What to Do When Hockey Stench Makes You Gag

hockey odor and bacteria - CLn Wash®
With the right amount of effort, hockey stench can be stopped

You’ve heard the phrase, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” If you’re lucky enough to have a hockey player in your life, a very distinctive odor comes with the territory. And where’s there’s hockey odor, there are bacteria.

This unique stench (practically synonymous with the sport) is a combination of sweat, skin cells, leather, plastic, and potentially dangerous bacteria linked to MRSA, an itchy rash referred to as “the gunk,” and other unpleasant skin infections. Skin infections can be season-ending for athletes. In fact, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Marian Hossa would sit out the 2017-2018 season due to a skin condition.

Because hockey is a contact sport, even a small cut or scape can become infected from the bacteria living on that smelly gear. With a little bit of elbow grease and the right bacteria-fighting products, you can keep your hockey player on the ice and smelling at least sort of nice.

The Post-Hockey Clean Routine to Knock Out Hockey Odor:

Shower Right Away

To combat that distinctive hockey odor, showering soon after a workout is best, as germs thrive on moist, warm skin. According to infection control specialist Tricia Holderman, “Do not use bar soaps, as others may have ‘shared’ their germs. Removing all the mucus, blood, sweat and tears–hopefully from opponents–from skin also eliminates the odors, rashes and acne that come with the growth of bacteria and fungi common with sweating.” CLn SportWash is tough on the odor-causing microbes that also pose a threat for infection.  Use the wash everywhere–body, nails and hair– for 1-2 minutes. CLn SportWash is gentle enough to use after every game or practice.

Consider Separation

Base layer clothing can leave the ice covered in sweat. Have your athletes bag up any drenched clothing to keep it separate from just damp gear or other laundry. According Holderman, “MRSA, the most common of bacteria associated with sports, can live up to 9 weeks on fabrics and 40 days on hard surfaces. Putting clothes in a hamper still wet allows growth not only on the sports gear, but on ALL items in the hamper.”

Wash Everything That Can be Washed

Clothing should be washed daily. Most gear can be washed weekly on cold in your machine at home (excluding helmets and skates). Use laundry detergent as directed and make sure you dry everything thoroughly. Any gear with leather, Velcro or foam can be air dried in a well-ventilated area.

Air Out What Can’t Be Washed

As often as you can, air out all gear that can’t be washed. That means the hockey bag, the interior parts of helmets and soles of skates that are removable. Take them apart and let them air dry. Use a disinfectant cleaner on all hard surfaces to kill bacteria and let dry thoroughly. If you need a little help with the drying process, consider investing in a dehumidifier or fan. A drying rack is a worthy investment, as well.

The Prevention Plan:

Invest in Duplicates

Hockey is an expensive sport, but staying healthy is priceless. So if your player has early morning or late-night practices that make it hard to wash and/or dry out all gear between sessions, consider buy two sets of gloves, skates and helmets. Hands, feet and faces—areas of the body that sweat a lot and are prone to bacteria and friction—especially benefit from dry, clean gear.

Plan for Periodic Replacements

Not all things are meant to last forever, and hockey gear is no exception–elbow pads and shin guards can be a breeding ground for mold. So if that happens, throw them out and invest in new. When in doubt, do a sniff test. If gear doesn’t smell good after a routine washing, it might need early retirement.

Ask When You Buy

Hockey gear is, no doubt, expensive. So, when investing in gear, take the time to ask the pros at the shop exactly how it should be cared for. Our tips above are good ground rules, but hockey shop pros will have specific tips for specific brands and specific equipment. If you buy online, look for answers on retailer sites or call 1-800 numbers. For example, Pro Stock Hockey has a stench control guide directly on their site to aid in keeping players healthy.

What To Do If Infection Happens:

If—even despite your best efforts—your athlete shows signs of infection like oozing or red streaks in skin, seek medical attention right away. Infections, if caught early, can often be prevented from spreading. This protects your hockey player, and their teammates as well.

It may seem like a lot of work to squash hockey stench, but not smelly athletes = healthy athletes. And not stinking makes victory on the ice even sweeter.



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