Keep That Gear Clean!!


We might call ourselves Dirty Jersey, but we don’t play dirty and we don’t stay dirty. This month’s blog is about keeping your gear clean.

It used to be almost a badge of honor to have the smelliest gear on the team. It meant you played hard and intended to play harder. It was pretty funny to watch other skaters shrink away from you as you approached them on the track. However, did you ever stop and think about exactly why your gear smells like Fritos and roadkill? It’s not just plain old body odor.

Let’s lay down some science. Your gear stank isn’t just sweat. Yes, you sweat into your gear, but that smell comes from when your sweat mixes into the ongoing party of bacteria living on your skin (plus all the bacteria you “borrow” from your teammates after slamming into them during practice).
Then, you take off those pads, mix them all together in a closed-up bag and let them have a bacteria free-for-all that adds up to an even bigger stank and bacteria mix.

Not that funny.

Do you typically just throw your gear bag in the car until next practice? Bad idea. (It’s also a bad idea because it’s a great way for your gear to get stolen, but we’ll discuss that some other time.) Leaving your gear to marinate in its own stank isn’t just a way to keep it smelling like a garbage can in NYC in the summer, it can also make you sick.
When you keep your sweaty gear in a bag and don’t air it out (meaning let it completely dry) or periodically clean it, you give the bacteria a perfect place to grow and multiply. If you’ve ever put on still-sweaty pads, you’re covering yourself in nastiness and germs. It’s not actually your sweat that smells. It’s the bacteria waste that reeks — yep, basically bacteria poop. GROSS.
Here are just a few things that can grow in this environment: mold, fungal infections, impetigo, ringworm, and — wait for it — MRSA. Yep. You can get a life-threatening infection from your own gear. Don’t be that player, player.

We’re not saying you need to scrub down like a surgeon after every practice. But you can do a few things to keep yourself — and your teammates — safe from both sickness and stink. Get yourself in the habit of doing these things and you’ll come out smelling like a rose…or at least not like a skunk.

  • DO NOT leave your wet, dirty gear zipped up in your bag. Air it out as soon as you can after practice. Do not give your sweat and bacteria a place to multiply. If you can put your gear in direct sunlight to dry, even better.
  • Make yourself a homemade odor killer and disinfectant spray. Many people swear by some cheap vodka and a drop or two of a favorite essential oil.  You can also use rubbing alcohol if you don’t have any vodka in the house, which is cheaper, too!
  • Some also use a few sprays of Lysol — but don’t use that in your helmet, unless you want to sweat some Lysol into your eyes during your next practice.
  • You can also find retail sprays at your favorite derby gear shops. Just make sure they say they fight bacteria as well as odor.
  • For all over clean, you can throw your gear into the washing machine. Use the gentlest cycle possible, Velcro everything together first, and use one of those mesh bags. Don’t use the washer method too often or the pads will wear out. Use a minimal amount of detergent.
  • You can also use the bathtub for a gentler method.
  • DO NOT PUT YOUR GEAR IN THE DRYER. Hang them wherever you have room — if you can hang them outside, even better.

While you’re at it, don’t forget your mouth guard. It needs some TLC, too. Your mouth guard keeper should have air holes to keep it ventilated so bacteria doesn’t collect.

Clean it regularly — remember, you are putting that thing in your mouth! Some people like to rinse their mouth guards with mouthwash before and after practice. Or, brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You can also soak it in denture cleaner, which helps sanitize it as well.

Hope this helps! Remember, play hard and keep it clean in the Dirty Jerz.


Riots Not Diets,

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