Hockey equipment is designed to take a beating, but it’s only as tough as the materials it’s made from, and you’ll still need to take good care of it if you want it to last.
It can be challenging to keep hockey equipment in good condition due to the amount of regular use and abuse it sees. However, regular hockey equipment maintenance can be a literal game-changer, ensuring that your gear lasts plenty more seasons.
What Is Hockey Equipment Maintenance?
Hockey equipment maintenance is the general upkeep of your gear. This upkeep may involve tasks like:
- Ensuring a proper fit
- Checking for torn seams or loose connections
- Inspecting for damage
- Testing clasps, Velcro, and other fasteners
- Regular and deep cleaning
While it’s common for players to need replacements, thorough maintenance can keep your gear from getting smelly or breaking down and provide a sense of security while you’re out on the ice.
Why Is Maintenance Important?
There’s no way around it: hockey gets the blood pumping and the sweat flowing. That sweat can get trapped in the fibers of your gear, eventually creating a unique odor that players have affectionately dubbed “rink stink.”
Keeping your hockey equipment clean and deodorized is considered respectful, as it ensures that your funk isn’t bothering teammates and other players. But another reason it’s crucial to keep your gear clean is to stop the spread of harmful bacteria that might otherwise find their way into a cut or abrasion and cause infection.
Hockey equipment maintenance is also directly tied to safety, as worn, shoddy equipment can be a serious hazard to you and everyone else in the game.
Your gear is essential to preventing devastating head and face injuries. Subpar gear can break or come undone during a game. That’s the last thing you want, so remember to inspect your equipment thoroughly and frequently and clean it or patch it up as needed.
How to Keep Your Equipment Maintained
Some of the best steps you can take to maintain your equipment are relatively straightforward and only take a few minutes to complete.
Use the following guidelines as a reference while you perform your regular hockey equipment maintenance. By doing so, you can extend the life of your gear and prevent it from taking on a musty, unappealing smell or presenting undue risks at the rink.
Some of your equipment can go in the washing machine. Most fabric-based gear like jerseys and elbow and shoulder pads are washing machine-safe. Helmets, skates, and some goaltending items must be hand-washed or put through the dishwasher.
You’ll want to wash each item gently to avoid tearing any delicate fabric. Use warm water and mild detergent, and keep away from the bleach. If it’s been a while since your last cleaning, pre-soak the gear to help dislodge stains and lingering odors.
If you’re washing something with Velcro, make sure both halves are pressed firmly together before you start the wash to keep them from sticking to other fabrics.
You can dry your gear on a rack or put certain items in a dryer.
Jerseys, socks, jockstraps, and base layers are usually all dryer-ready, but avoid putting anything with leather in the dryer. If you’re worried about the dryer damaging your equipment, double-check the tag or opt for the old-fashioned approach.
To clean skates, dry them out immediately after use. You can then apply an odor-neutralizing spray or a vinegar and water solution to fight back against the bacteria that cause those unpleasant smells.
Don’t forget to clean your mouthguard! This is one item you’re probably already in the habit of cleaning, and it’s easy to tell when it needs it. But if you aren’t already, try brushing your mouth guard with toothpaste, then rinsing and air-drying it after every use.
Cleaning is probably the single best thing you can do to help your gear last longer, but it isn’t the only form of hockey equipment maintenance. Skates need to be sharp to provide grip and maneuverability on the ice. Sharpen your blades often, and use skate guards when walking in them off the ice.
You should also check periodically to make sure all your gear fits properly and that all closures and fasteners work correctly and feel secure. Helmets need special attention — you don’t want to gamble with a damaged helmet.
It’s always best to replace faulty, damaged, or ill-fitting protective gear rather than risk using it during a game.
Preventive Measures to Keep Your Gear in Good Condition
There are also some easy ways to simplify the hockey equipment maintenance process that don’t require you to inspect every inch of your gear or do a bunch of detail-cleaning. Here are a few.
Get in the habit of drying out your gear after practice or games. Take everything out of your bag, spray it with a disinfectant, and let it dry somewhere out in the open. Make sure it’s a warm and well-ventilated area — a cozy spot outside in the sun will be ideal.
Wear Base Layers
Wearing quick-dry fabrics or extra layers that act as a sweat barrier can keep your equipment from becoming rank too quickly. Many brands carry gear designed for athletes to aid in wicking away excess moisture.
Try a Drying Rack
A drying rack will let you lay out your gear in such a way that it receives air circulation from all sides. There are racks made specifically for hockey gear, but any rack that keeps wet gear from piling on top of itself will work just fine.
Maintenance Is Key to Perform Your Best
Proper attention to maintenance is essential if you want to be safe, responsible, and comfortable on the ice (not to mention easier to be around). Hopefully, this guide will have given you the information you need to keep your equipment in good condition.
Are you looking for ways to become a better, more well-rounded hockey player? Consider joining the Shinny USA recreational hockey league. There’s nothing more engaging for players than an encouraging environment where they can learn while having fun, and that’s exactly what we provide.
Contact us today for additional information, locations, and playtimes.