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Pro Tips for Cleaning Football Gear

February 23, 2019

Football is a popular sport in which players try to advance the ball into the opposing team’s end zone. Generally, this is achieved by passing the ball or by running with it until tackled. Aside from touchdowns, which are worth six points, there are field points—these occur when the ball is kicked between the goal posts. 

There are two main leagues that participate in America Football: the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the National Football League (NFL), the former of which is a college organization. To determine the NFL champion, playoffs are held after the regular season every year.

Note: “Football” typically refers to soccer outside of the United States.

What Kind of Gear is Needed For Football?

Football is a contact sport. Considering this, it’s not surprising to know that players have to wear a considerable amount of protective gear. Aside from wearing helmets, they also wear thick shoulder pads—ones that are specially designed to protect against collarbone or shoulder injuries. On top of that, girdles are typically worn under the pants to protect the hip, thigh, and tailbone. In some cases, their shorts may also be padded.

different types of football gear

Aside from their protective gear, players also don jerseys, which depict their team number and name. In addition to that, they wear football cleats on the turf. Unlike regular shoes, they are made to provide proper support, traction, and stability. 

Why it’s Important to Keep Your Football Equipment Clean

Football is an incredibly tiring sport. After all, you’re running back and forth non-stop for an hour (with the exception of half-time). If anything, you’ll be drenched by sweat halfway through the game. What comes with sweat? Bad odor. That’s right, your football gear can easily get stinky after one use. Imagine what it’d be like if you were to use it for an entire season without proper cleaning!

Not only would everything get smelly, but it would also harbor icky residues. As a matter of fact, they’re the ones that are responsible for the odor! You wouldn’t want your precious equipment to be covered with sweat, would you? For this reason, it’s important that you wash your gear properly after a session. Ideally, you’d want to give it a thorough cleaning when you get home—that’s the best way to keep the odors at bay.

When it comes to cleaning football gear, though, things can get a bit tricky. After all, you can’t just throw everything into the washing machine and call it a day. There are certain things that you want to avoid doing. Not too sure what these things are? Don’t worry—we’ll be going over all the steps that you need to know below.

The Best Ways to Wash Football Jerseys

Given the nature of the sport, football jerseys are typically made out of synthetic fibers. There are multiple reasons for this—for starters, these types of materials naturally wicks moisture away from the skin; they are also light and breathable, which makes it perfect for athletes.

how to wash football jersey

Are Football Jerseys Machine Washable?

Yes, they are—you can safely wash your football jerseys with a washing machine. With that said, there are a few things that you want to keep in mind. While you can wash them with other items, you do not want to mix them with those of opposite colors; that will result in color bleeding. For instance, you should never wash black jerseys with light colored clothing.

Pro-tip: Avoid washing your jersey with coarse fabrics such as jeans, or items with zippers.

Synthetics such as polyester are relatively hard to dye (compared to say, cotton). As a result, the colors can easily come off in the wash. To avoid this, turn your football jerseys inside out; this will also help to prevent any embroidery from coming off. For an extra layer of protection, you can put your jersey in a mesh laundry bag (a clean pillowcase makes for a good alternative).

Pour in an appropriate amount of ACTIVE detergent into the washer. Place your jerseys in along with the other clothes. Wash with cold water on a delicate cycle. Take everything out once the cycle is complete. Lay it flat or hang it up to dry. Avoid putting your jersey into the dryer at all cost—the warm air will cause it to deteriorate.

Should I Hand Wash My Football Jersey?

If you have the time, yes. At the end of the day, it’s much gentler on your jersey if you wash them by hand. Assuming that you’re washing just one or two items, you can easily do so in the sink. Ultimately, the first step is to fill it with cool water. Add a small amount of ACTIVE detergent to create a soapy mixture; avoid adding too much detergent as that can make it difficult to rinse out later.

Put your football jersey into the soapy mixture and let it set for 15 to 30 minutes (you can leave it in for longer if it is excessively dirty). Afterwards, wash it by rubbing the two sides of fabric together, gently. When you’re finished, wash out the detergent; continue doing so until the water is clear. Lay the football jersey on a clean towel; lightly press down on it to remove some of the water. Do not wring or twist the fabric. Allow it to air dry—it shouldn’t take more than a couple of days.

How to Get Stains Out of Your Football Jersey

Stains are inevitable sometimes—especially with all of the tackling that goes on during a game. If there’s a stain on your jersey, you’ll have to do an extra step; that is, you’ll have to pre-treat it before actually putting it in the wash (or washing it by hand).

Don’t worry, the process is pretty straightforward. Simply apply extra ACTIVE detergent or soap to the problem area and rub it in. From there, soak it in a soapy solution. In some cases, you might have to repeat this a few times to completely get rid of the stain. In any case, you want to do this before washing the item.

Deodorizing Your Football Jersey

Vinegar is a great deodorizing agent; it’s also cheap and accessible. If your jersey is smelly, soak it in a water-vinegar mixture (we recommend using one part vinegar to four parts water). Depending on how bad it is, you might have to let it in the solution overnight. By the morning, the odor should mostly be gone. From there, you can wash it by hand or put it into the machine.

As an alternative, you can add vinegar directly into the washer. Instead of adding detergent, just add half a cup of vinegar. Wash your jerseys as normal on a delicate cycle with cold water; they should come out smelling fresh. If you want, you can wash it a second time with ACTIVE detergent.

Note: The above methods can also be used to wash and deodorize football shorts.

How to Safely Deodorize Football Shoulder Pads

As mentioned earlier, football pads tend to get smelly from all of the sweat. As it is, however, they contain materials that cannot be put into the washing machine. 

cleaning football pads

Washing Your Football Pads with Soap and Water

Create a soap and water mixture in a small container. Dampen a cloth with the solution and use it to wipe the surface of the pad; this will help to remove loose dirt. When you’re done, dry it with a paper towel—this is important, you don’t want odors forming in the fabric. You might have to use a stain remover for problem areas.

Disinfecting Your Football Pads

Soap and water are effective. In some cases, however, you might need to use a disinfectant spray. Spray it onto the pad and wipe it dry with a paper towel. Be sure to use a product that’s safe for plastics. 

Alternatively, you can wipe it down with rubbing alcohol.

Removing Odors From Football Pads

Mix together water and vinegar in a container and pour it into a small spray bottle. Spray it onto your football pads; the vinegar will effectively get rid of the smell. Wipe it dry afterwards.

Alternatively, you can clean the pads with rubbing alcohol. Simply soak a rag and use it to wipe the pads. The great thing about this method is that alcohol evaporates quickly! You won’t really have to worry about it drying it yourself.

Pro-tip: Never leave your shoulder pads in your bag for a prolonged period of time. Take them out immediately when you get home from practice. Set them on the floor and allow them to air out in a well-ventilated area; this will prevent odors from developing.

Removing Odors from Football Cleats

Football cleats can easily get dirty with all of the running and tackling that happens. To prevent them from deteriorating, it’s important that you clean them on a regular basis.

cleaning your football cleats

Pro-tip: Take your cleats off as soon as you leave the football field. Hard surfaces such as pavement, concrete, and sidewalks and damage the sole.

How to Clean Your Football Cleats

The first step is to get rid of the excess dirt and grass. To do this, hit the cleats together. Once that’s done, scrub off the remaining grime with a soft-bristled brush. From there, mix together some water and soap (like ACTIVE detergent). Dampen a washcloth with the solution and use it to wipe off any stains that are on your cleats. Wipe everything again with a clean cloth when you’re finished.

Allow your shoes to air dry. Do not place them under direct sunlight as that will cause damage to the materials. Never put them back in storage when they’re still wet.

Deodorizing Your Football Cleats

Most football cleats come with removable insoles. To eliminate odors, take them out and put them in the wash. Place them in a mesh laundry bag to prevent them from being thrown in the machine. Wash with cold water on a gentle cycle. Alternatively, you can wash them by hand after soaking them in a soapy solution.

How to Clean Your Football Helmet – Easiest Method

It’s not uncommon for helmets to get smelly due to the amount of sweat that they’re exposed to. Every once in a while, you should give them a proper cleaning; this will prevent any odor from getting out of hand.

best way to clean football helmet

Pro-tip: Your helmet will eventually need to be replaced. As a general rule, you should check for damage before and during the season. Do not use it if it is missing any parts or padding.

Scruff marks and stains can be removed with warm water and ACTIVE detergent. Simply wipe the surface with a dampened washcloth and dry it with a paper towel afterwards. Avoid soaking the helmet if possible; that can damage the protective materials. Do not use harsh chemicals.

Similarly, you want to wipe the inside of the helmet with a soft cloth—pay attention to the padding as they tend to get quite sweaty. If necessary, you can use a sanitizing spray on the inside; make sure to dry everything thoroughly afterwards. 

Note: Do not put your football helmet into the washing machine—doing so can easily compromise its protectiveness.

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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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