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How to clean football equipment

Yes, boys sweat a lot! Learn how to clean football equipment or you’ll have some gross pads laying around.

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Yes, it’s the middle of June, but football is right around the corner.  It starts on the first of August here in North Carolina.   My 2 boys were in wrestling camp this week and they got in the car and they stunk and I know football is coming.  Make sure to teach your kids about cleaning football equipment!

Update: My oldest stopped playing, but my youngest son is on the JV high school team now! Practice started May 31.

a boy playing football tackling another kid

Organizing Football Equipment

Organizing football gear can be such a pain!  Between my two boys and another boy that we help out, we have 3 sets of everything and it can make a huge mess in our garage.  We have duffle bags that have zipper pouches that hold everything they need.

 I’m not linking to a gear bag because you’ll need to go make sure you get one large enough to hold the size you need, However, here is one similar to ours. Reminder- check the size to make sure it fits shoulder pads and helmet!

It’s nice because everything is in one place and there is a place to hold extra mouthpieces, gloves, socks, and sweatbands.  I buy sneaker balls to throw in to help reduce the smell.

How to clean football pads

The first thing to do is take it out of the car and air out the pads and helmet.  If you keep the equipment in a bag, take it out when you get home.  I have some hooks in my garage that we hang them on.  They do this after every practice and game.  

You don’t want mildew, mold, and bacteria growing on all that stuff.  When they start practicing in August, it’s hot and I never knew little boys could sweat that much.

Version #1


I noticed people were coming to this page and with coronavirus you may be having trouble finding Lysol! Here’s an additional {HOMEMADE} way to clean your football shoulder pads.

Grab a spray bottle, like this one, and fill it with rubbing alcohol. You can spray this on your equipment and inside your helmet.

Alcohol helps keep odors and bacteria growth under control. It will also kill fungus AND viruses! Do not dilute with water because you can reduce the effectiveness.

Laying the equipment out in the sun so the rays and heat will help it air dry.

football player catching a ball

Version #2

I LOVE Lysol!  Spray the inside of the helmet and shoulder pads down with Lysol, or another disinfectant spray, at least once a week.  This helps kill any germs, but also makes it smell better, some people that use Febreze, but I stick with Lysol.

 I usually don’t let the kids do this because the can would only last a day if I let them spray it. (Update: My boys are older now and I make them do this now.). Lysol wipes are good too!

If you just can’t get that body odor smell out, try washing it with warm water and dish soap, then wiping it down with rubbing alcohol.

If your equipment has removable pads you can throw the cloth parts into the washing machine, along with your football pants! Wash with a cup of vinegar (and no soap), then wash again with your laundry detergent.

How to clean a football helmet

Cleaning the inside of a football helmet is easy. Just get some warm soapy water and a rag and wash it down. Make sure to rinse well with clean water. A Lysol wipe is easy if you don’t have a lot of time. Set it out to dry completely.

Cleaning the outside of a football helmet is a little harder. Many times there are scuff marks and decal residue. The easiest thing I have found to really get the hard stuff off is Goo Gone. I have used it on my car too and it works well and gets off marks. You just need to use some elbow grease too.

How to clean a football chin strap

Don’t forget the chin strap. Clean this at least once a week. These are easy to clean because you can unsnap them and take them off. But you can still leave it on to clean, it’s just awkward to get under the sink.

I take the chin strap over to the sink and use dish detergent to wash it out in the sink.  You need to get all that sweat and dirt off.  I noticed my older son breaking out on his chin during football season so I try to do this or remind him to do it often.

Can you wash football pants with pads in them?

Yes! Throw them in the washing machine with other similar clothes and wash them in cold water. If they are white, then you can use a stain remover, Oxyclean and regular bleach on them to get all the dirt and grass stains out.

You can hang them up to dry, but I always just throw them in the dryer. You may have to adjust the pads when they come out of the dryer because they may have shifted a little.

Here are a couple of articles that you may like.

I hope this helps and that you have a winning season!