Being a derby skater brings with it a whole new realm of odor and cleaning issues many of us have never had to face before.
We have new kinds of clothing and gear that haven’t come up in laundry exercises before. For some of us, who haven’t done sports since the 80’s, shirt materials have changed. We also have a wardrobe of clothing, such as fishnets, which maybe we wore in drama club, but are new to us.
Stenchy pads are both a sign of pride and a badge of dishonor. If your pads don’t stink, you haven’t been skating. If they do – everyone lets you know and your teammates don’t want to skate with you. “How do I clean my gear?” is the second question most skaters ask – only after “What should I get for gear?” Its been a year and a half of refining for Will Jettison and I, but this is what we do:
The neoprene material of our padding gear (knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards) is designed to wick and retain moisture from our bodies. Regular laundry detergent alone will not get the odor producing enzymes and salts out of the material. This is where an additive like Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator should be added to your load. If you’re “lucky” like me and have two skaters in your household, a load of pads is a pretty economical load for the machine. You can dry your pads on cold in your dryer or save the environment and hang them to dry. Some skaters like to put their pads in a pillow case to protect the inside of their machines.
Supplemental Note: Materials specialist, Ballistic Miss L (WMD/PVRD) claims the constant impact of washer and dryer degrades the protective padding of her gear and swears by her dishwasher. Will Jettison, Engineer, says this is hooey. Benefits of dishwasher – shiney shell surfaces, less impact to foam. Disadvantages – not all derby players have one, no ability to use Febreze. I’ve also read some skaters soak their pads in OxiClean to get the body products out of the material.
Along with derby and any athletic endeavors comes a whole slew of new materials. Honestly, I skate in cotton tank tops and whatever shorts I grab. Will Jettison has a whole “closet” full of athletic moisture wicking shirts, shorts, and athletic supporters. The latter only came with joining the Dirty Dozen (PVRD). His referee shirt also benefits from specialty athletic clothing care.
In addition to the Febreze additive, we’ve found “Sport-Wash” an item which will hopefully soon be carried by one of our favorite skater-owned derby supply retailers, but for now, we get on Amazon.
- Removes trapped odors from fabrics
- Restores factory-applied waterproofing (DWR)
- Keeps high-tech fabrics looking & working like new
- Restores the loft and effectiveness to down and synthetic insulation
- Removes blood & grass stains
Penguin’s apparel care Sport-Wash restores your performance fabrics, wash after wash. This biodegradable, residue-free detergent restores wicking properties and eliminates odors for Dri-Fit®, Under Armour®, CoolMax®, down, synthetic insulation, and more.
Sports clothing is a significant investment. Washing and caring for it properly can greatly extend its life and save you money!
I learned this trick from my grandmother and I suspect most skaters have the laundry skills to know of a lingerie laundry bag but I dare not assume. You can buy one at most any discount store or place that sells detergent. Will and I use the mesh bags our knee pads and elbow pads come in. As we’ve replaced pads over the years, we’ve accrued quite a collection, but that’s okay. Fishnets do not do well in laundry all by themselves. They can be cleaned in most any load you do by placing them in a mesh bag. Will (who is the laundry mistress of our household since I’m known for poor color sorting) will also throw in my nylon socks into these bags which greatly extends their life.
Don’t forget your helmet also has padding in it that can be removed and washed. Taking the time to wash out your helmet padding will greatly extend its life. Wash by hand in the sink with mild detergent or hand soap and hang to dry. Helmets, like all protective gear, have a limited life as well. Be sure to check your helmet date and replace appropriately. Also, be sure your helmet is certified for use for skating. Bicycle helmets tend to be designed for single-impact only.
There’s a final piece of required safety gear that also needs care – the mouth guard. I have a custom upper and lower mouth guard from my dentist. No, that’s not mold on my mouth guard cover – its tape residue on the outside because the clasping part of my case broke. Keep your mouth guard in a good protective container. You can buy one like this at your local sporting good store – wherever you buy mouth guards. I have also seen homemade ones decorated derby and made from inexpensive soap travel containers! Keep a tablet of Efferdent or other denture cleaner in your mouth guard case. It kills bacteria which might want to grow there while you’re not wearing it. If your mouth guard gets extra dirty (we all know that can happen), washing it with water is fine or soak it in a glass with a whole tablet of denture cleaner.
With three practices a week, washing pads after every practice is impractical. NEVER keep your gear zippered up together in your gear bag, especially in the trunk of your car. Not only do all your body’s byproducts soaking in the protective gear material eat away at the material and start to rot it, but all that moisture is wicked bad for your skate bearings and other things you might having hanging out in your bag. At a minimum, get your gear bag to a clean, dry location and get it unzipped. If you can, spraying your pads with Febreze and spreading them out or hanging them to dry between practices will keep you smelling “dryer sheet fresh” – or at least as close as you can be until you start sweating again.
Your protective gear takes care of you at practices and during bouts. Take the time and get the stuff to take care of it so it can keep doing its job!
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2 comments so far
Every little bit of ideas here helps! I skipped covering wrist guards (most are like pads) because I have leather ones. Saddle soap and some mink oil is what was recommended by a sex-gear maintenance professional I know. Will did ours before ECE and the saddle soap really helped. He bought Armorall Leather cleaning wipes at an auto store.