No matter what you play, sports gear gets grubby if it’s used seriously. But how do you clean sports gear effectively without wrecking it and without resorting to harsh chemicals? Well, what cleaning product or method you use really depends on what equipment you’re talking about. But the golden rule is: the sooner you get onto it, the better.
Resist the temptation to dry clean the sports clothing if you’re trying to stick to natural methods of house cleaning – the chemicals used in dry cleaning are vile. While this how the professionals clean their gear (I guess), dry cleaning is best avoided.
Sports shoes/trainers: The worst bits of mud (and other substances) left on the bottom of sports shoes can be removed by scraping it off with a stiff scrubbing brush. Best to do this outside, or you’ll be left cleaning the floor as well. Mud can be sponged off trainers with a bit of warm water and maybe a bit of soap. White canvas shoes are best avoided, but if they get grass stains, you can clean these stains off with a bit of Sard Wonder Soap (it’s the eucalyptus oil that does the stain removal job) or sponging it with vodka or some other strong spirit before giving it a good wash in warm soapy water. It is possible to put trainers through the washing machine, but cheap ones aren’t so good for this because the inner soles are liable to come out. Best to do what you can with a scrubbing brush and warm water. Sprinkle baking soda inside smelly trainers to remove the stink.
Cricket clothes: What idiot decided that cricket gear ought to be spotless white? Thankfully, modern fabrics are a bit more stain resistant. Treat grass stains by rubbing the spot with Sard Wonder Soap or vodka and leaving it for a bit before washing. The red stains appearing on a bowler’s trousers from polishing a ball are less alarming than they look and wash off easily in a regular wash load. Get onto stains the same day as they occur. Soaking also helps. In the case of cricket matches lasting more than one day, having two (or more) pairs of cricket trousers saves a world of bother and frantically trying to get things dry overnight in time for the start of the next day.
Football gear: Clean grass stains as described above. To remove mud, give it a good soaking in warm soapy water before throwing in the wash.
Rugby gear: Gets even grubbier than football gear and also has the chance of getting bloodstains. This is a pain, especially in the case of replica England or Wallabies shirts (those with replica Scotland, France or All Blacks shirts are luckier). Clean the bloodstains first, if any. Wash these out with cold water first before dealing with mud. However, grass stains can be treated at the same time as bloodstains. Hint: brush off some of the thicker bits of mud manually first with a stiff scrubbing brush to get the worst off.
Athletic cups/cricket boxes: While these don’t get as visibly grubby as other gear, they do get a bit sweaty. While it is possible to pop these items into the dishwasher, most of us wince at the idea of something that’s been “down there” in with the stuff we eat off. Best to clean these separately by hand in warm soapy water. Dry with a regular tea towel and pop that into the wash.