Softball is similar to baseball in many ways. For one thing, it involves two teams, both of whom take turns batting a ball. There are a few key differences, though. Take the ball, for example—it is much larger than baseballs. Unlike baseball, the pitches are also thrown underhand. Last but not least, the sport is played on a much smaller diamond.
Every year, the International Softball Federation holds tournaments in multiple categories. The sport has also appeared on and off in the Olympics. In fact, it will be making an appearance at the 2020 Summer Olympics. For those of you who don’t know, softball hasn’t been featured in the Olympics since 2008!
Benefits of Playing Softball
Softball might not be a super-intensive, but it’s still a form of exercise. As such, it comes with several benefits, some of which are health-related. What does the sport do for us? Let’s take a look.
- It burns a significant amount of calories (approx. 300 calories/hour)
- It reduces stress and improves self-esteem
- It helps to strengthen your arm and leg muscles
- It teaches leadership skills
- It provides total body conditioning (the sport requires you to use your entire body)
- It increases your concentration and mental focus
What Kind of Gear is Needed for Softball?
A set of equipment is required in softball—this generally includes a ball, a bat, and gloves. In that sense, the sport is very similar to baseball. As mentioned earlier, however, the ball is much different in size.
Attire-wise, players also wear uniforms and protective gear. For instance, it’s not uncommon for the defensive catcher to wear a helmet, chest protector, and shin guards. In some cases, they may also choose to wear face masks, knee sliders, or sliding shorts.
Keeping Your Softball Gear Clean
Given all the running around that is involved, it’s not surprising to know that your softball gear can get quite dirty. This is especially true if you’ve been sliding—the dirt can easily go on your uniform!
It’s not just dirt that you have to worry about either—there’s also sweat. Assuming that you’re playing a full game, chances are, you will be working up a sweat. Over time, the sweat will go onto your clothes, which can facilitate bacteria growth. How do you know when this has happened? There will be an unpleasant odor emanating from the fabric. Unless you want to be recognized by the smell, it’s probably a good idea to wash everything when you get home. Here’s a protip from us—never leave your softball clothes in a pile in the corner of your room. Why? The smell will end up being ten times worse!
How should you wash your softball gear? What’s the best way to go about doing it? We’ll be going over all the steps below for various items. Keep reading to learn more!
How to Wash Softball Jerseys
Softball jerseys are typically made from synthetic fabrics. The reasoning is simple—they’re durable and cheap. Not to mention that they’re moisture-wicking. In other words, you don’t have to worry about feeling clammy when you’re out there on the field.
There are two ways to wash these jerseys—here’s how.
Putting Your Softball Jersey in the Washing Machine
Since they’re made from synthetics (most of them anyway), it’s perfectly fine for you to put them in the washing machine. As a precaution, though, you should probably read the care tag label first, before throwing it in—this is particularly true if you’re washing the jersey for the first time.
When it comes to jerseys, you always want to flip it inside out. In fact, you want to do this with most of your clothes. Why? It prevents the outer layer from friction damage. You’d be surprised just how intense it can get in the washer, especially if you’re dealing with a large load! Second of all, it allows the water and detergent to penetrate the inside, which is a good thing, as that’s where all the body oils and sweat usually are.
Pro-tip: You don’t have to wash your softball jerseys separately (you can if you want to, though). In other words, it’s okay to wash them with other hands such as shirts and shorts. The only exception is coarse items such as jeans or jackets—the hardware on them can damage the fabric.
Take out your ACTIVE detergent and measure one scoopful. Pour it into the machine. Choose a gentle wash setting—make sure to use cold water as hot water can do more harm than good on your jerseys. Skip the fabric softener and bleach. Every once in a while, you can add a cup of white vinegar to your clothes to soften them up.
Remove your softball jersey from the washer once the wash cycle is complete. Do not leave them for longer than necessary. You don’t want them to develop an odor, do you? That would mean having to wash them all over again! Let the garment air dry on a clothesline. Do not tumble dry—your softball jersey won’t last long in the heat.
Washing Your Softball Jersey by Hand
Using the washer is convenient, but it’s not necessary all the time. In some cases, you can get away with washing your softball jersey by hand! You only need a couple of things—a basin or sink and ACTIVE detergent! First things first, fill your basin with water from the faucet. Pour in one scoopful of ACTIVE detergent and mix; make sure that the powder has completely dissolved before proceeding to the next step.
Put your softball jersey in the basin—check that the entire garment is immersed in the liquid mixture. Let it soak for at least 20 minutes.
Once it’s been soaked, clean the fabric by massaging it between your fingers. Pay extra attention to the armpit areas as sweat tends to accumulate there. When you’re finished cleaning, rinse off the detergent. Double check that there are no suds left before transforming the item to a clean surface. Blot away some of the moisture with a towel. From there, all that’s left is to let the jersey air dry. As mentioned earlier, using the dryer is generally a bad idea.
Note: You can wash softball pants and socks the same way. In fact, you can put them in the same load—just make sure to separate it by colors!
Best Way to Wash Softball Sliding Shorts (Sliders)
Sliding shorts are a special type of shorts that are meant to protect your legs, especially your thighs and glutes, from abrasions when you’re sliding on the ground. It’s worth mentioning that some of them come with a thin layer of padding along the hips.
Are Softball Sliding Shorts Machine Washable?
Most of them are machine washable. In fact, you can pretty much wash them the same way as normal shorts. As with the softball jerseys, you want to start by flipping it inside out. Consider placing them in a mesh laundry bag for extra protection, especially if you’re washing them with other garments. Close them securely before throwing them in the washer. For those who are curious, yes, you can wash softball slider shorts with other types of clothes—just make sure that you’ve separated them according to color.
Pour in one scoop of ACTIVE detergent into the soap dispenser. Choose a cold wash cycle on a delicate setting and press the start button. Avoid using bleach or fabric conditioners. Take your softball shorts out of the machine once the washing is complete. Remove them from the laundry bag and hang them up to dry. Assuming that they’re made from synthetic fabrics, they should dry quickly. Remember, the dryer is a no-no.
Washing Softball Sliding Shorts by Hand
Does it surprise you that you can also wash the sliding shorts in the sink? Fill it with water and dissolve one scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Carefully place your shorts in—be careful not to overload the basin. Lightly press on the material to submerge the item. Let it sit and soak for at least 20 minutes.
Swirl the shorts a few times in the solution before picking them up. If you want, you can massage the fabric with your hands but it’s not necessary (the soaking would have gotten rid of most of the body oils). Put it under the faucet to remove all the detergent—this is important, you don’t want there to be any residue on the fabric! Afterward, transfer the sliding shorts onto a clean towel. Pat out some of the extra water and line it dry. It might take a little longer if your shorts come with padding.
How to Clean Softball Cleats
Your softball cleats can pick up a lot of grass, mud, and debris during a game. To keep them in tip-top shape, clean them immediately after you get home. The sooner you clean them, the easier it will be.
Using ACTIVE Detergent
Remove any dry mud by clapping the cleats together. From there, scrape off excess dirt or mud with an old toothbrush. The next step is to dissolve one scoop of ACTIVE detergent in a bowl of water. Dampen a rag with the solution and use it to wipe off the shoe—pay attention around each spike. When you’re finished, rinse the rag clean and wipe the surface with plain water.
Wipe off the excess water with a paper towel. Put the cleats in a well-ventilated and let them air dry at room temperature—do not put them under direct sunlight. Avoid all external heat sources. Wait until they’re fully dry before wearing again.
Keeping Your Softball Cleats in Tip Top Shape
- Only wear the shoes when you’re playing a game—this will prevent wear and tear
- Invest in more than one pair so that you can rotate them
- Avoid leaving your cleats in the car—the heat from the sun can cause damage
How to Clean Your Softball Helmet
Softball helmets can develop doors over time. To prevent that, you want to clean them regularly (not necessarily after every game).
The first step is to check whether or not it has removable liners. If it does, take them off so that you can wash them separately. You can put them in the washing machine (in a laundry bag) or soak them in the sink with soap.
As far as the actual helmet goes, you can apply an anti-bacterial spray after wiping it down with water. Don’t forget to clean the face guard as well, if it comes with one! Dry the surface with a clean cloth afterward.