Youth: How to Kick Soccer Stenches Out of Your Kids’ Gear

Nov 4, 2019

***This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and players new to soccer***

Being a soccer parent can be rewarding, but when the time comes to clean your kids’ gear, it stinks.

Sweat and body odor are inevitable parts of the beautiful game. With that said, young players (especially tweens and younger) don’t tend to make hygiene a priority. We’re taking a look at what parents can do to get their kids to keep their bags and equipment clean and odor-free, as well as how to choose gear that reduces smells and the bacteria that cause them.

Smell Prevention

You already spend half your life cleaning up after your kids, so anything you can do to minimize additional cleaning is a worthwhile pursuit. Of course, you can’t completely prevent smells, but you can help reduce them and keep yourself from doing frequent deep cleans.

Lock Down Moisture

Moisture is a big part of the reason that your kid’s gear bag smells so ripe. Moisture creates an environment where bacteria can thrive. Most kids don’t think twice about just letting their closed bag sit in a closet until the next game. That keeps the equipment from breathing or drying out, making for an even worse smell.

Have your kid get in the habit of spreading out their equipment after a game. Remove all the wet, sweaty gear from the bag and air dry them or leave them in front of a dehumidifier.

Absorb Smells in the Gear Bag

The gear bag is where most soccer odors really get bad. Fortunately, there are a few easy solutions you can throw in the bag to help absorb smells:

  • Dryer Sheets: Throwing a dryer sheet in a bag, or cleats can help give a better smell, although it won’t actually combat bacteria.
  • Car Freshener: If you’ve ever hung one of the pine tree-shaped air fresheners from your rear-view, you’re familiar with how they work. They don’t remove odor-causing bacteria, but they do mask smells. It’s a temporary solution, but throwing one of these in the soccer gear bag can make the drives to-and-from practice more tolerable.
  • Baking Soda: Put some baking soda in a sock or a coffee filter (be sure to tie it off to keep from spilling!) and place it in the bag. It’s not a replacement for washing, but it makes a difference. The baking soda is dual-action, absorbing moisture and combatting odor.

How to Wash a Soccer Jersey (And Get Rid of That Soccer Jersey Smell)

Trying to get the smell out of sweaty jerseys and clothing had plagued soccer parents for too long. And the solution is almost infuriatingly simple. It doesn’t take special cleaners or techniques, just regular white vinegar. 

Take your kids soccer jerseys, clothes and any other equipment you can put in the washing machine and add a bit of white vinegar where you would normally put fabric softener. The vinegar breaks down the bacteria, finally getting rid of that lingering sweaty smell.

How to Wash Shin Guards, Cleats, & Other Gear (In Just 3 Steps)

If soccer gear isn’t laundry machine-safe or is too caked in mud and dirt, you have to wash it by hand. Fortunately, you can do this pretty easily. Just get something big enough to soak all the equipment in. We recommend using a bucket rather than a tub, so that you don’t clog up the drains with dirt.

  1. Soak the gear in hot water and mild detergent for 10 minutes.
  2. After soaking, scrub off any visible dirt and rinse off all soap.
  3. Dry the equipment with a towel and remove high-performance insoles from cleats. Allow to air dry until completely dry.

Note: the instructions in this article work for most equipment, with the exception of goalkeeper gloves. To avoid damaging the latex used to make the palm of gloves tacky, disregard this post and follow the instructions in our blog specifically on how to care for GK gloves here.


For added protection against odors and bacteria, you can throw cleats, shin guards, and other equipment in the freezer. Just make sure it is completely dry first. Otherwise, it can freeze and cause damage or start smelling again when the frozen moisture melts.

Shoe Spray

Another good solution for cleats is to spray them down with a shoe deodorizer after practice or games. Many of these combat bacteria as well as odor.

Choose Moisture Wicking Soccer Gear to Minimize Smells

The gear you choose can also help keep soccer odors in check. Our youth soccer pants, shorts, and tops all use moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial materials. These help to reduce germs and odors, on top of providing protection against burns, bumps, and bruises.

Staying in control of bacteria and hygiene is just one more way that Storelli is committed to keeping youth players healthy.

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