Let's talk about that smell coming from your child's soccer bag. You know the one we're talking about. It's a cross between a swamp and a locker room. Even after you launder uniforms and clean mud from cleats, the stink is still there; and the culprit is probably a pair of shin guards.
Shin guards, to put it bluntly, can get really nasty. They absorb sweat, dirt, and sometimes blood, and there's a good chance that smell means they've never, ever been washed. That doesn't need to be the case, though. Here are some tips for deodorizing even the rankest shin guards.
The Adidas shin guards we carry at Omega Sports, and most other major-brand shin guards on the market, generally combine synthetic fabric, hard plastic, and EVA-foam padding. So, approach the task of cleaning them more or less the same way you'd clean a pair of padded biking shorts with reflective stripes, or a padded shirt for football or hockey. Which is to say, they're machine washable if you treat them delicately and don't expose them to high temperatures, but hand washing may the way to go to get the most life out of them.
With those considerations in mind, here are three options for keeping your guards smelling great (or, at least, not disgustingly terrible).
Shin guards are, by definition, intended to take a beating. They won't fall apart in a washing machine. Their hard plastic parts, however, may not take well to being bounced against the interior of your washer, so it works best to wash them in a zipped washer bag or pillowcase and to use the "delicates" or "gentle" wash cycle.
One thing you can't do without risk, however, is expose synthetic material, plastic, and foam padding to the high heat of a dryer cycle. Instead, shin guards will need to air dry on a rack or, better yet, in the sun. To help eliminate any lingering odor, lay a dryer sheet over top of them as they dry out. Once dry, spray them with disinfectant to inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria.
An option for getting the stink out of a pair of shin guards that will likely prolong their life is to hand wash them in warm, soapy water to remove sweat oils from the synthetic fabric and foam. Then, while wet, sprinkle the guards with baking soda, let it sit for five to ten minutes, then rinse. Just like putting a box of baking soda in the refrigerator, this technique can draw out stubborn odors. Dry and disinfect as above.
A variety of cleaning products on the market advertise the ability to disinfect and deodorize smelly sports equipment. A few of the more popular ones are Clear Gear, Vapor Fresh, Sweat X, and Hex. We suggest giving several a try to find the one that works best on your shin guards and other smelly equipment.
If you've tried all of the options above and that awful smell just won't go away, then we have some good news for you. As soccer equipment goes, shin guards are pretty affordable. A new pair of quality guards can cost as little as $10, and rarely cost more than $20. That's a small price to pay when you're ready to throw in the towel on getting the stink out of your favorite player's nasty, sweaty, dirty shin guards.