Cleaning hockey skates: a primer

Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton might have been talking about hockey skates when he wrote of the great unwashed. No other piece of equipment works so hard and gets so wet and smelly. Even though we get our skates Sani Sported a couple times of year, they’re just going to get smelly again, especially if you skate barefoot, like we do. All that sweat, all that nasty dead foot skin, all that dark, damp skate leather. Grossed out yet?

When the skate sharpening guy visibly recoils when he grabs your skates, you know you’ve got a problem. You can’t just throw your skates in the washer but you can do a few things to keep them smelling fresher.

Hockey SkateAir it out
When you get home from the rink, take your skates out of your bag so they get exposed to some fresh air. Unlace at least a couple eyeholes and pull the skate tongue way back, then reach in and grab the insole and pull it out so it can dry out before your next skate. Even if you are skating in a few hours, you can avoid that disgusting wet swimsuit feel if you dry out the insoles. That’s going to help a lot but eventually, you will need to go to the next step, washing the insole.

How to wash the insole
dirty skate insoles

Step 1.
Take out the insole.

See all that stuff? Gross, huh? No wonder it smells.

Give it a good rinse with hot water.

antibacterial soapStep 2.
Next, clean the insole with antibacterial soap.
You can use antibacterial hand soap or dish soap. The antibacterial aspect is important here, as it will help kill some of the germs that cause the stink. I prefer the handsoap because it doesn’t get as sudsy and is less irritating to my delicate skin. Squirt some of the antibacterial soap right on the wet insole.

scrub insoles

Step 3.

Use a nylon scrubby or natural bristle brush to give the insoles a good, thorough cleaning. You might have to add some more soap.

Rinse them off really well, squeezing out the soap until the water is clear without any suds.

Step 4.

Press out the excess water with an old towel and then leave the insoles out to dry. In the meantime, air out your skates so they will be dry when you put the insoles back in.

Now, take a good whiff. Ahhh! So much better!

We do this a few times a season and it really helps. It’s pretty easy to do and takes about 15 minutes. Give it a try.

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