Soccer players typically wear shin guards to protect their legs from harm, especially because of the intensive nature of game play between two teams.
These shin guards rest on top of the lower leg area, whilst being covered up by over-the-calf soccer socks which do a job of making sure the shin guards remain secure in place.
Naturally, anyone competing at the sport at any sort of moderate level tends to sweat during play, because the build up of heat within those soccer socks causes perspiration.
Subsequently, that moisture gets absorbed into the shin guards worn for leg protection, which if not taken care of can lead to this piece of gear picking up an unpleasant smell.
What this therefore means is that, every once in a while, your shin guards needs a thorough cleaning.
In this post, we’re going to show you how to take care of your shin guards by washing them properly.
Read on to find out the exact steps for completing this task.
- 1. Check the washing instructions on the fine print
- 2. Clear away dirt debris with a brush or dry cloth
- 3. Fill a bucket with water and detergent powder
- 4. Soak them in the soapy water solution
- 5. Hand wash gently
- 6. Run them under a tap to rinse
- 7. Hang them out to air dry
Steps to wash your soccer shin guards the right way
Some people choose to spray their shin guards with a disinfectant solution after every game played in order to kill mold and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria on them, which is perfectly fine.
After all, you certainly wouldn’t want to have fungal build up on your shin guards, or pick up a nasty infection as a result of a failure to spray them.
If this method works for you instead of cleaning, then more power goes to you.
You can use a couple of the following options should spraying be your preference:
- Cleaning disinfectant – Lysol or Clorox spray
- Scent spray like Febreeze
- Vinegar solution – vinegar mixed in with water
- Baking soda solution – two tablespoons of sodium bicarbonate stirred together with water
Your cleaning disinfectant and vinegar solution are great bacteria killers that are able to keep your shin guards sanitary between uses.
On the other hand, your scent sprays and baking soda solution are more effective at eliminating strong odors, which would ultimately leave your shin guards smelling fresh.
However, it must be said that the aforementioned methods pretty much just serve as a good stop gap between more comprehensive cleanings.
For the latter, you’re going to need to have a look at the sequence of steps below.
1. Check the washing instructions on the fine print
The first stage is where you determine whether your shin guards are machine washable, or whether they should be cleaned by hand.
On the inner side of your shin guards, there’s usually a fine print which indicates the washing instructions.
You’ll usually see it as a white strip of fabric with very small wording on it, just like in the example image below:
If they’re machine washable, the instructions will also include what temperature your device should be se to in order to ensure a more effective cleaning process.
Here’s a simple guide to what the symbols all mean.
However, for the sake of this article, we’re going to stick to a hand wash procedure.
Alright, let’s move on.
2. Clear away dirt debris with a brush or dry cloth
Playing soccer on a muddy pitch does present problems, particularly when it comes to the matter of dirt build up.
All it takes is for you to leave your shin guards somewhere on the wet ground for that mud to stain the outer plastic covering.
You’ll want to clean this up by clearing away those chunks of mud and dirt debris right away.
So, grab yourself a small brush with very soft bristles.
It could look like this:
Then use the brush to gently rub off the dirt particles that you see on the front side of your shin guards, as this is how we prepare them for a nice water clean in the subsequent steps.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a brush to hand, you can take a dry cloth and wipe the outer surface of your shin guard.
Once that’s done, proceed to the next step.
3. Fill a bucket with water and detergent powder
This part is really easy.
All you have to do here is grab a bucket, which could have any sort of width or depth.
Put it under a tap and fill it with a little water.
Then proceed to get your detergent powder and sprinkle a fraction of that into the bucket.
At this point, you can run your hand through the water to give it a soapy look and feel, like this:
4. Soak them in the soapy water solution
Now it’s time to dump your shin guards inside the water.
Submerge them in the water and leave them to soak for between 15 and 20 minutes.
What this process does is eliminate most bacteria present on the shin guards, as well as give them a fresh scent once they eventually dry out.
Once you’ve put them in the water to soak, you could go and do something else and come back to them once those 15 minutes have elapsed.
5. Hand wash gently
Alright, this is where the bulk of the cleaning work comes in.
If your shin guards have dirt stains on them, you’ll want to give them a brief scrub.
But be sure to only do this if your shin guards have visible dirt marks, as you don’t want to damage the integrity of the material that’s used to protect your legs from injury as you play.
When performing a hand wash, you can use a hard thistle brush, such as the one you can see in the picture below:
Take your time by dipping your brush into the soap solution, before proceeding to give the outer part of the shin guards a scrub with it so that you can remove the marks of dirt.
You can also brush the inner area of the shin guard (i.e. the part made of softer fabric), as you’ll want both sides to be squeaky clean once you’ve finished the wash.
Once that’s done, the water should be brown in color, as the dirt particles will have mixed in with the clean water.
6. Run them under a tap to rinse
Once you’ve hand washed them with soap and water, the next step will involve rinsing them.
You can easily run them under a tap to clear away any soap that’s been left after the wish.
7. Hang them out to air dry
Finally, you’ll want your shin guards to air dry under the sun.
It wouldn’t make any sense to immediately put them in your soccer bag, as you’ll need the moisture on them to evaporate over time.
Putting them straight in your bag would result in mold growth and unpleasant smells, which would essentially have defeated the purpose of you washing them in the first place.
So, if they’ve got Velcro strapping, you can use that part of the shin guard to hook them to a hanging line with a clothespin (i.e. clothe peg).
You should also note that using a mechanical dryer to dry out your shin guards is not at all recommended.
This method of drying could cause irreparable damage to them, so you should stick to air drying only.
How often should you wash soccer shin guards?
Shin guards don’t need to be washed all the time.
If you’re the kind of person that plays the sport every couple of days, then cleaning them after a month is a good routine to pick up.
With that said, you could spray them with disinfectant after each game you play just as a measure that tides you over until the next time you can give them a proper wash with water and detergent.
Do shin guards need to be washed?
Yes, they most certainly do!
Just like any other piece of soccer apparel, like a jersey or a pair of socks, your shin guards need to be kept clean.
They soak in sweat from your legs, which if left unattended, can bring about a musty smell as well as the potential for fungal growth to develop on the material.
You’ll want to prevent this from happening by giving them a clean every once in a while.
That wraps up our comprehensive article on how to clean soccer shin guards.
If you’ve found the information presented in the post useful, then feel free to have a read of some related articles on our blog, such as:
- Why soccer players use shin guards during games;
- The finest soccer shin guards you can buy in 2023; and
- Our guide on how to wear soccer shin guards correctly
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