How to Clean Hockey Equipment

The smell that emits from dirty hockey equipment is truly one of a kind, and it is so notably unpleasant that it has even garnered its own name – “rink stink”! Rink stink is a special kind of stench that burns through your nostrils and can leave you feeling queasy. It is the result of the bacteria that grows in the blood, sweat, and dirt that build up on hockey equipment over time, and in addition to smelling horrible, it can also cause infections to spread. The only way to effectively deal with rink stink is to give your hockey gear a good wash and we’re going to let you in on how to do just that!

How to Prevent “Rink Stink”

Prevention is a crucial component when it comes to combatting rink stink. Here are some preventative methods you can use to stop the stench on your hockey equipment from getting out of hand:

1. Wear Full-Body Base Layers

Using pants, socks, and shirts made of the appropriate compression or wicking material will create a much-needed barrier between you and your hockey gear. Base layers also effectively absorb the sweat and dead skin particles that cause bacteria to grow and create unwanted odours.

2. Always Dry Your Hockey Equipment

Habitually hanging your hockey gear on a drying rack after practice is an absolutely essential step to take to prevent bacteria from growing and spreading. Bacteria thrive in moist environments and drying racks allow for the optimal amount of air circulation, which effectively dries the gear and kills bacteria on it. Be sure to hang all your equipment, even your athletic bag, to ensure no bacteria is left behind!

3. Air Out Your Skates

The soles of your feet have more sweat glands on them than any other part of your body, which leaves your skates extra vulnerable to acquiring a stench. Make sure you remove your skate inserts, pull open the tongue on your skates, and give them a chance to air out after every use. Not only will this stop funky smells in their track, but it will also prevent the blades from rusting.

Washing Away the Stench

Using preventative methods to keep your hockey equipment from getting smelly can only take you so far, and eventually, you’ll need to give your gear a good ol’ wash. Here are some hockey equipment washing do’s and don’ts:


·      Machine wash your base layers after every use. These layers must be kept clean to prevent bacteria buildup from getting past the point of no return.

·      Machine wash your gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, shin pads, hockey pants, shorts, jersey, and jock at least once a month. Since your base layer creates a barrier and absorbs most of your sweat, your protective equipment doesn’t have to be washed as frequently.

·      Use warm water, a gentle cycle, and regular detergent to clean your gear. This cycle will thoroughly clean your gear without ruining the materials.  

·      Use the “pre-soak” feature if your equipment is especially stinky. This will give your gear time to soak up the water and ensure it gets cleaned properly instead of just floating to the surface.

·      Make sure all Velcro closures are securely fastened. When Velcro is left exposed, it can catch on to other materials and cause your equipment to tear.


·      Machine wash your skates and helmet. Your washing machine may not survive the cycle if you put these items in there. 

·      Try to wash all your equipment in one go and pack your washing machine to the brim. Again, your washing machine can only withstand so much, and hockey equipment can be pretty bulky.

·      Use bleaching agents or detergents with bleach. Bleach can deteriorate the foams and bonding agents in your equipment.

·      Put the gear in the dryer before you check the manufacturer’s label. It is generally safe to put your socks, jerseys, and other garments in the dryer, but putting your base layers and under armour in there is a big no-no.

That’s it! With this guide on how to clean hockey equipment, your gear (and your nose) will survive and thrive this hockey season.

Why Love Your Gear

Love Your Gear is the leading hockey equipment cleaning facility in Southern Ontario. We have over 30 years of hockey gear cleaning experience, and we eliminate all bad odours, bacteria, and viruses with our state-of-the-art cleaning technology, guaranteed. Contact us today to get rid of those remnants of rink stink!