3 Unseen Dangers Lurking Within Your Dirty Hockey Equipment

by Amy Garrett

Most hockey players know that a certain odor is synonymous with the game. What few players take the time to understand is that hockey equipment that is not cleaned properly not only smells, but it can become a bio-hazard as well.

Here are three noxious substances commonly found on hockey equipment, and suggestions for eliminating these substances before they become a serious health hazard.

1. Bacteria

These microscopic organisms are responsible for the pungent odor many people associated with the game of hockey. Bacteria can begin to form on hockey equipment that isn't cleaned properly, which can lead to serious health problems. Since hockey is considered a full-contact sport, blood is often spilled on the ice. When open wounds are exposed to the bacteria growing on dirty equipment, infections occur.

To ensure that your gear doesn't pose a health risk, be sure that you wash it with an antibacterial cleaning agent on a regular basis. It is also important to use hot water, and hang your gear out to dry completely after each use to minimize bacteria growth.

2. Mold

Mold can contribute to the pungent smell most hockey players are known to embody. Players often put gear that is soaked through with sweat into their hockey bags and leave it there until the next time they hit the ice. Locked away in a hockey bag, wet gear doesn't have the opportunity to dry completely. This allows mold to begin forming. Exposure to mold has been known to trigger difficulty breathing and contact allergies.

To remove mold from your hockey gear, start by removing any visible mold. Then, soak your gear in a bucket filled with cold water and 3/4 cup of white vinegar. The vinegar will help to neutralize any mold spores present on your gear. Transfer your hockey equipment to the washing machine after soaking for at least an hour. Once the washer's cycle is complete, be sure that your gear dries completely before storing it to prevent any future mold growth.

3. Viruses

Viral infections can be difficult to treat, and sweaty hockey equipment can provide the perfect breeding ground for a number of viruses. One of the most common types of viruses that hockey players are exposed to is the Norwalk Virus. This nasty strain can cause stomach pain, vomiting, and general lethargy- which means it is often mistaken for the flu or food poisoning.

To ensure that you don't have to deal with viral infections caused by dirty hockey equipment, consider cleaning your gear in a sanitizing machine. These machines reach temperatures high enough to kill off any unwanted guests that might have taken up residence in your gear.

Maintaining clean hockey gear is essential when it comes to protecting yourself from bacteria, mold, or viruses. Be sure to clean your equipment regularly to avoid the health problems often caused by dirty hockey gear, and seek out outlets that sell hockey equipment to properly replace overused items.