A couple of weeks ago, we looked at ways we can physically and mentally prepare for returning to group martial arts training. But there was one important aspect of gym and dojo life that we missed in that blog: We also need to get our martial arts gear-cleaning skills back in shape!
Adapting to solo martial arts training has been challenging in many ways. But there was one thing that at-home training made easier. And that was gear and martial arts uniform care. When you train alone, you only have to worry about washing your own sweat off of your gear. When you train at home, you can hang it up to dry right away. You don’t have to stuff it in a gear bag for any period of time. Many solo martial arts drills are also easier on your gear than training or sparring with partners. So we didn’t have to inspect our martial arts gear for damage as often. Or replace it as often.
When we return to the gym and group martial arts training, though, we are going to have to be more careful about gear care and hygiene than ever. With that in mind, we figured it was time to revisit the best hygiene and gear-cleaning practices. Here are four steps to keep your gear and yourself looking, smelling, and feeling your best.
Think of it as a refresher course. With an emphasis on the fresh!
1. Air it all out!
Bacteria and odor thrive in dark and damp environments like unpacked gear bags. Limiting the amount of time that your post-training gear spends in your bag will help to combat that buildup. And investing in a ventilated gear bag can help keep the trip home as fresh as possible.
When you get home from martial arts training, empty your gear bag and dry all of your training equipment ASAP. Hang your uniform and all of your training gear, including your bag, to dry in a spot with good air circulation. Keep your gear out of direct sunlight to prevent fading and sun damage. Keep your boxing gloves and other leather and vinyl gear away from direct heat sources to prevent cracking. And if you train with a mouth guard, don’t forget to to take it out of its case and leave both on a sterile surface to dry.
2. Clean all of your martial arts gear. Even your gear bag.
Machine wash cloth martial arts gear in regular or sports-specific detergent. That includes uniforms, shin/instep guards, forearm guards, ankle guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and hand wraps. (To prevent hand wraps from getting tangled and pulled during the wash cycle, use a hand wrap bag.) Toss any clothing you wore under your martial arts uniform, like a rash guard, shorts, etc, in that load, too.
Clean foam protective gear like head guards, sparring boots, and sparring gloves with antibacterial wipes, or disinfectant spray and a paper towel. Wash vinyl training gear and vinyl boxing gloves with mild soap and water. Treat leather protective gear, focus mitts, and boxing gloves with a cleaner designed specifically for treating leather. This will prevent cracking, drying, and other damage and prolong the life of your leather martial arts gear. Don’t forget to clean the inside of your boxing gloves and focus mitts, too!
Clean your mouthguard with non-abrasive toothpaste and a soft bristle toothbrush. Rinse the case with soap and water.
If you have a plain canvas gym bag, you can put that in the washing machine. More complex bags will benefit from a more careful cleaning process. Hand wash with warm water and mild detergent or dish soap for the best results. If you’re pressed for time, though, wiping down the inside and outside with a disinfectant will do its part to prevent the growth and spread of germs.
3. Air it out again.
Once everything is washed, it’s important to thoroughly dry your training gear before packing it up again. Even clean training gear can cause problems if it’s stuffed into a gym bag when it’s still partially damp.
Hang martial arts uniforms and any other training clothing. Hang handwraps or place them on a drying rack. Place protective gear, boxing gloves, targets, and mitts on a clean surface, away from direct heat. Dry your mouth guard and case on a clean surface, as well.
When your gear is completely dry, fold your martial arts uniform and any other training clothes you’ll need. Wrap your hand wraps. And pack everything in your clean and dry gear bag for the next training session.
Throwing a scented product like dryer sheet or a bag of cedar chips into your gear bag can help make all of your gear smell a little fresher. You can even invest in deodorizer products specifically designed for martial arts like ProForce® Glove Guards “GG” Deodorizers or ProForce® Camphor Deodorizer Stick. Both are built to keep your gloves, shoes, and bags fresh and ready. Simply place stick into gear when finished training and let the deodorizing begin!