How to Get Rid of Hockey Equipment Smell

Updated on June 6, 2016

Terrible Hockey Gear Odor

Hockey Moms are a rare breed. We spend an enormous amount of time freezing our tails off watching our sons whack a puck with a stick. We wake early and drive hours every week to allow our children to play in a sport where we have to sign a waiver warning us of serious injury, paralysis and possible death. And then, there is unbelievable repugnant smell. There is nothing that will take away your wonderful new car smell faster than driving hockey carpool. There is no smell more disgusting than stinky hockey gear. The smell is so strong my son has permanent damage to his olfactory system. He knows he smells, he just fails to understand the magnitude of the stench.

What Causes the Hockey Smell?

Its not just dirt and sweat that cause equipment to smell. The real culprit behind this horrible stench is bacteria that thrives on growing in damp conditions. The bacteria survive and propagate in moist, warm conditions, including the body, which can then be transferred to sports equipment. If the gear isn't cleaned or dried properly, it becomes a breeding ground. Aside from the smell, the danger associated with this is if a player has a cut or scrape and comes in contact with the dirty equipment. This results in a possible infection.

Easy Steps to Follow

  1. Take equipment out of the bag and air it out
  2. Take equipment outside on a sunny day
  3. Put everything washable in the washing machine with vinegar
  4. Use fabric softener in the rinse cycle
  5. Air it out again
  6. Take it to a pro shop and use a sanitizing machine

How to Clean Hockey Equipment

So how do you get rid of this smell that permeates your trunk to the car and even to your garage? First, unpack the gear and hang it up to let it dry after each use. A good drying rack, or even simple hooks on the garage wall can be used. This is important to allow the equipment to dry as much as possible before it is used again. Second, take all the gear, including the bag, outside on a sunny day and air it out. When you have reached the point that the smell is truly unbearable, take everything washable--pants, shoulder pads, shin guards, socks, hockey undergarments, practice jerseys, etc., and put it in the washing machine. Yes, this is a bit rough on your equipment, but chances are it will be outgrown much faster than it wears out. Wash it in the gentle cycle with one cup of vinegar. The vinegar helps disinfect it and remove the odor. Next, add a fabric softener to the rinse cycle. This really helps take out the odor.

When the washing maching stops, you will be so pleased with this clean smell. That is, until you take your equipment out of the dryer. Even on low heat, the heat of the dryer tends to recover the bad smells. Not as bad of course, but a fraction of the smell returns in the dryer.


Sports-O-Zone to the Rescue

If you really want to put an end to the hockey stench, find a Sports-O-Zone machine. Many hockey pro shops or other athletic gear stores have them. The Sports-O-Zone is a patented machine that destroys bacteria and other growth that produce the nasty odors in the equipment. It is easy-to-to use and provides efficient short term benefits.


Designed for Bulky Sports Gear and Stinky Hockey Gloves

This device has multiple racks and shelves, perfectly designed for bulky sports gear. You do not have to take apart any gear to use it. All those velcros straps and pads can stay in place. The system even has a bottom bin perfect for hockey skates. The equipment is not heated; it does not get wet, nor are any fragrances used. Throw in your nasty hockey gloves that cannot be washed. Those are always the worst smelling of all the equipment!

A Clean Hockey Smell for Two Weeks

For $15, you can enjoy being able to breathe the next time you drive home from practice or a game. Yes, there is the sanitation benefit of killing bacteria and viruses, but lets face it, its getting rid of that awful smell, even temporarily, that makes it worth it. The cost is expensive, especially for a sport that already cuts into college savings. The ozone sanitation process is not something that can be done every week, but it is worth considering doing going to a hockey tournament when you are stuck in the car for a long period of time with the gear.

You can try the airing out method and using vinegar in the washing machine, but for a clean smell that lasts a little longer, try the ozone sanitation method and see what you think.

Questions & Answers


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      • LauraGSpeaks profile image

        LauraGSpeaks 3 years ago from Raleigh, NC

        Hi Elena, Great idea to use Listerine on the gloves if it works!! I imagine it would take a few bottles to treat all the gear, but what a great idea for the gloves. Thanks for sharing!

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        Elena 3 years ago

        I use Listerine to get rid of the smell of my hockey gloves and it can be used for all the washable gear. It's a trick I learned form a fellow hockey mom.

      • LauraGSpeaks profile image

        LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

        Hi Sam, while I have not used the Sani-Sport system, it does look very similar to the Sports O Zone. I have seen it in a few hockey rinks in the Northeast.

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        sam 4 years ago

        sani sport is also a great ozone cleaning machine

      • LauraGSpeaks profile image

        LauraGSpeaks 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

        zvardman, you are correct--it is vital to get the equipment dry as soon as possible. The winter months are tough with practices on consecutive nights--the gear gets so nasty! We have a homemade version of a hockey rack--just some hooks and posts on the garage wall! Thanks for stopping by.

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        zvardaman 5 years ago

        Great information. I have played hockey for 25 years now. The biggest thing for me was to get my equipment dry as soon as possible after I played. Each time I got home I took my gear out and hung it on an equipment tree. I have seen several types of racks/trees all with their pro's and con's. I have one from The O-Zone units are a great option for every few weeks or months depending how often you play. The tree can be used after every practice/game.