With the kids back on the soccer pitches, baseball diamonds and football fields the smelly, dirty sports gear makes its return as well. Here is the best way to clean cleats, sneakers, and other smelly sports gear naturally and without using harsh chemicals!
It can be tough to stay on top of having clean athletic gear when spring and summer sports seasons swing into overdrive, however it’s definitely worthwhile and easier when you know the best ways to clean cleats and other sports gear effectively.
Last summer, Kennedy was away at soccer camp for a week and of course that meant packing up her cleats in her suitcase so that she could take them with her.
One sniff of our mudroom after a soccer game, and you’d know that it was not going to smell pretty in that suitcase. As usual, we’d had quite a few rainy days on game and practice days and it’s just made the problem worse. Now, prevention is absolutely the name of the game when it comes to smelly sports gear, but I obviously didn’t do the best job of that, did I? Too many late games where we came home to a million other things that didn’t get done while we were away at the game and we completely forgot about airing out the soccer gear. Oops!
If you find yourself in a similar situation with some of the smelly gear in your house and you need to figure out how to get clean cleats again, here’s what you can do!
Missing supplies? Here’s what you’ll need:
- All natural dish soap
- All-purpose scrub brush
- Multi-purpose wash basin
- Highly absorbent cloths
- Portable sports equipment drying rack
- Large resealable plastic bags – keep reading to find out why
The Keys to Getting This to Really Work
The hotter and sunnier the weather, the better! There’s nothing better to kill bacteria and get out smells than good ol’ fresh air! To be honest, this is really what you (OK, I) should have been doing all along. As soon as the sports gear comes off, stick it outside to let it air out if it’s a nice sunny day and you won’t have to worry about smells in the first place.
The idea is that you want to get the gear to dry out as quickly as possible. If it’s not quite as hot and sunny as you’d like, you can stuff newspaper into the shoes (or gloves, or whatever’s not drying out as quickly as you’d like) to soak up the moisture.
Now here’s a really neat trick. I’d heard about this before but then I forgot it before I got a chance to try it out. And then, well, I remembered it again, so that’s why I’m telling you about it now!
Put your sneakers, cleats, sports gear, what-have-you, etc. into big plastic ziplock bags, seal them up, and stick them overnight in the freezer! This kills off the bacteria living in them and helps get rid of smells. It sounds crazy but it really works! I’ve heard you’re supposed to do this with fancy jeans too to “clean” them when you don’t want to put them in the washing machine.
And there you go! Fresh, clean sports gear! And you didn’t even have to use any crazy scented chemical cleaners or get out the hazmat suit!
Prevention is Everything
If you want to keep things from getting too stinky in the future, remember not to leave everything in your bag for a week after using it. You could even sprinkle a little bit of this homemade carpet cleaner in each shoe between uses to help absorb any smells that might be building up.
I hope this helps some other moms out there suffering with smelly sports gear all Summer long. I know I’m looking forward to having clean cleats and a stench-free rest of the soccer season!
Find more of my best cleaning tricks in my cleaning archives!
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.