Equipment Care

Does your Equipment Stink?

The build up of bacteria, mold and fungus causes the foul odor in sports equipment.  The gear absorbs sweat, blood, mucus and dead skin. Hockey equipment is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria because it often doesn’t get dried properly. Bacteria can lead to infections such as Hepatitis, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Some infections can be very severe and can cause young athletes to become critically ill. The same growing bacteria also cause the equipment to rot.

Research indicates that the majority of athletes and their parents are not aware of the cause of the odor or the risks of wearing contaminated equipment. The smell is often ignored and chalked up as being part of the game.

Regular cleaning and disinfecting of hockey gear is important to protect athletes from contaminated equipment. Besides infections, many young athletes have experienced skin irritation and rashes from contaminated equipment that are difficult to treat and often requiring medical attention.

Hockey equipment will continue to generate odor until the bacteria are physically removed by using powerful cleaners & technology. Various companies produce sprays that claim to remove the odor however ultimately these deodorizers fail because they don’t take into account the reason behind the smell - the equipment is contaminated and needs cleaned.

Cleaning frequency: depends on the age of the player, how much they sweat and how often they play.

On Average: 10 and under - once per season and 11 and over - 2-3 times per season (however let your nose be the guide)

Tips for Equipment Maintenance:

Remember: Smell = Contamination

  • Hang gear up to dry after each use
  • Open your equipment bag to allow it to air out
  • Keep a log of the number of uses
  • If a strong odor begins to occur and especially if there are signs of skin problems or rashes, discontinue use and have the gear professionally cleaned

Lab Results Conducted for Average Number of Bacteria on Hockey Equipment:

A count of 25 bacterial particles or less on surfaces is considered acceptable under provincial guidelines. Anything else is considered a potential health hazard and disinfection is required.

  • shoulder pads: 480 bacteria (19 times higher than acceptable quota)
  • helmet: 750 (30 X higher)
  • skates: 2,800 (112 X higher)
  • pants: 4,500 (180 X higher)
  • elbow pads: 6,200 (248 X higher)
  • athletic cup: 9,400 (376 X higher)
  • gloves: 79.000 (3,160 X higher)
  • knee pads: 86,000 (3,440 X higher)

Equipment Cleaning Companies

McKnight does not endorse any of the compines below. This information is provided as a reference for our families.


McKnight Hockey Association

Our Mission is to provide our players with an affordable, fair and competitive hockey experience that focuses on the development of individual and team hockey skills, the practice of good sportsmanship and fair play and the opportunity to be challenged while having fun. At McKnight Hockey, our goal is to involve your child in a program that fosters teamwork, skill development and enjoyment of the game.

Contact Info

RPO Box 64261
5628 - 4th Street NW
Calgary,  AB  T2K 6J0