How to Clean Ice Hockey Helmets & Hit the Ice with Confidence (with A Proven Method!)

How to clean ice hockey helmets step-by-step updated guide

Ice hockey helmets are a must-have for any aspiring hockey player. They are an important part of the game, ensuring that players stay safe while they’re on the ice. But how do you keep these helmets in good condition? What is the best way to clean and maintain an ice hockey helmet?

In this article, we’ll explore the best ways to clean and maintain your ice hockey helmet and keep it looking like new. From the best cleaning supplies to the proper steps to take, we’ve got you covered! So, buckle up and let’s get started learning how to clean ice hockey helmets.

Initial Thoughts On Cleaning Hockey Equipment

Initial Thoughts On Cleaning Hockey Equipment

Opening your hockey bag and being hit by an odious hurtful smell has to be one of the worst moments in the game. That stench, often referred to as “rink stink,” is caused by bacteria growing in the blood, sweat, and soil that accumulates inside your hockey gear.

It results from leaving damp gear in the bag instead of allowing it to dry. These bacteria grow in warm, damp environments, and can lead to contagious illnesses spreading from player to player. After all, hockey is a contact sport.

It can also cause the gear to deteriorate earlier, making it wear out unnecessarily faster.

As a result, it’s important to keep your gear clean and dry to prevent bacterial growth and rink stink from occurring in the first place. Otherwise, they can quickly become filthy and grimy if not taken care of, and cleaning a particularly smelly hockey helmet is no easy feat. And specialized cleaning services are not really such an option because they can be costly.

So, how do you clean your hockey helmets?

Well, whether you’re a professional or an amateur ice hockey player, keeping your gear in top condition is essential for safety and performance. The good news is that you can have your ice hockey equipment all clean and looking new with a little bit of effort and some handy steps.

In the next section, we’ll explore how to clean and maintain ice hockey helmets. Whether you’re a parent of a new hockey player or a seasoned veteran of the rink, this is how you get to keep your helmet in top condition. So let’s get started!

Cleaning Ice Hockey Helmets

Cleaning Ice Hockey Helmets

Unlike most other equipment, cleaning hockey helmets will mostly involve the hand wash method- an approach that calls for a little more effort than just tossing your ice hockey gear directly into the washer.

On the bright side, it does away with the risk of damaging your gear, which is often the case when using a washing machine; all the rubbing and friction can easily wreck your equipment.

To clean your ice hockey helmet using this method, start by removing the chin cup and the face cage/face mask. Then wash the whole helmet both inside and out using a soft sponge and a mixture of water and no-tear shampoo so that the stinging soap doesn’t drip into your eyes.

After that, get a clean towel and wipe the helmet thoroughly. Then leave it outside to dry completely. The best part about handwashing is that you’ll be able to reach small areas and constrained parts of the gear, which are often left unwashed by a washing machine.

Just be gentle when cleaning and avoid using harsh brushes or scrubbing pads as they could easily damage your favorite ice hockey helmet.

Cleaning The Chin Strap Of A Hockey Equipment

Cleaning The Chin Strap Of A Hockey Equipment

To clean the chin strap, start by removing it from the helmet. Then get some old newspaper or towel and lay it on a flat surface. Put the chin strap onto the prepared surface and then use a damp cloth or a soft brush to scrub it gently, removing any dirt or grime that might have accumulated on the strap.

In case the chin strap is especially dirty, consider soaking it in a water detergent mixture for a while and then rinse it off. Give it a thorough wash before rinsing it with water. After that, wipe it down using a clean towel. Then get it outside to air dry. Always make sure the chin strap is completely dry before getting it back to the helmet.

Once it’s all clean and dry, you can then apply some leather conditioner as one of the preventative measures against further damage. After that, you can confidently reinstall the chin strap to the helmet.

Preventative Measures To Combat Odor In Ice Hockey Helmets

Preventative Measures To Combat Odor In Ice Hockey Helmets

One of the most effective strategies to combat odor in your ice hockey equipment is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Yes, you can prevent this stinky odor that makes you sick. Here are a few methods for preventing bacterial growth on your equipment:

Wear A Base Layer

Having a base layer right between the equipment and your body can help form a barrier. This, in turn, will help keep dampness from your body as well as the gear.

It also helps to reduce the amount of sweat that accumulates on the equipment, making it quite an unbearable environment for bacteria buildup. This way, bacteria won’t grow in the first place, thereby reducing foul odors.

Wearing a layer of clothing underneath the hockey gear directly eliminates the sweat buildup, keeping your helmet safe and odor-free. It also serves to prevent grease and dead skin from your body from getting in contact with the helmet itself. Some of the common base layers among hockey players are tights and under-armor shirts that are specially made to wick sweat.

Drying It Out

Another preventive measure to keep your hockey equipment from harmful bacteria and subsequent awful smells is by drying it out.

The best way to do this is by removing all the gear from the bag as soon as you can and wiping it down using special disinfecting sprays or wipes. Then leave the gear in a well-ventilated area to air dry. And when not in use, be sure to store them in a well-ventilated room.

You Can Use Drying Racks

A good drying rack can be especially helpful in enhancing air circulation within the equipment. By drying out your gear, a drying rack kills the bacteria responsible for odor development.

Boot and Gloves Dryer

This is a practical alternative for those with limited space. Unlike larger racks, a boot dryer is basically a compact size that makes it suitable for tight spaces.

Besides, you can use it for more than just gloves and boots. Some dryers are designed to accommodate helmets as well.

How To Clean Other Hockey Equipment

How To Clean Other Hockey Equipment

The best part about most hockey equipment is that aside from skates, helmets, and maybe some other goaltending items, you can clean all of the gear in the washing machine.

Here’s a list that can go into the washing machine depending on your particular model:

  • Shoulder pads
  • Elbow pads
  • Athletic supporter
  • Socks
  • Base layers
  • Pants and jersey

Do’s and Don’ts When Using A Washing Machine

For especially smelly gear, consider pre-soak it for an hour in a machine with a cup of plain white vinegar. This will give the gear time to get completely soaked in the water. Moreover, the vinegar will serve to neutralize the odor, and won’t damage the materials.

It is also a good idea to fasten velcro closures, so they don’t snag and tear other equipment or materials and separate items such as shin guards from their liners to ensure a thorough clean.

When washing, use the gentle cycle on warm water with a special laundry detergent that won’t damage your gear; good enough for removing odors and stains from synthetic fabrics.

Avoid using bleach, bleaching agents, or detergents with bleach, as these may break down the fabrics and damage your gear.

Also, avoid overloading the washer as this could damage both the machine and the equipment.

Lastly, it’s important to go through the manufacturer’s guidelines, including those that dictate whether it’s safe or not to put your gear in the dryer. If you don’t want to use the dryer, you may alternatively lay the gear out in a well-ventilated area to make it dry completely.

How To Clean Your Hockey Skates

Now let’s discuss how to clean your hockey skates and get rid of the odor. Well, it’s hard to wash skates as you would with other gear, but there has to be a way to keep the odor at bay.

Before we get further, it’s recommended that you remove the skates insoles after practice or the game and hang them up to dry. These will help to make sure they are completely dry and odor free.

Then, use either a vinegar and water solution or a sports equipment odor-neutralizing spray to spray down or rather wipe out the inside of the skates.

Let the skates dry completely either by hanging them up or setting them on a boot dryer. Remember, hockey skates can be just as smelly as the rest of your equipment, if not worse.

Cleaning Goaltending Gear

Cleaning your goaltending gear can be hard enough but it doesn’t have to be. Avoid using the machine or completely immersing the equipment in water because this can damage the material and lead to bacterial growth.

This is especially the case for things like hockey gloves, hockey pants, chest protectors, and blockers. Instead, consider using cold water and a mild detergent free of bleaching agents. Then gently scrub with a soft sponge before rinsing rinse and hanging up to dry.

Once dry, treat your goalie gloves and blocker with a disinfectant to combat bacteria buildup. For leg pads, you may want to use a damp cloth and then hang them while overturned to dry.

Lastly, clean the goalie mask with a soft, damp cloth and dry it. But be sure not to use heavy cleaning solvents or chemicals on your goalie mask. The sweatband can be washed in the machine.

Other Methods For Cleaning Hockey Equipment

Other Methods For Cleaning Hockey Equipment

Aside from machine-washing hockey gear, there are other methods you can use and still achieve just about the same results. So if you realized your hockey gear has been around for a while and is starting to smell, don’t worry. You can get your smelly hockey gear clean and looking good with the regular supplies you normally use at home.

Here, you will save money and still get to enjoy some clean fresh ice hockey gear. Besides, you’ll prolong the overall lifespan of your equipment. Below are some more tips and methods for clean hockey equipment:

Hand Washing Hockey Gear

As it sounds, this method involves a bit of effort than simply putting your ice hockey gear in the washing machine. However, it reduces the risk of damaging the material and equipment, which could easily be the case when cleaning the gear using a washing machine.

Now, if you want to hand wash your gear, start by putting warm water in a bathtub halfway full and add a quarter cup of eco-friendly cleaning detergent and vinegar. Get the gear completely soaked in the solution (water detergent mixture) and let it sit for about an hour.

After that, drain the sink or the bathtub and rinse the equipment to remove any soap residue. Consider squeezing the excess water out of the equipment before hanging it up in a well-ventilated room to dry.

Using Dishwasher

Interestingly, you can wash certain smaller pieces of equipment in the dishwasher. You just need to take certain precautions.

To do this, start by placing the gear in the dishwasher and remember to put off the heated drying cycle. Then run your dishwasher on a high-heat wash cycle.

That said, abstain from dishwasher detergent. Most of them contain bleaching agents that could cause damage to your equipment. Furthermore, using other soap in the dishwasher can ruin the machine. After the cycle, remove the equipment and let it dry completely.

Now that you have the entire process of washing and freshening your hockey gear, it’s time to grasp some preventative measures to reduce (and even eliminate) the awful odor that may come from your gear after use. Keep in mind that these tips are not ideal for your helmet, but for your other equipment as well.

Drying Your Gear After Washing

Although many hockey players don’t seem to like the idea of putting their hockey gear in a dryer, it is okay to put jerseys, jock, socks, and base layers in the dryer. However, be careful not to put anything made of leather or with leather parts because this could cause it to crack.

Another easy and effective way to dry out your equipment after washing is to leave them out to dry completely, preferably by pointing a fan at them. In case your hockey gear still feels somewhat wet even after laying out, consider moving it around to help rebalance the load.

Professional Sports Gear Cleaner Services

Professional services can be costly, but on the other hand, washing gear such as hockey jerseys, sticks, gloves, and skates definitely increases the chances of wrecking your equipment. They could fade, shrink, or get significantly damaged after using the washing machine.

One good thing about professional cleaners is that they completely eliminate dirt, cyst, algae, yeast, fungal pathogens, mold spores, and potential bacteria that could cause odor.

Furthermore, the majority of these professional services employ state-of-the-art washing systems, which means they clean the gear and give it back in less than 72 hours.

Best Ways To Prevent Bacteria Buildup In Your Ice Hockey Gear

Best Ways To Prevent Bacteria Buildup In Your Ice Hockey Gear

Preventative measures can play a big role in keeping your gear odor free and perfectly usable for the game but if your equipment began stinking, getting rid of the stinky smell can be quite a challenge.

Whether you choose to throw your smelly hockey equipment into the washer or dishwasher or even just clean it by hand, you can still avoid professional cleaning services, enhance the life of your equipment, and maybe keep you safe and smelling good while out there.

The secret to avoiding smelly equipment is to air it out. Keep your hockey bag in a well-ventilated room when you get home. Once you’re done practicing, keep the bag open and lay the gear out on the floor to dry completely. Or buy one of those space-saving drying racks.

There are also some special sprays meant for sports gear like hockey skates that can help neutralize the smell. Simply spray and then wipe the insides out with a washcloth and maybe some vinegar. Then leave them to dry out completely. You might have to do a few treatments before things get better, but they will eventually notably improve with time.

Some experts also suggest emptying the hockey bag beside your dehumidifier. The point here is to wick out the unwanted moisture within the gear and shorten the overall drying time.

You may also consider spreading your gear outside at least once a week so that the UV rays from the sun can destroy the bacteria responsible for odor development.



It turns out that the best defense against smelly hockey equipment is offense. The more it gets smelly, the harder it becomes to clean and get rid of all the odor without employing a harsh cleaning regime. It is a good idea to stick to a maintenance protocol after every game and do so as soon as you can to combat bacteria buildup and odor from occurring in the future.

This will also help keep your gear in a better state for a long period, which can save money and trouble. Overall, the question of how to clean ice hockey gear comes down to one idea; eliminating moisture. When going home from the rink, consider keeping the bag open and rolling the windows on your car to enhance ventilation.

Remember you need a well-ventilated area to eliminate moisture. Again, try to do this as soon as possible as it allows the moisture to ooze. Lastly, do not forget to wear a base layer between you and your gear. This will reduce the amount of sweat being soaked up by the hockey gear.

Hopefully, now you know all the tips and tricks to keep your helmet looking clean and fresh. From the basics of cleaning and sanitizing to advanced techniques to keep your helmet smelling like new, we included pretty much everything you need to give your hockey helmet the royal treatment it deserves. So grab your supplies and give your gear a new lease of life!

Sharing is caring!

Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our NewsLetter!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x