You're on your way home from the rink and suddenly your nose starts running and your eyes water uncontrollably. The green fog slithering over the seat and obscuring your view of the road is rising from that damp hockey bag. Urgh. Hockey gear must be washed regularly to ensure that the seething mass of microbes don't get a grip on your child. Or husband. Or you. MRSA is everywhere and can infect a small scratch, causing a serious infection. While you might only have time to run the Under Armour through the washer before tomorrow's tournament, you should wash all the gear regularly to keep the stench and germs at a low roar. First, never, ever, ever use bleach on hockey gear, especially pads that contain foam padding. This goes for football and other sports gear too. The bleach weakens the foam and reduces the effectiveness of the safety gear. Instead, soak the gear in a laundry sink filled with hot water, 1/2 cup of laundry soap and 1 scoop of oxygen bleach. Weigh the gear down so it is submerged and soak it for at least an hour -- and preferably overnight. After soaking the gear, either rinse it several times in the sink or put it into the washer and run it through a cycle without detergent. This removes the funky combination of water and soap. Now take a careful sniff. If the gear still reeks, put it back into the laundry sink with hot water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Completely submerge the gear and allow it to soak for at least an hour. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Finally, hang your gear in a shady spot outside, or on a rack inside with a fan blowing on it to speed drying. Don't hang gear in the sun; it may fade. Spray the inside of the hockey bag, helmet and dried gear with disinfectant. Allow it to dry before reloading the bag. While you may not get rid of all the funk, you can knock it down to a reasonably light stink that's bearable as your player hugs you before he/she hits the rink for another sweaty game of hockey.
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