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Basketball Gear Washing Guide & De-Stinking Tips

February 9, 2019

Basketball is probably one of the most popular sports in the country. A great form of exercise, it not only burns a buttload of calories but improves our coordination and motor skills as well! Health-wise, the sport also builds bone strength and promotes cardiovascular health.

If you’ve ever watched the NBA then you’ve probably noticed how most if not all of the players are drenched by sweat by the end of a game. Heck, sometimes even by halftime! It’s not too surprising though when you consider just how physically draining basketball is. Surely, anyone would work up a sweat after sprinting up and down a court for nearly an hour in total?

As it is, too much sweat can lead to a bit of an odor problem. Interestingly enough, however, it’s not the actual sweat that smells—it’s the contaminants that breaks them down into acids that are responsible. Considering this, it’s crucial that you wash your basketball gear on a regular basis. Not just for the odor issue, but for your general health as well.

When it comes to washing basketball gear, you have to be a little careful. The last thing that you’d want is to ruin your expensive jersey in the wash! Not sure how to go about cleaning your gear? Don’t worry—we’ll be going over some of the best ways to clean them on this page.

What’s the Best Way to Clean a Basketball Jersey?

Basketball players typically wear jerseys during matches. Often vibrant in color, they allow everyone to easily tell the teams apart. As far as what they’re made out of, they’re usually constructed out of polyester. A type of breathable material, it keeps the players cool throughout the game.

how to deodorize basketball jerseys

Putting Your Basketball Jersey in the Washing Machine

The easiest way to clean your jersey is to put them in the washing machine. First things first, though, you’ll want to turn it inside out—this will prevent any embroidery or stitching from coming off. As an extra precaution, you can put the jersey inside a laundry bag. While you can wash them with other clothes, it’s important that you put them together with like colors, otherwise, it can lead to bleeding.

Note: Avoid using fabric softener on your basketball jersey as it can impact the material’s ability to get rid of moisture such as sweat.

Once you’ve put the jersey into the machine, set it to a delicate or gentle cycle. Make sure that you’re washing it with cold water. Hot water tends to shrink and damage synthetic materials. When the cycle is done, take it out and allow it to air dry. It’s important that you do not put it in the dryer.

Hand Washing Your Basketball Jersey

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can also hand wash your basketball jersey. As a matter of fact, it’s probably the simplest way to get rid of dirt and stains. Depending on how dirty it is, you might want to pre-soak it in a bit of cleaning solution.

The first step is then, to make a cleaning solution. You can do so by adding a small amount of ACTIVE detergent to a container of lukewarm water. Mix the solution by swirling your hand in the water. When you’re sure that it’s mixed thoroughly, put your basketball jersey in. Remember, you want to submerge the whole thing in the solution. If you want to pre-soak it, leave it in for at least 15 minutes. Otherwise, you can skip to the next step.

Gently rub the jersey with your fingers. If there are obvious stains, you might want to add a bit of extra ACTIVE detergent to the area. Once you’re done, rinse off the soapy water under the tap. You want to make sure that the water that comes out is clear before you turn the tap off.

To dry the jersey, hang it up in a well-ventilated area. If you want, you can use a towel to get rid of some of the excess water.

Pro-tip: Did you know that you can prevent your jersey from getting stinky? Instead of throwing it in your bag after taking it off, let it air out—even five minutes will help. This will help to minimize the odor.

Getting Rid of Stubborn Stains

Pre-soaking often takes care of stains. For the more stubborn ones, however, you might need to use a stain remover.

Pro-tip: Never use hot water for stains as it will make them harder to remove!

Washing Machine Instructions for Basketball Socks

Basketball socks are just as important as the shoes themselves. A must-have item, they protect a player’s feet from fatigue and blisters. Generally speaking, most are made out of cotton, with a little bit of spandex and nylon mixed in between.

cleaning basketball socks

Throwing Your Socks In the Washer

Similar to jerseys, socks can be thrown in the wash. For the best results, turn them inside out—this will prevent lint from sticking to the surface; it also slows down the wear of the fabric. Put them into the machine and select a gentle cycle. Add some ACTIVE detergent, which will help to get rid of stains and odor.

Note: As a general rule, socks should be washed with cold water. However, hot water is more effective at getting rid of fungus and grease.

When the cycle is finished, remove the socks from the machine. Pair them up and allow them to air dry. Do not put them in the dryer unless you want them to shrink a size or two!

Can You Hand Wash Basketball Socks?

Yes you can. If you’re short on time, it might actually be the better option. In a sink or a tub, mix a little bit of soap with water. Place your basketball socks into the solution, ensuring that the whole thing is wet and saturated. After letting it soak for a few minutes, lightly rub it together to get rid of dirt and debris. You might have to add a bit of ACTIVE detergent if there is a stain.

Pro-tip: Avoid wringing the socks too much as that can damage the elastic at the top.

How to Clean and Deodorize Basketball Compression Gear

Many basketball players choose to wear compression gear underneath their jerseys. In addition to increasing blood flow (aka more oxygen to the muscles), these garments are designed to compress the muscles, which effectively reduces lactic acid build up.

how to wash basketball compression layers

Given that they’re worn on the bottom, though, they tend to get quite smelly—perhaps even more so than the jersey. After all, it’s the layer that’s touching your skin.

Is it Safe to Machine Wash Compression Gear?

Compression gear is usually made out of moisture-wicking material such as polyester. Considering that, the answer is yes—you can put them in the washing machine. As a matter of fact, that’s the ideal way to wash them.

Place them into the machine and select a gentle cycle. Pour some ACTIVE detergent into the water. Ideally, you will want to wash them with cold water, however, you can also use warm water. Do not use a fabric softener as that will limit the effectiveness of the material’s moisture-wicking properties. Avoid using bleach as that can lead to staining.

Note: Given that compression gear is often dark-colored, you want to only wash it with other dark-colored clothing. Otherwise, the dark colors to bleed to your other clothes.

Should I Hand Wash Them Instead?

There’s nothing wrong with putting your compression gear in the wash. If you want, though, you can always wash them manually by hand. All you have to do is mix together a container of soapy water. From there, dunk your clothing into the solution and let it soak for a bit. After a while, you can rub and wash it to get rid of the dirt and odor. As always, you’ll want to allow the compression layers to air dry.

The Proper Way to Clean Your Basketball Shoes

Basketball shoes can attract a considerable amount of dirt—this is especially true if they’re worn outside. Luckily, it doesn’t take much effort to give them a clean.

how to clean basketball shoes

Cleaning Basketball Shoes with a Soft Brush

To clean the sole, you’ll want to use a soft-bristled brush (something like a toothbrush works well). On the side, mix a cleaning solution with water and a half scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Dip the brush into the solution and use it to remove excess dirt from the sole. After rinsing it with clean water, you can use the brush to clean the upper portion of the shoe. You’ll want to wash the shoelaces separately.

When you’re done, dry it with a towel and allow it to air dry. Never put it in the dryer.

Pro-tip: It’s important to store your basketball shoes properly when you’re not wearing them. Ultimately, what this means, is that you should store them in an area with plenty of airflow. This will prevent the buildup of odor.

Pro-tip 2: You should only wear your basketball shoes indoors. Wearing them outside will lead them to deteriorate faster as you’re exposing them to the elements. Less wear and tear is always a good thing, especially if the shoes are expensive to begin with!

Getting Rid of that Icky Odor

It’s no surprise that basketball shoes can get stinky. Even if you store them properly, it’s not uncommon for them to develop an unpleasant odor after a while. Unfortunately, soapy water will not do you any good in this situation. For something like this, you will want to use a deodorizing spray. Not only will that get rid of that foot stink, but most will also remove many of the contaminants in your shoes—it’s a win-win situation!

deodorizing basketball shoes

Alternatively, you can sprinkle some baking soda (around half a teaspoon) into each shoe and allow it to sit overnight. The next morning, remove the powder. If the odor is still there, you can repeat the above steps.

How does it work? As it is, baking soda will get rid of the odor and absorb any excess moisture, the latter of which facilitates odor growth. It’s also economical as most of us already have baking soda in the house!

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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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