sweat you put into improving your performance.

Well, the team at Love Your Gear is here to tell you that the odour emanating from your bag and smelly sports gear is actually indicative of some nasty things that have taken up residence in your equipment. In fact, sweat and skin cells actually provide nutrients to bacteria and help it thrive – and while the negative impacts of that process aren’t felt immediately, over time this can cause problems. In case you needed it, here’s some motivation to get your sports gear cleaned as soon as possible, so that the only thing living in it, is you.

Ice Hockey Equipment Isolated on White Background


While not all bacteria is bad news (humans need many types of friendly bacteria to maintain a healthy gut and immune system), the kind that takes up residence in your sports gear is not the type of bacteria that you should welcome into your home.

Bacteria can accumulate and be attracted to the dead skin cells shed in your sports equipment, but if you’re playing a team sport, remember that bacteria from your teammates’ gear can also make its way into your gym bag, especially when your gear is in close proximity in the locker room. A bad smell is a sign that bacteria have already taken up residence, and it’s time for a proper cleaning.

If you’re a hockey player, bacteria should be a particularly big concern of yours – tests have shown that hockey equipment has 100 times the amount of bacteria in it than the gear used in other sports. Time to get those gloves and pads taken care of!

Gold Football Helmet on Field


In addition to bacteria, studies have shown that many viruses, including those of the common cold and flu variety, can hang out in dirty gym equipment. Similar to bacteria, viruses thrive in community environments and are passed from person to person. So, the more time you spend with other people, including your teammates, the more likely you are to pick up a virus during cold and flu season. While you may not have come directly into contact with a sick person, they may have a sick family member or roommate at home, and the virus can spread from their gym bag to yours. It’s important to air out your equipment after every practice in order to cut down on the likelihood of contracting something that will make you sick, but it’s also equally important to get your gear professionally cleaned so that viruses don’t get the chance to thrive within your equipment.

Snowboard equipment

Fungus and Mold Spores

Yes, you read that correctly. The same mold you might find in the cupboard under your kitchen sink, due perhaps to some leaky plumbing, is the same kind of mold that can take up residence in the damp environment inside of your sports equipment. In fact, mold can develop in a damp environment within just 24 hours, which again emphasizes the need to air out your gear after every game and practice. When it comes to damp environments, also take note of the fact that your skiing and snowboard gear, or any other winter sports equipment, is in constant contact with snow. While most of it is designed to be waterproof, moisture can still make its way inside, and make your gear just as susceptible to dampness from the outside as it is from your sweat on the inside.

Not only is mold toxic to humans (in relatively large quantities), it also has corrosive qualities. Over time, if left untreated, mold may render your equipment less effective by eating away at the fabric and other materials, such as foam padding, contained inside. In order to keep your expensive equipment in use for longer, and extend its life as much as possible, proper cleaning will ensure that wear and tear only comes from playing hard, and not from fungi or spores making a home in your gear.

Yoga mat


Technically a fungus, yeast is a particularly smelly culprit when it comes to the odour you’re getting a whiff of when handling your sports equipment. Yeast and other fungi are also something that active people need to be particularly wary of, as it can cause skin rashes or infections, and be generally irritating to your body if not cleaned out of your equipment.

As reported by the New York Times, studies have shown that skin infections among athletes are very common, and can spread very easily in community environments – particularly change rooms or on common-use equipment, including exercise mats. It’s recommended that you never share a towel or use yours again after leaving it to air out in a locker room. You should also bring your own soap, change immediately into fresh clothes after a workout, and only ever use your own water bottle or razor, among other hygiene items, at the gym. All of these items are ripe environments for bacteria and fungi to spread, so be wary of sharing these things with anyone else – especially at the gym.

Muay Thai workout - boxing gloves close up

Have We Convinced You It’s Time to Clean Your Gear?

We’re happy to hear it! Love Your Gear uses amazing Ozone cleaning technology that kills and eliminates all of the nasty things noted above, and more! We clean everything from hockey, football and snow sports equipment, to fishing gear, boxing gloves and more. If you have an odour that won’t leave your gear, reach out to our team to learn more about our services.