How to Clean Soccer Shin Guards for Maximum Protection

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Keeping your soccer shin guards clean is crucial for both your performance on the field and your health off it. Have you ever noticed that funky smell coming from your gear bag? That’s your shin guards crying out for a good clean. Dirty shin guards can harbor bacteria, causing unpleasant odors and even skin infections. So, let’s dive into how to keep your shin guards fresh and clean.

how to clean soccer shin guards

Why Clean Your Soccer Shin Guards?

Hygiene and Health Reasons

First and foremost, cleaning your shin guards is essential for hygiene. Sweat and dirt accumulate, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Nobody wants infections or skin irritations, which is what this can cause.

Prolonging the Lifespan of Your Shin Guards

Shin guards last longer when they are cleaned regularly. Dirt and grime can degrade the materials over time, making them less effective in protecting shins.

Improving Performance and Comfort

Clean shin guards are more comfortable and perform better. They fit more snugly and don’t distract you with foul odors, allowing you to focus on the game.

Types of Soccer Shin Guards

Slip-in Shin Guards

These are the most common type and are easy to clean. They slip under your socks and are held in place by compression.

Ankle Shin Guards

These provide extra protection with built-in ankle pads. Due to the additional padding, cleaning them requires a bit more effort.

Socks with Built-in Shin Guards

These are integrated into the socks, offering convenience but making the cleaning process a bit trickier.

Materials Used in Shin Guards

Plastic and Polyurethane

Although these materials are hygienic and long-lasting, improper maintenance might allow them to grow bacteria.

Foam and Cotton

Foam adds comfort but can absorb sweat, making it essential to clean regularly. Cotton components, such as straps, also need attention.

Ankle Padding and Straps

These parts often come into direct contact with your skin and sweat, so they need thorough cleaning.

Preparing to Clean Your Soccer Shin Guards

Gathering Necessary Supplies

You’ll need mild detergent, a soft brush, a cloth, and water. For deeper cleaning, consider using disinfectant wipes or sprays.

Checking Manufacturer’s Instructions

Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions always. This ensures you don’t use cleaning methods that could damage your shin guards.

Pre-Cleaning Steps

Eliminate any loose dirt or debris before washing. A quick rinse under water can help remove surface grime.

Hand Washing Shin Guards

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Fill a Basin with Warm Water: A tiny bit of mild detergent should be added.
  2. Soak the Shin Guards: Let them soak for about 10 minutes.
  3. Scrub Gently: Use a soft brush to clean the surface.
  4. Rinse Thoroughly: Ensure all soap is washed off.
  5. Dry Completely: Using a towel, pat dry and let air dry.

Best Practices

Hot water should not be used since it can harm the materials. Always dry your shin guards thoroughly to prevent mold growth.

Tips for Effective Hand Washing

Be gentle when scrubbing to avoid scratching the surface. Use a cloth to wipe down any areas that are harder to clean with a brush.

Machine Washing Shin Guards

Is It Safe?

While specific shin guards may be machine-washed, it’s essential to first consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

Machine Washing Guidelines

  • Use a Mesh Bag: Place your shin guards in a mesh laundry bag.
  • Select Gentle Cycle: Use cold water and a gentle detergent.
  • Avoid Fabric Softeners: They could leave behind residues that draw dirt.

Drying Tips

Always air-dry your shin guards. Do not use a dryer, as the heat can deform the materials.

Cleaning Shin Guards with Ankle Pads

Special Considerations

Ankle pads can be tricky. Make sure they are scorched before using them again to prevent the formation of mold and germs.

Hand Washing vs. Machine Washing

Hand washing is generally safer for shin guards with ankle pads. If machine washing, ensure the pads are securely attached and won’t get damaged.

Drying Ankle Pads Properly

Pat them dry with a towel and then air dry. Ensure they are scorched before storing.

Cleaning Built-in Shin Guard Socks

Washing Instructions

These should be washed regularly. Follow the care instructions for the socks, and make sure the built-in pads are adequately cleaned.

Handling Built-in Pads

Gently scrub the pads with a soft brush and mild detergent. Avoid soaking them for too long.

Drying Techniques

Air dry only. Hang them up to ensure they dry thoroughly inside and out.

Removing Odors from Shin Guards

Natural Deodorizers

Vinegar and baking soda make great natural deodorizers. Sprinkle baking soda inside the shin guards and let it sit overnight, or use a vinegar spray for a quick refresh.

Commercial Odor Removers

Several sprays and deodorizers are explicitly designed for sports gear. Use them as directed for the best results.

Preventative Measures

Ensure your shin guards are completely dry before storing. Use deodorizing sprays regularly to keep odors at bay.

Disinfecting Your Shin Guards

Importance of Disinfection

Regular disinfection kills bacteria and keeps your shin guards safe to use.

Disinfecting Methods

Use disinfectant wipes or sprays. Ensure they are safe for use on your specific shin guards.

Safe Products to Use

Look for non-toxic, sports gear-safe disinfectants. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach, which can damage the materials.

Storing Shin Guards Properly

Drying Before Storage

To avoid mold and mildew, always make sure your shin guards are totally dry before storing them.

Best Storage Practices

Store in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving them in your gear bag where moisture can accumulate.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Don’t store shin guards in a damp environment. This may cause unpleasant smells and the growth of mold.

Maintaining Shin Guards for Longevity

Regular Cleaning Schedule

If possible, clean your shin guards after every use. At the very least, could you give them a good clean once a week?

Quick Clean Tips

Wipe them down with a damp cloth after each use. This helps to remove surface dirt and sweat.

What to Avoid

Avoid using harsh chemicals or hot water. Be sure to complete the drying process, as this can lead to mold growth.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Shin Guards

Using Harsh Chemicals

Your shin guards’ lifespan may be shortened, and harsh chemicals may damage the materials.

Ignoring Manufacturer’s Instructions

To keep your shin guards in good condition, always adhere to the manufacturer’s care instructions.

Improper Drying Techniques

Never use a dryer. The safest way to make sure your shin guards keep their integrity and shape is to air-dry them.


Keeping your soccer shin guards clean is essential for both hygiene and performance. Regular cleaning not only extends the life of your shin guards but also keeps you comfortable and focused on the game. Remember to check the manufacturer’s instructions, use gentle cleaning methods, and always dry your shin guards thoroughly. Happy playing!


How Often Should I Clean My Shin Guards?

It’s ideal to clean your shin guards after each use. If that’s not possible, aim for at least once a week.

Can I Use Bleach to Clean My Shin Guards?

No, bleach can damage the materials. Use mild detergent and safe disinfectants instead.

What If My Shin Guards Start to Smell Bad Again?

Regular cleaning and using deodorizing sprays can help keep odors at bay. Ensure they are dry before storing.

How Can I Prevent My Shin Guards from Getting Too Dirty?

Wipe them down after each use and use a deodorizing spray. Regular maintenance helps prevent excessive dirt buildup.

Are There Any Products Specifically for Cleaning Shin Guards?

Yes, there are several sports gear cleaners available. Look for non-toxic, sports-safe options.

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