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How to Clean & Deodorize Stinky Rugby Gear

February 17, 2019

Rugby is a team sport in which a ball is kicked, passed, or carried between players. Similar to football, the aim of the game is to score as many points as possible by moving the ball into the in-goal. While it’s not as popular as some other sports (at least in the United States), its popularity has grown significantly over the past few years.

As you can expect from a sport, it comes with many benefits. For instance, it helps to improve endurance, hand-eye coordination, and flexibility. On top of that, it strengthens your heart and lungs, builds upper body strength, and reduces stress. Of course, you also get to learn about the value of teamwork.

Different Types of Rugby Equipment

Rugby is quite similar to soccer when it comes to gear. Aside from the ball itself, which is oval in shape, players wear jerseys, shorts, socks, and boots. In some cases, protective equipment may also be worn such as mouthguards, shin guards, and shoulder pads.

Depending on what you get, it can be quite expensive. For this reason, players are advised to take proper care of their gear. Given the amount of sweat that they are exposed to, it’s important to wash them on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the best things that you can do to prolong their lifespan. After all, no one buys rugby gear just to use them for a game or two.

Why it’s Important to Wash Your Rugby Gear

Let’s face it, your gear will get sweaty after a match. Not only is that bad hygiene, but it can lead to a stench. Why? Contaminants love moist environments. Given the chance, they will grow and proliferate—this ultimately causes the bad odor. Aside from that, they can cause infections, especially if there is an open wound on the skin.

Considering all that, it only makes sense to wash your rugby gear. But wait, what’s the best way to go about doing that? Is the equipment machine washable? Are there certain things that you should avoid doing? Want to know the answers to these questions? If so, continue to read on—we will be going over how to properly wash the items below.

The Best Way to Wash Rugby Jerseys

Rugby jerseys are similar to polos in that many have a buttoned opening at the top. Designed to withstand tackling, most are made out of cotton. However, it’s not uncommon for synthetics such as polyester to be incorporated into the shirts. As a matter of fact, some are made of pure polyester. Not only does this make tackling more challenging (since it is more slippery), but it keeps you dry throughout a match.

best way to wash rugby jersey

Machine Washing Instructions for Cotton Jerseys

As with most cotton clothing, they can be put in the washing machine. Do note, however, that they are susceptible to shrinking when exposed to heat. For this reason, you should always wash with cold water.

Before putting your jersey in the wash, turn them inside out; this will prevent the color from fading. For extra protection, you can put it in a mesh laundry bag. Add a bit of laundry detergent, select a delicate cycle and press start.

Note: You can wash your jersey with other clothing given that they are like colors

Take the cotton jersey out once the cycle is complete. Hang it up and allow it to air or drip dry. Do not put it in the dryer—this can cause the cotton to shrink.

Machine Washing Polyester Jerseys

Polyester Jerseys can be washed in a similar fashion—that is, they can safely be put in the wash. Due to the moisture-wicking properties of the material, however, there are a few things that you want to avoid doing.

machine washing rugby jerseys

1. Do not add fabric softener to the wash cycle. Contrary to popular belief, these chemicals can do more harm than good. More specifically, they will add a wax-like layer on the surface; this will impact the jersey’s ability to pull moisture away from the skin.

2. Never use chlorine bleach on your polyester jersey. Instead of cleaning it, the chemical will damage the material by stripping away the outer coating.

3. Use a suitable detergent—not all of them are suitable for washing synthetics (i.e. they are not capable of getting rid of the oils that are stuck in the fibers). Ideally, you want an enzymatic formula that can break down oils and sweat; we recommend using ACTIVE detergent.

Hand Washing Your Rugby Jersey

If you want, you can also hand wash your rugby jersey. To do so, fill a sink or a tub with cold or warm water. Add a small amount of detergent (make sure that it’s compatible with your type of jersey) and mix with your hand. Once the solution is ready, put your jersey into the sink; make sure that the entire thing is immersed in the liquid. Allow it to soak for at least 15 to 20 minutes—this will help to get rid of the sweat and odor.

Note: You can also soak your jersey before putting it into your washing machine if it’s particularly dirty

Take your jersey out of the sink once the time is up. Gently rub the fabric against itself to wash it; do not wring or stretch the material as that can lead to damage. When you’re confident that it’s clean, rinse off the soap with clean water. Put it on a clean towel and press down to get rid of the excess water. Hang and allow it to dry. Do not put it in the dryer.

Cleaning Your Rugby Scrum Cap

cleaning your scrum cap

Many rugby players wear scrum caps to protect themselves from injury. Generally speaking, they are made out of thin, soft materials. For this reason, many can be put in the washing machine. Before you do, though, it’s a good idea to first check the care label; some may need to be hand washed.

To hand wash your scrum cap, fill the sink with cold water. Add a bit of ACTIVE detergent or soap and gently agitate the liquid with your hands. From there, place the cap in. As with the jerseys, you want to let it soak for a while before washing it. After that, gently wash it with your hands; when you’re done, rinse off the soap with water. Drape it over a drying rack and allow it to air dry. Do not put it into the dryer—that can damage the fabric.

How to Deodorize Rugby Shorts

Rugby shorts are similar to the jerseys in that they are typically made out of cotton or polyester. Considering that, they can be machine washed—just follow the instructions as mentioned above. You can even put them in the same load!

Given that we’ve gone over how to wash cotton and polyester, let’s take a look at how you can deodorize these items.

Getting Rid of the Smell Using Vinegar

Vinegar is great for getting rid of odors. What makes it even better is that it can safely be used on both cotton and polyester. Ultimately, what you want to do is to fill the sink with water. Instead of laundry detergent, add half a cup of white vinegar and mix. From there, put your rugby shorts (or jersey) in. Allow it to soak in the vinegar-water mixture for at least 15 minutes (overnight is totally fine too); this will get rid of the stench.

Alternatively, you can add white vinegar directly to the washer if you plan on machine washing your sports. Replace the detergent with one cup of vinegar, select a gentle cycle and wash with cold water. If necessary, you can wash your clothes again afterward with ACTIVE detergent.

Pro-tip: Turn your rugby shorts (and jersey) inside out before washing it, this will make it easier to get rid of the sweat and oils

Deodorizing Your Rugby Shorts with Baking Soda

Instead of vinegar, you can also use baking soda; that is, you want to add a cup of baking soda to a gallon of water in the sink. From there, allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes.

Of course, you can also add the baking soda directly into the washing machine.

Tips for Preventing Odor

While it’s possible to get rid of the odor, it helps if you do your part to prevent them from developing in the first place. Luckily, there are a few simple things that you can do.

1. Bring a change of clothes with you to the rugby field; that way, you’ll be able to air out your sweaty rugby shorts (and jersey) after a game—even five minutes will help! This will help to prevent it from getting too stinky.

2. Don’t leave your rugby gear in the washing machine—odors will grow in the moist environment. Take it out as soon as the wash cycle is done.

3. Never toss your rugby clothes into a bag. The dark, moist environment will compound the bad odors.

Washing Instructions for Rugby Compression Layers

Compression layers are worn by many athletes. Tight-fitting, these items help to improve blow flow, which boosts athletic performance. In addition to that, they reduce the risk of muscle soreness. These garments are often made using a blend of synthetic fibers such as polyester and spandex, the latter of which provides a stretchy fit.

washing your compression layers

Can You Wash Compression Layers in the Washing Machine?

Polyester and spandex can safely be washed in the washing machine. To prevent your compression wear from stretching, however, you’ll want to put them in a mesh laundry bag. Add a bit of ACTIVE detergent and select a gentle cycle. Always use cold water; hot water can shrink and damage the material. Do not use fabric softener or bleach.

Note: You can wash your compression layers with other synthetics if they are like colors.

Take the garments out once the cycle is complete. Hang them up or drape them over a drying rack. Allow them to air dry; do not put them in the dryer.

Hand Washing Your Compression Layers

Aside from putting them into the washer, you can wash them manually by hand. To do this, fill the sink or tub with soapy water. Mix the solution with your hand and put the compression layers in. Let it soak for 15 to 30 minutes before individually washing the items. When you’re finished, rinse off the soap suds and allow everything to air dry.

How to Deodorize Your Rugby Cleats

cleaning your rugby cleats

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to put your rugby cleats into the wash. Don’t worry, though—they’re pretty easy to clean. In a small container, mix together water with a little bit of ACTIVE detergent. Dip a soft brush into the solution and use it to clean the outer surface of the shoe. Similarly, you can clean the soles by gently scrubbing it with water and soap. Dry with a clean towel when you’re done.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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